A Guide to Building Digital Marketing Campaigns That Work
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Digital marketing is a rapidly growing sector, with digital ad spending expected to hit $239.89 billion this year. But not all digital campaigns are made equal, and a bigger budget doesn’t always equate to a successful campaign.
To ensure that a digital marketing campaign works, marketing professionals need to be strategic in preparing, executing, monitoring, and iterating their campaigns. This means setting clear goals, identifying a target audience, deciding where to invest resources (i.e. social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing campaigns, search engine optimization, Google Ads, mobile marketing, choosing the right digital platforms, etc.), measuring what works, and responding to what’s not.
Read on to learn more about what it takes to develop a successful digital marketing campaign.
What Is a Digital Marketing Campaign?
The American Marketing Association defines digital marketing as “the use of digital or social channels to promote a brand or reach customers.” A digital marketing campaign, by extension, is an orchestrated effort to reach potential customers to improve conversion or build loyalty among current customers.
Digital marketing campaigns can range from the narrow (i.e. targeting specific social networks or creating a brand presence through blog posts) to the broad (i.e. a multi-pronged digital marketing strategy that involves online marketing, social media marketing, search engine marketing, affiliate marketing, email marketing, and more). Regardless of scope, the ultimate goal is to use digital communication to reach target audiences. This means crafting campaigns for digital channels that current and potential customers use, creating high-quality content that resonates with audiences, and clearly communicating the value proposition of the product, service, or brand.
Related Read: Digital Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing [2022 Guide]
The Anatomy of a Marketing Campaign
There’s more to a digital marketing campaign than deciding whether or not to have a social media presence. Successful digital marketing campaigns require a digital marketing strategy based on marketing goals, resources available, and data.
Why Should You Plan Out Your Campaign?
As the adage goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Although digital marketing campaigns don’t typically cost as much as traditional television advertising or billboard campaigns, failing to plan can result in wasting time and money.
There are many different types of digital marketing campaigns, and what’s right for one brand might not be right for another. Before developing a campaign, it’s important to understand marketing budgets, timelines, target audiences, your customer base, the digital marketing channels through which you want to reach your market, and what key performance indicators (KPIs) you will use to measure success.
What Is the Goal of a Digital Marketing Campaign?
As a digital marketer, it’s important to define your marketing goal because that will determine the type of campaign you build.
Want to reach potential customers across previously untapped social media channels? Then your marketing team might want to consider a social media campaign on platforms where your audience is most likely to spend their time.
Want to differentiate your brand from the competition and get more customers into the sales funnel? Then you might invest in a content strategy that builds trust, communicates your brand’s value proposition, and results in a low-friction customer journey.
Want to increase your brand’s search engine rankings to drive more traffic to the company’s website? Then you might want to build a campaign that focuses on search engine optimization and auditing existing online content.
Having a clear goal will help you devise a digital marketing plan that efficiently uses resources, ensuring a targeted strategic approach.
Related Read: Why Is Digital Marketing Important?
What Are the Components of a Marketing Campaign?
It helps to think of marketing campaigns as having meat and bones. The bones are the framework of a marketing campaign—the nonnegotiable components that ensure everyone is working toward the same desired outcome. These components include: setting goals so that the marketing team knows their north star; establishing key performance indicators so that success is clearly defined; having a budget and an appropriate allocation of resources; and putting in place a system that will launch, monitor, measure, and iterate on the campaign.
The meat, then, consists of the different disciplines a campaign incorporates—email marketing, traditional marketing, user-generated content, social campaigns, content marketing, native advertising, etc.—and the decisions that are made about where that campaign will appear. These components are subject to change depending on the needs of the organization.
How Do You Know if a Marketing Plan Is Successful?
Digital marketers can measure the success of a campaign by looking at the data. If the goal was to improve conversion, was there a noticeable uptick in sign-ups, subscriptions, and sales? If the goal was to increase brand awareness through native advertising and word-of-mouth marketing, do the referrals check out? If a company wanted to ensure the return of current customers, what is their retention rate?
While the reasons for a customer conversion aren’t always clear, information gathered through tools such as Google Analytics can shed light on customer movements, which can help digital marketers assess the efficacy of their work and optimize their campaigns.
How To Create a Marketing Campaign
Below are some tried and true steps for building effective marketing campaigns. Springboard’s Digital Marketing Certificate covers each of these steps in detail, with guidance from experienced instructors and mentorship from industry experts.
Start With Your Goal
The first step to building any kind of marketing campaign is to define your goal, as this will help determine your strategic approach. For example, if your goal is to increase sign-ups for a meal delivery service, then offering discounts for new members across social channels is likely to be more effective than publishing blog posts on the topic.
Some questions to ask when setting a marketing goal include: What is the goal of your organization? How can digital marketing help meet that goal? What are the measurable outcomes you hope to achieve?
Without a clear goal, it will be difficult to set a clear direction for your campaign.
Determine Your Audience and Budget
It’s important for digital marketers to identify and understand their target audience so they can anticipate what kind of products, services, and messaging will be well received. This entails performing UX research to better understand your customers, identifying the platforms where the ideal customer is most active, and discovering who is already engaging with the brand.
For example, direct-to-consumer clothing brand Everlane markets itself heavily on social media, with an emphasis on Instagram, because the majority of its customers are Millennials. “Things like Instagram have so much power because Millennials also speak in pictures more than words,” according to Curt Cuscino, founder of a marketing agency that helps companies target Millennials.
