16 min remaining

From P&G’s “Thank You, Mom” to American Express’s “Small Business Saturday” to Dos Equis’s “Most Interesting Man in the World,” marketing campaigns have a way of sticking with us long after an impression or purchase. Why is that? Well, campaigns make companies memorable. They promote a focused effort that guides consumers towards the desired action. They also give brands an identity, personality, and emotion.

Marketing campaigns can do the same for your business. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide — to provide a clear, concise approach to your next marketing campaign.

Learn how to run more impactful, measurable marketing campaigns.

Keep reading to get started or use the links below to jump ahead.

Marketing campaigns don’t include all marketing efforts for a brand. In fact, the word “campaign” is defined as “a connected series of operations designed to bring about a particular result.”

That’s why politicians campaign for a specific election and militaries campaign for a specific battle.

For example, every Nike advertisement you see or hear on the way to work probably isn’t part of a campaign. But, if you see a Nike billboard, scroll past a Nike-sponsored Instagram post, and receive a Nike email all promoting the same product, you’ve witnessed a marketing campaign.

You’ve also probably heard the word “campaign” used for both marketing and advertising. What’s the difference?

Marketing Campaigns vs Advertising Campaigns

Advertising is a component of marketing. Marketing is how a company plans to raise awareness of its brand and convince customers to make a purchase, while advertising is the process of creating persuasive messages around these broad goals.

In terms of campaigns, an advertising campaign might be a facet of a bigger marketing campaign strategy. For example, if Nike were campaigning about the release of a new product, their advertising would be one piece of its broader marketing efforts, which might also encompass email, social media, and paid search.

Now that we understand the difference between advertising and marketing campaigns, here's a list of a few more types of marketing campaigns you might run.

Marketing Campaign Components

Multiple components go into the planning, execution, and benefiting from a stellar marketing campaign.

  • Goals & KPIs: These identify what the end goal of your campaign is, quantify it, and explain how you’ll measure this result. For example, your content creation campaign might be measured by organic traffic, with each post aiming to drive 1,000 views per month and 10 new contacts, and metrics being measured in Google Analytics and Looker.
  • Channels: Where will your content and messaging be distributed? For example, if you’re running a social media marketing campaign, you might specifically prioritize growing the channels most relevant to your audience and omit those where you’re least likely to grow a loyal following.
  • Budget: Not all marketing campaigns require an incremental budget, but many still do. Factor in the agency, advertising, and freelance costs, if appropriate, and factor these numbers into any ROI analysis for your campaign.
  • Content Format(s): Determine what kind of content you will be creating to fuel the campaign. It’s common for marketers to include multiple content formats in a singular campaign. For example, a branding campaign could include video ads, press releases, and guest blogs.
  • Team: Who are the individuals you’re relying on to get the job done? Before kickstarting your campaign, make sure you have a roster of people who can help you with copywriting, website building, design, budget planning, video, or whatever elements you’re employing in the campaign.
  • Design: Finally, a great marketing campaign has a noteworthy design. Whether it’s a sleek website design, a logo at the end of a video commercial, or an interactive infographic, make sure your design is professional and fitting for the purpose of the campaign.

Free Resource

Learn how to run an inbound marketing campaign.

Fill out the form to get your guide.

How to Create a Successful Marketing Campaign

Creating an entire campaign is a big task, but the process is pretty straightforward. Planning your campaign is just as important as designing the fun stuff, such as the creative advertisements and conversion assets, so take the time to do this important step.

Before you create what your audience will see, you must consider what you want them to do when they see it (or read it or hear it.)

I’ve organized this section as a marketing campaign template. All you need to do is answer the questions — as accurately and in-depth as possible — to ensure a thorough, successful approach to your next marketing campaign.

Planning Your Marketing Campaign

This step is crucial to the effectiveness of your marketing campaign. The planning stage will determine how you measure success and will guide your team and campaign when things (inevitably) go awry.

Featured Resource

1. Set a purpose and goal for your campaign.

Let’s start simple. Why are you running this campaign? What would you like your campaign to accomplish for your business?

