Every online business needs to know how to run a marketing campaign.
A marketing campaign is a fundamental part of capturing traffic and leads on the web, and then turning them into sales. If you can’t organize and implement a campaign, your company will never grow.
What’s a marketing campaign? It’s a series of marketing-related activities that work to support a pre-defined goal. Campaigns can vary widely, depending on your business, product, and customer.
“True marketing campaigns are more than just advertisements,” says Marketing MO. “Complex campaigns leverage multiple mediums, use a sequence of messages over an extended timeframe, support positioning, define a brand experience, and handle the campaign fulfillment and selling.”
But marketing campaigns can also be simple. Yours might use a single medium, a simple message, and a single call to action. Don’t try to emulate other organization’s campaigns. Build the one that’s right for your company.
Not all marketing campaigns are the same. If you lazily build and promote your organization without a clear strategy, you’ll never know if your efforts were effective. You’ll never know how to improve your strategy for the next campaign. Most importantly, you’ll never know if you made any money.
So, if you’re going to launch a marketing campaign, you better do it right. Here’s how…
1. Create a plan for your marketing campaign
Like every good endeavor, you need to start with a plan for your marketing campaign. Without a plan, you’ll just be doing things that may not serve your overall goal.
Your plan requires three components: Goals, tactics, and metrics. Your goals are what you hope to achieve. Your tactics are how you will reach for your goals. Your metrics are ways you’ll measure the effectiveness of your tactics and determine if you met your goals.
Your campaign plan is also where you’ll store your research and ideas. You should include relevant information about your target customer that may influence the campaign, such as where they can be found online and what types of messaging they prefer.
A plan requires the use of some sort of project management tool to organize your thoughts, goals, tactics, ideas, and team. For simple campaigns, a shared document tool like Google Docs or Google Sheets will suffice. Complex campaigns or ones that involve several people should use a dedicated project management tool like Trello, Asana, or Basecamp.
Read more: Planning Your Marketing Campaign
2. Build your own marketing funnel
A marketing funnel is a concept that describes how people find your company and respond to your marketing materials. Many people will become aware of your company (the top, wider part of the funnel), but fewer will become customers (the bottom, smaller part of the funnel).
In order to increase your number of customers, you need to increase the number and quality of people who enter your funnel and increase the number of prospects that convert.
Every company has a marketing funnel, but they aren’t all very good. If you have never considered your marketing funnel, it’s probably quite poor.
You will use marketing campaigns to push more people into your funnel. If you did your research properly and planned your campaign well, a large number of campaign respondents will become customers.
Before you put your marketing campaign in place, you need to setup a basic funnel that will manage the new traffic you will be sending to your website. If you launch your campaign without a funnel in place, you will fail to turn that new traffic into customers, which could be a huge waste of time and money.
Read more: How to Develop a Marketing Funnel
3. Create a thoughtfully designed landing page
Landing pages are the central hub for most marketing campaigns. They are the places on the web where users learn about and respond to offers. They are useful tools to encourage users to submit their email addresses and other contact information.
A landing page requires careful design. It needs to include some essential elements, like a compelling headline, easy to understand information, a quick and simple form, and clever copy that conveys the benefits of the offer to the user immediately.
Fortunately, creating a landing page is simple. You can follow some best practices to design your own or use one of several landing page tools. These tools allow you to create high-converting pages in seconds without writing any code.
Once you’ve built your landing page, it should be the location you direct your promotional traffic. For example, anytime you email your subscribers, post on social media, post a guest blog on another website, publish a press release, or promote your campaign in any way, you should include a link to your landing page. (For careful tracking, it’s smart to use UTM URLs for each channel so you can track the effectiveness of your promotions and the landing page.)
Read more: Building a High Converting Landing Page
4. Set up tracking before you launch
Evaluating the effectiveness of your campaigns is a critical component of marketing. You need to know what worked, what didn’t, and how much it all cost. The only way to properly track a campaign is to think ahead and set up the right measures.
Most importantly, tracking will make the ROI (return on investment) of your campaign clear. If you spent $500 on paid Facebook ads, you would want to make sure those ads generated more than $500 in revenue, otherwise you would adjust your strategy.
