As Wikipedia affirms, Campaign Planning is a plan to achieve an objective, usually of a large-scale over an extended period. It often coordinates many activities and uses of resources involving multiple organisations. Campaign Planning could also have secondary objectives or intermediate milestones and is often broken down into phases. They often begin with an assessment of the situation to put the plan in context.
Most organisations know that nowadays to be efficient and generate sales, they have to put together a good Campaign Planning. However, their marketing is often disjointed as there are no strategies or plans in place.
Campaign Planning started in the '50s when marketing developed. Back then, it was possible to advertise only using controlled media i.e. TV, radio, billboards, magazines and newspapers. Today there are many other channels that consumers can use to get all the information they need such as websites, videos, internet channels and so on. The principles created in the '50s need then, to be adapted to the modern era.
Within an organisation, the CEOs expect their marketing people to bring new customers generating sales and revenue. Rather than building strong campaigns, marketing people seem to be concentrated on brand building following the latest trends on social media just because everybody does it, losing the sight of their real job. Marketers, therefore, have a tendency to be creative whereas CEOs want to see results. To build an effective Campaign Planning that generates sales, those two categories of people need to meet in the middle.
The first step in Campaign Planning is to understand what an Integrated Digital Marketing Campaign is. With this term is intended all the "marketing concepts, creatives and activities, delivering a consistent and integrated brand message across various channels". In other words, when organisations put together a new Campaign Planning they need to create a mixture of all these activities like PR stunts, advertising on the different media, websites, social networks and so on. All the activities need to be tied together and carry the same message across the different channels to work. If organisations put some money into PR stunts, in a short period, they will be able to see a spike in their sales primarily using social media.
To make a campaign work, companies need to have a real budget to invest. Producing an advert and broadcast it for a short while or sending emails to customers is not enough. Moreover, to have a real return over investment, a campaign needs to work over an extended period. Therefore, organisations have to be very committed to keeping on marketing in many different areas using many different channels. Research shows that multichannel campaigns are better than single channels. 78% of those campaign using more than three different channels to promote their products have proven impact. By using many channels, the message is reinforced: the more a product is advertised, the more consumers will trust it. Most companies, however, are not very keen on trying different channels and they prefer to stick to those they have already used in the past attempting to save money.
Before launching a product, companies need to understand their audience: what they do when they are online, how they go on their customers journey and so on. A long search process is, therefore necessary, including mapping the customers' buying cycle, the keywords they may use, the website they may check and what might appeal to them on the different stages of buying a product.
Usually, the stages are as follows:
Zero Stage: the customer is not even in the market to purchase a new product;
Early Stage: the customer has problems with the existing product but he is not confident of buying a new one yet;
Research Stage: the customer is actively investigating opinions;
Decision Stage: The customer buys the product.
Companies have to decide which of the four stage they will cover with their Campaign Planning. Covering all of them could be far too expensive. They may choose thou to invest more money to capture customers at any stage and move them along towards purchase. Once a company has decided where they are going to do their campaign, they have to be present enough to get to what is known as Media Weight. With the right Media Weight, businesses can be seen again and again by potential customers and influence their choice of brand. If a company decides to advertise in all the four stages but has got a small budget, it may spread itself too thinly without the right amount of advertising in a particular phase. It is advisable therefore for small companies to concentrate their campaign on that stage that will have the greatest impact.
To put a plan together in an efficient manner organisations need to be clear about the outcome they want to achieve. Campaigns can be done to introduce a new product, to relaunch an existing one, to reposition an old brand or to change the consumers' opinion about a product. Campaigns can also be done to propose new ideas and educate consumers and the market itself. Clarity is, therefore, essential to decide how to sell the product and chose the right type of advertising and messages. Other than that, companies need to be sure they are promoting the right product not to waste any money: the business case has to be strong.
The approach many enterprises use to put a plan together is called BOSCARET which stands for Background, Objectives, Scope, Constraint, Assumptions, Reporting Dependencies, Estimates and Timescale.
Six are the fundamental Steps to run a campaign in the best possible way:
- Determine Objectives;
- Gather Data;
- Analyse & Model;
- Develop Strategy;
These come from a book by Zoratti and Gallagher called " Precision Marketing".
The SOSTAC concept (Situation, Analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Action, Control) already seen in the Digital Marketing planning structure could also help. With these, companies work out what they want to do, the marketplace, what they are trying to achieve and how, which tools are they going to use, etc...
With clear objectives business can put some tangible measure in place:
- Brand Awareness (% increase);
- Brand Favourability (% increase);
- Number of Customers;
- Average Order Value;
- Revenue Growth;
- Net Profit.
Companies should also do some research beforehand to see how much awareness they may need to create and should also pick out some numbers they need to focus on.
