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The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Campaigns

Learn how you can use data to build highly personalized and targeted marketing campaigns that drive growth for your business.

Craig Dennis

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June 25, 2024

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13 minutes

what are marketing campaigns.

Customers want personalized experiences, and brands want to deliver. The problem is that many companies don’t have the data they need to provide great customer experiences, leading to wasted ad spend, customer churn, or social media backlash. The most popular brands have one thing in common: they build and deliver excellent marketing campaigns.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What are marketing campaigns?
  • Why marketing campaigns important
  • How to build a great marketing campaign
  • What types of marketing campaigns can you use to power campaigns
  • What is the biggest challenge of marketing campaigns
  • Five examples of great marketing campaigns

What are Marketing Campaigns?

A marketing campaign is a coordinated series or single promotion of a product, service, or company to increase sales, generate leads, drive conversions, or create brand awareness. The ultimate goal of a marketing campaign is to drive a user to take action.

Once you know your marketing campaign's target, you can use various data like behavior, demographics, or purchase history to curate a message that will resonate with your ideal customer profile and connect with that individual using a specific marketing channel. Ultimately, every marketing campaign starts with data because the more you understand your customer, the better you can hone in on your messaging, target audience, creative, and the specific marketing channels you want to use.

Why are Marketing Campaigns Important?

Marketing campaigns matter because they drive tangible business outcomes that impact your company’s bottom line. The challenge is figuring out what outcomes matter to your business. Here are the five most common outcomes marketers want to drive through campaigns.

  • Brand Awareness: If you have long sales cycles or know your customers are locked into multiple-year contracts, brand awareness helps you stay top-of-mind for your customers when they seek solutions. Utilizing marketing campaigns like paid media and content marketing increases visibility among your target audience, fostering trust and loyalty.
  • Customer Acquisition: Marketing campaigns offer diverse strategies and channels to attract new customers. One effective approach is using lookalike audiences, providing ad platforms with a list of high-value customers to find similar prospects to improve customer quality. By experimenting with various campaigns, you can identify those with the lowest CAC and allocate more of your budget to them.
  • Sales: Launching new product campaigns can create a significant impact and engage existing customers through content like thought leadership articles or sales emails. Simple tactics such as retargeting users with ads and emails for abandoned carts can also boost conversions. These strategies enhance customer lifetime value, reducing the need for constant new customer acquisition.
  • Customer Loyalty: Offering exceptional customer experiences is essential for fostering customer loyalty. Marketing campaigns reflecting this loyalty can be created by analyzing buying habits and sending personalized emails with exclusive offers, points, and cashback. Such campaigns not only increase average order value (AOV) but also encourage repeat purchases, setting you apart from competitors.
  • ROI & Growth: By uploading 1st-party audiences to your ad platforms, you can suppress existing customers to ensure you're not accidentally showing ads to the wrong users and wasting ad spend.

How to Build a Great Marketing Campaign?

Building a great marketing campaign involves many moving parts. The good news is that you can control just about everything except the response from your customers. With that in mind, here are the five most important steps to consider when developing a marketing campaign.

Step 1: Identify Your Goals and KPIs

First, you must understand your goal to effectively plan and measure your success. This influences every aspect of your marketing campaign. Ultimately, the outcome you want to drive will depend on your business model.

For example:

  • A media company like Netflix cares about reducing customer acquisition costs and churn.
  • An e-commerce platform like Amazon cares about increasing order frequency and average order value.
  • A B2B SaaS company like Salesforce cares about upselling existing customers to purchase additional products and solutions.

Before executing any marketing campaign, you need to examine your data to understand your company's key north star metrics.

Step 2: Define Your Target Audience

To help identify your target audience, start by understanding the customer journey. This will allow you to group customers into specific buying stages and segment them accordingly into different audiences.

For example, if you notice a steep drop off in cart-abandonment, you could create an audience of cart abandoners to target with special offers and reminders to increase the number of orders that actually get completed.

Step 3: Choose Your Marketing Channels

Choosing the right marketing channel involves understanding who your ICP is and where they frequent the most online. For example, LinkedIn can be effective for a B2B company, whereas advertising on Facebook might be a better alternative for a D2C company.

If you already have customer data, you can advertise via owned channels like email, web, push, or SMS. You don’t have to limit yourself to a single channel; a combination of channels can be more effective. You should analyze your gathered data to determine which approach would be best.

