What makes a marketing campaign successful?
Aside from the traditional metrics around traffic, conversion rate optimization, and loyalty programs, relying on the right marketing strategies by picking the most effective channel makes all the difference.
There are numerous marketing approaches depending on the marketing outlook you want to disect. Some tend to be more specific and complex than others, especially regarding expensive goods in a B2B environment.
And more importantly – they fluctuate over time. When PPC is affordable and everyone plays the paid media game, the market gets oversaturated and expensive, rerouting strategies to demand generation, social media, SEO, PR, influencer marketing, affiliate relationships and more. It’s a balanced act dependent on a number of factors.
In this article, we’ll review the most common marketing categories and tactical strategies marketers must undertake to face each.
Is Marketing Universal?
Marketing as a specialty or industry is too broad and diverse. Consider IT as an example.
- IT entails many software engineering disciplines: data management and analytics, using and deploying information systems, cybersecurity, technical support, along with dozens of other areas, each of those niching down further.
- Specialties are implemented separately within different organizations. What works for a SaaS startup doesn’t for an enterprise hardware manufacturer.
- Which is precisely why we don’t see job titles like “Internet Professional” out there, it’s pointless and far too vague.
Marketing isn’t universal, so I’m prepping this definitive set of terms/categories impacting the strategy utilized throughout marketing campaigns.
Marketing Category Breakdowns
Marketing often obeys the rule of “couples”, semantically splitting business niches into a small subset (usually of two). Let’s dive in and discuss some examples below!
1. B2B vs. B2C
Businesses sell to other businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C) directly.
- Consumers can be addressed directly while businesses can’t.
- Marketing to an organization may go through a chain of interactions.
- Businesses often loop different stakeholders in.
- Different marketing channels are employed based on the target audience.
- B2C purchase cycles may take minutes while B2B years often take months.
- B2C products tend to target the consumer directly. The sale is executed faster. The cost is lower and more affordable.
- B2B solutions often involve multiple stakeholders. You may be marketing a decision influencer who isn’t the decision-maker. The sales process is longer and complex funnels are often at play.
Marketing candies is often a B2C activity where your audience is kids you can directly blast through Facebook ads and Instagram stories. In some cases, healthy candies are best directed to their parents (holding the purchasing power).
Selling at large means positioning the brand before supermarkets, a B2B marketing strategy aiming at other channels. Your business has to determine who is the best point of contact there — the general superstore director probably won’t be a good fit but their secretary or delivery/store manager is probably in charge of the selection management/prioritization.
Different marketing approaches and techniques are employed in each of the categories here.
For instance, LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform for B2B marketing, with 94% of B2B marketers using it.
Inversely, Influencer marketing is becoming increasingly popular in B2C, with 40% of consumers saying they have purchased a product after seeing it recommended by a social media influencer.
Tip #1: Applying the same technique for individuals vs. organizations is shooting in the dark. Study your market and target the audience with a quick shot for cheap B2C or an established funnel for complex B2B deals.
2. Local vs. International/Virtual Marketing
Digital services and solutions often aim for a national/international audience. There’s no added tax for shipping an audiobook or an online course from San Francisco to Melbourne or Paris.
What about local restaurants and bars, coffee shops, the local post office, logistics services? Location matters — and marketing locally is the only way to promote a local venue.
Incorporating a locator search engine can help boost sales if you have multiple shops or a network of vendors and partners across the country.
The breadth of the area can determine the complexity of the campaign and its utilization. Marketing a software application internationally could happen solely through social media, content, and email marketing.
But non-English markets will require a content translation of your landing pages and sales copy. Languages like Arabic are right-to-left, and your software has to support this. Let alone all cultural references across the board, different currencies, tax laws — you name it.
Local marketing could bet on offline techniques — print, local partnerships and cross-selling, local media exposure, local SEO, Yellow Pages, branding park benches, and sponsoring meetups and conferences in your area.
