What Is A Burst Campaign, And How Could It Help You?

An in-depth guide to the art of burst campaigns.

Anita T is an award-winning marketing consultant with 15+ years of experience.

What Is A Burst Campaign?

Think of burst campaigns as marketing cordial, strong, but always a part of a larger cocktail of strategies. They're concentrated, both in size and in impact, a powerful tactic to drive action. A burst consumes a concentrated ad spend on an audience segment over a short time period. Bursts capitalise on mobile use, the rise of personalisation, and sometimes can be credited for a higher return compared to broader brand-based activities when in actuality, burst success can be a reflection of reputation. Bursts are an activation, driving audience behaviours by exposing an offer to either a very specific audience, or the largest audience possible within a tight timeframe - 24-48 hours.

"Done right, burst campaigns create a 1:1 relationship between the brand and the customer, who is often exposed to the messaging via an SMS or push notification."

How Burst Campaigns Are Used...

Burst campaigns are a participant in the fractured moments that make up the path to purchase. They're used in small business marketing and enterprise marketing alike to varying degrees of sophistication. App developers may use burst campaigns to drive application downloads, a grocery store may use the tactic to push weekly specials, a beauty salon to encourage mums to pop back in for a relaxing facial. Done right, burst campaigns create a 1:1 relationship between the brand and the customer, who is often exposed to the messaging via an SMS or push notification.

Here's Why You Should Use Burst Campaign Tactics

1. To Capitalise On Brand Awareness

You may be running a brand awareness campaign and push out a limited-time offer to an audience segment that has been exposed to the brand campaign. The microburst campaign is so much more effective because your brand is already 'front of mind' thanks to the awareness campaigns you are already running on TV, social media, or via other awareness channels. The customer knows you have a sale, but the specific burst campaign offer 'speaks to them', and as a result, they buy. Users expect personalised campaigns, while irrelevant offers make them feel less relevant as a customer. Makes sense right? By running a larger brand awareness campaign, coinciding with personalised offers, the customer becomes more engaged as well as more likely to buy.

2. To Drive Re-Engagement

You may identify an audience segment whose participation is lapsing, so you send them an incentive to drive the desired behaviour. Push notifications can be automated based on CRM triggers including:

  • Behaviour - 'it's been 30-days since the user last opened your app'
  • Seasonality - 'it's 10-days 'til Christmas',
  • Personalisation - 'it's your birthday! Get 20% off on us'.

They are an important component of retention strategies, and a powerful method to secure brand loyalty if they are done right.

3. To Reach Revenue Goals

Some companies run a specific burst campaign towards the end of the financial year to help achieve set revenue targets. A planned campaign may be falling short, so a push campaign is kicked-off to boost results. Retailers may push a limited-release product, an energy company notifications on how-to-claim government energy rebates (before they end), or a non-profit - a fundraising thermometer. Burst campaigns can create a sense of urgency that drives the user from consideration, to cart, to purchase.  

4. As A Launch Strategy

A high-frequency burst campaign can help you build excitement, and thus market share over a short time period. Build your burst campaign out across multiple touch-points for best results - email, push notifications and SMS for example. Most channels are no longer a one-trick pony, and content needs to be present across multiple touch-points to have the best impact.

5. As A Part Of Push Marketing Campaigns

Push marketing is kinda like it sounds - a push or a shove taken directly to the customer. Think of those enticing red sale signs in Myer at the end-of-financial-year, the chemist's catalogue of offers in your mailbox, the Black Friday sale emails. Push campaigns are pushing action, and microburst campaigns are often a part of that.  'Buy Now, Pay Later', '$15 Off until Friyay', '30% off head-turning looks'. It's not really encouraging your consideration, but they are more urgent, demanding and instantly gratifying.

Ethical Nutrients pushed customers to try a product by promising cash-back.

7. To Personalise The Customer Journey

Did you ever read one of those 'choose your own adventure' books when you were a kid? The ones where you can flip to different scenarios depending on your choices, and see what happens? Burst campaigns are written kind of like that using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, but with commercial objectives. A CRM system helps you personalise the customer's journey so that they feel valued as an individual, while the system enables you to scale the 'adventure'. Segment, design audiences, and create real-time personalisation across brand touchpoints such as your website or app.

Tools For Burst Marketing

There are many tools used for burst marketing. Most begin with customer profiling and have drag and drop interfaces to help you design one of those 'choose your own adventure' scenarios we've been talking about. Here are some starting with the ones a small business is most likely to adopt, ending with enterprise-level platforms.

Platforms like Adobe Campaign have an app, so you can make changes to personalised campaigns on the fly. Perfect.

Klaviyo invites you to turn hard-earned customer data into hard-working texts and email marketing.

How To Run Your First Burst Campaign

Marketing is a marathon, but a burst campaign is a sprint. To run your first campaign you'll need to go back to basics.

Identify Your Audience

Who are you targeting? Shopaholics? Gamers? If you have an established audience segment, such as a segment within an email list, you can magnify this audience using look-a-like targeting on social. Depending on your objectives, a burst will present you to a specific and possibly large new audience segment. If new acquisition is your goal here, check your product and landing page is up-to-par or your campaign could backfire into a flood of negative reviews.


Don't get so caught up in what you want to say, and in what you want to sell that you forget to listen. Focus on what your customer cares about, and how it improves their life. There are often so many things to say about your product or service, but the customer may only care about one thing... For example, if you're a locksmith, how fast can you get there? If someone is locked out that's all they care about. Consider their needs and craft your touchpoint messaging around that, rather than so many nuts and bolts about the service that the content detracts from a simple message that could secure a call-out: 'Locked out? We'll be there in 25-minutes, flat, or get your money back'. Grab their attention, reveal the problem, reveal the solution, and showcase how you're better.

Choose Your Mediums

You may decide you want to reach the largest number of people possible via PR, complemented with segmented posts on social. Create a connected approach across touchpoints and win. Note that some platforms don't really cater well to the burst approach. For example, Facebook Ads take time to 'learn', so don't really serve 12-48 hour campaign needs very well. BUT you might use Facebook Ads to tease out the campaign, but ultimately push for action using EDMs - email and SMS. For example a limited release product could be pre-advertised but released exclusively to those that register their interest.

Pick Your Timing

You are aiming to deliver your message at the right time, to the right prospective customer. Consider where your target audience is at, seasonality and wider social impacts that may affect audience take-up. Different audiences may respond better on different days of the week and better at different times of day. For example, if you're targeting parents, school pick-up times are probably a deal-breaker. Business owners are rumoured to be the most likely to read their emails around lunchtime on a Tuesday. Do your homework.

Test & Learn

Because burst campaigns are brief they can be one of the best campaign methods to test and learn on. Build and leverage data insights to inform what you try next, continually asking the question of how you can better meet the customer where they are at. In a mobile-driven world, messaging is personalised, not collective. The better you do it, the better your response.

Calculating ROI on Burst Marketing

You could run a stand-alone burst campaign and have a completely different Cost Per Acquisition compared to running the same campaign alongside a brand awareness campaign. Burst marketing is often more effective when run alongside a broader campaign, or when run across multiple touchpoints.

Keeping this in mind, here are a couple of formulas to help you calculate the return on burst campaigns:

For Offers

Revenue - the cost of ads purchased

For Apps or memberships

(Lifetime Value x paid users acquired) + (lifetime value of organic users acquired) - the cost of ads purchased

In Summary

Burst campaigns are great when they are used as part of the bigger marketing picture. While a one-off campaign can generate some impressive results, the more solid results come from using it as a part of your customer journey.


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