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A Comprehensive Guide to Marketing Campaigns

No matter how great your product or service is, without a well-researched plan, your campaign will struggle to attract new leads. Effectively communicating your story and value propositions helps you connect with the right audiences at the right time.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of building an effective marketing campaign and measuring its results. Through real-life examples, you'll gain the understanding you need to prepare your next big project.

In this marketing campaigns guide, you’ll discover:

 

What is a marketing campaign?

A marketing campaign is a strategic sequence of steps and activities that promote your company's product or service, with a specific goal in mind.

Campaign efforts may involve a range of media, such as radio, television, in-person events, and digital media. You should select and vet the marketing approach that will work best for your campaign.

Consider your target audience and what you want to accomplish. You should have one clear objective that drives your messaging and vision.

It's common for large companies with many product lines to have more than one active marketing campaign. For example, a company may have a nationwide brand awareness campaign while its affiliate stores are focused on promoting an upcoming seasonal sale.

 

Key types of marketing campaigns.

There are many different media to choose from when developing your marketing campaign strategy. A campaign may use a combination of different media or a single medium. The key is to pick media that your target audience favors.

Email marketing campaigns.

An email marketing campaign is one of the best ways to connect with potential and current customers. Each email is a part of an overall marketing strategy with one common goal: to get your prospects to take action.

The difference between emails that subscribers open and those that get trashed is personalization.

To create a successful email marketing campaign, speak directly to your audience, not at them. You want them to connect with your brand from the subject line to the call to action.

Social media marketing campaigns.

Customers may engage with your social media channels at various stages of their buying process. Social media can be a vehicle that pushes your customers further down your sales funnel or as a way for you to gather quantitative and qualitative customer feedback. 

Social media marketing strategies generally include a combination of organic and paid methods that work together to promote, educate, and engage your customers. It’s best to focus on the platforms that align with the campaign’s objectives. 

Download the Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing

Direct mail marketing campaigns.

With direct mail, you can provide an interactive experience with samples or promotional materials that place your company at your customers’ doorstep.

The infinite creative possibilities and novelty make direct mail memorable, earning the third-highest ROI as a campaign medium behind social media and email. Both local and online businesses can reap the benefits of direct mail by using coupons, contests, and offers that drive people to their platforms.

Pay-per-click marketing campaigns.

Pay-per-click (PPC) uses online advertisements that accrue costs each time a potential lead clicks on your ad.

Ad placement on services like Google and Bing is determined through a bidding process, where you choose an amount that you are willing to pay per keyword.

Businesses that have a clear understanding of their target audience and how they interact online will get the most out of PPC. The more you know about your customers, the easier it will be to attract quality leads from people who are already searching for your product or service.  

Events and trade shows.

Event marketing opens your business to a variety of opportunities to engage with potential customers and partners.

By hosting a workshop, purchasing a table to demo your products, or presenting a series of seminars, you will build relationships that have both short and long-term earning potential.

Trade shows, especially, are uncharted territory for many businesses. Once seen as a place for gun enthusiasts and video gamers, trade shows made 13.2 billion dollars in revenue in 2017 alone.

Publicity-focused marketing campaigns.

Publicity creates brand awareness and social proof through media news stories and references. As your business grows, you might consider hiring a publicist.

Publicity-focused marketing campaigns include newsjacking, or the act of injecting your brand into a breaking news story so your company gets to ride the trend. It might also include reaching out to journalists and external websites with press releases.

 

The components that go into a marketing campaign.

As a guide, a marketing campaign should include: 

  • Goals. What is your campaign trying to achieve? These might link to a wider marketing strategy.
  • A message or purpose. The ‘why’ behind your marketing campaign.
  • Valuable assets. Such as email copy or a downloadable report. You’ll need to define the channels you intend to use, since you’ll need different assets for press campaigns and trade shows.
  • Targets. These ground activities to your marketing campaign’s goals. You might use analytics and KPIs (key performance indicators) to measure them.
  • An execution plan. Including a project plan.
  • A budget. For resources and external costs.

These aren’t definitive, and each business will have a slightly different approach. It could also be smart to ensure your budget accounts for risk.

KPIs are often the key to successful, grounded marketing campaign strategy planning. Select one priority indicator and adapt your plans to the goal of hitting targets in this area, every step of the way.

The main KPIs used in marketing campaigns are: 

  • Sales revenue
  • Customer retention
  • Return on investment, or ROI
  • Cost per lead, or CPL
  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
  • Cost per acquisition
  • Brand lift

 

How to create a marketing campaign.

