Campaign Building 101: Everything You Need to Know
So you’re relatively new to marketing and you’re learning the best way to start working with ongoing marketing tools.
You know you need to take advantage of social media, email marketing, and other methods of marketing to keep things updated and stay engaged with your target audience. You also know you are only one person and you have a limited number of hours in your day. You may have done a quick Google search to try to find answers. Maybe you were familiar with marketing automation terminology, maybe you weren’t. Either way, you’ve found this article and you should be glad you did. In the next several steps we’ll discuss how to get started with your first automated marketing campaign.
There are a number of steps you should implement to create your first automated marketing campaign and we’ll look at each on in turn. We’ve discussed some of these previously and we’ll link to them when necessary. We will also put relevant information, links, and resources inline within the article whenever possible. Of course if you are reading this as a seasoned professional and see areas for improvement your comments and suggestions are most welcome.
1. Identify your target audience
The first step in your marketing campaign will be to determine who your target audience is and how you want to reach them. What are the key characteristics of your ideal customer? There are a number of ways you can determine your target audience and identify the market.
Often a good place to begin starts with a thorough review of the problem you wish to solve and the needs you are meeting with your product or solution. Be sure you can clearly define what you do and what your business does. If you can’t define this, how can you expect your customers to do so? Most startups are keenly aware of this need to start with your goals. They commonly refer to this quick and easy sharing of their goals as their elevator pitch.
Elevator Pitch Definition
An elevator pitch is basically a 30-second breakdown of your business. You’ll define the problem that exists, your solution, and the size of the market you’re addressing. The size of the market is where you begin to determine what represents your target audience. Based on the problem and your solution, you can begin to identify who is affected by this problem and thus begin to outline your target audience.
5 important things regarding an elevator pitch
- Find a good hook
- What’s your mission
- Tell them what makes you different
- Back it up with data
- Keep it under 60 seconds
You must be able to explain your solution simply!
The next part of this target audience identification involves creating a few personas. Don’t worry with the terminology. The concept of personas is a simple one. This is where you use your imagination. Pretend you’re someone else. Give yourself a new name, a new job description, and a new purpose; then review the solutions to the problem your business had previously identified. Is it interesting? Does it meet your new needs as this imaginary person? That’s the idea behind personas. Create several different types of people that may visit your website or look at your solution. These personas will help you later in your marketing campaigns. In this part of the process simply recognize what a persona is, how to create them, and the purpose they serve in helping you define your target audience.
Creating personas yields 2x the open rate, and 5x the click-through rate.
The Buffer blog has some fantastic examples of personas and how they used them to improve their product offering. According to Buffer,
"Building personas for your core audience can help improve the way you solve problems for your customers."
You can read the full blog article on their website. For the purpose of this article we’ll simply suggest creating personas as a means for helping you identify your target audience.
2. Create a Marketing Plan
The next thing you’ll need to undertake is the creation of your marketing plan. Here you’ll identify what your goals and objectives are for your campaign. This is the main reason why creating your target audience is an important first step. You cannot create an effective marketing plan without first identifying to whom you are marketing. Your marketing plan is incredibly important and what will ultimately control your entire campaign. Since this plan is so important you must pay close attention to every detail. Here are some key points to consider when creating your marketing plan.
Your marketing plan should be somewhat cyclical in nature. It should consist of multiple pieces but ultimately they will fit somewhat together into a nice, recurring circle that follows this pattern:
There are many other aspects that will fit into this pattern but overall from a high level you should see this pattern emerge.
Marketing plans allow you to identify your methods for marketing, your marketing costs, and the time involved with the various parts of your campaign. Don’t panic about your marketing costs as there are many different tools available to help you calculate your budget.
So what does a good marketing plan look like? Here’s a quick example of the key elements found in a good marketing plan.
- Target Customers: The first step is to identify your target customers (you did this already in Step 1, so you should be able to fill this out quickly).
- Unique Selling Proposition: Again, this can be drawn from your elevator pitch which you may have completed already.
- Pricing and Positioning Strategy: You need to identify your pricing strategy as part of your marketing campaign, this is an important step and should not be overlooked. Keep in mind your target customer and your user personas you previously created.
