The world around us just keeps getting noisier. For the average entrepreneur or small business owner, that’s a significant problem: the noisier it gets, the more easily discussions can be dominated by those with the biggest brands and platforms.
This has caused the value of good marketing to skyrocket. Sure, it’s always been an essential component for any ambitious startup, but the standard was lower before the events of early 2020. It could be enough to run a smattering of ads. You weren’t facing off against huge ranges of professionals attempting self-employment due to disillusionment with conventional work.
If you’re going to succeed in your marketing efforts in the crucible of the remote-working world, then, you need to do more than put all your eggs in one basket, and learn digital marketing from a reputed institute. You need to have various approaches to marketing on the table and know when to use them. To that end, this guide is about marketing campaign types: more exactly, 9 that are particularly worthy of consideration.
Is this list exhaustive? No, certainly not. It isn’t an ultimate guide in the sense that it details every possible framing of a marketing campaign (such an effort would be foolhardy since you can draw the lines in so many ways). Instead, the intent is to explain some key types sufficiently well that you can proceed to the ideation stage without any further explanations. Let’s begin.
This is simple enough: just take a product or service that you’re offering and give it away to a randomly-selected winner. Where’s the ROI for this? Well, there are two key ways in which it returns value. Firstly, the announcement of the giveaway will prompt people who don’t know about your brand to ask about it — after all, they’ll want to know if the product or service being offered is worth their attention. This is true regardless of how easy it is to participate.
Secondly, the data you’ll request in return for entry will give you leads for future marketing efforts. If you get some social media buzz and several hundred email addresses in return for one modest-priced product, that’ll be a significant victory, making the humble giveaway one of the most economical marketing tactics you can adopt.
You must remember to give your prize draw a sense of urgency, though, as the nature of the arrangement will lead people to question the value. They may see it as too good to be true. After all, getting something for nothing — even if that something is merely a chance to win something — can seem rather suspicious. You get their data, of course, but most people don’t see their contact information as valuable. They’ll gladly give it away.
Think about how urgency is applied to those playing lottery games online. Even if someone sets out to buy lottery tickets online, they still need to be nudged to buy now as opposed to later, and having a countdown leading to the loss of a big opportunity is definitely the way to go. Retailers also use ticking clocks to amp up the pressure. Leaning on fear of missing out can yield superb results (a resulting 30% increase in clickthrough rate isn’t unheard of).
There are two main types of content in digital marketing: evergreen and ephemeral. Evergreen content is created to retain its value for a long time, offering information and/or entertainment that should continue to draw interest throughout the year. This piece falls into that category because there will always be people looking to get into marketing or improve their work (though it bears noting that no content lasts forever).
Ephemeral content, on the other hand, is all about maximizing short-term impact — and it’s the primary focus of seasonal marketing campaigns. As seasons change and public holidays roll around, consumer interest changes drastically, and smart sellers know to take advantage. Christmas is rapidly approaching, bringing with it a huge rise in retail interest as people seek to purchase gifts and indulge their whims after a difficult year. This presents opportunities.
An excellent Christmas campaign targets all the things people want to know around this time of year. What gifts should you get? How can you budget for Christmas? What food should you try? There’s an entire category of Christmas-related searches that will be incredibly popular for a while before going back into hibernation in the new year — and you can take advantage by drawing people in with appropriate keywords and segueing into product and brand promotion.
You can also change how you frame your products to cater to festive interest. If you market kitchen utilities, for instance, you can stop concentrating on why the readers should want them and start setting out reasons why they make perfect gifts. “Students often want to get into cooking, so why not buy your teenager a great chopping board?” “Dads like gadgets, so this ten-speed cutter is the perfect addition to your dad’s kitchen.” Set something out as a perfect gift and people will view it as Christmas-related — then change the description back later.
PPC stands for pay-per-click, and it bears selection despite the existence of other ad options (such as pay-per-impression) because it’s much less likely to lead to wasted budgets. If you mess up an impression-based campaign, you end up with nothing in return. When you run a PPC campaign and you don’t get any clicks, you don’t pay anything — and if you get clicks but fail to yield any conversions, you can at least try to figure out what you did wrong.
The great thing about PPC advertising is that it’s immensely reliable. It’s fast, for a start. You can create and launch a campaign in minutes. It’s configurable. You can carefully define how you want your ads to look, when you want them to appear, and what kind of audience you want to reach. This is particularly true for a social platform like Facebook Ads, because Facebook’s vast repository of user data allows you to get incredibly granular with your targeting (WordStream has an excellent guide to all the Facebook Ads targeting options).
Furthermore, it’s infinitely scalable. If you launch a campaign that quickly starts to produce strong ROI, you don’t need to go back to the drawing board to figure out how you’ll mimic that success in future. You can simply increase your budget, expand the campaign, produce some new ads, and continue in that vein until you’ve tapped all the potential. And you can scale it down just as quickly if it stops producing the results you’re looking for.