Step 4: Build Your Creative Assets

Next, it's time to create compelling creative assets to capture your target audience's attention and prompt them to take the desired action. The nature of these assets will vary based on the marketing channel. For SEO, it's the blog image, meta title and description, and the actual article content. For social media ads, it's the image or video and the ad's words.

You can divide creative assets into two parts: imagery and words. The imagery is designed to interrupt the customer's current activity and draw their attention. The words aim to persuade customers to click and take the desired action. Using copywriting techniques such as the AIDI formula, scarcity tactics, or storytelling can significantly enhance the likelihood of customer engagement and action.

Hightouch ad from a Hightouch marketing campaign

A Hightouch LinkedIn Ad

Considering all four components holistically ensures your campaign is cohesive and maximizes its potential to perform well.

Step 5: Deliver Your Message

With all components ready, it's time to launch your marketing campaign. You first need the data for your target audience, which lives in your data warehouse. Start by gathering data for your target audience from your data warehouse. Tools like Hightouch can simplify this process, allowing you to build audiences using a user-friendly interface without technical expertise. You can then send these audiences to your downstream tools.

Once your target audience is set in your selected channels, integrate your creative assets into the campaign. Assemble the images, videos, and text in the appropriate format for each channel and proceed to launch your marketing campaign.

What Types of Marketing Channels Can You Use To Power Campaigns?

To help you strategize what marketing channel is right for you, here are some of the most common ones typically chosen for marketing campaigns.

Online Marketing Channels

Online marketing channels involve digital strategies to engage potential customers via web or mobile devices.

  • Paid Search: Advertising on search engines by bidding on keywords to display ads at the top of the search results. This helps you reach more customers and drive conversions by targeting relevant keywords based on user intent.
  • Paid Social: Creating ads that appear in users' feeds on social media platforms. This helps target users based on demographics and behavior, helping you acquire new customers or increase brand awareness.
  • Publisher and Retail Media Networks: Placing ads on high-traffic publisher websites or retail platforms. This broadens your reach through established networks with existing audiences.
  • SEO: Producing high-quality content that ranks for specific keywords in search engines, driving organic traffic and increasing brand awareness.
  • Influencers: Collaborating with individuals with a large online following to promote your business. This leverages their trust and reaches a niche audience interested in your offerings.
  • Affiliates: Partnering with individuals or companies to promote your business in exchange for a commission. This expands your reach without the need to hire additional staff.
  • Content Creation: Developing articles, videos, and social media posts to boost brand awareness and authority.
  • Paid Video: Advertising through video content on platforms like YouTube or social media. This engages viewers with compelling visuals and encourages them to take action.
  • Display Ads: Placing banner ads on websites through Google Adsense. This captures a large number of impressions and increases brand visibility.
  • Sponsorships: Supporting events, activities, or content to get your brand in front of a large audience. This associates your brand with the event's theme and boosts exposure.

Offline Marketing Channels

Offline marketing channels involve traditional media and direct outreach strategies to connect with customers in the physical world

  • Direct Mail: Sending promotional material like brochures, catalogs, or postcards to potential customers. This targets a large geographic area, ideal for local businesses.
  • Offline Retail Media Networks: Advertising within retail locations through in-store promotions, shelf ads, and flyers. This engages shoppers in a specific location.
  • Radio: Broadcasting audio advertisements on radio stations, reaching a broad audience through targeted radio programs.
  • TV: Displaying video advertisements on cable TV. This reaches a broad audience, targeting specific demographic segments worldwide.
  • Out-Of-Home (OOH): Advertising in physical locations such as billboards, transit ads, and posters. This places ads in high-foot-traffic areas to increase brand visibility.

What Causes Marketing Campaigns to Fail?

Marketing teams face similar challenges, such as reaching their target audience or optimizing ad spend. However, the data needed for most marketing teams is disjointed and siloed across systems because their tools aren’t innately designed to talk to one another.

Operating off limited data can compound problems into bigger issues, such as wasting ad spend, targeting the wrong customer, using the wrong personalization type, and privacy and consent issues. Even worse, it can prevent your campaigns from starting because the data is simply unavailable.