Whether it’s the first marketing campaign you’ve created from scratch or your tenth for a multinational brand, planning your campaign well can keep you grounded. Campaigns are the crowning jewels of a marketing professional’s portfolio – executing them well is an honor, and avoiding pitfalls is a must.

A marketing campaign isn't dependent on one task or person. Identifying your goals, audience, and messaging, as well as other aspects of your marketing strategy, will help to ensure a successful campaign.

To create a marketing campaign, you need to define scope, match creative ideas to goals and plan how you’ll execute this in the real world.

1. Understand the scope of your marketing plan.

Your marketing plan provides your campaign with direction. It allows you to map your activities, strategies, budgets, resources, and KPIs. Creating a plan keeps your team accountable, which will help ensure that each part of the campaign is done well and delivered on time.

To keep activities grounded from the very beginning, first define your marketing campaign’s purpose. This might be to:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Support a new product’s launch
  • Boost revenue fast – usually through sales
  • Pursue leads for future sales
  • Improve customer retention
  • Engage with your target audience

Streamlining marketing campaigns to fit a single aim can help to keep scope refined, reducing the risk of your campaign running off course. Every marketer likes to get creative juices flowing and create something that will dazzle, but the best professionals always keep their work grounded to its original aims.

A sense of purpose could breathe life into your marketing campaign. When people resonate with your message, they may be more persuaded to begin a journey down the funnel.

2. Set clear marketing campaign objectives.

What do you hope to accomplish? When setting the objective of your campaign, be sure to aim for achievable, concrete goals – the fewer, the better. Your marketing campaign objectives should relate directly to your goals, but it’s important to know the difference.

Marketing campaign objectives generally involve:

  • An increase in profits
  • Brand awareness
  • Market engagement 

Your individual business goals, on the other hand, should be SMART, or:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Time-sensitive
  • Realistic

This makes goal-setting the perfect time to ground your ideas in realism. How many links is your website asset likely to attract in practice? How long will it take for the campaign to drive the kind of engagement you need to hit KPIs?

Setting actionable and attainable goals often means pinning numerical values on everything. This is where analytics can come in. If you’d like to generate a certain number of clicks for each dollar of your marketing budget, or generate a certain number of quotes, write this down early on.

3. Identify a target campaign audience.

Your target audience is the ‘who’ of your marketing campaign — it’s an important metric to define. New business owners may want to target everyone, but, spread yourself too thin and you may find it more difficult to drive results. As a marketer, you can serve campaign material to people, but you can’t control who engages. That’s why selectiveness can be so beneficial.

To avoid wasting money marketing to the wrong audience, be specific about characteristics such as: 

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Economic status
  • Location
  • Consumer behavior
  • Interests
  • Needs

Once you have this pinned down, use it to inform key decisions about your marketing campaign. Is your target demographic on Instagram or LinkedIn more likely to attend an exhibition or read industry news sites?

Your objectives will come into play here, too. An exhibition might be a good place to spread the word about your exciting new product, while LinkedIn could be better-placed for nurturing leads towards a sale.

Using your own data – such as sales records, website analytics or even a customer survey – could help you to justify audience judgements.

4. Create a marketing campaign strategy and message.

This is where your creative vision and strategic knowledge come into their own.

Your marketing campaign strategy should align with wider business goals, as should creative concepts and assets. The best marketing campaigns carry brand through their concepts, messages, colors, and copy.

Determine what you want to say to your audience and the best way to deliver your message. Remember that businesses don't sell products or services — they sell solutions and peace of mind. Establish a persuasive voice that pushes through the noise to reach your audience. Provide them with solutions that accommodate their lifestyle and address their pain points.

There is no formulaic way to come up with a show-stopping marketing campaign idea. Some firms bring together their best minds, while others employ a creative agency for a little extra creative zest.

It’s also a good idea to sense check your marketing campaign ideas for things like:

  • Reputational risk. Your board meeting’s reaction isn’t always universal, so think about the ways could lead to controversy or brand damage.
  • Feasibility. Are the right resources available, is a design possible, does any aspect of your marketing campaign idea rest on chance? If you’re using surveys as part of your work, try to ask questions that remain useful whatever the answers.

5. Pick a marketing medium — or media — for delivery.

This is the stage where marketing campaigns take shape. With the groundwork laid, you need to ground your strategic and creative ideas onto tangible channels.

Your business might already have its preferences. If you’re already relying heavily on owned media channels such as your website and blog, you may want to stick here if it’s working. Looking for new audiences? Then you may prefer to venture away from your comfort zone with paid advertising.

Marketing campaigns usually run on one of four main media channels:

  • Owned media. Such as your mailing lists, websites and social accounts.
  • Earned media. Such as external PR placements and network marketing.
  • Paid media. Including search engine advertising and sponsorships.
  • Shared media. Which includes activity on third-party websites.

