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Marketing Strategy
11 Marketing Campaign Types to Boost Business in 2023

Ah, statistics. They shed light on some great and not-so-great truths, like that Marketers waste about one-fourth of their budgets on the wrong channels. So how do you apply this knowledge to avoid losses and grow your campaign faster? It’s all about choosing the right marketing campaign types.

Some of the waste in marketing is just the cost of doing business. Marketing can be more art than science—especially with hard-to-quantify campaigns like brand awareness and public relations.

But by choosing the right channels, designing campaigns that resonate with your audience, and carefully tracking metrics, you’ll reduce waste and give yourself an edge over the competition.

Marketing Campaigns vs Advertising Campaigns

Think of marketing as an umbrella term that encompasses everything you’re doing to make people aware of your business. It’s possible to have a marketing strategy without advertising. Tesla, the electric car company, doesn’t advertise. Instead, the company generates demand through branding and word-of-mouth.

Advertising is a subset of your marketing campaign. It’s focused on paying for space to promote your business.

Let’s use Pepsi as an example:

  • Marketing campaigns: Pepsi’s marketing strategy includes everything it does to make people aware of the Pepsi brand. Marketing campaigns include efforts like branding, rebranding, organic social media marketing, content marketing, public relations, and email marketing. These efforts fall under marketing—and not advertising—because they don’t have to involve paying for visibility.
  • Advertising campaigns: As soon as Pepsi pays to put its brand somewhere—a billboard in Times Square or an ad on a popular website—it’s in the realm of advertising. Common ad campaign types include brand awareness, search engine marketing, social media ads, influencer marketing, and traditional media advertising (like print ads or radio).

Types of Marketing Campaigns

Brand Awareness Campaign

If people don’t know about you, they can’t buy from you. It’s as simple as that. 77% of consumers prefer buying from brands they follow on social media, and a whopping 81% say they need to trust a brand to consider buying. Needless to say, all that following and trusting starts with brand awareness.

Brand awareness campaigns are about letting potential customers know who you are. The simplest brand awareness campaigns—like businesses that sponsor events—include only a logo and business name.

Designing a Brand Awareness Campaign

Ideally, and particularly in the beginning, you want to communicate more than just your logo and name—you want to convey who you are and what your brand stands for. After all, 77% of consumers buy from brands that share their values. If you can associate your brand with your target audience’s values, you have a far better shot at sticking in their mind in a positive way.

Brand awareness campaigns are vital, but it’s hard to measure their impact. To avoid wasting your budget, focus your brand awareness campaigns on channels where your audience spends time. If your customers are 45-year-old professionals, try LinkedIn. If you’re selling to millennials or Gen Z, stick to Instagram or TikTok. If you’re running a campaign in a single city, keep your focus hyperlocal.

Example: KFC Firelog

To keep chicken top of mind during the turkey and ham-dominated holidays, Yum! Brands launched the 'KFC Firelog,' a log infused with the smell of KFC chicken.

This brand awareness campaign quickly went viral, with coverage in major media outlets. The campaign resulted in $20 million in earned media coverage (and the logs themselves sold out in three hours).

Rebranding Campaign

58% of customers make buying decisions based on their beliefs and values, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. Rebranding is about aligning a brand more closely with the ideas of its audience.

Facebook was once the hottest thing around. I remember waiting anxiously to get access in 2005. Social networks were novel, and Facebook had an air of exclusivity—at the time, you could only apply if you had a university email address. While Facebook remains popular today, it’s hardly used among younger age groups and no longer the innovation it once was.

The company’s 2021 rebrand to Meta signified not only the deemphasis of the Facebook brand, but a pivot to innovations like augmented reality to maintain the brand’s relevance.

Designing a Rebranding Campaign

If you’re considering a rebranding campaign, make sure you have a good reason. Better yet, make sure you listen to your customers—especially if your brand is well-known and carries emotional attachment and goodwill.

In 2010, Gap spent $100 million on a rebrand of its iconic logo. A backlash from consumers led the brand to reverse the rebrand after six days. Don’t let that be you.

Instead, talk to your customers. Run surveys. Do a sentiment analysis. Understand how people feel about your brand and whether it resonates with their values. Figure out if your brand is still relevant.

Once you’re sure you have a good reason to change, start the process—but remember, it’s about more than tweaking your logo. Start with values and messaging. How will your new brand make you more relevant with your audience? Only once that’s clear should you move on to design.

Example: Tupperware

Tupperware is an iconic brand with a business model that was stuck in the 1970s—direct sales through independent representatives. Their bold rebrand focused on confidence and female empowerment and launched in conjunction with new efforts in ecommerce and retail.

