Exclusive Marketing Strategy of Canadian National Railway – With Campaigns

Updated on: Jan 1, 2023
marketing strategy of Canadian National Railway - featured image

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My name is Aditya Shastri and I have written this case study with the help of my students from IIDE's online digital marketing courses in India.

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In our previous article, we learned in detail about the marketing strategy of IRCTC. In this article, we are going to elaborate on the marketing strategy of Canadian National Railway (CN) with a complete detailed analysis. 

The reason you should select CN is to obtain knowledge about the business and how it has grown significantly in the US. The largest railroad in Canada, CN, strives to look back while still pushing forward.

Without marketing, a business could face many difficulties in its field. Since the entire world is turning digital, it is also vital to compete. If you are interested in digital marketing and want to know the basics, check out IIDEs Free MasterClass on Digital Marketing 101, by our founder and CEO, Karan Shah.

We will try and cover all the points of the marketing strategy of Canadian National Railway in this blog. But before we begin with the in-depth analysis of CNR, let us have a look at the company’s introduction, target audience and position of the company in the digital world.

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About Canadian National Railway –

Marketing Strategy of Canadian National Railway -  Canadian National Railway logo

Source – Wikimedia Commons

The Canadian National Railway Company is a Canadian Class | freight railway. It was incorporated on 6th June 1919, combining several railroads that had gone bankrupt and been taken over by the Government of Canada with certain railroads that were already under government control.

CN was owned by the government, from the time it was a Canadian Crown corporation from its founding in 1919 until being privatized in 1995. As of 2019, Bill Gates is the largest single shareholder of CN stock, owning a 14.2% interest through Cascade Investment and his own Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

To streamline the funding and management of the different railroad firms, the Canadian government issued an Order in Council on December 20, 1918, creating the Canadian National Railways (CNR), a body with no corporate authority. From 1919 to 1978, “Canadian National Railways” (CNR) is what railways were referred to. 

The Canadian government privatised CN on November 17, 1995. The business greatly increased its presence in the US during the following ten years, among other things by owning Wisconsin Central Transportation and Illinois Central Railroad. Canada’s Montreal is home to its headquarters.

With around 20,400 route miles (32,831 km) of track connecting the Atlantic coast in Nova Scotia to the Pacific coast in British Columbia, CN is Canada’s largest railroad in terms of both revenue and network size. Through the acquisition of railroads like the Illinois Central in the late 20th century, CN greatly increased its capacity in the United States.

Quick Stats –

CEO Tracy Robinson
CMO Doug Macdonald
Area Served East to west across Canada, through the Midwest, and to the Gulf of Mexico
Industry Rail Transportation
Market Revenue C$4,344 million
Vision “We have one hundred years of stories behind our journey as North America’s railroad. Turn back the wheels of time by looking back at the moments and the people who made us what we are and the evolution of rail transport in North America.”

Be Rail Smart |

Stop. Look. Listen. Live


Marketing Strategy of Canadian National Railway –

To be in the business, a company must have an excellent marketing strategy. Let us have a look at the Marketing Strategy of Canadian National Railway along with various tactics that they use.

Segmentation, Targeting & Positioning

CN offer integrated shipping solutions, including rail, intermodal, trucking, freight forwarding, warehousing and distribution.

It is an engaged corporate citizen, committed to the safety of its employees, customers and the public. CN is invested in building shareholder value and more vital communities focused on environmental stewardship and developing an exceptional environment in the workplace.

CN offers the knowledge, the network, and the capability to transport your products to a global market in a secure, fast, and economical way.

CN is targeting an operating ratio by prioritizing rail operations, including car velocity, train speed and train length, and committing to pursuing strategic alternatives for adjacent non-rail businesses that are not best-in-class and rationalizing its cost structure by streamlining management, especially support functions, to improve labour productivity by accelerating speed and quality of decision making. 

CN specializes in transportation, railway, supply chain, logistics, intermodal, freight forwarding and 3rd party logistics.

Marketing Campaigns

  • “Operation Lifesaver Canada”

Marketing Strategy of Canadian National Railway - marketing campaign

This campaign started in October 2022 to make sure people are aware of the rail safety rules and the importance of the knowledge of signs and signals of rail safety in today’s world.