Every few years, a new marketing medium emerges on the scene. It can be challenging to manage multiple channels at once, so don't spread yourself thin. Focus on the media that will best support your goals. Choose the channels your target audience prefers, and also consider your budget and the type of content that will attract your audience. 

6. Set a marketing campaign timeline.

A campaign timeline allows you to dedicate resources, hold team members accountable, and most of all, establish a finish line. Without reasonably rigid deadlines for each aspect of your plan, it’s easy for results never to materialize. No matter how good your idea and vision, profits come in the execution.

Start by analyzing the situation today, then break down every aspect of the work that’s due. Think about: 

  • The planning stage
  • Research and asset creation
  • Administrative time – such as uploading assets
  • Communication requirements, including meetings
  • Analytical tasks 

Estimate the number of operational hours you’ll need for each, then attribute these activities to people in your internal or external teams. You might then lay them out side-by-side in a Gantt chart. This can help you to set a realistic campaign launch date.

Develop a schedule that allocates enough time to reach and measure your goals. Take into consideration potential changes and your team's workload when identifying which deliverables to execute each week, as each activity builds upon the last.  

7. Develop a marketing campaign budget.

Marketing campaigns come at a cost – the trick is to keep this in check to ensure everything you’re paying for is a sensible investment.

First, research price points for the key things you’ll need. For an on-site interactive design campaign, this will likely include website development fees, whereas a paid social media marketer will find bidding is often their main cost.

Then, consider all the other things your marketing campaign needs to come to life: a copywriter’s fee, or payment for the influencer who you might ask to link back to your asset.

Also factor in ‘outside costs’ – these are the baseline costs for doing business in your organization, such as the cost of employing campaign staff and creating assets.

Once you have a fair estimate, compare this to your company’s total marketing budget. If you believe there’s a weak business case for the costs listed, reassess them to find savings opportunities.

According to the 2020 CMO Survey, marketing budgets can vary greatly by industry – so what you can afford may depend on your sector. Typical figures are: 

  • 21% of company revenue in consulting
  • 21% of revenue in technology
  • 18% in healthcare
  • 3% in education
  • 3% in construction
  • 1% in energy

A campaign budget gives you an idea of how much money you will need to implement your plan. But it shouldn't limit your goals. With the many available marketing tools and channels, you can find creative and cost-effective ways to reach your audience.

8. Establish metrics to measure campaign success.

Measuring KPIs for your campaign provides you with the insights you need to adjust your approach and determine ROI. 

Marketing metrics and analytics are essential because they enable you to track your campaign's performance from start to finish. KPIs should always be grounded in your strategy and its core objective, so refer to this when pulling together targets for visibility, clicks or revenue generation. Avoid assuming peripheral metrics will be enough.

Select the metrics that matter most for your marketing campaign’s objectives. For instance, if you may aim to create brand awareness, you may choose to measure top-of-the-funnel metrics such as the number of social media likes, follows, and shares. If your key aim is generating new sales, make this your main KPI.

Other relevant KPIs may include:

  • Click-through rates
  • Goal conversion rates
  • The percentage of leads converted to customers
  • The number of sales coming from a specific channel
  • Content engagement rates
  • Website sessions

By capturing your results and comparing them against your goals at each stage of the funnel, you'll be able to determine where your leads are falling off and develop effective retargeting strategies.

9. Ask how to improve your marketing campaign.

No campaign can be perfect, but it’s still worthy to seek improvement. If you don’t feel your KPI headline figures tell the best story, use them as springboards for improvement.

To get the most from marketing campaigns, review campaign data periodically and make strategy revisions as needed. You might find it's necessary to revise your message or invest in new channels. Companies that don't measure and review their data are likely to keep making the same mistakes, or to press on without realizing their campaign is ineffective.

By improving your campaign along the way, you could improve your standing when it’s time to present results to the C-suite.

 

Common marketing campaign setbacks

How to improve your campaign

Lack of clear strategy

Outline clear objectives and map all activity to KPIs.

Lack of resources

Prioritize what’s important and seek external support.

Outdated marketing theory

Brush up on your knowledge of the latest marketing tactics.

Poor audience engagement

Reaching people, but not the right people? Revisit your creative ideas or their presentation.

 

Harnessing the power of analytics data can help you to identify problems and pull marketing campaigns back onto a positive path.

10. Launch your marketing campaign.

After you've successfully set up your marketing campaign, it's time to launch.

Launching a campaign can come with pressure when the roll-out is limited to one day or week. Instead, break your launch into phases:

  • Pre-launch
  • Launch
  • Post-launch 

Applying this technique will ensure that the first time your customers hear about your product isn't launch day. It also provides your leads with follow up actions to move them throughout the funnel.

