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How to develop an effective marketing campaign

Every single day, millions of businesses vie for the attention of their target audiences. How does your business improve its visibility? Communicate with customers through a marketing campaign designed to capture their attention.

A marketing campaign is the most effective way to communicate a specific message to targeted, segmented audiences. Your campaign may be designed to promote a product or service, call attention to your brand, or capture customer feedback. Marketing communications may use social media, print media, email, online advertising, television ads, and other ways to get your message out to the right people at the right time.

When communicating with a marketing campaign, you want to make sure you’re effectively presenting your message to your target audience. How can you make sure this happens? By making sure your campaign content hits these four points:

  • Clarity: Make sure your message is clear and supports not only your specific campaign but also a specific brand goal.
    • Example: Method ran its “Fight Dirty” campaign during flu season in 2017, featuring one of our favorite funny women, Tiffany Haddish. The campaign is humorous and clearly sends the message that you need to use soap to clean your skin—and Method soap is prominently displayed. The company ran videos of various lengths, a behind-the-scenes video, and had a Tumblr (now defunct) dedicated to the campaign.
  • Memorability: Your campaign needs to move your audience along through the buyer’s journey. To do that, your content needs to be memorable and meaningful.
  • Example: In 1988, Nike introduced its iconic “Just Do It” campaign. “Just Do It” resonates with athletes and non-athletes alike and has been translated into languages across the globe. In 1995, The American Foundation for the Blind gave their Access Award to Nike for distributing posters of their famous slogan in braille. The message is still relevant and is used in Nike branding today.
  • Scalability: It’s likely that your campaign will run on various channels. Make sure your message will translate across mediums, whether in a Facebook ad, direct mail postcard, or in-store experience.
  • Example: Aflac had only 12% brand recognition when it launched its very successful duck campaign in 2000. The campaign has included television commercials, social media tie-ins, an appearance on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and even a plush social robot to comfort children with cancer. Brand recognition has soared to over 94%.
  • Value: Your campaign needs to add value to those who see it. It can entertain, inform, or inspire, but it can’t just repeat your brand mission or value statement. Find the space where what you want to say and what your customers want to hear overlap. That’s your sweet spot.
  • Example: Example: Hinge dating app is running a 2022 marketing campaign based on the fact that it is “The dating app designed to be deleted™.” At Hinge, the team understands their target customer segment and knows that their customers’ ultimate goal is to find love—and if they find love, they no longer need a dating app. The campaign runs across multiple channels, including a funny and memorable YouTube video. They clearly communicate the value of their app—to no longer be necessary to those who find love using it.
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Find out by comparing scores of multiples with reliable and fast feedback.

Make sure your campaign succeeds with customers by using surveys to inform decisions from marketing materials to ads.

Marketing campaigns are part of your overall marketing strategy. The ultimate goal is to increase your brand and product awareness, resulting in a boost to your bottom line. With that in mind, the key to an effective campaign is research. Research and concept testing will lead to influential content creation for your campaign.

An effective marketing campaign allows you to take a strategic approach to content creation, which is beneficial to your brand in a variety of ways.

  • Impactful content - Marketing campaigns contain cohesive, consistent messaging that creates an improved brand experience.
  • Scalable content - Make your campaign flexible, so you can choose your marketing channels and then scale to your goals. Expand or simplify based on your current budgetary needs.
  • Good ROI - Save money with a cohesive campaign. Rather than creating one-off ads, your campaign can create a consistent story across multiple channels. This provides you with measurable metrics and valuable insights to assess the appeal and efficacy of each campaign channel. 
  • Allocate resources effectively - Streamline your production process with strategic campaign planning. You know what you’re doing and what you need, so you can plan for your needs.
  • Get more use from your content -  Your core campaign content can be used in multiple ways. For example, an ebook can be turned into an infographic, blog posts, and social media content without much effort. Content can also be repurposed for future campaign use or to update your website content.

Creating a whole campaign may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually a straightforward process. We’ve broken the process down into 4 parts—planning, distribution, converting customers, and ad testing.

