3 things you need for a campaign to succeed

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I repeatedly hear comments like: my campaigns are too complex, they’re too reactive or I cannot report on them effectively. However first of all, I am starting to feel the word 'campaigns' is a little bit misleading in the way of the modern marketer. That really is only down to people’s perception or definition of the ‘campaign’ though. So before we move on; a campaign IS NOT the creation of a list, some content and an email/ SMS sent to that list, that is simply a type of campaign. A campaign IS a series of interlinked components and processes aimed at moving a prospect from one stage of the lifecycle to another.  With that in mind I want to discuss three core areas to campaign process success: 

  • Campaign curation and execution 
  • Campaign structure  
  • Processes around reporting 

The campaign curation process has historically been one that was relatively well defined but oftentimes it is built with a rigid structure and with the ‘old terminology’ of a linear campaign in mind. Now we’re talking about campaigns being always on and delivering a consistent customer experience, therefore the curation process needs to be more agile in subsequent stages. What I mean by this is you can set up an omni-channel journey which uses automatic decision splits or even AI to take someone down the desired path and you can largely use a similar process (there is a caveat, see below) however you need to respond to how someone is interacting throughout that journey and be able to serve up content, new messages very quickly. The old ‘step by step’ approach won’t cut it here – there are too many gates to go through. The answer therefore is to templatize and ensure that the content you produce fits within that template, reducing approvals and reducing the time from reaction to delivery. Don’t be extreme with this though, templatizing doesn’t mean squeeze everything into one or two templates, you’ll likely need many – again how many is down to a mapping exercise between your customers challenges and needs, what you have to say and how you can say it. Now I mentioned a caveat above and I want to drill down into that a little bit. That caveat is whilst the approach is ‘largely’ the same there are two key differences and they are around the automated element. Historically you decided what someone was sent and when they were sent it in a step by step process, now dependent on their actions they could move into a path you were not originally anticipating. That is more often than not a good thing but it calls for extra vigilance, specifically – can someone enter two journeys at the same time? If so, is that an issue? If so, what do you do with those people? Not stop the journey that is for sure. It places critical importance on the entry and exit criteria of your journeys and testing the various permutations of those.  Secondly, the way you structure your campaigns is important. As I’ve mentioned a couple of times firstly they need to be structured into a lifecycle so that ultimately someone could move from awareness all the way through to advocate. In reality that’s unlikely going to happen in a totally automated way but the theory and therefore the structure should be there. So simply you need to make sure you are plotting your campaigns and then calling out where there are gaps. This of course has the benefit to helping you understand if you are likely to have any drop-offs in conversion from one stage to another too. It is also important to categorise and prioritise the campaigns so that the you have the right messages trumping the others. You have to make sure that is translated into the rules you create within your Marketing Automation tool of course. Finally, think about how campaigns sit within a hierarchy as this has an important impact on how you report, who can have visibility on campaigns and key metrics and ultimately where you spend your marketing budget moving forward. Try not to overcomplicate this, whilst granularity is certainly useful having more than 3 or 4 levels within your hierarchy starts to make things a little cumbersome and slows your teams down. Talking of reporting there are a few key elements here. If you are not moving people to the next stage of the lifecycle then the campaign has unlikely been a success. For clarity that does not mean generate a lead or generate business, awareness campaigns tend to have a more intangible success but nonetheless they are getting you front of mind with the customer which means they are progressing the customer. So the first key element is goal setting – sounds obvious but it is not always mapped to the stage of the lifecycle it sits within. The second key element is ROI and attribution. Now as I’ve just eluded not every campaign leads to business, nor should it but it CONTRIBUTES. That contribution is something that can be very difficult to achieve but it can be done by having the correct attribution process and calculations in place. Almost always you should have multi-touch attribution in play because that allows you to understand each of the steps along the path to closure, not just the initial engagement (First touch attribution) or the engagement that led to a close (last-touch attribution). This is particularly important in the modern ‘campaign’ because there are now so many touches so reporting on one end of the path will be misleading and emphasise too much importance on some campaigns and not enough on others. An example here is let’s say you chose last touch attribution and your two channels (I am keeping it simple for illustration purposes) were blogs and ebooks then sales events. Your sales events should close more so essentially your reporting would tell you to pull budget from your blogs and ebooks and re-allocate purely to sales events. Now of course that doesn’t consider what and how they got to that event Finally, where do you report? This isn’t one where an answer is so easy to come by because it is totally dependent on where the data comes from and where it is being mastered. If your answer to those questions is very mixed i.e hundreds of sources and many different places it is mastered then it is likely you need to look at having a DMP and a visualisation tool specifically for your reporting. Now that also depends on how much you need to measure, inevitably if you’re only pulling a small subset then you can potentially manage without such an advanced stack. So, to wrap up firstly consider what a campaign means to you, your team and your audience namely how your audience will engage and interact with that ongoing campaign. From there you can understand what processes you need, how flexible they should be (both in terms of internally i.e approvals and management but also externally i.e dependent on the number of permutations a customer has. You also need to tie your structure back to the metrics you want to measure and ensure that those are built directly into the tool (or are easily pushed out to a data visualisation tool) – do not define the structure in isolation or you’ll have to re-do once you’ve figured out what you’re measuring. Finally, always think lifecyle, lifeycle, lifecyle and what this means for the way you will automate your campaigns and journeys.