For web traffic, Google Analytics is the go-to free solution. There are plenty of paid web analytics tool that will integrate with your website to measure a variety of metrics. If you’re new to marketing campaigns, start with Google Analytics. Established businesses, however, should look into paid solutions.
You should include UTM parameters with every URL you publish. This is the only way to effectively track traffic from outside your website. For example, you would add UTM code to URLs you send in email messages. This allows you to track the effectiveness of those emails.
Read more: Measuring Your Marketing Campaign Goals
5. Promote your marketing campaign
Part of your marketing campaign should include strategies for promotion. This is the part of your campaign where you spread your message and links to your audience on the web.
Where you promote your campaign will depend entirely on your audience. If they are frequent social media users, find them there. If they prefer to absorb blog content, you’ll have to create your own. Do they like contests and giveaways? Do they chat on forums?
It’s important at this point to keep your promotions organized, which is another reason your links should include UTM parameters. For example, if you post on a niche forum, you would want to know how much traffic came from that link. If the link was effective, you would want to do it again. If it wasn’t, you would try something different. But you can only make these determinations if you have information.
Read more: How to Promote a Marketing Campaign
6. Take advantage of lead nurturing
Most marketing campaigns call for the collection of email addresses. Once you have a person’s email address, you can send your marketing messages directly to their inbox. Email marketing has the best ROI of any online marketing tactic, so you should take this seriously.
Every time you email a subscriber, you have the opportunity to build trust and strengthen your relationship. This is called lead nurturing. Subscribers who are engaged with your content are more likely to become customers.
The types of content you send via email will depend on your customer and your business. If you sell retail clothing, you would send deals, specials, and notifications of new items. If you provide a B2B software product, you would send content (perhaps blog posts) that solves their problems.
Read more: Delivering Repeated Value with Lead Nurturing
7. Make the most out of your campaign
If you have launched your campaign and followed your plan, but aren’t happy with the results, you should tweak your marketing campaign to get the most out of it.
If you set up your measuring tools, you should be able to see which elements are underperforming. Your next step is to make changes to those elements to optimize their effectiveness.
For example, you might feel that your landing page is receiving sufficient traffic, but it’s not converting enough people into email subscribers. Using A/B or multivariate testing, you could test different versions of the landing page until you find one that works best. Similarly, you could test and optimize other elements of your campaign, such as your email content, social media posts, Facebook group comments, Quora answers, etc.
The knowledge you gain might even cause you to adjust your plan (changing the plan because of new knowledge is quite alright). If, for instance, you learned that participating in LinkedIn groups had no value, you could scrap that tactic and try something new.
Remember: Sitting back and waiting for customers to flow in is a mistake. You need to actively monitor your campaign, spot weak spots, and improve.
Read more: Getting the Most Value from Your Marketing Campaign
8. Review your results and learn
The final step in any marketing campaign is learning. Did the campaign meet your goals? Why or why not? You need to evaluate the success or failure of your campaign, determine your ROI, and gather any intelligence you can for the next one.
First, return to your web analytics and your URL tracking tool. Look for weak spots. What worked? What didn’t? Where did users behave unexpectedly? Did they follow your funnel’s path or did they consume your marketing materials in their own way?
Next, calculate your ROI. Add up all the costs associated with running the campaign, including any paid tools, paid assets (like social media ads or retargeting ads), and your time. Subtract that from the revenue you obtained. Did you make any money? Was it enough to make the whole process worth it?
Some campaigns are only designed to collect leads, so calculating ROI is tough until you’ve made attempts to sell to those customers. In this case, you could compare your cost per lead to your industry.
Take note: This is the step that is most often neglected by marketers. They fail to evaluate their campaigns objectively. Do not be satisfied if your campaign felt like it worked. You have to know.
Read more: Was Your Marketing Campaign Effective?
That was a lot to take in, but don’t be overwhelmed. As you begin to put your thoughts on paper it will all make sense.
The most important thing you need to get right in your marketing campaign is learning. At the end of the campaign, you must be able to look back and critique your plan and tactics. This is why it’s critical that you set up clear goals and put measuring and tracking tools in place.
Yes, your first campaign might perform poorly. But if you learn from it properly, your next one should do well. Before you know it, you’ll be creating effective campaigns in just a few hours and implementing them swiftly.