  • “CN’s 2022-2023 Winter Plan”

Marketing Strategy of Canadian National Railway - marketing campaign

CN introduced this campaign in October 2023 to let people know about their comprehensive plan guided by four objectives: operating safely, delivering the best possible service, increasing network productivity and improving resilience.

  • “#RailSafetyWeek”

Marketing Strategy of Canadian National Railway - marketing campaign

CN started the #RailSafetyWeek Campaign in September 2023. In this, they’ve asked the public to report to the CN police any unusual activity related to railways. The company also thanks the public for their contribution resulting in a successful turnout of the campaign.

Social Media Marketing

CN can be found on social media apps like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Social Media helps them connect with their most important stakeholders.

  • Facebook: 86K
  • LinkedIn: 126K
  • Twitter: 20.5K

So, it has the maximum number of followers on LinkedIn than Facebook and Twitter.

LinkedIn is the largest social network dedicated to business professionals. It is perfect for CN to connect with their customers, peers and potential employees whereas Facebook has photos of teams at work on the tracks, videos of equipment and stuff. Twitter has all the latest CN-related information which includes updates on new products and services and photos and videos of live events.

SEO Strategies

Marketing Strategy of Canadian National Railway - ubersuggest seo screenshot

Source – UberSuggest 

According to SEO ranking, it is said that the number of keywords – below 500 is bad, above 1000 is good and 10,000+ would be excellent. As we can see that www.cn.ca has 92,081 organic keywords, which should be considered excellent. This concludes that the digital marketing of CN is gaining an excellent number of insights.

The same traffic per month is around 300 thousand+ which again is good. Hence, CN is going in a great way and this result comes after putting great hard work into SERP results and it will maintain this growth further.

Influencer Marketing

Since the company is a  freight transporter service provider, it has not collaborated with any influencer or celebrity.

E-Commerce Strategies

If we talk about the e-commerce strategies of CN, it has its website to deal with bookings of different services and It is the biggest e-commerce platform in Canada. Besides this, it also proves trucking, intermodal, freight forwarding, warehousing and distribution services.

Mobile Apps

Canadian National Railway Company has introduced a new mobile app called AskRail, which is designed to offer real-time information to emergency responders about a train’s railcar contents. AskRail app is developed by the Association of American Railroads and its members, including CN and Canadian Pacific Railway. 

Only those who live in the areas where the corporation does business can access this app.

Content Marketing Strategies

Since CN is consistently active on social media, the post material relates to its new initiatives, updates, and awareness campaigns, among other things. Platforms on social media, like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, are the origins of the content being posted. They also have the option of posting crucial information or details on the website itself to alert their users.

The elaborate marketing plan of CN comes to an end now. Let’s wrap up what we’ve learned from the Marketing Strategy of Canadian National Railway below.

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What’s Unique in the Marketing strategy of Canadian National Railway?

We have observed the affection and support that CN (Canadian National Railway) is accumulating day by day in its marketing approach, and its growth is steadily accelerating. The number of users is growing, and with it, so are the expectations or needs of those users.

As we are all aware, digital marketing has a significant impact on our businesses nowadays, and it also has an impact on CN. Most people are using the internet to buy services, according to our analysis. However, the epidemic is equally to blame for how well internet marketing has improved brand perception for businesses.

The fact that digital marketing connects a company with its clients when they are online and operates across various industries makes it crucial. Email marketing and social media marketing allow businesses to reach their target clients through Google’s SEO and PPC programmes.

If you want to find out more and advance your skills, look into the 4-Month Digital Marketing Course and 11-Month Digital Marketing Course offered by IIDE.

The CEO of IIDE, Karan Shah, will be teaching one of our free online masterclasses where you can learn more about the subject of digital marketing.

We hope that this blog post about the marketing strategy of Canadian National Railway has provided you with valuable insight into the company’s marketing tactics.

If you enjoy such in-depth examinations of businesses, such as the marketing strategy of Canadian National Railway, visit our IIDE Knowledge portal for more engrossing case studies.

Thank you for taking the time to read about the marketing strategy of Canadian National Railway. Please let us know what you think in the comments section below about this case study.

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Aditya Shastri

Lead Trainer & Head of Learning & Development at IIDE

Leads the Learning & Development segment at IIDE. He is a Content Marketing Expert and has trained 6000+ students and working professionals on various topics of Digital Marketing. He has been a guest speaker at prominent colleges in India including IIMs......[Read full bio]


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