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A Step-by-Step Guide to Running Successful Marketing Campaigns (+ 9 Tools to Help)

On marketing blogs everywhere (including this one), you hear a lot of lip-flapping about the importance of meticulously planning your marketing campaigns.

But what many don’t address is that marketing campaigns aren’t specific to product launches – if you want to achieve measurable results with your marketing, you need to treat every single one of your marketing activities as a marketing campaign.

Successful Marketing Campaigns: What If I Told You Meme

For every single project you take on to move the needle for your business, you’ve got to have a master plan: a set of clearly-defined goals, a finite start and end date, and a means of tracking your successes (and failures).

So what extra baggage comes with this “campaign mentality”? What’s the ideal order of operations? What extra resources will you need?

Here’s a step-by-step blueprint for planning and launching your next campaign – with a selection of hand-picked tools to help you through each step.

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1. Ideation, research and goal setting

Have a brilliant idea

I’m willing to bet that you’ve got more brilliant ideas floating around than you realize – but are they getting lost in the shuffle?

Organizing your ideas goes a long way in helping to identify the opportunities with the most potential.

Get a Trello board started for your marketing ideas, with columns for each stage of the planning process:

Successful Marketing Campaigns: Trello Board
This is the Trello board for Unbounce’s marketing campaigns. “Brilliant” campaign ideas have been omitted. ;)

Start by brain dumping cards into the “Ideas” column. For each campaign idea, identify the scope of the project:

  • How long will it take?
  • What resources will it require?
  • What sort of results do you expect?

As each campaign gets off the ground, move the card through each stage of the planning process, from “Validating” to “Underway.” Keep a “Done” column as well so you can track your progress and prove that you’re getting shit done.

Organizing things in this way helps you prioritize and holds you accountable for your ideas from start to finish.

Know your audience and what resonates

When validating ideas, always keep your audience top-of-mind.

Ask yourself:

  • Which part of the marketing funnel are you targeting? What sort of content or campaign will resonate with those prospects?
  • Which topics are popular with your audience? Which of your campaigns have resonated in the past? Which ones have failed miserably?
  • What is there a need for? Are the same questions appearing in blog comments, on social channels and with your customer support team?

Always ask yourself how you can deliver as much value as possible to your prospects.

There’s a reason why people say, “The customer is always right” – at the end of the day, if you give them what they want, they’ll thank you with conversions.

Be as specific as possible when setting goals

Once you’ve identified a ripe opportunity, get super specific about what you expect from the marketing campaign.

I’m not talking about simply declaring that you “want more sales.” You want to be as specific as possible so you can measure your success later.

For example, when we launched our Conversion Marketer’s Guide to Landing Page Copywriting, here were the results we estimated:

  • 5,000 downloads
  • 1,000 new leads
  • 100 new trial starts

Ask yourself which key performance indicators matter most to your business and what results you can expect.

If you don’t have previous campaigns to refer to, take your best guess. At the very worst, you’ll be way off and will have more realistic expectations next time. :)

2. Building (and testing) your campaign landing page

If you want your campaigns to inspire action, then you’ve got to make the intended goal crystal-clear. After all, your users deserve a delightful, seamless marketing experience, don’t they?

If you agree, then you’ve got to create a dedicated landing page for every marketing campaign you launch.

Successful Marketing Campaigns: Dedicated Landing Page

Having a dedicated landing page for every marketing campaign allows you to direct prospects toward the goal in a concise, compelling manner – and allows you to easily track the success of your campaign.

Use the five elements of a high-converting landing page

Every campaign landing page should lead with the question that prospects have on the brain:

What’s in it for me?

That includes talking about benefits, not features – and making sure you supply prospects with all the information they need to make a decision.

A simple way to achieve this is to be sure that your landing page includes the five essential elements of a winning landing page.

Have a look at the landing page we created for the launch of our mobile responsive feature:   

Successful Marketing Campaigns: 5 essential elements
Click for full-length landing page.

Notice how all five elements appear above the fold?

  1. Unique value proposition
  2. Hero shot
  3. Benefits
  4. Social proof
  5. Call to action

Once you’ve got all the elements in there, don’t forget to test your heart out.

Checking “hero shot” off the list isn’t enough. You’ve got to make sure that you’ve got the optimal hero shot!

Ask if video can add value

Sometimes, your offer is hard to summarize above the fold.

Maybe it’s a complex offering, or maybe you want to show your product in action so prospects can picture themselves using it.

Including a video on your landing page (with the help of a service such as Wistia) could be exactly what you need to counter objections that prospects have when they just don’t get what you do.

When we launched mobile responsive, we decided to include a video on our landing page. We wanted to inject a little more delight and we wanted to be able to clearly illustrate exactly what mobile responsive is (and what it looks like in app):

But does video really work?

I could link to a super convincing case study that indicates that videos increase conversions on landing pages. I could also link to one that suggests the opposite.