Product Launch Campaign

60% of developed products never make it to market. Of those that do, only half generate revenue. Those are tough odds—especially because the average family buys the same 150 products again and again, according to Harvard Business Review.

You can increase your chances of success with a savvy product launch campaign. Product launches are a unique opportunity to connect with customers at their moment of peak interest.

Apple’s product launches are legendary. 2.2 million people watched the iPhone 13 launch, and the company made $71.6 billion in revenue in the first quarter after launch. But you don’t have to create the same hype as Apple to have a successful product launch.

Designing a Product Launch Campaign

When you’re designing a product launch, start by immersing yourself in the product and the audience. Then, choose your tactics.

  • Full product launch: For a full product launch, you’ll need an advertising strategy, an organic marketing strategy, a public relations strategy, and a community or referral strategy. If you have the budget, this is the safest route. Unless you’re a large company, you probably don’t need to host a live event like Apple does.
  • Referral and influencer launch: This strategy is popular with ecommerce and consumer brands, often in conjunction with a public relations strategy and paid media. Influencer marketing can kickstart your new product and get people talking about it, while a compelling referral program can keep the momentum going.
  • Viral launch: Viral launches can be wildly cost-effective. Dollar Shave Club’s 2012 launch cost just $4,500 to film and led to 12,000 sign-ups. The only issue? You can’t guarantee virality. Aim for viral content—especially if your brand has a strong personality—but make sure you have a backup marketing plan in place.

Example: Dollar Shave Club

The 2012 Dollar Shave Club product launch video holds up as one of the best of all time. It subverted expectations with its cheeky personality (”Our Blades are F*ing Great”), led to thousands of customer sign-ups within 48 hours, and has been watched 28 million times.

Email Marketing Campaign

Despite frequent warnings over the years, email isn’t dead. In fact, it’s never been more relevant. 60% of consumers prefer to be notified of their favorite brands’ promotions via email—versus 20% for social media and 17% for text message. Popular email marketing tactics like abandoned cart emails earn an average of $5.81 in revenue per recipient.

Email marketing gives you a unique chance to establish a relationship over time via your customer’s inbox, which tends to be less distracting than the chaos of social media and other channels.

But there are right ways and wrong ways to do email marketing.

Designing an Email Marketing Campaign

Gone are the days of blasting endless promotional messages to your email list. That’s a good way to get ignored, marked as spam, or dumped in Gmail’s 'Promotions' section of Gmail—the bane of every email marketer’s existence.

Instead, play the long game. Focus on creating value over time:

  • Create content that’s helpful, interesting to read, and not overtly promotional.
  • Segment your email list to send only relevant content to each subscriber.
  • Drive readers from email to deeper forms of engagement like webinars.
  • Send a welcome sequence to provide value to new subscribers.
  • Use creative subject lines, copy, and calls to action.

You’ll also want to use email marketing software to help you check in with disengaged subscribers, keep a clean list, and maintain high delivery rates.

Example: italki.com

italki.com screenshot

Italki is a language learning marketplace that connects students with teachers. I signed up to practice my Spanish, but fell out of the habit after a couple of months. This is a good example of a re-engagement email—it reminds me of credits I have in their system, uses a deadline to incentivize me to take action, and gives me a clear next step.

Social Media Marketing Campaign

Facebook has 3 billion active users, Instagram and YouTube each have 2 billion, TikTok has 1 billion, and Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest have hundreds of millions of users each. A total 77% of the population of the United States has a social media account.

With attention spread across so many channels, the two primary questions of social media marketing are these:

  • Where does your audience spend time?
  • What type of campaigns will they respond to?

Designing a Social Media Marketing Campaign

When designing a social media marketing campaign, your first task is to pick the right channel. Be picky. It’s better to have a narrowly-targeted campaign that reaches the right audience than a broad campaign with diluted impact.

Once you’ve picked your channel—say, Instagram—you’ll need to design a campaign that works well with users on that platform. You’ll want to explore possibilities like:

  • Paid ads
  • Organic content
  • Influencer marketing
  • User-generated content

You also want the tone of the campaign to match the tone of the platform. Instagram, for example, lends itself to visual campaigns that are funny, entertaining, or aesthetically pleasing.

Whatever tactics you choose, make sure you decide in advance which metrics to track and what success will look like.