- Distribution Plan: Outline how you plan to distribute your content. You’ll be writing content, creating infographics, producing videos, and organizing social posts. Create a guide for how you plan to distribute these various assets.
- Marketing Materials: Your marketing plan should also describe your marketing materials. What resources will you be creating to help you with your distribution plan? This is not creating those resources but identifying them. You’ll work on creating them later in the campaign.
- Online Strategy: Your online strategy is how you plan to handle your marketing in terms of social media and other online outlets (press releases, third-party website posting, and forums).
- Conversion Strategy: As part of a marketing plan you should outline your strategy for converting your leads to customers. This conversion strategy should not be ignored and should be done as realistically as possible. Refer to industry averages and other metrics to help create an obtainable conversion rate.
- Referral Strategy: Are you interested in how your customers help build your brand? Your marketing plan should outline your strategy for handling referrals from existing customers and leads.
- Retention Strategy: The cost difference between acquiring a new customer and retaining an existing customer is a well-known statistic. When building your marketing plan don’t neglect defining how you plan to keep your current customers happy.
- Financial Projections: Financial projections are the last aspect we’ll discuss in creating a marketing plan. Every good marketing plan should outline your anticipated outcomes. Build these numbers from your target audience, your pricing strategy, and your conversion strategy. You’ll be estimating of course but completing this step will help you stay focused on your marketing plan and give you a goal to achieve.
3. Collect Lead Information
Now that you have a strong handle on your target audience and you’ve created a comprehensive marketing plan you are ready to begin collecting your leads that match your criteria. This is the first step where you will begin creating things in your marketing automation software. There are several ways you can go about collecting lead information; we’ll look at the two most common and a third which should be discouraged.
1. You can collect lead information through a form submission on your website. These forms can be built through your marketing automation tool and then embedded directly within your website pages, or be added to a specific landing page which can also be created within your marketing automation tool. If you have question or problems with building landing pages then you may be interested in checking out this article on our blog about creating an amazing landing page. There are of course many ways to build a landing page, and a strong marketing automation tool should allow you to dynamically build these pages. Don’t forget in today’s world you should also be sure to put a strong emphasis on mobile specific landing pages! This is the most common method for collecting lead information.
2. A second method for lead collection is through manual addition of lead information one at a time to your platform. This is of course a far more tedious method and requires a good bit more amount of direct interaction. However, every time you are at an event, or in a meeting and collect a business card or two, you should add these leads to the appropriate list. This is a much more difficult method but still a valid way for building your lists.
4. Create Your Content
Now that you’ve defined your target audience, created a strong marketing plan and collected your lead information you are ready to begin creating your content. This content are those items you’ve described previously in your marketing plan and relates to many different forms of media. Common content items include blog articles, graphics, social posts, infographics, and videos. This is a critical step in the process. You must create your content with purpose and invest in what you share. This means taking time to write the longer blog articles. Spend the money and work on an infographic. No one cares to see fluff material. Creating high quality content is a sure fire way to increase your conversions and make your campaign successful.
Content marketers agree that original content is far better than curated or syndicated content. A recent statistic shows the breakdown this way:
Bottom line: It’s worth your time to create your own original content. If we look at another statistic from InsideView we see that companies with active blogs generate 67% more leads per month. That’s a significant number. Clearly, content creation is important. But there’s a key piece to consider. Your content absolutely must be relevant to your target audience. This is why the first step in any good marketing campaign and campaign building must start with identifying your target audience. Need a statistic?
Approximately 60-70% of all B2B content is never used because the topic is irrelevant (InboundWriter)
Wow. You simply must have the right target audience in mind when creating your content.
Of course blogging and written content is only one aspect of a good campaign. You must engage with your target audience on a number of platforms including video, graphics, and social as well. Globally video posts per person on Facebook have grown 75% year over year. (via Facebook IQ). Video is a huge part of any marketing strategy these days. Video blended with social media is even more popular. Since Facebook released their own video distribution platform it has grown significantly in traction and opportunities for marketing has grown as well. Don’t be afraid to try new tools to increase your campaigns.
Visual content is one of the central aspects of the top 5 most effective B2B marketing tactics. (HubSpot).