Campaign KPIs (Key Performance Indicators):
- App downloads;
- YouTube views;
- Facebook comments;
- White Paper downloads;
- Retweets and Hashtags mentions;
- Pinterest and e-pins;
- # of landing page forms completed;
- # of new customers enquiries;
- # use of vouchers code;
- # of orders placed;
- # of salesperson visits.
Sometimes these numbers are not enough to prove a campaign is working and some more time is needed.
Businesses should also consider the fact that there might be something that could stop their campaign from performing well. This can be due to various factors: their main website might not be functioning the way it should, or after purchasing customers experience some delivery problems, or the company might have some issues with their supplier, or simply the number of people working in the organisation is not enough to support the sales.
Clarence about the audience is also essential: what channels they are engaging with, what they get out of these channels, and how the company can do best in the most used ones. The more an organisation understands its customers, the more successful the campaign will be.
On top of that organisations need to be audience led:
- How does the audience interact with the website?
- What do Prospect need before any purchase?
- Is the tone of voice used consistent across all the channels?
- How many channels do customers typically come from?
- Do returning customers have a different behaviour to new visitors?
- Can the company tailor the experience to multiple personas?
- What is the lifetime value for a new client?
The most valuable customers are indeed the most important. With Lifetime Value organisations look at the different customer groups and spot the most lucrative over the long term. Some people will be customers for may years, others for a few weeks. Some clients will be more expensive than others to acquire, and a good campaign needs to be launched to get to those type of customers that can be very profitable.
Customers are chosen by company on:
- Return on Investment;
- Lifetime Value;
- Likelihood to convert.
Before thinking about what type of advert to create companies should be sure about their brand, what they stand for and their values. From there, they can decide on the marketing strategy and channels they will use.
The plan should include:
- Good market analysis;
- Clear objectives;
- Acquisition strategy;
- Variety of media;
- Develop the database;
- Testing schedule.
And as a part of that, companies need to think about the Paid, Owned and Earned Media already seen in Social Media Marketing where:
- Paid is the money spent on advertising on Facebook or Twitter;
- Owned is the people brought on the websites and media platforms;
- Earned is the hope that the content will be shared on social media earning the right to be talked about by other people.
If a company is too creative, it may lose sight of the chosen marketing message. Concepts can be innovative but the brand message has to get across. If an advert is too original, then it may confuse the audience, on the other end if it is too boring, the campaign may fall flat. The simple ideas are always the best.
There are also some important values looking back in time: some famous marketers in the past like Claude Hopkins and John Caples understood the type of idea people respond to. Those principles are still valid today and should get applied to the modern marketing.
The budget a company has, needs to be spread across the following:
- Staff (salaries, benefits, payrolls taxes, bonus, expenses);
- Market Research (primary and secondary research)
- Marketing Communication (brand, website, email marketing, direct mail, online and offline advertising, PRs, events, collateral, emedia);
- Customer Growth and Retention ( new business lead generation, customers loyalty scheme);
Organisations should also understand the technology they are going to put into place. They need qualified staff able to master the different platforms customers are going to use. As most people will check websites from their phones, companies not only need to have a team knowing how to do marketing on smartphones but also they have to build a Mobile First Website and from there develop the tablet and laptop version.
When promoting a campaign, it is fundamental to have a team working together and that will stick together until the campaign is over. People need to be motivated to stay for a long term. If the team changes, the campaign will stop when it should not. In modern marketing, people cannot work in silos anymore. People belonging to the same team need to share the information they have gathered and have good communication with the internal structure so that the campaign can work properly.
Good project management is also vital so companies need to build their plans using a calendar making sure all the things planned will happen. The team needs to know what they are expected to do, how they are going to work, who is doing what and so on. Marketing people have great ideas but sometimes they cannot function as project managers therefore either the companies trains a chosen person of the internal staff to become the project manager, or they need to bring someone in who can run a good project.
Organisations need to make sure that their website is the centre of their marketing campaign. Whatever they do on the other platforms needs to bring the audience back to the main one, keeping them there, getting their email addresses to convert them finally.
When going for a large campaign companies need a software called Marketing Automation which at any time of the day, if a customer is interested in a product, can send out the information they need . This software will capture the potential clients' interest and send them a sequence of emails using the Autoresponders over a period of time. Because things happen very quickly, the team has to be very responsive. When a video is launched it will have its greatest response within the following two or three days, therefore, the material has to be in stock, and the staff ready to take orders. Email are even faster: in six hours they get opened and with social media hashtags the response is given in real time.
To finish, practice is very important. If the team spends some time putting their campaign together, then they will learn from their own experience. D. Ryan also wrote a useful book called "Understanding Digital Marketing" that helps with tips and advises.
Campaign Planning gives clarity and helps clients to understand companies. As customers are too busy, companies have to be focused, have strong ideas and messages that will indeed create a sense of trust and give that clarity not only to the clients but also to the company itself.