Example: Disney’s #ShareYourEars campaign

Disney’s #ShareYourEars campaign is a fundraiser in partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Disney used Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for this campaign. Users posted a photo of themselves wearing Mickey Mouse ears with the hashtag #ShareYourEars in exchange for a pledge from Disney to donate $5 to Make-A-Wish. The campaign resulted in 1.77 million photos posted, generating 420 million social media impressions and 54 million media impressions.

Influencer Marketing Campaign

If you’re thinking that influencer marketing is just for millennial and Gen Z ecommerce brands, think again. Sure, celebrity influencers like Kylie Jenner get up to $1.2 million dollars per social media post. But as influencer marketing grows—from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $13.8 billion in 2021—it’s also evolving.

First, almost half of influencers are micro influencers—defined as having 5,000-20,000 social media followers. Working with micro influencers prominent in your niche is an easy, inexpensive way to gain exposure.

Second, influencer marketing is now mainstream, and it isn’t limited to certain demographics. Even B2B firms like Cisco Systems work with influencers. In a survey of 800 marketing agencies, Influencer Marketing Hub found that half of respondents plan to spend at least 20% of their marketing budget on influencer marketing.

Designing an Influencer Marketing Campaign

Think of influencer marketing campaigns as a way to grow credibility for your brand. 61% of consumers trust influencer-produced content, while 38% trust brand-produced content. In other words—your messaging is more powerful in the hands of influencers than on your company account.

If you’re looking to boost a user-generated content or referral campaign, working with influencers gives the campaign early momentum. Choose your influencers carefully, making sure they align with your brand, and don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to pay top rates for mega influencers. An army of micro influencers who are relevant in your niche can be just as effective. Influencer marketing software can help you find the right lineup of talent.

Example: Mastercard

Mastercard ran an influencer campaign on Instagram with the goal of more closely associating their product with international travel in the Indian market. By handpicking influencers and choosing the destinations they traveled to, Mastercard was able to generate over 2 million engagements.

Referral Marketing Campaign

Dropbox, a file storage company, went from 100,000 to 4 million users by offering a generous referral program that gave new referral signups—and the referrers themselves—500MB of free storage.

Despite the success of companies like Dropbox, referrals are underused. 83% of customers are willing to refer friends after a good experience with a brand, but only 29% actually make the referral. To take action, customers need stronger incentives—or at the very least, reminders.

Designing a Referral Marketing Campaign

To maximize the power of your referral marketing campaign, give rewards both for referring and for signing up. Be as generous as you can. It might feel like you’re giving away too much for free. But remember—if you weren’t acquiring new customers through referrals, you’d have to pay to acquire them another way.

The advantage of referral programs over other marketing campaigns—in addition to the built-in trust, goodwill, and virality—is that you have the ability to set the terms. Choose referral incentives that are easy to deliver while still attractive to customers.

Software companies are in an enviable position here. At a minimal cost, they can offer a month free to both the referrer and the new signup. Brands that sell physical goods need to be more creative. If you’re stumped, you can always offer coupons and credits for future purchases.

Example: FreeAgent

FreeAgent, an accounting software company, uses a smart system of incentives to get current customers to refer friends. Each referral is worth 10% off the subscription for both parties, valid for as long as both parties maintain active subscriptions. There’s no limit to how many people you can refer. If you refer ten friends, the software is free for you.

User Generated Content (UGC) Marketing Campaign

User-generated content (UGC) campaigns involve inviting your audience to post real-life photos and videos of themselves using your products. UGC gets 28% more engagement than regular posts from your company. With ads, the difference is even greater—UGC ads get a 4x higher click through rate and are 50% cheaper.

Ad fatigue is real. Social media users have gotten used to scrolling quickly past ads that are overtly salesy. UGC campaigns fight this trend.

The power of user-generated content campaigns is twofold:

  • Instead of creating content, your audience creates content for you.
  • The content they create is more compelling and trustworthy than branded content.

Designing a UGC Marketing Campaign

When launching a UGC campaign, pick a platform your audience spends time on. Consumer brands often end up on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok. LinkedIn and Twitter work well for B2B.

The key element of a UGC campaign is the concept. What would motivate your audience to share photos and videos of themselves with your products?

Here’s where psychology comes into play. Consider how your campaign can:

  • Help your audience look good.
  • Help your audience entertain their followers.
  • Help your audience gain status on social media.

For example, a brand that makes backyard grills might design a tongue-in-cheek wintertime campaign designed around grilling in the snow. The hashtag: #nevertoocoldtogrill. The brand’s primarily male audience gets the chance to entertain their followers—and portray themselves as tough—by grilling outside in the snow.