For years, marketing teams have relied on traditional CDPs to solve these problems, but they don’t have all the data available in the data warehouse, which is essential for marketing campaigns and a complete view of customers. Marketers really want a way to build audiences, orchestrate campaigns, and execute across channels seamlessly.

To help avoid these bottlenecks, the largest companies in the world are adopting a Composable CDP. PetSmart leverages a Composable CDP to power their entire "Treats Rewards" program to send four billion personalized emails, and Calendly uses this same approach to power a year-in-review email for 20M users.

5 Examples of Great Marketing Campaigns

The best marketing campaigns all share one thing in common: they use data to personalize them and understand potential customers' needs. Here are five great examples of industry leaders utilizing data in their marketing campaigns.

Spotify Wrapped

If you use Spotify, every December, you receive a yearly compilation of your top songs, genres, total minutes listened, favorite albums/artists, etc. Spotify pioneered this product usage campaign back in 2015, and it’s one of the most viral marketing campaigns ever. Spotify dominates social channels one week out of every year because everyone shares their compilations.

Under the hood, this campaign is powered entirely by data. Spotify’s data science team computes individual-level metrics for each user and global metrics about their platform. Then, it passes this data to the marketing team, which packages it into a giant campaign. One of the factors that make this campaign so unique is that anyone not using Spotify is unable to participate, so it drives a ton of awareness to the brand and encourages new users to sign up so they can participate next year.

Spotify wrapped marketing campaign

Spotify Wrapped marketing campaign

Liquid Death

It’s staggering to think that Liquid Death, a canned water business, is valued at $1.4 billion. The company is a perfect example of how invigorating the marketing behind a boring product, such as water, can breathe new life into an industry. The company broke every marketing playbook in the industry and created a series of provocative ads. Two core factors made the company explode:

  1. They used data to serve ads to hyper-specific audiences across various
  2. They create abnormal brand messaging to stand in a boring industry

Both factors were powered by data-backed research, which has made the brand one of the most popular water companies for Gen Z and Millenials.

Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club is a brand that isn’t shy about breaking the mold. The company’s viral marketing campaign in 2012 became the standard model that all other direct-to-consumer (D2C) companies have imitated for success. Their breakthrough was a wisely spent $4,500 budget for a YouTube ad that racked up 28 million views. That breakthrough led to their major success, which led to their acquisition by Unilever for $1 billion.

They have a data warehouse that centralizes all their customer data, which allows them to track and capture all customer interactions. They then leverage this data to personalize the user experience and segment their customer better in their advertising for more effective targeting. All of this equates to a successful brand that took a boring product like a razor and made it into a hugely successful brand.

Duolingo

You've probably seen Duolingo's green owl mascot. It's all over social media at this point. However, most people don't realize that Duolingo's real marketing genius is actually in the company's in-app notifications. The biggest risk to Duolingo is inactive users because if people aren't using your product, they're at risk of churning. To try to reduce their churn rate, Duolingo uses some creative methods to re-engage users.

One method they used was to add some personality to their app notifications, such as "It would be a bummer to lose that 21-day streak. Just saying." or "Look like you missed your Italian lesson again. Good luck talking your way out of this one!" This was followed by a text message saying, "Why is the Mafia at the house?" All of these messages are powered by data-driven insights, which the marketing team uses to identify what message to send and when to send it because users don't want to lose their streak.

Duolingo notification as part of their marketing campaigns

Image source: An example of Duolingo's notifcations

Robinhood

Robinhood is one of the largest brokerage platforms in the world, but that wasn’t always the case. The company is so popular today because they simplified the complex process of buying and selling stocks and an easy-to-use mobile app.

One marketing tactic that has hugely accelerated their growth is their approach to affiliate marketing using incentives. Robinhood users can invite friends to join the app, and both individuals will receive stock options valued up to $1,500. The virality hack here is that the more people you invite, the more stocks you can add to your portfolio to grow your wealth.

The Robinhood referal marketing campaign

Image Source: Robinhood's refer a friend marketing campaign

Conclusion

Building and launching an effective marketing campaign is difficult, but it’s even more challenging if you don’t have access to the right data. The biggest brands in the world are leveraging the Composable CDP to power everything from loyalty programs to paid media, lifecycle marketing, and in-app personalization.

Hightouch is a Composable CDP that lets you build any audience for any campaign or channel. If you’re interested in learning more about how Hightouch can help drive growth for your business, book a demo with one of our solution engineers.

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