If you’re having trouble defining your campaign purpose, start broad. Take a look at the goals below. Which one is most aligned with your own?

  • Promote a new product or service
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Gather customer feedback or content
  • Generate revenue
  • Boost user engagement
  • Advertise an upcoming event

This is hardly a definitive list, but it gives you an idea of some general business goals that a campaign could help reach.

We'll use the third option as an example: Gather customer feedback or content.

Let's take this broad campaign purpose and turn it into a SMART goal. Here's what that looks like:

“The goal of my marketing campaign is to gather user-generated content from 100 customers via a branded hashtag on Instagram featuring our new product line by December 31, 2020.”

The goal is Specific (user-generated content), Measurable (100 customers), Attainable (via a branded Instagram hashtag), Relevant (featuring the new product line), and Timely (by December 31, 2020).

See how this broad campaign purpose instantly transforms into an actionable, attainable goal?

Pro Tip: Setting SMART Goals is simple when you have the right tools. Check out the free SMART Goal-Setting template below to get started on this critical piece of your marketing campaign.

Featured Resource

2. Establish how you’ll measure your campaign.

This will look different for everyone. You might measure “email open rates,” “new Facebook Page likes,” “product pre-orders,” or all of the above.

These answers will depend on your overarching campaign goal. Here are a few examples of metrics based on the campaign goals I mentioned above.

  • For promoting a new product or service: Pre-orders, sales, upsells
  • For increasing brand awareness: Sentiment, social mentions, press mentions
  • For gathering customer feedback or content: Social mentions, engagement
  • For generating revenue: Leads, sales, upsells
  • For boosting user engagement: Blog shares, social shares, email interactions
  • For advertising an upcoming event: Ticket sales, vendor or entertainment bookings, social mentions

If your campaign involves multiple marketing efforts (such as social media, direct mail, and radio ads), it’s wise to define how you’ll measure your campaign on each medium. (Read more about these channel-specific metrics below.)

For example, let’s say I was running my user-generated content (UGC) campaign on social media, email, and on our blog.

First, I’d define my key performance indicators (KPIs) for each medium, which may look like:

  • Instagram engagements (likes and comments) and profile tags
  • Email open rates and click-through rates
  • Blog views, click-throughs, and social shares

Then, I’d define my primary campaign KPI: Instagram branded hashtag mentions.

While the above KPIs indicate how well my campaign is reaching and engaging my audience, my primary KPI tells me how close I am to reaching my SMART goal.

Lastly, let’s think about another question: What does “success” look like for your company? Sure, it’s exciting to reach a predetermined goal, but that’s not always possible. What (outside of your goal) would constitute success for you (or serve as a milestone)? What would make you feel like your campaign is worthwhile if it doesn’t involve meeting your goal?

Pro Tip: When determining how you’ll measure your campaign, consider setting up some checkpoints along the way. If your campaign involves boosting brand awareness and your goal is to reach 50 PR mentions by the end of the year, set up some benchmark notifications at 10, 25, and 40 mentions.

Not only will it remind you to keep pushing toward your ultimate goal, but it’ll boost morale within your team and remind you that your time and money investments are paying off.

3. Define your target audience.

Imagine constructing a bulletproof marketing campaign only to be met with crickets.

In that case, you might think you chose the wrong marketing medium or that your creative wasn’t witty enough. Regardless of what it might be, all of those decisions come back to one thing: Your audience.

The first step to resolving this problem is figuring out what stage of the buyer’s journey your campaign is targeting. Are you trying to bring in new customers, or are you attempting to gather feedback from existing clients? Are you marketing your brand to those who recognize it, or are you introducing a new brand identity altogether?

Your marketing message will vary depending on whether your campaign audience is in the Awareness, Consideration, or Decision stage. It’s important to note that a marketing campaign can include collateral for people in various stages of their journey. For example, while your campaign might target current customers, it might also bring brand awareness to new consumers.

Next, identify your audience's interests and pain points. Here are some questions to ask yourself and your team to better understand your audience.