Whenever you see #ad on a social media platform, you know you’re looking at the product of an influencer arrangement. The public obsession with channels such as YouTube and Instagram continues to turn content creators into worldwide celebrities with legions of followers eager to follow their life advice — and their product recommendations. Just one carefully-timed brand mention from a relevant influencer can take a company to the next level of popularity.
Finding the right influencer deal is much easier said than done, however. More than ever before, social media users are keenly aware when their accounts become valuable to brands, and they look to monetize their followings as early as they can. The ideal situation involves locating an influencer with a niche but enthusiastic audience that’s hyper-relevant to what you’re marketing.
The common temptation is to provide rigid scripts and materials for the products or services being promoted, but this is usually a mistake. It’s far better to grant a lot of creative leeway and allow an influencer to market something in the inimitable style to which their followers respond so positively. This leads to better results and greater brand approval.
For a great example of this, take a look at the ads on the Internet Historian YouTube channel for brands such as Honey, NordVPN, and Raycon (you can watch some above). They’re tongue-in-cheek and quite ridiculous, but the companies continue to pay for them, and the only logical reason is that they actually work.
UGC stands for user-generated content, and holding a UGC contest through social media (along with your website and any other viable channels) is a productive way to drive some major engagement with your target audience and earn you some positive buzz through little more than your personality, creativity, and ability to interact with people.
It usually works through identifying something creative that could pertain to your brand. You could, for instance, announce that you’re looking for a new mascot for your business, and invite people to submit their ideas and designs. (This will require some curation to get rid of the cynical trolling — UGC can go wrong, as Duel notes — but it shouldn’t be too challenging.)
Why is this so effective for marketing? Because instead of pushing your brand, you focus on the creative work of your audience, using your social media reach to highlight their efforts and get them the plaudits they deserve. This makes them feel good about themselves and about your brand for facilitating the entire endeavor — and since they’ll need to learn more about your brand to come up with a suitable mascot, it’ll inevitably promote you in the process.
The classic PR launch is an old form of marketing campaign that involves reaching out to relevant publications to announce some news. Perhaps you’re rolling out a new product you want people to know about, or you’re rebranding your company, or you’ve reached a notable revenue milestone. Whatever the development, you can offer a succinct update.
Though I’ve included them in this list of campaign types worth considering, it’s smart to question whether PR launches are actually worth pursuing at this point. After all, when you can get so much attention through Twitter and Facebook, do you really need to care about what journalistic outlets report on? They tend to get their leads through social media anyway.
Well… it depends on what exactly you’re trying to promote. There is still value in PR launches when you’re trying to cultivate a professional image, as it’s something that big brands tend to do, and using the PR approach allows you to get your exact wording approved and used. Additionally, getting some PR placements tends to be cheap and fast. It’s a secondary tactic, but one that can make sense alongside your main campaign (or campaigns).
We couldn’t get through a piece on marketing campaigns without getting to the ever-present allure of virality. Every brand wants to go viral: ideally in a positive way, but possibly even in a negative way in accordance with the truism that even bad publicity can be good publicity (though the social media age is challenging that somewhat). Of course, the major problem with that desire is that going viral is far from easy.
Some companies will spend huge amounts of time and money on looking for ways to go viral, but always fail miserably. It doesn’t help that a botched effort to go viral will typically make the brand responsible look woefully out of touch. If you shoot for the moon, there’s a reasonable chance that you’ll miss and freeze in the vacuum of space.
More often than not, efforts at viral marketing revolve around video production. Videos are incredibly effective at getting attention, and can easily be spread across social media and viewed on desktop and mobile devices alike. Sometimes companies will team up for brand collaborations, hoping that their combined efforts will yield the mystical virality.
Should you try to run a viral marketing campaign? Not unless you have a compelling idea that just happens to fit the zeitgeist perfectly. The most common result by far is that a brand wastes a lot of energy trying to achieve one-in-a-billion success instead of doing the more practical thing of applying steady effort to conventional marketing.
Yes, they’re somewhat trickier in a time of limited public activity, but event sponsorships have always been effective — and they’re still possible now, albeit largely in the digital sphere. The idea is straightforward. You reach out to an event host and offer to provide some funding in exchange for having your brand promoted in various ways. It can be added to event banners, listed in promotional collateral, and mentioned in social media chat, for instance.
At the moment, you can look to things like talent contests (see above), esports competitions, or digital conferences. Your sponsorship could earn some prominent ads on websites or during videos. And when things mostly return to normal (let’s be optimistic here), you’ll have the option of sponsoring real-world events again — ones with crowds large enough to make it worthwhile.
So, to wrap up, there are plenty of types of marketing campaigns, and each one has unique strengths and weaknesses. You should think carefully about the type of business you’re running, what you’re hoping to achieve, and what your audience is likely to care about — then cater your marketing efforts accordingly.