Digital Marketing

What We’ve Learned About Creating a Successful Digital Marketing Campaign

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Ready to take your digital marketing campaigns to the next level?

Have you been Googling for examples, templates, and/or case studies of great digital marketing campaigns? Or maybe you’ve noticed a lag in your growth/performance numbers?

You probably don’t need someone else’s creativity, but you might be able to benefit from a few expert pointers to help graduate your great idea to an outstanding digital marketing campaign. Consumers and buyers are inundated with digital messaging in the modern marketplace, so how do you stand out from the crowd?

We cornered a few of our own digital marketing experts here at Marketo and asked what key lessons they’ve learned about planning, launching, running, and reporting on effective, revenue-driving campaigns.

Graduate from Personas to Personalization

Here’s the truth about digital marketing: Today’s consumers have low attention spans, and competition for limited consumer attention is fierce. Earning attention requires targeted, personalized communications.

If you don’t know who you are targeting, or don’t have the right segmentation set up, how will your targeted message resonate? Sadly, it won’t. And when you’re spending money to run digital campaigns, every dollar spent needs to be targeted wisely for the most ROI. — Mike Madden, Sr. Manager, Demand Generation CoE & Strategy, Marketo

But you’re a savvy, experienced digital marketer, so this is not news to you. You’re constantly maintaining thorough buyer personas, using demographics and interest reports, and modern SEO research. And you have all five stages of the buying journey mapped for each of your key personas.

So do your competitors. This is 2018.

Digital marketing campaigns that stand out today need to move from personas to personalization.

Targeting includes both who you’re choosing to send or show your message to and crafting your message in a way that’s appealing to that audience. — Scott Minor, Online Marketing Program Manager, Marketo

There are two ways to do this. If your digital campaign is reaching specific targets, use case studies, stats, etc. that are in their same niche or industry.

If you’re focusing on a particular industry, use an example from a company in the same space, and definitely match their language where you can (e.g. maybe they talk about ‘clients’, not ‘leads’).— Scott Minor

If you’re fishing in a bigger pool, use the right bait—specific language, imagery, and other content elements that will primarily appeal to your target audience.

Different platforms have different strengths and weaknesses in terms of creating an audience. Take this into account when drafting your ad copy and appearance. For example, if a platform only lets you target by a topic/keyword, but firmographic data like company size is important to you, use your image and text to help your ad appeal primarily to the segment you want. — Scott Minor

Effective digital marketing campaigns deliver hyper-focused communications. It’s time to take targeting to the next level.

Define Success in Detail Before You Begin

Every digital marketer would say that metrics and analytics are important, but they can also be difficult. Because they haven’t taken the time to master the numbers, though, too many marketers plan their campaigns and try to save the metrics for later. It’s important to understand and be prepared for your key performance indicators prior to launching a campaign. If you aren’t ready to report on the campaign from the beginning, you are more likely to run into issues digging out the metrics that matter after the fact.

Create a list of goals, and work backward from those goals to define key performance indicators (KPIs) for each campaign, channel, technique, and initiative. And remember to make them SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. For each campaign:

  • Define campaign goals, and map their connection to overall business goals. For example, if a business goal is to increase brand awareness, a related campaign goal may be to grow the number of people who follow the brand’s Twitter account.
  • Identify specific metrics that will allow for measuring success. In this example, the specific metric to track is Twitter follower count.
  • Set an attainable goal. If you currently focus a lot of effort on Twitter and only get 100 new followers each month, it’s probably not realistic to set a goal of gaining 1,000 new followers per month after launching a new campaign. A better goal may be adding 150 new followers each month.
  • Seek opinions on whether or not the goal is realistic. It shouldn’t be up to one person to define goals. Solicit the opinions of employees and coworkers to make sure everyone agrees that established goals are realistic.
  • Choose a timeframe in which goals should be met. To measure the effectiveness of campaigns, KPIs must be time-bound. Growing follower count increases to 150 per month can’t happen eventually. It needs to happen within a certain amount of time—say three months. If you haven’t hit the mark in three months, there’s solid evidence that the campaign is underperforming.

Once you have them defined, check the metrics throughout the campaign. Don’t wait for the finish line.

It’s important to check your metrics regularly. Sometimes, campaigns’ performances will surprise you (for the better or for the worse). If you don’t monitor their progress, you won’t be able to make adjustments and optimizations that can help you get the most out of your budget. — Scott Minor

Metrics and analytics aren’t just for the sunset review—not if your digital marketing campaigns are going to keep pace. Start them early and check them often.

Test Everything

First, test the experience. Once your campaign is ready to launch, take it for a test drive. Do your best to step out of your marketer shoes and just engage with the experience like it’s the first time you’ve seen it. (If this is hard, ask co-workers or friends to do it with you.)

Everything needs to work, of course, but if a digital marketing campaign is going to stand out, it needs to do more.

Does everything work correctly? Is the process as easy and clear as it can be? Can you eliminate a step to save your user time? Offer a bonus of some kind? You must deliver on the promise you made in your email/ad/message, but if you can also delight the prospect along the way, your chances for long-term success are even greater. — Scott Minor

Then, as the campaign launches, make sure it’s set up for A/B testing. (You really can’t get away with not A/B testing anymore.) And make sure the testing samples are appropriately sized.

When it comes to running A/B tests, the most common mistake [digital marketers make is] working with sample sizes that are too small. Imagine running A/B tests for two months only to find out at the end that none of your data is statistically significant because your sample size was never large enough from the start. — Mike Madden

Testing the user experience highlights opportunities to create a truly outstanding campaign. A/B testing key elements ensure the best results now and provide data you can use in your next campaign.

Create Standard Operating Procedures

Chance are, you have a fairly standard process for creating, developing, launching, monitoring, and wrapping up a digital marketing campaign, but it’s probably not documented.

Documenting the process gives you an opportunity to think critically about each step. Then, with each new digital marketing campaign, you can return to the documentation and make meaningful adjustments.

Every successful marketer needs a repeatable process. Think about your marketing campaigns like you would a sport. Did Steph Curry become the NBA’s best 3-point shooter because he just steps up and shoots a ball? No. The guy has a pre-shot routine, even though it may happen in a split second, where he follows a process, both mental and physical, to execute the best possible shot. We need to be like that. – Mike Madden

With the process documented, you can also more easily delegate and automate the simple, standard, and/or routine pieces — leaving you with more time for strategy and creative planning.

A Successful Digital Marketing Campaign Strategy

As the digital marketplace becomes more saturated, and MarTech becomes more sophisticated, digital marketing campaigns need to continue pushing the envelope in order to get noticed. Your competition has personas and mediocre metrics, so get ahead by jumping forward to personalization, mature reporting strategies, effective testing, and detailed process documentation.

Get started by identifying a small digital marketing campaign coming up, and see how many elements you can push forward. Take the communications to a new level of personalization, and/or make sure your team has metrics set up from the start, and see what it does for your ROI.

In your opinion, what does a successful digital marketing campaign look like? Tell me about it in the comments.