How to Promote Your Business Using Thematic Campaigns: SEMrush Case Study

When the next holiday crops up…

Public holidays and special occasions are always a good reason to spice up your marketing with some fun ideas. Entertaining your audience, while driving extra traffic to your website — doesn’t it sound appealing?

In this post, I would like to share with you some ideas I came up with for my holiday marketing campaigns and show you which of them worked best and why. I will also tell you about the cheapest and quickest ways to entertain your users and get them to know your product better. 

When Halloween came last year, I had a ghost flying around in my tool’s interface.

This animation caused massive engagement on social, so I went even further and added a spider and a pumpkin. People were making jokes in threads about being caught by a ghost or rolled over by a pumpkin. One of our users wondered whether it was Halloween that caused the spider to appear or the fact that his company was one of the best in insect repellants. Imagine seeing all these comments in your conversation thread?

SEMrush Halloween monsters

This was exactly the time our product went into open beta, so our promo was a great way to get as many people to test the new tool as possible. Also, the flying ghost does not require substantial investment, as you can imagine.

Place Your Bet on Quizzes

In parallel, we also launched a Halloween-themed quiz about the worst nightmares of SEO specialists.

However, as much as I love seeing our users having fun, what matters at the end of the day is how many of them will convert to payments. With the latter in mind, we made the quiz so that regardless of the score, users would always land on the content describing our product.

SEMrush Halloween quiz

In total, 800 people took the quiz; as much as 63% of them had never used our tools before! There was a threefold increase in the amount of traffic coming from social, and the sign-up conversion rate doubled.

So my advice is to definitely try this format in your campaigns. People love quizzes, online tests, and competitions and will most probably begin to share their results with others on social, giving your traffic a nice boost. But be sure to take your users to product content afterward!

New is Well-Forgotten Old

It is sometimes a good idea to change the design of your old product material to make it more interactive and occasion-related, thus giving it a new life.

It took our designers one hour to update the old infographic with a new Halloween-themed design. And the results were stunning! We saw a 22% conversion rate increase and a huge spike in payments.

40 worst SEO nightmares

So when the next holiday season comes, do yourself a favor and search through your old sales material to find something that is still relevant and can be brought back to life with a new, festive design.

The Egg Hunt Game

We have more than 30 tools in our toolkit, and some users find it hard to keep track of all the new tools we release.

To help them, we launched an Easter game: we hid 15 Easter eggs across different SEMrush tools and encouraged users to find them. With this strategy, we thought they would also get to test the tools. We created a landing page that explained what the game was about, provided users with some tips on how to find the eggs, and so on.

SEMrush egg hunt game

Unfortunately, it was too late when we figured out that 15 eggs were too difficult to find. A lesson learned indeed!

When Easter was over, we revealed the keys to the egg game, which also caused a lot of engagement. For example, some users complained about having missed an egg in the tool they quite often use.

Again, the results we got were excellent: we got 1.5 times more traffic flowing to our tools than we usually get!

We were so fond of the idea of the Easter Egg Game that we even applied to the London SMM AWARDS as a low budget campaign. We didn’t win, but still, we got shortlisted.

Thinking Outside the Box

SEMrush has a keyword research tool that does keyword research for SEO and PPC specialists. You know how it works with keyword research tools; the more language databases you have, the cooler your product is.

At the time, our marketing goal was to attract users’ attention to this product. We tried many different ways, but our competitors kept adding new language databases, so it was getting hard to compete with them. We were running out of ideas, until one day we came up with something really cool.  

In the run-up to the new season of Game of Thrones, we added a Dothraki language to the database of our keyword research tool and built a marketing campaign around it.

keyword magic dothraki langauge

In the tool’s interface, it looked like a small icon. It was the smallest database of all and contained only 3125 words. It even had its own metrics, like Volume and Keyword Difficulty.

The ability to search for Dothraki words caused a burst of engagement on social. We posted GIFs and pictures in our social media channels and created a designated hashtag for the campaign so we could track the results and respond to mentions.

As much as we like entertaining our users, our primary goal was to attract their attention to the tool itself, so we made sure that all the fun activities within the campaign would eventually lead users to product-related content.

The results of the campaign were amazing. In the first three days after the campaign launch, we received about 100 emails from our users giving us feedback about the tool and how well we used the occasion to promote it. Also, 50% of those who interacted with the campaign had never used the tool before.

Building campaigns around TV series premieres or game releases are great; just make sure that the occasion will resonate with your target audience and respect copyright laws when using images and videos.  

The 5 Golden Rules of Thematic Campaigns

There are a couple of things to remember when executing your occasion-based campaigns and promotions.  

Rule #1: Keep in Mind the Regional Differences

A cut and paste approach doesn’t work when it comes to international marketing. If your campaign is going to be targeted at different regions, you must take into account that some events (and holidays) can differ from country to country in terms of their popularity, the way they are celebrated and even the time when they are observed.

For example, did you know that Russian Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January and is not as big as the New Year’s celebrations? And did you know that the Catalan Santa is a hollow log that gives out gifts in a very, very unusual way? (in what way exactly, I will let you Google yourself)

As we already told you in this article, we once faced a situation when a Santa Claus, drawn by our designers for the global Christmas campaign, didn’t seem chubby enough for the European audience, a concern flagged by our German social media managers. Apparently, a European Santa is supposed to look ‘rounder’ and have shorter legs. See what we came up with in the end:

SEMrush santas

Can you spot the difference?

Rule #2: Think Through Your Marketing Funnel Before Launching the Promo

With fun content you will only be able to attract users, you won’t convert them into payments. Any promo you launch, make sure it takes users to the content that describes your product and makes them want to buy it.

Don’t forget to think about what channels you are going to use to distribute your promo. Is it going to be PR, social, email, PPC or affiliate marketing? This is something you need to decide before you launch your campaign.

Rule #3: Connect Your Thematic Campaign with Product Updates

Have you recently added a new small feature to your product that needs testing? Or do you want to shed light on some old forgotten tools? A thematic campaign is a great way to make people want to test your product’s new functionality and remind them what they are missing out on.

However, you should only use thematic campaigns to promote and test minor product updates. For essential updates, like a new product launch, thematic promos are not the best solution.

Rule #4: Use Your Promo to Attract Experts

Successful thematic campaigns will eventually attract the attention of experts and opinion leaders. Seeing them mention your brand as a result of your promo makes you feel like you have hit the jackpot. You should try and make them feel special by prompting them to test a new tool or asking for their valuable feedback on your product.

Rule #5: Remember the Timelines

Ideally, your promo should start 5 days before the holiday/event and finish right after it, literally the next day. You don’t want people to get tired of your ideas.  

Also, I usually publish an article or two a couple of weeks before the promo starts to warm up a bit and get people interested in the topic.

Conclusion

When the next special occasion crops up, leaving you no time to prepare for a large-scale marketing campaign, use these ideas and tips to come up with something that will entertain your users and give them a good reason to test your tools. And remember that your marketing doesn’t always have to be serious; a ghost or two in the tool’s interface will inevitably make anyone smile, even the toughest of us!


Social media has become so much more than just a commonplace platform for communication, it has evolved into an integral part of digital marketing. Businesses from all over the world turn to social networks, which help both big and small companies reach out to consumers. However, this marketing arena is getting more competitive by the day. The good news is…


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