Define Your KPIs
Similar to goals, key performance indicators (KPIs) are a way for digital marketing teams to measure the success of their campaigns. For example, if a digital marketing campaign is designed to drive sales, then revenue growth could be a KPI. Alternatively, if the goal is to build brand awareness, then web traffic, referrals, or engagement on social media posts could be a KPI.
Once you’ve set your goals, determine your audience and budget, and know what outcomes you’re looking for, it’s time to allocate your resources. This means developing a digital strategy, deciding which digital channels you want to target, understanding what digital marketing tools are at your disposal, and choosing the types of digital targeting approaches you want to employ, such as email marketing campaigns, online marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, etc.
Launch and Monitor
There’s only one way to know with certainty whether your campaign will work: launch it and monitor its progress. Take note of where people are accessing your content (i.e. mobile devices vs. desktop), how content is traveling on social media platforms, which social media channels are amplifying your messaging, the ratio of organic traffic to sponsored referrals, and the differences in engagement between current customers and new customers.
Measure and Review
To determine the success of a campaign, organizations need to know where and how users are engaging with their digital marketing efforts. This means using real-time analytics software to track audience engagement and parsing through data to determine whether an action was a result of organic traffic or the campaign itself.
For example, if a company sees an uptick in website visits, it might attribute the increased traffic to a recent redesign. But the data might suggest otherwise—referral traffic, increased searches in response to an event, or even spam accounts could all be factors. A marketing team can’t make improvements until they understand the root cause of audience engagement (or lack thereof).
Iterate and Improve
The work of a digital marketer isn’t over once a campaign has launched. Data-driven iterations and improvements are key to creating a successful digital marketing campaign. This means being open to changing your strategic approach, whether that’s advertising on different social networks and online platforms, pivoting to a different target audience, or tweaking your content strategy. The most effective digital marketing campaigns are responsive and learn from previous mistakes.
For example, during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies found that their previous marketing strategies—such as film studios showing trailers in movie theaters—were not going to work in the post-COVID climate. And so many companies pivoted, with Warner Bros. debuting the trailer for “Tenet” inside the video game “Fortnite,” Chipotle hosting virtual hangouts over Zoom, and Cottonelle earning brand loyalty and customer goodwill but launching a campaign that asked people to not hoard toilet paper.
Digital Marketing Campaign Examples To Learn From
There is a wide range of digital marketing campaigns—some involving just a single channel of communication while others incorporate multiple online channels, digital devices, platforms, and tools. Below are examples of digital marketing campaigns that have made effective use of common marketing disciplines such as search engine optimization, content marketing, pay-per-click, email marketing, and social media.
Search engine optimization is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a website by ensuring that the site appears high in search engine rankings. Using SEO alone, SEO specialist Matthew Woodward increased web traffic to a website by 14x in an eight-month period. Elements that were key to Woodward’s success include: keyword research, competitor analysis, SEO audits, an assessment of site structure, and link building.
Social media management platform Hootsuite saw a 38% rise in conversions, with a 28% drop in the cost per conversion, after partnering with Search Laboratory on its pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. Search Laboratory found success by performing a word audit, which involved removing any poor-performing keywords and reducing bids for keywords with lower conversion rates. This was coupled with split testing to ensure that only the ads with the strongest message were being displayed.
Online chocolate store Shokosmile increased its sales by 2,100% in a six-month period after it implemented an email marketing campaign to both attracted new customers and retained those who had previously shopped with Shokosmile. The campaign managers took a two-pronged approach that involved trigger and promotional email chains.
“The former reminded a customer about the products they viewed and asked for feedback on their purchase,” according to project manager Nikolay Khanko. “The latter described the product range and informed users about current promotional offers.”
While not every company has Starbucks’ marketing budget, digital marketing professionals can still learn from the coffee conglomerate’s approach to social media marketing. Key lessons from Starbucks’ successful social media strategy include:
Source: Social Pilot
- Taking advantage of trends that are relevant to your organization (such as when Starbucks supported the Born This Way Foundation)
- Posting less frequently (3-4 weekly posts on Facebook) so that followers don’t feel spammed
- Incorporating user-generated content into their social campaigns
- Actively and speedily responding to customer feedback, expressing gratitude, and solving problems over social media
- Customizing content for different platforms
Through its international influencer marketing campaign, Samsung has become one of the most mentioned brands on social media, with high audience engagement on the videos and posts of its six influencers, whose areas of expertise spanned a wide range of interests, including photography, music production, tech, and film criticism. Its campaign strategy consisted of two parts:
1. Selecting influencers with strong, likable personalities, who could produce high-quality content, had a highly engaged community, could champion the Samsung brand and spoke to a niche audience.
2. Developing a communications strategy for each influencer catering to their niche, granting them access to Samsung representatives, and covering their travel arrangements.
Digital Marketing Campaign Templates
Ready to build a digital marketing campaign but still need guidance? The following templates will help you get started.
- The RACE Framework is a customizable template for building an agile and strategic marketing campaign. After determining the goals of your campaign, RACE lays out a framework for you to Reach, Act, Convert, and Engage audiences.
- Mayple’s Digital Marketing Plan is a comprehensive template that walks marketers through the steps required to create goals, improve campaign focus, and be consistent. It covers everything from writing a mission statement to performing competitor analysis, establishing KPIs, devising a pricing strategy, and determining the digital marketing channels to pursue.
- GanttPRO offers free and customizable marketing templates with a predefined structure for project management. Templates are available to use within GanttPRO, Google Sheets, or Microsoft Excel and include fields for task assignments, task descriptions, priority rankings, and progress reporting.
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