Choose a unique hashtag to make it easy to pull together the content your UGC campaign generates, and make sure to comment and engage on your followers’ posts as they participate. Adding prizes will further increase the motivation to participate.

Example: GoPro

GoPro is tailor-made for user-generated content, especially because—as a camera company—the product itself doesn’t have to be in the photo. Instead, GoPro fans take photos of themselves while snowboarding, hiking, surfing, and countless other adventures. There’s a natural incentive for them to share so their exploits are recognized by other adventurers in the GoPro community. There’s also the Million Dollar Challenge, an award GoPro gives to the clips that make it into its year-end video reel.

Traditional Media Campaign

Traditional media campaigns have been eclipsed by digital marketing, but they make a powerful complement to online marketing efforts. Traditional media consists of offline marketing channels like newspapers, billboards, direct mail, television, and radio.

For brand awareness efforts in particular, traditional media remains a strong option. The CPM (cost per thousand impressions) of traditional media is $5 for billboards, $16 for magazines and newspapers, and $28 for local television commercials. For more highly-targeted campaigns, you can also use direct mail—though it comes at a $57 CPM.

Offline and online marketing can work hand in hand. A study by the Radio Advertising Bureau found that radio ads resulted in a 29% increase in Google search activity.

Designing a Traditional Media Campaign

Especially for local businesses, or brands entering a new market, traditional media offers a chance to grow brand recognition beyond the subset of people who encounter you online.

Just as with digital marketing, traditional media marketing starts with identifying where your audience spends time. If you want to reach working professionals in the Dallas metro area, try running a radio ad during the morning and evening commute. If you’re running a business that’s expanding into Phoenix and serves a broad audience, get a billboard or an ad in local newspapers or magazines.

Tracking traditional media can be difficult. One way to do it is through coupons. If a customer uses the discount code 'RADIO15' for a 15% discount, you’ll know they heard about you through your radio ads. A less precise way is to track your branded search volume. If your traditional media campaigns are effective, they should get people Googling the name of your brand.

Example: Apple iPod Shuffle

When Apple launched the iPod shuffle, the company ran a series of print ads showing how the product made it easy to listen to music while running, biking, and commuting through the landscapes of various cities.

Public Relations Campaign

When your brand does notable things and earns positive attention in the media, that’s public relations. H&R Block, the accounting firm, partnered with gas stations to give away $25,000 in gasoline. H&R Block associates got the chance to build goodwill by paying for fuel-ups—while offering tax preparation discounts. The event generated leads locally and earned media write-ups nationally.

When public relations campaigns are successful, they gain valuable airtime across television, radio, print, social media, and online publications—placements that would often be prohibitively expensive to buy as ad space.

Designing a Public Relations Campaign

Public relations campaigns are about communicating what your brand stands for while earning media attention. You can get this done in many ways.

Whatever route you choose, PR campaigns need to fit your brand.

If your goal is to build goodwill, keep your PR campaign light and noncontroversial. This is the safe bet. But many brands also benefit from a more divisive approach as a way to gain media attention, especially if it gives them a chance to broadcast the values of their target audience.

Example: Penguin Random House

Book publisher Penguin Random House took an opinionated stance with its PR effort 'The Unburnable Book.' The publisher created a book made entirely of fireproof materials in an effort to promote free speech. The book was later sold at auction for $130,000. The campaign received 3.5 billion impressions and $33 million worth of earned media.

Search Engine Marketing Campaign

A number one ranking on Google isn’t what it used to be. In a world full of competition and algorithm changes, search engine marketing campaigns allow brands to guarantee visibility with ads.

While 78% of global searches happen on Google, it’s not the only game in town. Bing tends to cater to an older, more affluent demographic, so it’s worth experimenting with for some brands.

Search engine marketing allows you to get in front of people who are ready to buy right now—and to make sure you’re in the conversation when they make their choice.

Designing a Search Engine Marketing Campaign

Search engine marketing campaigns are expensive, so they’re important to design carefully. Make sure you know your customer lifetime value and conversion rates so you can create profitable campaigns.

If your budget allows you to target bottom-of-funnel keywords (like “buy health insurance”), focus on those first. You may also want to experiment with middle-of-funnel keywords (like “best health insurance for travelers”), which gets you into the conversation earlier in the buying funnel.

Search engine marketing results can be tracked in detail. Make sure your website analytics are set up to track which conversions came from which traffic sources so you can determine the profitability of your campaign.

Example: Monday.com

monday.com screenshot

Monday.com is a task management and CRM software that pays for bottom-of-funnel ads (”crm software”) as well as middle-of-funnel ads (”best crm software for small business”).

