You know you shouldn’t go down into the dark basement; the light doesn’t work and there is a putrid smell hitting the back of your nostrils…but this is a horror movie, so…off you go!

When it comes to marketing horror titles, your content should have the same effect on your audience; having just the right amount of intrigue, temptation and darkness should see even the most faint-hearted take that step and become swallowed up in your campaign.

So, to celebrate the run down to All Hallows’ Eve, we have put together an essential guide to making sure your content has the ultimate scream (and screen) factor.

1. Tease The Terror

Less is more when marketing any horror title. It’s about exploring the themes of your title without revealing too much; laying down the breadcrumbs that will lure them to the next nail-biting morsel. Knowing your audience is also key, and with Facebook’s Horror audience being split almost 50/50 male to female, your content will most likely need to appeal to a variety of genders and age ranges.

The hit US horror show American Horror Story has gained unprecedented attention with its bone-chilling teaser content. These short, disturbing sequences celebrate the show’s macabre concepts through eery soundbeds and unnerving motifs. Yet, they give nothing away, leaving the audience to question what they just witnessed and subconsciously yearning to seek out more. With the latest season premier garnering over 3 million viewers, there certainly seems merit in teasing the terror.

2. Get Close To Your Characters

Contrary to what you might think, a successful horror campaign doesn’t rely on fright-filled sequences. Building a relationship between the audience and the movie’s victims is key to creating a deeper connection to your title’s narrative. When creating the home entertainment social strategy for Warner Bros.’ epic horror masterpiece IT, we needed our audience to invest in our characters to get the response we were after. By targeting them with the nostalgic, coming-of-age narrative that underpinned the movie, we produced a connection and childhood empathy that compelled viewers to stick with our characters and see where the terror would take them.

3. Make It A Real Nightmare

The beauty of a brilliant horror movie campaign is its ability to make the horror a reality, with 80% of movie fans saying that live events help solidify their purchase decisions, it pays to create activations that disrupt people’s everyday norms. IT’s theatrical team in Australia caused a PR storm when they started leaving red balloons (synonymous with the movie’s terrifying clown) tied to sewers across Sydney. Fakery or not, the idea still left a sharp taste in people’s mouths and got tongues wagging.

A great example of how tangible marketing can gain traction online was seen this year when Hereditary’s theatrical team set up an Etsy Store under the name of one of the movie’s troubled kids, Charlie. Brave fans could actually purchase physical versions of her character’s creepy creations to keep for themselves – cleverly feeding fans’ appetites for exclusive merch while keeping the movie’s character and themes as a central focus.

4. Deadly Dares

Experiential marketing is a great way to promote your horror title in a memorable and unique way. When working on the paranormal success Lights Out, we wanted to celebrate the movie’s fundamental message – we’re all afraid of the dark in some way. And so our activation invited them on an immersive 360º experience into the movie’s haunted basement for a truly terrifying encounter. Daring our audience to watch in the dark for authenticity, we heightened the panic as the camera forced our viewer deeper underground and deeper into the mindset of our main character. It proved a hit with fans getting a 92% positive response on YouTube and 30 thousand shares across Facebook.

5. Delve Deeper Into The Horror

Every demonic character has a backstory and its the morbid curiosity of horror fans which means Easter egg-packed, fan-service content lends itself well to the genre. Exploring hidden clues, subtle details and character history will help build further intrigue and create a greater connection for your audience. Choosing the right execution is also key; using a platform such as a Facebook’s Instant Experience Ads or a dedicated site that users can explore themselves will heighten the sense of discovery and anticipation.

Brave enough to check out some more spine-chilling content? Take a look at our home entertainment work for the remake of horror classic, Halloween. Or if you are interested to see how you can give your audience more sleepless nights with a truly wicked campaign, get in touch with one of our frighteningly good account directors, rosie@zerodegreeswest.com (UK) or noelle@zerodegreeswest.com (US).