Marketing campaigns are projects outside routine marketing activities. Businesses conduct campaigns to achieve a specific marketing outcome, such as driving quarter-end sales with promotional discounts. In general, your marketing campaigns should have an overarching theme to help you maintain coherence among all activities in telling a completed story.

The following includes the 6 critical steps in planning for a successful marketing campaign:

1. Define Your Campaign Objective

Your marketing campaigns should be a purpose-driven activity, and your campaign success will be measured against your objective. Your objective should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. A good objective offers guidance on all decision making, from campaign design to execution.

For example, after facing a decline in iPhone sales, Apple launched an iPhone XS and XR promotional campaign in Q4 2018 to boost sales and revenue (Specific, Measurable, & Relevant). The promotion was available for a limited time (Timely) and likely have an attainable sales target (Attainable).

2. Identify Your Targeted Audience

Depending on your campaign objective, you need to decide your target audience, the people you wish to reach. Is there a specific segment of customers that are more likely to respond to your campaign? What are the key attributes that differentiate your targeted audience from the rest? Some common attributes are age, education, location, preference, job title, etc.

For example, Apple’s campaign offered extra trade-in value of iPhone 6, 6S, 7, and 8 for the new iPhone XS and XR. The campaign’s targeted audience were existing Apple customers who owned an older iPhone and held back from upgrading. A reasonable hypothesis for the held back was the high price tags of the new iPhone models. Through the campaign, Apple offered upgrade credit (an indirect discount) to a specific group of audience, allowing Apple to sell more iPhones without lowering the iPhone price tags.

3. Consider Your Budget

How you plan to carry out the marketing campaign is heavily depended on your budget and objective. Your budget need not be high, but it should be reasonable for the scope of your campaign. You should calculate the expected cost and roll-out timeline for campaign activities. When your budget is limited, you need to be more creative and may need to adjust the campaign scope or objective to make it attainable.

4. Decide Your Ideal Channels

Your budget and targeted audience are the key factors to consider in choosing the right marketing channels. What are your audience’s preferred channels? What are the ROI for the different channels? Do you have enough budget to spend on the ideal channels? You likely should diversify your marketing channels to expand the reach of your audience. There are a variety of marketing channels, and you should choose the channel(s) that give you the highest marginal return per dollar spent.

For example, Apple was able to target its audience precisely in the campaign by displaying different mobile ads on different iPhone models. The image below shows a hyper-targeting message to iPhone 6s owners. This is likely a cost-effective marketing channel due to its precision in targeting.

5. Measure Your Performance

In order to determine how your campaign performs, you need to track your marketing activities and results. The performance metrics you need vary depending on the types of marketing campaign and channels you run. In general, you want to measure and understand your campaign ROI by channels and as a whole. How does each channel contribute to your campaign objective? How much time and resources went into supporting the campaign? How does it perform compared to your campaign targets? Start with your objective (your end-goal) and work backward.

For example, the following is a list of hypothetical metrics to be tracked and measured for Apple’s campaign:

  • Revenue: How is the actual revenue compared to the campaign objective?

    • Number of Upgrades: How many upgrades achieved?

    • Average Revenue / Upgrade: What is the average revenue generated per upgrade?

  • Marketing Cost: How is the actual expense compared against the campaign budget?

    • Marketing Cost / Upgrade: How much does it cost to acquire an upgrade?

    • Marginal Returns: Apple’s cost to acquire an upgrade likely changes over the course of the campaign. What is Apple’s marketing ROI for the 1,000th, 10,000th, and 100,000th upgrade? At some point, the ROI is likely too low to justify the continuation of the campaign.

  • ROI by Marketing Channel(s): Which marketing channels offer the best investment per dollar marketing budget?

    • Marketing Cost per Upgrade/channel: What are the ad cost per upgrade for each of the marketing channels?

    • Marginal Returns/channel: How does the marginal returns changes per marketing channel over the course of the campaign?

6. Identify Areas of Improvement

You should establish targets for all of your metrics – estimate them based on your prior experience. As your marketing campaign progress, you should periodically assess your metrics against the targets, hypothesize reasons for any unexpected results, and optimize your campaign activities accordingly. If necessary, you may need to revise your targets based on the latest information.

As an example, let’s hypothetically assume a scenario for Apple’s trade-in marketing campaign. Two weeks into the campaign, Apple’s marketing manager realized that the ROI from targeted mobile ads is at least 3 times better than the next best channel. One hypothesis to explain the 3X performance difference is the ability to hyper-targeting in mobile ads. In this case, the marketing manager should shift the budget distribution more towards the targeted mobile ads and monitor the impact on the metrics.

Wrap Up

With these 6 steps as guidelines, you will be able to plan for and execute a successful marketing campaign. Though the steps may seem simple, they have the potential to boost your sales and businesses when using accordingly. So what are you waiting for!?! Get started before the competition beats you to it!