Tip #2: Study your market and select high-impact, high-ROI channels for local vs. international. Local markets can tap into localized or cultural references that are highly related to their crowd. International marketing should carefully reflect specifics across the board, and geographical/economic differences across multiple local markets. Keep yourself up to date with marketing and sort the most important marketing news and trends.
3. Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
Most marketers have a strong preference for inbound vs. outbound.
Creating a healthy marketing mix is tricky, and I’ve written a comprehensive guide on building an effective marketing strategy with both. While both can play together nicely, it’s both personal preference, reliance on experience, and a matter of time versus budget.
- Inbound marketing is an investment in the future. It takes a while to kick in, aims to develop a strong brand, and can run on autopilot once it takes off.
- Outbound gets results quickly. You can easily scale up and get traction. But it’s expensive and once you stop pouring in, you kill your entire sales funnel.
It’s worth studying both marketing strategies separately. Your entire approach to marketing, the required budget, and your roadmap depend on choosing one or allocating a certain ratio.
Unlike the other marketing categories discussed in this guide, inbound and outbound can work together. But investing in both as a smaller business would not be truly sustainable. You need to identify one technique that works best and double down until you max out 80% of its potential. Then, diversify and identify the second-best.
I have recorded a quick comparison video with Colin Carlsen discussing Inbound vs. Outbound and our preferences:
Tip #3: Inbound and Outbound Marketing are completely different, treat carefully and see what works for you for starters. You can start with outbound first to validate your product faster and slowly build your content marketing portfolio until you have the resources to scale it.
4. Marketing Products vs. Services
Custom products are often about branding and comparison matrices. Marketing a product often aims for volume since, statistically speaking, they are cheaper than service (though not necessary, and we’ll get there too.)
And selling products at scale comes with a low incremental cost (support, server infrastructure, etc.) Services are sold by the hour or at a quantity that is hardly scalable and has to be gauged and controlled carefully.
Services are hardly comparable. There are hundreds of thousands of dev/marketing/creative shops out there. They market based on price, location, a certain niche, unique advantage, key skill, portfolio.
- Products come at a fixed cost. Selling a product is profitable even with the slightest margin. This determines certain KPIs that facilitate marketing through paid ads. In other words, there’s no additional cost to selling products on top of the initial development costs, the ongoing feature development process, and a slight uptick in support (or hosting) fees. Expenses are more predictable and scale is easier to achieve.
- Services are unique and thus require a larger margin acting as a safety net. Consulting, marketing, development services go through a lengthy discovery process, gathering requirements, preparing custom-tailored offers, and including smaller buffers to minimize the scope creep impact.
You can easily optimize your outbound costs with a product-based business once you manage to gauge the lifetime value of a customer. It’s hardly predictable for services. Also, marketing strategies aiming at a consulting business will have to keep the staff availability in mind at all times (a finite, limiting resource) although deals are significantly larger and allow for some experiments along the way.
Tip #4: Marketing products taps into quantifiable comparison within the sector. Services can be positioned differently, and often bundled with sales initiatives.
5. Direct vs. Indirect
This can be interpreted in different ways.
- You may be marketing to a decision-maker who isn’t paying, i.e. a wife picking a laundry machine paid for by the family budget.
- Or targeting influencers within the organization picking a technical/business stack for a new product.
- How about building a network of promoters and ambassadors and marketing them before reaching their own crowd?
While this isn’t as common, it’s often utilized for broader campaigns — political including. Promoting to a community leader or other authority is what Influencer Marketing is about, too, but that’s a separate topic in itself.
In advertisement, direct marketing is also known as a direct channel between the advertiser and the consumer. Think of strategies that connect with users directly, such as email marketing or SMS, instead of relying on fake stats from Facebook and alternative mediums.
Tip #5: Pick a short-term vs. long-term strategy focusing individuals or partners, vendors, other influencers in the buying decision process.
6. Cheap vs. Expensive
Marketing cheap products/services is about volumes.
Expensive ones tend to go through a longer smarketing (sales + marketing) journey, with sales cycles up to years at times.
What works for marketing bubble gums doesn’t for marketing an ERP platform for enterprise organizations.
