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Short-Term vs. Long-Term Digital Marketing Campaigns

March 21st, 2023 | 4 min. read

By Alexia Bourkoulas

Dice spell out T-E-R-M, with the first die halfway turned to show two sides, one displaying

Digital marketing is a sprint and a marathon. Getting to your goals may take a mix of short-term and long-term marketing. But what are the differences? And why is each important?

Determining how long to run your campaigns is a nuanced decision. It takes a clear strategy — which 45% of businesses admit they don't have. So, you're not alone! But you're also in a great place to learn how campaign durations work for your business.

In this blog, Zoe Marketing & Communications taps into our 35-plus years of helping clients to shed light on short-term and long-term marketing, including:

  • How long 'long' and 'short' campaigns are

  • Short-term marketing pros and cons

  • Long-term marketing pros and cons

  • How a combination can be beneficial

By the end, you'll feel more empowered about how these campaigns can work for you. And you'll understand their limitations.

How long 'long' and 'short' campaigns are

Think of short-term marketing as that "sprint" designed to hit targeted goals quickly. Long-term marketing is the marathon.

Short-term campaigns

So how "short" is a short-term campaign? Depending on the goals, it can be:

  • Weeks

  • Months

  • Quarterly

  • Seasonal

  • Up to a year

The idea is to get fast results for something that's time-limited. A sales promotion or approaching event are good examples.

Long-term campaigns

By contrast, this approach can span:

  • Six months

  • One year

  • Multiple years

Instead of rapid impact, the focus is on a long-haul strategy. It ramps up your brand awareness, building trust with your audience along the way.

As you might have caught on, there can be an overlap between short-term and long-term marketing, duration-wise. The goals and benefits are different, though.

Short-term marketing pros and cons

Short-term marketing campaigns focus on the foreseeable future. If you want to drive people to your business and take action in short order, you'll achieve that.

Benefits of short-term marketing

  • Quick results: That's your biggest perk here, hands-down. The payoff is swift and often very effective. Your numbers can jump by using targeted digital ads on Google or social media. 

  • Instant gratification: The "buzz" of short-term marketing is real. It's exciting when event registrations stack up, for instance. Or your business sells out of the Mother's Day flower inventory you've been pushing in May.

  • Audience excitement: It's also great at delighting and engaging your prospects. Especially with urgent "last chance" and "join now" messages. This tactic is muscular and effective at grabbing attention and conversions.

Drawbacks of short-term marketing

  • Costly: The first tradeoff is you'll spend a lot of money to reach your audience. And you'll spend it very hard, very fast.

  • Compressed timeline: By design, it's here and gone. It achieves its objectives, and then it's over. These tactics will only build your brand inside that flash sale or summer festival. Folks came, bought and moved on.

  • Burnout risk: Overly relying on it or running it too often can cause audience fatigue. Especially if you're always driving an urgent message, people might tune you out.

  • Not a "trial run": These campaigns aren't a fair "test" to try before committing to a long-term style. They're more like one-off "boosts." And, as you'll soon see, long-term campaigns have very different objectives.

Long-term marketing pros and cons

What if you want to attract potential customers beyond an open house or end-of-season sale? For sustainable growth, long-term marketing means business, particularly for hitting your bigger business goals.

Benefits of long-term marketing

  • Visibility and credibility: Long-term marketing is a powerhouse in keeping you "top of mind." Consistency and strategy over time build awareness.

  • Branding: Ongoing campaigns also help cement your company's voice and reputation. 

  • Audience alignment: It uses various tactics tailored to your ideal prospects. A few examples include: 

    • Content marketing: Includes creating and promoting helpful blogs to educate future customers.

    • Search engine marketing: Harnesses keywords so people see your ads after they Googled specific terms.

    • Social media ads: Keeps you in your target audience's vision as they're scrolling their feeds.

  • Relationships: It engages your audience long-term. They feel a connection to you — and they choose you. (Even if it takes some time to make that choice.)

Drawbacks of long-term marketing

  • Costly: While the expenses are more spread out, you'll invest more over a more extended period.

  • Patience required: These strategies take more time to see results, which can feel frustrating. It takes a mental shift towards embracing delayed gratification. The reward is you're building a loyal clientele base, which nurtures a healthy bottom line.

  • Sometimes a bad fit: It's also worth stating the obvious: Long-term marketing isn't as effective for limited-time offers or events.

How a combination can be beneficial

There's an opportunity for many companies to have both short- and long-term marketing. You may even be thinking that's ideal. And you may be right.

A blend can be healthy, depending on what you're trying to do. Here are some samples of how running both campaigns types can work.

Example 1

Say you're a school trying to fill seats in your classroom for the upcoming year. That's a very targeted, short-term goal.

But you also want to spread awareness year-round. You offer a unique educational philosophy. And you'd like to share with parents in hopes they'll consider sending their kids to your school. That moves into the long-term territory.

Example 2

Tourism is another example. Visitor bureaus launch short-term seasonal campaigns focused on winter sports or summer fun. They're also planting seeds; other travelers might not plan their trip for six months or so. Again, long-term matters, too.

Next steps for short-term and long-term marketing

Marketing duration is essential, and different scenarios call for different lengths.

In this blog, you learned about how long short-term and long-term campaigns run, as well as the pros and cons of each. You also got a sense of how a mixture of the two can be a savvy move.

Both serve very different goals, but both are important. And expectations are essential, as is planning, whatever path you choose.

Need some help? Getting off to a healthy start sometimes takes guidance. Talk to us at Zoe Marketing & Communications. We can take your goals and create effective marketing campaigns to achieve them, whether short, long or both.

In the meantime, keep exploring and discovering your marketing options. Read these blogs to learn your next steps: 

Alexia Bourkoulas

Alexia Bourkoulas is CEO of Zoe Marketing & Communications and its sister companies, Metro Parent and Chicago Parent. Her 35-year multi-media experience ranges from sales and marketing to journalism and public relations. She’s passionate about helping businesses grow and thrive.