Trouble coming up with marketing campaign ideas?

Hey, we hear you.

Growing your business and keeping revenue rolling in means consistently crafting posts and promotions.

But motivation can be hard to come by. This is especially true if your recent marketing push fell flat or your engagement rate is low.

The reality? Too many businesses are caught in a trap of ad-hoc marketing. That is, random promotions with no end-goal, strategy, or definition of “success.”

If you’re stuck or have no idea what to promote and publish next, we can help.

This guide breaks down how to put together meaningful marketing campaigns and plenty of examples to help you come up with fresh ideas.

What is a marketing campaign, exactly?

Let’s start by breaking down the basics.

The concept of a “campaign” is a staple of marketing itself but perhaps it doesn’t get talked about enough.

A marketing campaign is a promotional push or initiative carried out by a brand, typically tied to a big-picture business goal. Campaigns involve promoting content and creatives (think: ads, videos, photos, blog posts, copywriting) across various marketing channels (think: social media, email). 

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most common goals that drive companies to come up with campaigns:

  • Boost brand awareness
  • Launch a new product or service
  • Improve customer engagement and satisfaction
  • Drive sales and revenue
  • Increase customer lifetime value (CLTV)
  • Reduce customer churn

When we think of classic marketing campaign examples (like “Got Milk?” or Nike’s “Just Do It“), we typically imagine TV spots, billboards and old-school print ads in magazines.

Now, fast forward to the present day. Campaigns are no longer reserved for corporate giants and ad departments. Given the wealth of digital tools and low-cost marketing channels like social media and email, businesses of all shapes and sizes can bring their marketing campaign ideas to life.

Note that a campaign is the sum of its parts. For example, a discount or sale is not a campaign, but a sale can be part of a revenue campaign. Similarly, posts and hashtags are not campaigns alone but can be part of a social media campaign. See how that works?

The common threads of “successful” marketing campaigns

Businesses today have a ton of creative freedom when it comes to promotions.

That said, there are three boxes to tick regardless of your business or ideas. Ideally, your marketing campaigns should be:

  • Time-sensitive. Campaigns don’t last forever! Conventional wisdom says it can take between two to three months to plan a serious campaign. The duration of your campaigns depends on the type of promotions you’re running. For example, a Black Friday campaign is short-term while a hashtag campaign is longer-term).
  • Measurable. Measuring your campaign performance data clues you in on whether or not your campaign was a hit based on your goals. If you don’t analyze your campaign based on relevant metrics, you’re winging it.
  • Unique. This is the big one. Marketing campaign ideas should be original and based on what your target audience wants. You obviously shouldn’t rehash campaigns you’ve run in the past or copycat other businesses.

What are the must-dos for modern marketing campaigns?

Arguably the biggest benefit of running a campaign versus ad-hoc marketing is that you’re focused. By tying your posts and promos back to specific goals, objectives and outcomes, you prevent yourself from freestyling.

That said, the planning phase of any given campaign is make-or-break.

Before you worry about coming up with any creatives, make sure you understand the tasks required to execute your marketing campaign ideas.

Establish relevant business goals

Simply put, what do you hope to achieve and how?

It’s no secret that goal-setting matters. Setting goals and tying them to specific objectives means you understand the smaller tasks that contribute to the big picture.

Example: We will raise brand awareness on Instagram by increasing our engagement rate by [x]% by [y end date] by running an Instagram influencer campaign

Chances are you’ve heard of the SMART framework for goal-setting. If not, here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Specific: Your goals should be clear, simple and defined.
  • Measurable: This is where analytics come in. You want a goal that has one or more metrics.
  • Achievable: Is it achievable or is it not possible within your resources?
  • Realistic: With your current resources of time and money, is it possible to achieve your goals?
  • Time-sensitive: Every goal needs a time frame, whether it’s one year or several months.

If you can define and answer the questions above, you’re on the right track.

Choose your priority marketing channels

There is no “right” answer in terms of where you promote your marketing campaigns.

Multi-channel marketing is both popular and proven for the sake of maximizing engagement. For example, publishing promotions to both social followers and email subscribers simultaneously makes your campaigns harder to miss.

That said, spreading your ideas across multiple channels requires a greater commitment of time and resources. Not to mention the rising cost of paid social media advertising.

If this is your first planned campaign, start with these two questions.