I haven’t discussed demographics or context, though they come into play depending on the price point of a solution or a service, how developed the market category is, is it priced higher or lower compared to alternatives, and more.
Tip #6: Cheap products are sold easily and can do entirely through marketing. Scaling up takes longer, requires multiple touches, and may require a personalized approach for each lead.
7. Marketing to Small vs. Large Organizations
Marketing within AND for organizations of different sizes isn’t the same, either.
- Smaller organizations don’t have anyone in charge of marketing, or probably just an assistant (or the founder handling this.)
- Large corporations have enormous marketing departments, often cross-disciplinary, located in different offices across the world, handling internal marketing activities such as content and video production, marketing strategy, SEO, planning, setting up KPIs, analytics, deploying marketing automation tools.
Needless to say, budgets are different — and so is ROI.
Marketing a product that saves 1 hour a week per employee results in 10 hours weekly for the micro-team. Now imagine the corporation with a headcount of 20,000 adapting that.
They can and will afford the product if you are patient enough and keep hustling. Then again, it may take longer — due to complex business processes and especially in case of a longer learning curve, since onboarding and training thousands of people can take years.
Tip #7: Smaller teams are more agile and have fewer decision makers (and faster processes), though their budgets are lower. Larger corporations take longer and coordinate between different departments in-house.
8. In-house vs. Outsourced Marketing
Smaller teams scale differently.
I’ve discussed the marketing alternatives for startups eager to boost their strategy:
Bottom line, companies outsource to agencies or freelancers depending on their budget, hire an assistant at first for the housekeeping, or try to invest upfront for a couple of solid marketers who can quickly generate ROI and take it from there.
Freelance marketers tend to charge $50 to $100 per hour for generic activities. More experienced ones can comfortably charge hundreds per hour or effectively maximize their rate on fixed-fee campaigns with an added percentage of ROI. Famous marketers like Neil Patel advertise hourly consulting at $5,000, and I’m confident they can easily make more in different formats.
Agencies are more expensive thanks to the added overhead and their broader expertise across various verticals. Monthly plans can start at $3,000 to about $50,000 on average, excluding costs for paid ads. Top-tier boutique agencies, especially those producing videos, organizing events, and preparing booths for tradeshows, can charge in the millions.
Those time-and-budget constraints, combined with communication limitations, define the workflow and the ongoing marketing strategy, tackling low-hanging fruits vs. compounding benefits, and experimenting accordingly.
Tip #8: In-house activities are coordinated easily but outsourced solutions can provide the added consulting layer for smaller teams, along with the expertise across dozens of clients over the years.
9. Logical vs. Emotional Marketing
Logical marketing appeals to the rational, analytical side of a consumer’s decision-making process. It emphasizes the practical benefits and features of a product or service. For example, a car manufacturer might highlight the fuel efficiency and safety features of a new model in a logical marketing campaign.
Logical marketing is most effective when the target audience is highly concerned with practical considerations, such as cost and functionality.
Emotional marketing, on the other hand, appeals to a consumer’s feelings and desires. It seeks to create a connection between the product or service and the consumer’s emotions.
For example, a jewelry company might use emotional marketing to highlight the sentimental value of a wedding ring. Emotional marketing can be highly effective when the target audience is motivated by feelings such as love, happiness, and nostalgia.
One advantage of logical marketing is that it can be easily measured and quantified.
The benefits and features of a product or service can be clearly defined, and the success of a logical marketing campaign can be assessed based on the number of sales or other tangible outcomes. Logical marketing is often used in business-to-business (B2B) marketing, where the target audience is focused on practical considerations.
In contrast, emotional marketing can be more difficult to quantify and measure. The success of an emotional marketing campaign is often assessed based on brand recognition and customer loyalty, which are more subjective metrics. However, emotional marketing can be highly effective in building a strong brand and creating a loyal customer base. This type of marketing is often used in business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, where the target audience is more likely to be motivated by emotions.
