When discussing a potential marketing campaign with clients, we always start with the question, “What are your ultimate goals?” Sometimes the question can be a simple one to answer – say, for example, selling tickets to an event, or increasing enrollment in a program. Just as often, though, the question is met with silence, as the client stares off into space and internally shuffles priorities. This is no judgment. It’s easy to lose sight of the forest through the trees when you’re busy managing the minutiae of every day tasks and responsibilities.
It’s important to have that high-level perspective before and throughout a marketing campaign, though – to re-orient yourself on a regular basis to the conversion goals that should be driving your efforts. Whether they are “hard-conversions” (quantifiable things like ticketing or product sales), “soft-conversions” (hard-to-measure things like brand awareness or word-of-mouth), or some combination of the two, they should be the motivation for all of your marketing activities.
Nowhere is this high-level perspective more important than in the digital realm, where it can be easy to waste a lot of time and money if you don’t have clear conversion goals in the outset, or if you haven’t put in place the proper tools to track these conversions on the back end. The former is like going on a road trip without a destination: it can be fun for a while, but eventually you’ll end up lost and out of gas. The latter is like having a destination but no road map: you may get there eventually, but you won’t know exactly how it happened and you’ll probably have spent more time and effort than was necessary.
Here are 10 steps to setting and tracking goals to make your next digital marketing campaign a success:
What does a successful campaign look like? Define success by prioritizing a list of hard and soft conversion goals, and don’t be afraid to go big.
2) Define your audience with digital user personas – and be specific.
Build identities and characteristics for each type of person you hope to reach with your campaign, including:
- Who they are – demographics (age, gender, income), psychographics (personality type, preferences, values) and behavior (hobbies, spending of disposable income).
- Where they are – geographic location and digital activities/locations (social media, websites visited, purchasing habits).
B2B companies can also do this for other businesses they hope to attract based on attributes like size, industry, structure, etc.
After you’ve created these profiles, you can start to define their needs and purchasing processes. What are they looking for and how would they typically find it? Are they even looking for what you’re offering? If not, how and where will you get in front of them?
3) Prioritize your target audiences
Create a hierarchy of your personas based on likelihood of conversion and the value of each conversion.
4) Have a clean and easy destination
This is a step that too-often goes under-considered in digital marketing: the destination. Is your website easy to navigate? Does the landing page look professional and modern? Is it easy for your audience to find what they came for? Does it require additional clicks to external sites?
If you drive your target audience to a destination, whether it’s a homepage, a landing page or a social platform, the conversion should always be the primary focus. For brand awareness, that means simply having a good-looking homepage or “about us” page that clearly defines your brand identity. For hard-conversions, that means having the conversion step (i.e.: ticketing portal, retail platform) easy to find and use. Companies tend to want to add as much language and information as possible, but a clean site looks better and focuses user attention – which should always be on conversion.
5) Set up your conversion tracking
It’s vital that you set up your campaign from the beginning to track users through the entire flow of interaction, and there are a number of analytics tools and third party services that can follow visitor traffic and behavior through to conversion. Google’s Analytics platform offers a mind-boggling array of free tools, from its user-friendly analytics dashboard and data breakdowns, to more in-depth options like unique URL tracking that can be created to track each individual ad, and monetary goals that attach dollar values to conversions.
6) Identify your key conversion messages – your “Calls to Action”
Now that you have your goals and audiences defined and your destination optimized, you can start to distill language into key conversion messages – the calls to action that will compel your audience to click and convert. These should be based on your brand voice and the information you’ve gleaned from your customer personas, and should be used frequently throughout the campaign.
7) Pick your platforms
Decide which web, social media and digital advertising platforms you will utilize for this campaign. For younger audiences, you may need to get creative with Snapchat geofilters or live streaming, paired with a highly targeted Instagram and web display digital ad campaign. For older audiences, perhaps a focus on Facebook content and advertising coupled with a pay-per-click keyword search campaign is best. Staying open to new media digital ad platforms like Spotify, YouTube and others can also prove to be rewarding, depending on your audience. Always keep in mind the effectiveness of the tool vs. the effort it takes to use it well. Big companies with the budget and staff to execute quality content and messaging across lots of social and digital platforms have flexibility and resources most simply can’t afford waste, so instead be strategic and targeted.
8) Brainstorm for content
This is the fun part. Brainstorm the content you will use to tell your story and create interest and engagement in your brand or product. Remember to consider all types of media – photos, videos, blog pieces, interactive platforms, etc. – and to get creative with how you tell your story.
Also, consider what types of content your personas are most likely to engage with. Keep a consistent voice, tone and aesthetic across media and platforms, including social media and digital advertising, to reinforce messaging and increase brand identity and recognition.
9) Execute with consistency
Another often under-appreciated element that is crucial to campaign success and reproducibility is a content and ad calendar – whether monthly or for the entire run of the campaign. This calendar can keep you on track in terms of post regularity and making sure content pieces, especially those that require more involved production, are created on time, as well as making sure you are starting, measuring, optimizing and pausing ad campaigns on time.
A high-level perspective of your social media and digital advertising activities will also keep you focused, revealing whether you are over or under-utilizing certain types of media or messages, staying on message and including enough calls-to-action.
10) Test, measure and optimize
Analytics tools can be intimidating, but measuring results regularly throughout the campaign is vital to maximizing effectiveness. To ease your apprehension, try whittling down the data points you’re going to pay attention to from the outset, and ignore the rest. Keep track of this data on a weekly or even daily basis, and shift your ads and content accordingly. If you see certain ad creative or language outperforming others, toss the others aside and break out the high-performing ads with slight variations. Wash, rinse and repeat throughout the campaign, introducing new ads regularly to test against the optimized pieces. This is how you explore and discover what works for your audience and what doesn’t.
A similar process can be used for content optimization. Regularly measure the success of content pieces – and by success, we’re not just talking about reach and “likes” but engagement, URL clicks and conversions – and focus more energy on the content that proves itself to be the most effective and worthwhile.