  1. Where do you have an existing marketing presence and customer engagement?
  2. Where can you realistically advertise based on your budget?

Note that some marketing channels lend themselves to easy cross-promotion (think: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). This might make your choice easier, but when in doubt think “less is more.”

Pick the metrics and KPIs to measure your campaign

Again, successful marketing campaigns are driven by data.

Some of the most common metrics used to measure performance include:

  • Traffic
  • Sales and revenue figures
  • Event attendance
  • Engagement
  • “Likes” and clicks
  • Impressions
  • Reach
  • Referrals

There are a variety of social media metrics that are relevant to some campaigns but not others. For example, an ad campaign that netted you 10,000 new Facebook followers but $20 in sales isn’t much to be thrilled about.

Below is an example of analytics using Sprout Social’s reporting suite. Here you can see impressions, engagements and message link clicks over time. Based on this, you can better understand which pieces of your social campaign moved the needle.

Metrics tracked in Sprout Social can determine if your marketing campaign ideas actually succeeded.

Figure out your necessary resources and deliverables

In short, what do you need to make your marketing campaign ideas a reality? Consider key duties and deliverables for a campaign such as:

  • Graphics, logos and ad designs
  • Copywriting for ads, emails and landing pages
  • Keyword research
  • Social media posts
  • Product photos and videos

The more you anticipate in terms of your needs, the fewer roadblocks you’ll hit as you roll out your campaign.

Assemble your campaign collaborators

Sure, resources you may already have on hand or can create yourself.

But you’re likely going to need to outsource some of the legwork to outside collaborators, such as:

  • Email, social media and SEO experts
  • Graphic designers
  • Copywriters
  • Web designers

Whether that’s you rely on your teammates, an agency or freelancers ultimately depends on your timeline and budget. Either way, connect with these collaborators ASAP so you can align your schedules and get moving.

Set reasonable deadlines and milestones

Based on all of the factors above, you can create an actual roadmap for your campaign. This includes deadlines, deliverables and the “who’s who” of your marketing push.

Campaign timing can be a bit of a balancing act. The more time you give yourself and collaborators to prepare and plan, the better.

But on the flip side, you also don’t want to drag your feet. Communicating with teammates and collaborators to understand their own schedules and workloads is key to knowing what you can and can’t do.

This is where a project management tool like Asana (see below) comes in handy. Here you can see all the moving pieces of your campaigns in one place, including roles, deadlines and approvals.

Use Asana for marketing campaign organization and tracking across teams.

If you need help planning or deciding on a timeline, check out our social media campaign template that can help!

8 marketing campaign ideas you can roll out yourself

Alright, enough planning: let’s talk ideas!

Despite popular belief, you don’t have to be an advertising wizard to come up with marketing campaigns. There are more campaign ideas than we could possibly cover in this post.

Although this is good news, it might also serve as analysis paralysis if you’re not sure where to start.

That’s why we’ve decided to keep it simple. Below are eight engaging campaign ideas that businesses can adapt with a bit of creativity.

1. Keep customers informed with an educational campaign

Educational campaigns are a solid starting point to help drive sales and raise awareness with new and existing customers alike.

Creating resources such as instructional videos, blog posts and product demos allows you to educate and sell to your audience at the same time. These same resources are fair game across social posts, email, your website and even channels like YouTube.

For example, Ruroc recently paired a how-to video campaign with the launch of their Atlas 3.0. With a series of how-to videos and social posts, customers could see the product in action and likewise understand its key features and benefits.

Ruroc uses YouTube to create customer education marketing campaign.

2. Build a referral program from scratch

A long-term marketing campaign that’s ideal for ecommerce brands is creating a referral program. It’s a brilliant way to promote ongoing sales through your satisfied customers.

Offering discounts, trials and free bonuses to existing customers provide a much-needed incentive for them to refer new customers to you.

For bigger merchants, you can take this a step further with a full-blown brand advocacy program that encourages ongoing promotion of your products from dedicated customers.

Pura Vida's ambassador marketing campaign "How it Works" bannner.

3. Connect with influencers to raise brand awareness

Although influencer marketing is all the rage right now, some brands are still hesitant to get on board.

But with the rise of microinfluencers and influencer discovery platforms, getting connected to someone that’s in your budget and relevant to your audience is easier than ever.

From one-off campaigns to working with influencers at scale, these relationships are ideal for introducing your brand to new audiences.