5. Creating Content Sharing Strategies
After you’ve created your original content you’re ready to begin organizing your connection strategies. This is how you want to share your content with your target audience. You will want to identify the main ways you wish to engage your audience. In the case of most, email marketing is a central aspect. We’ve published articles before about the popularity and significance of email marketing. You can read this article about getting started with email marketing, or you can also check out this article about the power of using personalization in your email messages.
These are just a few articles on the power of email marketing and when working with a marketing automation platform you will want to organize and create your emails as part of your campaign building process. This is something you’ll do before you launch your campaign. By building your emails before you start laying out your campaign in the campaign builder you will have all the pieces ready to use.
Creating emails in a marketing tool are relatively easy and most offer a similar set of features. You will want to make sure you add personalization to your email messages; this involves the address, and also the content tuned to specific use cases (or personas). Remember those personas you built earlier? Now is the time to put those into practice. Write your emails based on those audience types and then fine tune them with some personal details. Usually you’ll do this through “tokens”, these are lead fields that your marketing automation software will inject into the email. Think of it a bit like old school mail merge functionality.
6. Build Your Campaign
And now, finally, you are ready to create your campaign. Don’t stress. Even though it seems like it has taken a significant amount of time to get to this point every step has been an important part of arriving at the campaign building stage. Now that you’ve already completed the first five steps you are ready to quickly and easily build your campaign.
Your marketing automation platform should have a graphical campaign builder. This is a cornerstone of any strong marketing automation software and is important in providing you with a quick, easy, and yet powerful way to organize your campaign. You should be able to see at a high-level view every piece of your campaign and every step.
Let’s break down campaign building into 3 easy sections and then look at each in more detail. The three main stages of any campaign are as follows: 1. A starting point, 2. Actions and Decisions, 3. Outcomes
First, we’ll look at the starting point. This will be how your leads are added to this campaign. In most software platforms there are couple of ways you can add leads to a campaign. The most common involves a form submission. This means simply when a lead completes and submits a form they are automatically added to a campaign. So in your campaign builder you will want to begin your campaign structure by adding a form submission. That’s option one for adding a lead to a new campaign. The second option involves the use of lead lists. You can also have leads added to a campaign based on the lead list they are associated with (and yes, leads can be on multiple lists). In this option whenever a lead is assigned to a lead list that list can be a starting point for a campaign. In the campaign builder you will simply select which lists are the starting point for you campaign. By doing this any lead associated with that list will be part of the campaign. And any new lead added to that list will automatically be added to the campaign as well.
Actions & Decisions
The second aspect of campaign building involves actions and decisions. This is where you add specific actions that you (the company) are taking during the campaign. These actions consist of things like creating and sharing a landing page, sending an email, sending tweet, pushing the lead to an integration, or updating a lead’s points, details, or even campaigns. Now don’t get overwhelmed because that sounds like a long list. We’ll look quickly at each of these actions.
- Adjust Lead Points. This is a way you can help keep track of your lead’s potential value or interest. Adding points lets you score your leads and rank them based on interests. Adding or removing points from a lead is one action you can take as part of your campaign process.
- Change Campaigns. Changing a lead’s campaigns is another action you can take. This may sound confusing but it’s really quite simple. You can move a lead from the current campaign to a new campaign; or even add them to additional campaigns while remaining on the existing one.
- Modifying a Lead’s Lists. By modifying the lists for a particular lead you can effectively categorize your leads, organize them, and even manage their campaigns. (Remember: a lead list can be a starting point for a campaign).
- Push Lead to Integration. This is an incredibly powerful action you can take as part of a campaign. Pushing a lead to an integration means you can have that lead automatically added to your CRM, or other software system you are using in your business. You could even have a notification sent to a team chat client if you chose. Pushing a lead to a different integration allows you to further refine how you contact that lead. This does not have to be the final step in a campaign. Pushing a lead is simply one more action you can take during a campaign.
- Send Email. This is perhaps the most common action taken in a campaign. Sending an email to the leads on a campaign is one of the primary forms of interaction with your leads and is also perhaps the simplest action to understand.
- Update Lead. The last action we’ll discuss involves updating a lead. As part of a campaign you can initiate an action to update information about a lead. Changing their details and updating their information can be a useful and simple action to take as part of a campaign builder.
