How to Create Campaigns That Deliver Results

5 steps for building measurable marketing campaigns

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You put creativity and sweat into your marketing efforts and hope for the best outcome. But, are you doing everything you can to get the most from your campaigns?

You can increase the likelihood of campaign success if you base your programs on specific goals, emphasize what makes you unique, and reach out consistently.

Here are 5 steps to help you create campaigns that are systematically designed, executed, and measured.

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1. Set measurable goals

Campaign goals focus your efforts and help you make decisions that improve results. Each campaign should have a specific, measurable goal that shapes everything, from your audience and message, to the outreach channels you choose.

“Decide what you want to get out of your campaign, and then work backwards to create it,” advises Yesica Ford, Mailchimp Director of Product Marketing. “If you’re experiencing churn, you might train your eye on retaining business. If you want to build awareness, you might focus on raising your profile among a certain audience.”

Every tactic within your campaigns—such as emails, postcards, landing pages, and social posts—should work toward a clearly defined goal and play a part in delivering the desired results.

For example, your goal might be to raise awareness among your target audience by 25%. To do so, you plan a campaign that combines emails, speaking events, and social media outreach. For each of these tactics, you set another specific goal that feeds into your overall campaign objective. See this approach spelled out below.

Campaign goal: Raise awareness among target audience by 25%.

  • Tactic 1: Email outreach
    Tactic 1 goal: Build our newsletter subscriber list to 1,000 contacts by the end of Q2.

  • Tactic 2: Speaking events
    Tactic 2 goal: Speak at 3 industry events this year.

  • Tactic 3: Social media outreach
    Tactic 3 goal: Build our Instagram following to 1,500 by the end of September.

Or, if your goal is to grow new business leads by 20%, you might combine an email-based referral program with postcards. Here’s what the goal for each tactic might look like.

Campaign goal: Increase business leads by 20%.

  • Tactic 1: Email-based referral program
    Tactic 1 goal: Get 10 referrals from existing clients per quarter.

  • Tactic 2: Postcards
    Tactic 2 goal: Increase first-time visits to our stores by 30% year over year.

Keep in mind that getting good insights at the end of your campaign requires knowing where you started. Set specific performance goals, and know how you will track your campaign’s impact on your key performance indicators (KPIs) before you begin.

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2. Emphasize your brand

When your company’s unique voice and value shines through, campaign results improve. “Your brand tells a story that goes way beyond what you’re selling,” Yesica says. “It communicates who you are. Since people have so many choices about who to buy from, setting your brand apart can pay huge dividends.”

Diligent efforts to reflect your brand personality in your marketing will:

  • Make your marketing distinctively yours.
    Paying attention to branding details creates a unique identity to set your business apart from competitors.
  • Reinforce your value to your audience.
    By shining a spotlight on what makes you different, you present 1 more reason for people to stay loyal or become a buyer.
  • Provide consistency across all your touchpoints.
    When all your marketing shares the same central brand message, your audience gains a clear mental picture of your offerings and values.
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3. Be consistent with your outreach

Marketing is a long-haul effort. Frequent, repeated outreach to your audience will help your message rise above other noise and create a lasting relationship. It’s important to keep this in mind and avoid becoming discouraged or changing direction too early in a campaign.

“It’s tempting to think you can send out a single message on a single channel and get results,” Yesica says. “For any campaign, it typically takes multiple interactions across multiple channels before a purchase will take place.”

The key is to reach out often enough to be remembered, but not so frequently that you become a pest. No rulebook exists with the exact right amount of outreach to get results. As with all marketing campaigns, you should design your strategy based on what you know, and then measure and refine based on what you learn.

Use these rules of thumb to get started.

  • Email:
    The decision on how regularly to send emails is anything but one-size-fits-all. Some succeed by sending only a monthly newsletter, whereas 1 in 3 companies use email automation to send much more frequently. The details of your messages can also affect how often they’re welcome. Your audience may be happy to get special deal alerts a few times each week, but they’re likely to unsubscribe if you send a newsletter that frequently.
  • Direct mail:
    Direct mail can be a great way to target specific geographic regions or people who share special interests. One strategy is to send an initial mailing and a follow up 2 to 3 weeks later, to reinforce your initial message. Direct mail can also be used to support other outreach. For example, you can use it to re-engage with contacts who haven’t read your emails in a while.
  • Social media:
    This is another area where practices vary greatly. One study found that, on average, brands post 60 times per month on Facebook, 25 times per month on Instagram, and 195 times per month on Twitter. This doesn’t mean you need to do the same, but if your campaign calls for boosting social media activity, a scheduling tool can make frequent posting easier to manage.
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4. Test and refine

Even the most informed campaign will benefit from measurement and retooling. Try different approaches with your campaigns to determine what audiences, messages, and channels deliver the best results. Then, make adjustments to improve overall results.

“Sometimes, business owners feel like they need to have answers up front,” says Yesica. “The truth is that becoming a better marketer requires taking risks and then learning from what works and what does not.”

Start this important step by establishing a testing approach from the get-go. Two major types of testing include A/B testing, which lets you modify 1 variable per initiative, and multivariate testing, which lets you test more than 1 variable at a time to figure out which combination delivers results.

Here are a few things you can do with an A/B test:

  • Send the same offer to different audiences to identify who has the highest potential for you
  • Vary your offer to the same group to determine which promotion makes the most sense
  • Experiment with consistent message and audience and using different channels to reach them
  • Follow Yesica’s advice and modify a detail such as email subject line, send time, or call to action (CTA) to see what works best

With a multivariate test, you can do things like:

  • Send an email using 3 different subject lines and 2 types of content to see which generates the most email opens or click-throughs to content on your website
  • Concurrently test several offers across difference target audiences to see which leads to the most responses or sales

Build assessment of your results into your schedule, and plan to make changes based on those results.

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5. Measure performance

Knowing which indicators matter most and what they mean will help you understand campaign performance every step of the way. For example, email open rates can shine a light on how good your subject and preview lines are. Email clicks can signal that your email content was relevant and engaging. If a clickthrough leads to a purchase, you get insight into your target buyer and the power of your call to action (CTA).

Here are some important metrics to monitor and analyze:

  • Emails opens and clicks
  • Email unsubscribes and bounce rates
  • Sales and pre-orders
  • Special offers or coupons redeemed
  • Completed online forms
  • Website traffic
  • Social media interactions, shares, and mentions
  • Cost per click for paid social and digital ads
  • Blog comments
  • Press mentions
  • Speaking engagement requests
  • Direct mail response rate

Assessing the effectiveness of your campaign is not just about looking at data points. You need to consider them in the context of your original campaign goal. You may have grown your contact list by 300%, but if your goal was to boost your bottom line by selling more to existing clients, your strategy needs refinement.

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Build momentum—and don't give up

You’ve used the best timing for repeat communications, and found the right mix of target audience, offer, and channel. Now, let the marketing continue. Success is often a function of staying the course long enough to see the results you hoped to gain.

Check out more ideas and tools to help you make the most of your marketing programs.