The pre-launch phase is all about laying the groundwork, which might involve getting emails drafted and assets ready to push live. The launch itself might not happen on a single day, but you should try to limit it to the same week. If you have multiple assets to push live for this marketing campaign, the last thing you want is a delay between these.

Post-launch comes the post-mortem. You’ll need to track wins as they come in and keep a close eye on analytics. For certain campaign types, you might be able to adjust bids and budgets even after the launch date.

Download the Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation

 

Three marketing campaign examples.

Now that you understand the essentials of creating a marketing campaign that drives success, let us guide you through the ways brands have applied these steps to develop and improve marketing strategies. 

1. Panasonic’s B2B marketing campaign.

Panasonic, a household electronics and technology brand, used a B2B marketing campaign strategy to bring teams together and drive revenue.

The company had merged product groups that previously operated as independent businesses. The problem? Different product sales and marketing teams had trouble achieving collective market engagement.

Adopting a complete B2B marketing solution helped drive marketing campaigns and audience engagement strategies across product groups. 

In less than four years, the results were incredible: an improvement in marketing’s contribution to the company’s total revenue from less than 10% up to 26%. There was also a five-fold increase in the output of marketing campaigns without any further investment in budget or resources.

It’s a clear sign of how the right marketing strategy can shake up teams and drive results when aligned with KPIs.

2. CenturyLink’s data-led marketing campaign.

As a leading telecom company, CenturyLink found itself needing to automate its marketing campaign activities to create consistency throughout their funnel.

It adopted a digital marketing platform that allowed them to segment their message by audience and streamline data collection and reporting. CenturyLink then implemented effective lead nurturing email campaigns that resulted in significant conversion growth.

Within five years, CenturyLink went from 100 to 2000 qualified leads per month.

Now that CenturyLink has streamlined its data analytics efforts, the company is able to pull almost 400,000 daily activities. This helps to build a full picture of performance across multiple campaigns.

Analytics is the secret weapon of many campaign marketers – with the right information at your fingertips, it’s easier to manage large projects.

3. Fujitsu’s engagement-focused marketing campaign.

Fujitsu is a global technology equipment and services company with over 80 years of experience. It used an engagement platform to drive engagement

Fujitsu needed to start the lead nurturing process as early as possible—over 94 percent of leads research this company before engaging in business. Using a vetted engagement platform, Fujitsu created campaigns that reached and engaged new prospects, delivering meaningful experience seamlessly across all digital channels.

Armed with knowledge of its customer behavior and journeys, Fujitsu was also able to determine the nature of the content served as part of marketing campaigns. It needed to be as meaningful as possible to nurture leads successfully, which means investment makes sense.

With the analytics behind these decisions laid out, Fujitsu was able to get multiple teams aligned on strategy and purpose.

 

Frequently asked questions about marketing campaigns.

What is a marketing campaign strategy?

A marketing campaign strategy is the arm of your wider marketing strategy – the logical and theoretical framework for your company’s marketing efforts – that relates to a specific campaign. Campaign strategy helps you to pin creative ideas to tangible aims and find the best course for your commercial aims. A lead generation strategy will map onto very different marketing channels to an engagement-focused strategy and plans with a B2B focus may need to be executed differently to B2C campaigns.

How do you write a marketing campaign strategy?

To write a marketing campaign strategy document: 

1. Draft a mission statement. The more concise, the better.

2. List your targets. These should include your KPIs.

3. Outline your target audience. What will your campaign focus on?

4. Identify strategy type. You could use several marketing channels, as long as each feeds back into your goals.

5. Analyze your competition. How can you get ahead?

6. Conclude with clear marketing campaign goals. These should be specific and measurable.

How do I start a marketing campaign?

Unsure where to start with your next marketing campaign? Try these easy steps to get started:

1. Research, then research some more. Seek out inspiration from competitor campaigns, the news, or relevant calendar milestones.

2. Define your audience. Are you targeting mothers, CEOs, or Gen Z? Use this information to anchor your ideas.

3. Host an ideation. Bring creative minds together to discuss the research and shortlist concepts that fit your strategic aims.

 

Launching your next successful marketing campaign.

A successful marketing campaign is a multi-layered process that requires significant planning and research. Whether it’s your first or fortieth campaign, each is different, requiring strategic thought around choosing media, establishing a timeline, and finding a budget that fits your goals and objectives.

Marketo Engage experts are well-versed in developing marketing campaigns that transform your message and put your business in a position to earn maximum results.

Learn how Marketo Engage can increase your campaign's effectiveness and improve lead conversions.

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