The Difference Between a Campaign and a Channel

nextcmo20 Sep 2022
The Next CMO Blog

Commonly confused, here’s the difference between campaigns and channels

  • Marketing channels are a way to reach a target audience, the people, organizations, and activities that make goods and services available for use by consumers.
  • Marketing campaigns are organized, strategized efforts to promote a specific company goal, such as raising awareness of a new product or service.

Common Marketing Campaign Types

Campaigns are always goals-based, but larger campaigns could satisfy multiple goals. A perfect example of this is a new product or service launch. The primary goal is to sell the new product or service. But to do that, you must create awareness and perception so the buyer can make a purchasing decision. For this reason, campaigns can be multifactorial and complex.

Campaigns are a combination of marketing goals, strategies, and tactics. For example:

  • Goal – lead all competitors in share of voice
  • Strategy – leadership (assess the competition and invest in over-performance)
  • Campaign – thought leadership (unique ideas and content that differentiates)
  • Tactics – investment in a PR agency and writers to create content and create a cadence that outpaces the competition

Below are some common marketing campaign types:

  • Account-based marketing
  • Awareness
  • Brand Launch
  • Competitive Acquisition
  • Customer Advocacy
  • Customer Retention/Loyalty
  • Customer up-sell/cross-sell
  • Demand/lead generation
  • Expansion campaign
  • Integrated campaign
  • Lead nurture
  • Lead re-engagement
  • Partner
  • Product launch
  • Promotional
  • Public relations
  • Rebrand
  • Repositioning
  • Thought leadership
  • Viral

Marketing channels are a critical part of campaigns, but they are not campaigns.

Now, someone might ask, “where is the trade show campaign?” A trade show is a marketing channel, a place where potential customers congregate so you can reach a large target audience with your message.

What about ad campaigns? Ads by themselves are of no value without thinking about the goals you are looking to accomplish, what you want to say in the ads, and where you are going to place the ads.

Also, are there other vehicles you plan to leverage after your target audience responds to the ads?  If you are not thinking beyond your campaign ad, you should go back to the drawing board. Learn more about marketing campaign management here.


Common Marketing Channels

Below is a list of channels so you can see the difference between marketing campaigns and channels.

  • Analysts
  • Billboard, Poster, Wrap
  • Digital Event
  • Direct Mail
  • Email
  • Paid Digital Ads
  • Physical Events (Trade Shows, seminars, etc.)
  • Podcast
  • Press
  • Print
  • Radio
  • SEM
  • SEO
  • Social
  • Telemarketing
  • TV
  • Voice Assistant
  • Webinar
  • Website

As you can see from the list, channels are the way to reach the target audience. They are an empty vehicle until you put messages in them and you give them a destination—the target audience. Your marketing will improve if you implement this approach.

In Closing: Marketing Campaigns & Channels

Though they are different, campaigns and channels are both parts of a well-thought-out marketing plan. Partnered with marketing channels, campaigns can help you reach your goals.

For more help on how to use channels and campaigns to create marketing plans, Plannuh has several resources:

Of course, you can also use Plannuh’s marketing planning software to develop plans, including campaigns, activities, and budgets, to reach your goals.


Scott Todaro Avatar Bio Blog Post - Why I joined PlannuhScott Todaro is the former CMO of Plannuh, an AI-driven marketing planning software, and has been with the company from the beginning as an advisor. With 27 years in marketing management positions chasing the dream, Scott has been lucky enough to work at several successful companies that used marketing the right way.  Scott holds two degrees in marketing and taught marketing strategy as an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.