GOAL: Whether you're new to marketing automation, or have used other marketing-automation software in the past, this article will help you identify the resources you need to gather and the items that you need to map out before you build your first campaign.
When getting started with marketing automation, planning your campaigns is key to building successful campaigns. Your campaign is a journey, and when starting any journey, it's important to know where you're starting from and where you want to go, so that you can decide how you need to get there.
Ready to start
To figure out how to begin your campaign journey, there are a few question to answer:
- Why? - Why are you doing this? What’s the goal? If there is a goal that you can quantify with a Target Group, can you make that part of the campaign reporting?
- Who? - Who is your target audience for the campaign? The answer to this doesn't have to be very specific - a general idea of your audience is a good start! Who will be involved internally? Who are the other stakeholders needed to help the planning process?
- How? – How do I get to my desired goal? This part can take the most planning. Whether you are drawing a story board for the campaign, creating a slide show, or just listing out some bulleted points, you will want to take inventory of every aspect that you would like to see included in the campaign and map it out. You will want to lay out all of the pieces of the puzzle before you start putting it together. One option would be to initially build the campaign directly in the campaign designer to see how it takes form. If you are not sure how to start, try importing one of the Starter Kits, you may be able to use it as the basis for your “real” campaign.
- What? –What are the assets that you will use in your campaigns? (e.g., mailings, AMS/CRM data, videos, registration forms, videos etc.). What are the different types of campaigns that you want to develop? Welcome campaigns for new members? A nurture campaign to keep them engaged with your brand? Do you have any upcoming events that would benefit from a Save the Date campaign? What is the overall goal of your campaigns?
A Little Help From Your Friends
Answering some initial questions will fill in a lot of the blanks. Once you have put together a rough draft of the campaign, step back and get some help looking at the campaign with fresh eyes. If you can show this campaign to (just about) anyone, would they understand what you are trying to achieve or where the key spots in the campaign are? If not, then you should regroup on it and ask those same questions.
Getting other team members involved and looking at all of the different components to the campaign is very helpful in making sure that you are not missing anything. In fact, getting the help of other team member for testing will greatly reduce the testing times. An individual tester would have to go through a campaign multiple times to see all possible outcomes of the campaign flow. Putting multiple individuals in at once, and assigning them each specific actions to take will show all possible outcomes much more quickly.
How Soon Is Now?
When deciding when to activate your campaign, you need to think about all the factors that may affect the timing. Based on how much planning you want or need to do, this will factor into realistic timelines to develop, test, and then activate the campaign? Campaign mailings are not like “one-off” mailings in the sense that you cannot just put them together on the fly and send them out right away. You’ll need to anticipate the lead time for the activation for the campaign. Additionally, always be mindful of your target dates when building your campaign steps. If certain actions should not happen on or around specific dates and time-frames, make sure to reflect that when inserting wait steps.
I Want It All
You should have already determined what you want as far as the overall goal for the campaign, but what do you need to see from your reporting results? Determine what you consider your conversions to be and how you might track them in Communications Professional. This may have affect the way that you assemble the campaign. Knowing what you want to track and measure may end up dictating the size and structure of the campaign.
All The Small Things
Plan out some testing methods ahead of time. An ideal place to start is by isolating and testing small parts of the campaign. Try testing the individual mailings before they are added to a campaign. You can perform this sample-size testing with our A/B Testing tools to first determine the best subject line format, friendly from, link placement, etc. Once you have learned what works best for that mailing, then you can add it into the campaign. You don’t want to guess as to what works once it’s in the campaign. Testing doesn’t need to end with your mailing, though. For example, if you are using a survey, create and test it before using it in a campaign. Building your mailings outside of the campaign designer and in the regular mailing designer is often ideal anyway, because it will give you more options as to how you use that mailing.
Coming up with some standardized approaches ahead of time will help keep your team organized and on the same page. Naming conventions for the campaigns (Example: “NC1” = Nurture Campaign 1) and the steps within the campaigns is a good place to develop some standardization. When naming the steps of a campaign, be as descriptive as possible. The name that you give each step appears on that step in the canvas. Creating each step with a descriptive name will make it easy for anyone to look at the flow of the campaign and understand what will happen with each step, without any further exploration. You can also color code your campaigns to make specific flows easier to follow.
Don’t Stop Believing
Campaigns can be a lot of work up front. Marketing Automation will make running and managing your campaigns much easier and far more efficient, but a time investment is required up front. Putting in the effort to plan your campaigns thoroughly before you build them will also help you avoid the headache of making unnecessarily complicated “fixes” later. It’s okay to not know the answer to everything right when you begin, but by spending time preparing your tools, resources, and personnel, the whole process will go much more smoothly.