Tip #9: Gauge your product and audience and decide between a logical and emotional approach. A/B test different landing pages. Use the reverse approach for remarketing campaigns to increase possible conversion during return flows.
10. Performance vs. Brand Marketing
If we zoom out for a moment, it’s important to establish the goal of a marketing campaign.
When you launch a social media campaign, each network inquires about your target goal. Is it followers? Link clicks? More post engagements?
This represents the difference between goal-oriented campaigns (known as performance marketing) and brand awareness approaches.
Here are six main goals of performance-driven marketing:
- Increased conversions. The primary goal of performance-driven marketing is to drive more conversions, such as sales, sign-ups, or leads.
- Improved ROI. Performance-driven marketing aims to optimize return on investment (ROI) by maximizing the impact of marketing spend.
- Increased customer engagement. Performance-driven marketing seeks to increase engagement with customers, such as through increased website traffic, email opens, and social media interactions.
- Better targeting. Performance-driven marketing uses data and analytics to identify and target the most valuable customer segments for the business.
- Improved customer experience. Performance-driven marketing aims to improve the overall customer experience by delivering relevant and personalized content to the right audience at the right time.
- Continuous optimization. Performance-driven marketing is an iterative process that continually seeks to improve performance through testing and optimization. This involves regularly analyzing data, making changes to marketing strategies, and measuring the results to determine the effectiveness of those changes.
What would be the reason to amplify brand marketing instead?
- Increased brand recognition. A strong brand marketing campaign can help increase brand recognition and visibility, making it easier for potential customers to remember and identify your business.
- Differentiation. Brand marketing can help a business stand out from its competitors by creating a unique and memorable brand identity. This can help the business appeal to a specific target audience and set it apart from the competition.
- Customer loyalty. Investing in brand marketing can help build a strong emotional connection between customers and the business. This can increase customer loyalty, as customers are more likely to return to a brand they trust and feel connected to.
- Long-term growth. A strong brand can help a business grow and expand over the long term. This is because customers are more likely to continue doing business with a brand they trust and recognize, and a strong brand can also make it easier to enter new markets or expand into new product lines. Additionally, a strong brand can also increase the value of the business, making it more attractive to potential investors or acquirers.
Tip #10: Invest in both brand and performance marketing. Double down on performance to get hard results and gauge offering early. Supplement with brand marketing for long-term loyalty and advocacy.
What About Digital Marketing?
First and foremost, all marketing approaches can be employed both offline and online. Digital marketing boosts your reach and visibility across the web.
A great example here is Facebook for restaurants or coffee shops. Many local businesses don’t need a website due to the limited number of opportunities they can provide their users. This is why Facebook delivers exactly what you would expect for cafes or bistros out there:
- Massive visibility across Facebook’s own search engine
- Strong localized search
- Relevant results based on likes in your friends’ network
- Reviews and rating
- Working hours, address, phone number
- The ability to post promotions or new entries on your menu
Unless you run a loyalty program that justifies a separate online app, Facebook works just fine here.
The same goes for luxurious items, clothing, sports equipment – and Instagram. The network amassing over a billion users doubles down on visuals – and if your product is appealing and eye-catchy, you may very well supplement your brick-and-mortar sales with online purchases straight through Instagram.
In addition to free traffic sources like Google, YouTube, or Pinterest, and affordable opportunities for paid ads through Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, local businesses thrive when they double down on digital marketing – even if they haven’t launched an official eCommerce store yet.
While marketing may seem like a straightforward specialty at first, a successful marketing campaign bets on thorough research, user testing, defining audiences, creating funnels, measuring activities, and selecting a specific marketing approach for each and every client.
If you plan to sell marketing services yourself, make sure you go through this list for every client of yours.
As for your own marketing needs, run this analysis once and stick to an action plan that can scale.
In addition to the marketing mix alone, every business is dependent on hundreds of important factors bringing them closer to success, such as:
- Great product-market fit
- Effective employees
- Reliable management
- Adequate and scalable processes
- Long-term revenue strategy
- Technical tools maximizing efficiency and automation
- Recognizable brand