Remember, there are many different actions and this is only a few of the more common types of actions you will see in building a campaign. Actions are your way of connecting with your leads. The alternate or response to these actions are typically labeled as decisions.
Decisions are the response initiated by the lead. Leads respond to your actions with decisions and these serve as a form of a trigger within your campaign builder. As with actions there are a variety of decisions a lead can initiate: Downloading an asset (or resource), opening an email, submitting a form, or visiting a page. These are a few of the more common examples of decisions you may use as part of your marketing campaign building. As with actions we’ll look at each.
- Downloading an asset. Whenever you provide content to the lead which they can then download or access directly you can mark these resources as an asset and track the response. For example, consider the case where you’ve created a white paper PDF about a particular topic. You want to share this information with your leads and allow them to download the PDF. The lead can then decide whether or not to download this asset.
- Opening an email. A lead will receive emails as part of your campaign every time you create an action that sends an email. This is the corresponding decision you will place in your campaign builder in response to the send email action mentioned above. The lead can then decide whether or not to open the email.
- Submitting a form. Whenever a lead is presented with a form to be filled out as part of the campaign they can then decide whether or not to submit the form. This is similar to opening an email, although with this decision they are providing you with additional information based on the form fields you have created.
- Visiting a page. This last decision we will discuss relates to the pages a lead might visit on a website (or multiple websites). You can define this decision to be initial visits, length of stay, number of pages visited or a variety of other defining characteristics. Then the lead “decides” to perform those various things (We quoted this decision because the lead may not realize they are deciding with this option as time spent on page is not a factor they are monitoring as a lead).
All in all you will notice one thing in common which each of these decisions. Unlike actions which have a single “path”, a decision has two paths. Put simply, a decision can have a positive (accepted path) and a negative (unaccepted path). This means your campaign builder will start to show branching and appear to be more complex. It only appears to be more complex, in reality this branching is what makes your campaign building so powerful. You can build your campaign based on the decisions of your leads and perform additional actions as a result of those decisions.
Campaign Flow Example
Do it again.
What now happens is the heart of a good marketing campaign building experience. You begin to iterate over your actions and decisions. You can now begin to build out additional steps based on each decision. Think of it similar to those old books where you chose the ending. (e.g. Go to page 40 if you think he should open the first door, Go to page 72 if you think he should open the second door). This same strategy is what you’re doing with campaign building. This is lead nurturing. This is lead generation done the right way. You’re building a relationship based on mutual interaction. You don’t want your marketing campaigns to be a simple broadcast of information from you to your leads. No one likes being talked at, people like to be talked with.
The final step in building a campaign is the addition of outcomes. This is when you are reaching the end of your campaign. The outcome will usually be simply a final action you take on the lead. This outcome doesn’t necessarily require any further decisions by the lead and in essence closes your campaign.
These are the essential steps for building a marketing campaign. There are others and there are many different aspects we could discuss but didn’t. One large item which we will be looking at in-depth in a separate article is the discussion of drip campaigns and how those work. Here’s a two sentence explanation to give you an idea.
Drip campaigns allow you to better identify and target your leads during a campaign based on time intervals. Drip campaigns mean you delay your points of contact (actions) with your leads for either a specific time interval or a specific future date.
This is an exciting and powerful way to build a campaign strategy as you may have campaigns run for weeks, months, or even years. It all depends on your target audience, the market, and other key factors. We’ll look at these in more detail and define several different drip campaign strategies in a future article.
If this is your first introduction to marketing automation and campaign building we hope you have found this article to be helpful and packed with useful information. We’d also love to offer you access to one of the greatest marketing automation tools available. You can immediately begin putting the above steps into practice with Mautic, free and open source marketing automation. Mautic is the only platform available at absolutely no cost and one you can host yourself on your own website or server. There is a vibrant community full of active and engaged people just like you working on improving their marketing and helping each other. No question is a dumb question and we would welcome any discussions you’d like to join in.
You have two options, you can either download Mautic and set it up on your own server or you can use a free hosted marketing automation version on Mautic.com. Either way, you’ll find many of the features listed above match perfectly with Mautic and you’ll feel immediately comfortable using this marketing automation software to build your campaigns!