Tips for Running a Successful Marketing Campaign

marketing campaign types graphic

Know Your Target Audience

Marketers waste $37 billion every year on ads that don’t engage with their target audience. Many commit the cardinal sin of marketing by designing ads that try to speak to everyone, and instead speak to no one.

To get to know your target audience, gather information from all current and past customers. Your audience is probably not all the same. That’s okay. You can have multiple target audiences, as long as each is specific.

There are two ways to segment your audience:

  • Manually: Take everything you’ve learned—from customer data, customer interviews, and social sentiment analysis—and start identifying trends in customers. Sort them into different “audience buckets” until your primary target audiences become clear.
  • Automatically: You can use AI-powered analytics software like Delve.ai to generate customer personas from raw customer data, pulling from sources like your CRM, Google Analytics, and social sentiment analytics.

Once you’ve segmented your audience, get to know them better by expanding the customer personas for each target audience. What social media platforms do they use? What do they do for fun? What are their values?

A McKinsey study found that personalized ads can increase ROI by a factor of 8. Once you’ve built out your customer personas, you can take advantage of improved ROI by creating different campaigns for different audiences. Don’t be afraid to alienate some people if you know it endears you to your target audience.

Choose the Best Type of Campaign

Not every campaign is right for every business:

  • A beauty ecommerce brand might use a TikTok influencer and UGC campaign.
  • A tax software company might use search engine marketing, email marketing, LinkedIn ads, and referral marketing.
  • An automotive brand might use traditional media, search engine marketing, public relations campaigns, and social media marketing.

The wrong combination of these could easily fall flat. Choose your marketing campaign types carefully, making sure they align with your brand and audience.

Cross Promote through Marketing Channels

It’s important to identify a few “primary channels” where your audience spends time. That’s where you should focus most of your effort.

But after your content is already created, it doesn’t cost much more to cross-promote. In fact, it’s probably a great use of your time.

For example:

  • YouTube shorts can easily be posted to TikTok.
  • Content marketing can be distributed via email.
  • User-generated content can become paid ads.
  • Traditional media ads can become social posts.

Your content should still be designed for your primary channels, but it’s smart to expand your audience to other channels—unless they’re entirely incompatible with your brand.

Have a Clear Call to Action

The Internet is full of lackluster calls to action (CTAs). How many times have you seen a request to “join our email list”—and skipped right over it? People only take action on CTAs when they’re compelling. For example, 50% of users are more likely to complete a purchase if they’re offered free shipping.

Here’s how to write a clear CTA:

  1. Use incentives. Your users are wondering ”What’s in it for me?” Make the answer obvious. If your offer is too good to ignore, your sign-ups will skyrocket.
  2. Keep it actionable and short. Don’t over complicate your call to action. Use large text and few words. Let the power of your offer drive action.
  3. Use urgency. If there’s no urgency, it’s tempting for users to avoid taking action. Add urgency to your CTA by using deadlines and applying psychological principles like scarcity.

Track Your Chosen Metrics

Some marketing campaign types, like search engine marketing, make it easy to track return on investment (ROI). But with campaigns like rebranding and traditional media, determining ROI isn’t easy.

It’s still possible to track metrics, though—even if you’re launching a campaign that’s difficult to track precisely.

Here are some metrics you may want to consider:

  • Trackable Campaigns: For highly trackable campaigns, like paid ads, social media, and email, connect your campaign to revenue to determine its return on investment. You’ll want to track metrics like conversion rate, cost per conversion, and customer acquisition cost.
  • Hard-to-Quantify Campaigns: With campaigns like brand awareness, traditional media, public relations, and rebranding, it can be hard to track ROI. Instead of revenue and conversions, focus on metrics like media mentions, impressions, branded search volume, and engagement.

The Perfect Marketing Campaign Is Out There

You have no shortage of campaign options as a marketer today. But so many of those are shiny objects in disguise. Enough is enough—I’m giving you permission to ignore it the next time someone aggressively pushes TikTok (even if it’s horrible for your audience) or berates you for not testing Bing Ads.

Instead of getting overwhelmed with marketing campaign examples, do this: understand your target audience, choose a platform where they spend time, design a campaign that resonates with their values, and track the results.

And since you made it this far, don’t forget to subscribe to The CMO newsletter so you don’t miss out on the latest in marketing strategy, technology, and tools.

By Ryan Kane

Ryan Kane is a digital marketing specialist. As a writer for The CMO and The CX Lead, his perspective is informed by customer-facing experience at a tech startup, an agency, and a manufacturer serving Fortune 500 clients.

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