It is absolutely essential to plan your campaign. Planning determines your goals, how you’ll measure success, and will guide your team throughout the process—even if things don’t go as planned.

What is the purpose of this campaign? What do you want to accomplish for your business?

Here are a few common general goals. Use these as starting points to create your own. 

  • Promote a new product 
  • Increase your brand awareness
  • Gather customer feedback
  • Generate revenue
  • Increase engagement
  • Advertise new products

Once you’ve settled on your general goal, turn it into a SMART goal. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. These five characteristics ensure your goal will be clearly understood by all stakeholders.

If you’ve decided that your goal is to increase engagement, your SMART goal might be: 

To obtain 100 customer reviews of our new product using our campaign-based and brand hashtags on Instagram by December 31, 2022. It is specific (reviews), measurable (100 customers), attainable (using custom hashtags), relevant (for the new product), and time-bound (by December 2022).

How will you measure your campaign success? This will look different for everyone. Your measurement may include social media statistics, website analytics, click-through rates, conversions, or something else. Whatever your measurement is, it should harken back to your campaign goal.

Remember, if you are using multiple marketing channels, include how you’ll measure your campaign on each medium.

Identify your KPIs for each medium, such as:

  • Facebook page likes
  • Instagram engagement through likes, comments, and tags
  • Email open rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Blog views 
  • Blog social shares

Pro tip: Set up benchmarks to check progress along the way to your main goal.

The absolute best way to define your target market is through market research. Only with thorough data can you determine who your customers are, their interests, social media usage habits, types of content they like, problems they have that your product can solve, and more.

Use consumer surveys for existing and potential customers to create buyer personas. These will help your marketing team visualize the ideal customer during campaign creation.

The distribution phase is all about what your target audience sees, when they see it, and where they encounter your campaign.

As we’ve already mentioned, marketing campaigns can include multiple channels. Determining what you wish to use depends on your budget, audience, current brand engagement, and what channels you currently use. 

Of the channels you currently use, which ones work best? Which ones have paid ad options? Where do you already have good engagement? From your research, which channels are your target customers using?

The PESO model breaks up distribution channels into 4 categories—paid, earned, shared, and owned. What you choose is up to you.

This is in line with the “T” in your SMART goal. Begin with a start and end date for your campaign. Working from the end date, considering the materials you have to work with, enter your content backwards up the timeline to your launch date. Schedule posts, blogs, emails, ads, and other campaign content on your timeline.

This calendar, or timeline, will help you distribute promotional content evenly throughout the campaign and publish equally on each media channel.

And now we come to the ultimate goal—conversions. A conversion is not necessarily a sale. It all goes back to the goal you set in the beginning.

Look back at your SMART goal again. Our example was “To obtain 100 customer reviews of our new product using our campaign-based and brand hashtags on Instagram by December 31, 2022.” At various times throughout the campaign, we should be checking that our customers are leaving reviews. If not, we need to recalibrate our campaign to deliver content that will lead our customers to fulfill our goal. 

Pro tip: Use strong calls to action on website landing pages and social posts to tell your customer what their next steps should be. 

What metrics will you use to measure your success? It all depends on the type of campaign you’re running and the channels you’ve chosen. Whatever you look at, make sure you look beyond vanity metrics such as impressions or views. Those are nice to know, but they don’t necessarily deliver your desired results. Your analysis should relate back to—you guessed it—your SMART goal. 

Advertising is a component of marketing. Marketing is used to identify customer needs and figure out how to best meet those needs. It should raise awareness and convince customers to make a purchase. Advertising is used to creatively persuade customers to make purchases through paid channels. And since you’re paying for it, you want to be confident that your ad will work.

That’s where ad testing comes in. It’s the process of putting your ads in front of a sample of your target audience and asking them to provide feedback. You can test a part of an ad or an entire ad to collect feedback about whether it stands out, is believable or appealing, or any other information you want to collect about your ad.

Advertising uses paid platforms to deliver your message. In fact, according to Statista, in 2021, the US spent more than $285 billion on advertising. 

Testing your ads offers 4 major benefits:

  1. Testing provides you with data to back up your decisions. If there’s disagreement about what ad to run, use metrics to choose.