  • What are my audience’s general interests? What magazines do they read? What TV shows do they watch? How do they spend their free time?
  • Where does my audience hang out online? For what purpose do they use Instagram, Facebook, and other networks? Do they engage or merely browse?
  • What kind of content gets my audience’s attention? Do they respond to straightforward sales messages, or would they rather consume witty, humorous content? What cultural references would they understand?
  • What kind of problems do they have that my product, service, or brand could solve?

Becoming well-acquainted with your campaign audience will help you confidently answer these questions and any others that may arise during the campaign.

Pro Tip: Defining your target audience should be done with as much data as possible. Survey your existing customers as well as potential customers in your market. Then, use this data to create your buyer personas — you can even enter that data into a free buyer persona generator like the one below.

Featured Resource

4. Set a concept for your campaign and get in contact with the right team.

Marketing campaigns require a mission, vision, and visual identity. Great campaigns are an offshoot of their parent brand, both visually and creatively — they stay consistent with the business brand but maintain their own identity.

When creating their campaign assets, some businesses use an in-house team while others opt for an agency. Another alternative is hiring a freelancer or contractor to complete a specific portion of the project, such as the copy or design.

Pro Tip: Depending on your specific campaign goals, I’d recommend starting with your in-house team and moving forward from there. They are the experts of your business and can speak to what your campaign needs to succeed.

This step will likely take the longest since you’ll be creating your campaign concept from scratch. Next, we’ll dive into how you’ll distribute your campaign assets and connect with your audience.

Featured Resource

Distributing Your Marketing Campaign

This stage is all about the public-facing part of your campaign, including what your audience will see and when. If you’ve combed through the previous section, you should have all the answers you need to guide you through this step.

5. Choose the channels you’ll run your campaign on.

What type of marketing campaign will you use? This choice depends on your audience preference, budget, and brand engagement levels, among other factors.

Take a look at the current media channels you use to promote your company. Which ones perform the best? Which ones allow you to pay for advertisements? Which ones have the best engagement? Most importantly, where are your customers hanging out?

Need a few ideas? Take a look at the PESO model, which breaks up distribution channels into Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned.

PESO marketing model

Image Source

What type of marketing campaign will you use? This choice depends on your audience preference, budget, and brand engagement levels, among other factors.

Take a look at the current media channels you use to promote your company. Which ones perform the best? Which ones allow you to pay for advertisements? Which ones have the best engagement? Most importantly, where are your customers hanging out?

Need a few ideas? Take a look at the PESO model, which breaks up distribution channels into Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned.

6. Set a timeline for your campaign.

Establishing a deadline for your campaign (the Timely part of your SMART goal) gives you a much better idea of when, how, and how often you’ll promote it.

To begin, build a general campaign timeline. Then mark your campaign start date and deadline on a calendar.

Next, take a look at your marketing assets and chosen promotional marketing channels and work backward from the campaign launch date. Based on your resources, how often can you afford to post and promote your campaign content? With this information, you'll create a promotional calendar for each marketing channel. Decide on a cadence for each channel and map out your scheduled posts, emails, etc. on your calendar.

Visually mapping your marketing campaign will help you evenly disperse your campaign promotions and publish equally on each medium. It’ll also give you an idea of where your time and energy are going so that you can look back when assessing the effectiveness of your campaign.

Pro Tip: If your promotional calendar seems full, don’t fret. Social media and email scheduling tools can alleviate the pressure of posting daily. Check out tools like HubSpot, Buffer, and MailChimp to help you schedule and manage your campaign promotions.

The promotional stage is all about getting your campaign in front of your audience. But, how are you supposed to get your audience to understand the purpose of your campaign? We'll cover this next.

Converting Customers Through Your Marketing Campaign

This stage — the conversion stage — is all about how your campaign can lead to a specific result.

7. Ensure your campaign is driving users toward a desired action.

Even if your campaign is effective and drives a ton of traffic, it still needs to complete its desired action. By “the desired action,” I’m talking about that SMART goal you initially defined. Let’s take a moment and reiterate that goal.

For my sample campaign, my SMART goal was “to gather user-generated content from 100 customers via a branded hashtag on Instagram featuring our new product line by December 31, 2018.”

