When is a Campaign Not a Campaign?

Campaign Management in the World of Customer Journeys

Campaigns bring to mind military action. As a marketing leader, you have to muster the troops of your content, creative, email, social, and digital team members to align every angle of approach to influence customer behavior. Your weapons are your channels from email to website, twitter to facebook, and beyond. All of this is backed by powerful ammunition in the form of content, creative images, and copy. Ideally all of this is coordinated through a campaign management tool. Finally, you’re ready to launch your program. You’ve mapped and planned everything and then, the campaign goes live.


campaigns work. Journeys are even more powerful

There can be no doubt that marketing campaigns are a staple in every great marketing department’s arsenal. But the metaphor doesn’t stop with careful planning and execution. A campaign is just one part of the overall endeavor for capturing the hearts and minds of your customers. The key difference of course, is that customers are not our enemy in the marketing realm. Instead they’re critical allies, though sometimes reluctant or confused by the sheer amount of noise in the marketplace.

In this militaristic strategy, an omni-channel campaign represent a combined arms assault on your customer’s preconceived notions. Account Based Marketing is a precision bunker-buster, knocking down barriers to open the way for your special forces sales team. As a whole, campaigns help communicate more clearly with customers and allow your entire team stay on target.

So why change anything, if these tactics are so successful? Because the latest competitive battlefield is not the campaign level, but rather the full customer journey. In this blog, we will discuss campaigns and how they can best be used in a customer journey context.

Marketing, Marketing Never Changes

customer journeys do more than just deliver campaign experiences.

Technology changes, and tactics change, but in battle, the superior force wins. While it’s possible to achieve success through higher volumes of contact — more people on the battlefield — it’s far wiser to fight with a technological edge. So too is the case in marketing. The drive to use technology to deliver a better experience and to be more effective marketers lead to the evolution of campaign management platforms. This technology allowed marketers to put the information for their campaign into a single location and then coordinate activities, generally across a few different channels. Instead of simply blasting out messages along a theme, now marketers could execute a strategy. This was a dramatic improvement over simple, uncoordinated or manually coordinated campaigns of years prior. Today, we’ve seen another evolution. Journey marketing has eclipsed campaign management as the premier way to deliver great messages and great experiences.

Campaigns are old school, but they still work. Journeys have evolved beyond base campaignsThis is not to say that campaigns are irrelevant. Just as swords gave way to bayonets, but the blade remained, so too have campaigns remained the tip of the sword for marketing’s arsenal. Campaigns are about getting a unified message across to prospects or customers.  The best have always used multiple channels to accomplish this goal, especially in the digital space. Journey planning takes the hard-learned lessons of campaign management, and applies it to the entire customer lifecycle. One way of thinking about journeys is as a sequence of micro campaigns. It’s critical from a journey perspective that each campaign inform the next. Ideally, there is a flow through the journey from one campaign to another that is personalized for each customer. This is where the long term value of a qualified experience comes into play. Your journey provides specialized campaign protocols that are uniquely relevant to that audience, and that audience alone. Campaign management is linear, and journeys give you an omni-directional advantage.

When is a Campaign Not a Campaign?

customer journeys will win all sorts of awards for your business.When a series of campaigns is part of a larger customer journey, the impact is greater than the sum of its parts. Where campaign management tools have allowed marketers to track behavior across channels and coordinate activities based on tracked data-points, journeys have gone one step further. Critically, journeys never end. They start long before you’re aware of an individual customer, and end long after they’ve purchased your product or service. A campaign alone can never capture the entire life of an individual.The entire universe of experiences that are directly under your control cannot be relegated to a single campaign.

In journeys, campaigns retain many of the same features that they’ve had for some time now. These are things like cross-channel attribution, data fusion, and personalization capabilities. But consider the journey of a customer, Gerber. Gerber has truly revolutionized the way that parents interact with their children’s nutrition. This is more than just a campaign in a few key ways. It incorporates a holistic view of the customer across the life of their child from 0-4 years of age.  With that information, it provides nutritional information that is relevant to their particular circumstance. This allows parents to travel along an informative path timed appropriately for their youngster, and removes  a potentially tone-deaf campaign that would not support their particular education need at that time.

Campaigns play a part in Gerber’s strategy, but the key components of their journey flow seamlessly across the timeline of their content, rather than representing a specific push or message that everyone is getting.


Kitewheel has found that customer journeys deliver the most value for marketers because they allow marketers to deliver the best experiences to their customers. If your business is using campaigns to great effect today – chances are that you have most of the tools in place for a successful journey strategy as well. To learn more about what tools are available to orchestrate customer journeys, look no further than Forrester’s latest Wave™ report on Customer Journey Orchestration. Inside you’ll find critical information to help you understand how customer journeys are remaking the modern customer landscape.