4. Create buzz with a contest or giveaway

Giveaways and contests are among the most popular marketing campaign ideas on social media.

The upside of running contests or giveaways is that they have a built-in deadline or schedule. When brands push contests, that’s usually what they’re laser-focused on until the end date.

However, simply giving away a product on its own isn’t particularly engaging.

Well-crafted contests explicitly ask for engagements, including:

  • Follows
  • @mentions and @tags
  • Promoting a #hashtag
  • Creating content

Ideal for sign-ups and brand awareness versus sales, they can give you high returns when you consider what they cost. Just make sure you follow the legalese when it comes to entries and prizes.

5. Engage customers with a user-generated content campaign

User-generated content campaigns are a brilliant way to encourage customers to promote you organically.

Whether through a time-sensitive or ongoing customer #hashtag, you’d be surprised how many people are willing to share their photos and purchases if you just ask.

Stick Fix uses UGC marketing campaign on their Instagram profile.

6. Entice shoppers with holiday campaigns

Reality check: not all marketing ideas need to reinvent the wheel.

Take holiday campaigns, for example. Time-sensitive, color-coordinated campaigns centered around Thanksgiving, Black Friday or Christmas have been around forever. They’re even more popular in the era of ecommerce via email and social media.

Casper uses holiday campaigns around Black Friday hit revenue goals.

 

7. Hype up your next product launch

If you’re dropping a new product or service, building anticipation with a marketing campaign is a must-do.

Some low-hanging ideas to support your push and drive sales include:

  • Producing a high-quality launch video (see below)
  • Promoting pre-orders via email and social media
  • Putting a countdown timer on your website to build hype

8. Customer success campaign

Don’t overlook the value of your satisfied customers when it comes to your campaigns.

Customer success campaigns encourage you to reach out to buyers and leverage your relationships to create marketing materials for the future. Tasks involved in a successful campaign include:

  • Asking for and curating customer reviews
  • Promoting positive customer feedback through social media or email
  • Gathering case studies and testimonials from existing customers to win over new ones

3 bonus marketing campaign examples to get inspired

Feeling motivated now?

We actually have a whole list of social media ideas to help you keep the momentum going.

But to wrap things up here, let’s look at some recent examples of effective marketing campaign ideas put into action.

#SpotifyWrapped (UGC/hashtag campaign)

Spotify’s #SpotifyWrapped has taken social media by storm over the past few years, representing one of the best marketing campaigns in recent memory.

A hybrid UGC and hashtag campaign, Spotify encourages users to share their most-listened-to artists and tracks every December. This personalized data packaged in a stylish, share-friendly format has resulted in millions of social shares and engagements.

This again highlights the fact that people are eager to share content when prompted. Whenever you can let your customers do the legwork of marketing for you, go for it.

Headspace (paid Facebook ad campaign)

Facebook has no shortage of advertising success stories from brands running paid ads.

This simple but effective example comes from Headspace with its colorful video ad campaign.

The animation ad below managed to not only capture the brand’s voice but also serve as a sort of taste of their product via soothing text and audio.

 

Headspace Facebook ad campaign resonates with customers with a simple, clean design.

The end result was an impressive list in awareness, recall and interactions. Headspace’s campaign highlights that campaigns don’t have to be ground-breaking or complicated to be effective. This speaks to the value of both knowing your target audience and harnessing your creativity.

Gymshark (Black Friday and product launch campaign)

Infamous for rarely running sales, Gymshark’s 2018 Black Friday campaign reached a staggering 16+ million people on Instagram and boasted a 6.6:1 return rate on their ad spend.

Gymshark Blackout ad for Black Friday caused a buzz in 2018.

Wild, right? The brand leveraged the buzz by building anticipation for the event and dropping a fresh fit alongside it.

This signals the importance of both branding and planning. Creating buzz around your campaigns is crucial, as is delivering campaigns like this that feel one-of-a-kind.

What does your next marketing campaign look like?

No matter what you’re selling, you need to brainstorm new marketing campaign ideas on a regular basis.

Hopefully this guide inspired you to do exactly that!

But beyond ideas, you also need to understand best practices for executing your campaigns.

If you haven’t already, check out the latest Sprout Social Index, Edition XVII: Accelerate to see the latest trends, insights and data you need to take your campaigns to the next level.

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