This step is all about calibrating your marketing efforts and channels to lead your customers to complete your desired goal. This is done through conversion assets like calls-to-action, landing pages, and lead forms.

Pro Tip: Lead conversion assets can be used separately or in conjunction with one another, such as featuring a lead form on a landing page, or creating a call-to-action asking your audience to fill out a form.

8. Monitor the right metrics.

The campaign effectiveness metrics you’ll monitor will depend on what type of marketing campaign you’re running and what channels you’ve chosen. This section merely serves as a baseline list to give you an idea of what to watch.

Also, it’s tempting to focus on vanity metrics like generated traffic, click-through rate, and impressions. A bump in these areas is definitely a good thing, but since they don’t necessarily indicate a bump in revenue, they can’t be the only metrics used to measure the effectiveness of your campaign.

Pro Tip: Bookmark this link to all the marketing metrics to watch. It's organized by marketing channel so you can quickly scan the list for new metrics to track for your campaigns.

This may seem like a lot (depending ocn your campaign), but keeping an eye on these numbers can help you assess your campaign accurately and better understand how to improve.

Assessing Your Marketing Campaign

The post-campaign stage determines your success just as much as the planning stage. Measuring and analyzing your campaign data can provide unique insight into your audience, marketing channels, and budget. It can also tell you exactly how (or how not) to run your next campaign.

9. Establish success numbers and metrics.

The easy way to figure this out is to understand whether or not your campaign met the initial SMART goal outlined in step one. If it did, great! If it didn’t, there's still hope.

For example, if your goal was to increase organic blog views by 100K, any bump in views would be considered successful. But there’s a difference between a campaign that works and a campaign that’s worthwhile. A worthwhile campaign gives you an ROI that’s proportionate to the time and energy you put into it.

Pro Tip: While it’s okay to celebrate any bump in pre-orders, leads, views, or engagements, don’t assume that’s enough. There’s a reason the very first thing to do is set a campaign goal. Sticking to that goal and calibrating your investment will ensure your campaign is worthwhile.

10. What will you do with the campaign data?

This step helps maximize your campaign’s business impact. When you analyze and apply your data, its value increases tenfold — not only did it help you measure and assess your campaign results, but it’ll also give you direction and clarity on your audience, marketing methods, creative prowess, and more.

Let’s return to my UGC Instagram campaign. Of course, images shared by my customers are helpful because they help me gather user content for my social channels and they promote my product to my audience’s followers. But this “data” also provides insight into who my audience is, when and how often they post on Instagram, what language they use, and how they use my product (assuming it’s the same as in the shared photo).

See how my campaign “data” provides more value than simply reaching my campaign goal? The same can go for your data. Whether you collect lead information, pre-orders, social engagements, or offer downloads, your data can equip you to not only meet your campaign goal but also expand your marketing efforts as a whole.

Pro Tip: The campaign isn't over once you've pulled that final report. Spend time with your team in a retrospective meeting. Ask yourselves questions like:

  • What could’ve been done differently?
  • How could we have saved money?
  • For anything that went wrong, why do we think it went wrong?
  • What did we learn about our audience or marketing channels?
  • What kind of feedback could we gather from participants or customers?

So, marketing campaigns involve a lot of information, decision-making, ideas, and observation. But the process of creating and running one isn’t as scary as you thought, was it?

If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at some great campaign examples below. Now that you know what goes into each one, you might have a better idea of how to build one for yourself.

Great Marketing Campaign Examples (and Why They’re So Great)

This wouldn’t be a HubSpot Ultimate Guide if I didn’t show you some examples from the pros. Sometimes it’s helpful to see concepts at work, and that’s why I collected some of the best below.

1. Meta (Formerly Facebook): "The Metaverse"

In Q4 2021, Facebook announced the rebranding of its parent company. The new name, Meta, comes with its own marketing campaign that introduces the world to a new concept called the "metaverse."

Great Marketing Campaign Example: Meta The Metaverse

Image Source

The campaign is still in its infancy stages, but it has taken over social media networks, including the Facebook app itself. The video posted to the new @wearemeta Instagram account showcases an alternate reality in which people can interact in 3D.

Why Meta's "The Metaverse" campaign is so great:

Reception of the campaign is still developing, but so far, it's successfully stopped the world in its tracks — and that's a recipe for success with just about any marketing campaign. The idea of a Facebook rebrand had been speculated prior to the launch of the campaign which piqued the public's interest. That meant even if they didn't like the change, they would still be interested in seeing what happens next.

2. Popeyes: "Megan Thee Stallion Hottie Sauce"

If Popeye's wasn't sure that it hit the ball out of the park with the chicken sandwich marketing campaign, then it nailed it for sure with the Megan Thee Stallion Hottie Sauce collaboration.

Great Marketing Campaign Example: Popeyes Megan Thee Stallion Hottie Sauce

Image Source

Arguably, Popeyes created one of the best chicken sandwiches on the fast-food market in 2019. At the same time, artist Megan Thee Stallion was becoming the hottest rapper in the industry. So, it made sense that in 2021, the two would join forces to debut a remix of the successful chicken sandwich.

Why Popeyes' "Megan Thee Stallion Hottie Sauce" campaign is so great:

This marketing campaign was intentional about targeting the younger crowd with not just chicken sandwiches, but merchandise, too. Popeyes was able to tap into this segment of the market and increase sales while continuing to capitalize on its success without the campaign coming across as stale.

3. Cheerios: #GoodGoesRound

Great Marketing Campaign Example: Good Goes Round

Image Source

General Mills ran a non-profit campaign called Good Goes Round via their Cheerios brand, lobbying to raise enough money to fund one million meals.

Why Cheerios' "Good Goes Round" campaign is so great:

The campaign featured its own landing page, video marketing assets, and hashtag (#GoodGoesRound), separating it from its “parent” brand and making it shareable among its audience. It also paid to promote the Good Goes Round URL on Google, giving the campaign even more visibility.

4. Apple: “Shot on iPhone”

Great Marketing Campaign Example: Apple Shot on iPhone

Image Source

Apple's “Shot on iPhone” series highlights the high-quality videography and photography that customers can capture on the iPhone X. It’s a product launch campaign that focused on one specific feature of the new Apple smartphone.

Why Apple's "Shot on iPhone" campaign is so great:

This campaign was unique, because it’s similar to a user-generated campaign but was also promoted heavily by the brand itself. Apple launched its own Instagram account to share the #ShotoniPhone content, collaborated with professional photographers and videographers, and ran official TV advertisements.

5. The General: "Re-brand"

When it comes to cheesy commercials, The General's old marketing strategy fits the bill. The brand became synonymous with pixelated animations and low-quality production which inevitably had a negative effect on the way potential customers perceived the quality of service.

In 2020, the company changed its marketing campaign to target a more rational customer who appreciates a little humor. Shaquille O'Neal became the face of the brand, appearing in commercials alongside other notable celebrities like Montell Jordan and Ernie Johnson.

Why The General's "Re-brand" campaign is so great:

The General listened to its customers' opinions of the brand before moving forward with the new campaign and saw great success as a result. The tone of the marketing campaign remained light-hearted but took a more mature approach to the humor — toning it down and letting the key selling points of The General shine through.

6. Airbnb: “Made Possible by Hosts”

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel companies such as Airbnb saw unprecedented losses in profit. Well, how did the company respond? It created a series of videos called “Made Possible by Hosts” that shows appreciation for the hosts who have continued to accept guests on the platform.

 

What’s most curious about the campaign is that it doesn’t put Airbnb customers at the center. Instead, it spotlights the hosts who accept customers in the first place. In doing so, Airbnb focuses on the human aspect of its platform. You’re not renting an Airbnb property; you’re renting someone’s home.

Over to You

Marketing campaigns aren’t easy, but they’re valuable and integral to growing a successful brand and business. Campaigns set apart certain deliverables from general promotional efforts and touch your audience in creative and exciting ways. If you’re not sure where to start, consider what would be valuable to your audience, and go from there. Your audience is, after all, the lifeblood of your campaigns and company.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

New Call-to-action

 New Call-to-action

Originally published Dec 8, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated December 08 2021

Topics:

Marketing Campaigns