One thing is certain: A/B testing is your friend.

If you do go with video, remember that it’s a time-intensive venture that will require lots of resources. Make sure you’re not neglecting the other important elements on your landing page.

‘Cause if your copy falls flat, your video won’t shine either.

Set up the delivery mechanism

As people fill out the form on your landing page, you want them to be added to a relevant list that you’ve created in your email service provider (such as AWeber). Create a dedicated list or segment for that campaign so you can track sign ups easily and keep in touch.

Then add a follow-up message that delivers the offering, or deliver it on the confirmation page.

Don’t leave anyone hanging!

3. Setting up goal tracking

If you’re going to invest time and resources into your brilliant ideas, you’ll want to know how your campaign is performing.

Google Analytics can be useful in tracking straightforward goals and conversions (such as an ebook download) – but often, campaigns involve more than one touchpoint with prospects.

Go deep with your analytics

Tools like KISSmetrics address some of the frustrations marketers (especially SaaS marketers) have with Google Analytics.

KISSmetrics makes it easier to tag your campaign data and build a simple custom report to display results. We’ve found it extremely valuable that the tool allows you to pull customer data from your billing system so you can accurately track their progress all the way down the funnel – and even after they become a customer.

For each campaign, you’ll want to set up events for every micro and macro conversion. For example, you may want to set up an event when a prospect completes each of the following:

  • Visits the campaign landing page
  • Signs up for a free 30-day trial
  • Uses your product

Then you can set up funnel reports so you can see the point at which people are dropping off – and optimize accordingly.

Successful Marketing Campaigns: KISSmetrics Funnel Report
Funnel reports like this one pulled from KISSmetrics give insight into where prospects are dropping off in the conversion funnel. Image source.

To get started with goal tracking, check out these helpful beginner guides here and here.

4. Distribution and promo

After you’ve created all the things and set up all the tracking, you’ve gotta devise a game plan for getting it all out there.

Which channels will you use to promote your campaign? Email, co-marketing initiatives, social, press releases – maybe even a contest?

Whichever channels you choose, remember that distribution and promotion should never be an afterthought.

All this prep work should run parallel to content production so that much of the legwork is done before your launch date.

Announcing the campaign on social media

Your fans on social media have followed you because they’re interested in what you’re doing and what you have to say. So tell ‘em what’s up!

Every marketing campaign needs a corresponding social media campaign to spread the word. At the very least, you should:

  • Create a variety of social assets that have design and message match with the landing page you created earlier.
  • Tag the URLs you are using to distribute content on social so you can measure the results of your campaign (check out a simple tutorial on that at the end of this post).
  • Schedule promotional messages in advance with tools like Hootsuite to coincide with the launch date and avoid last-minute scrambles.
  • Keep your ear to the ground on social media to collect feedback and respond to comments/questions about your campaign.

Announcing the campaign in a blog post

If you’ve already got a group of engaged readers on your blog, why not use it as a platform to break the news about your campaign?

You could write a post on a related subject to pique your readers’ interest, and then insert a CTA at the bottom of the post for your campaign. (Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see what I mean… ;)

Alternatively, you might decide to write a post that simply announces the launch!

When we launched our copywriting ebook, we found that explicitly announcing the launch (rather than burying a CTA in a post with related subject matter) resulted in more sessions and downloads:

Successful Marketing Campaigns: Blog post
Explicitly announcing the launch of our latest ebook (instead of burying the lede in a post on the same subject) resulted in more views to the campaign landing page and a higher percentage of ebook downloads.

Your campaign may have a finite end date, but your blog post is around forever – so make sure that you pay attention to SEO and do appropriate keyword research.

If you’re running an evergreen campaign, also consider optimizing your landing page for SEO so that people can stumble on it organically. (Psst: If you’re an SEO noob, tools like Moz can help.)

Announcing the campaign to your email list

If you’ve already got an engaged list, announcing your campaign via email is an easy win. After all, these people have already self-identified as being interested in what you do.

Here are some best practices to help get you started:

  • Make sure your email copy matches that of your landing page.
  • As Joanna Wiebe explained at last year’s CTAconf, your subject line has one job: to get the prospect to open the email. It needs to grab the reader’s attention, but should still be clear. Test subject lines to learn more about what triggers subscribers to open.
  • Your body copy should be concise, and speak clearly to the benefits of your campaign. Your body copy’s “job” is to get people to click on the CTA in the email.
  • The CTA in your email has to pop and describe what people get when they click the button. Test CTA button copy that answers the question, “I want to…”
Successful Marketing Campaigns: Launch email
The CTA for this webinar announcement email is easy to spot and finishes the sentence, “I want to _____.” Click for full email.

There are of course tons of other methods for getting your campaign out there – I haven’t even touched on paid methods such as PPC (WordStream can help with that!).

You’ve got to find what works best for you – and then find ways to do it better than everyone else.

5. Lead nurturing

After your campaign is launched, your work isn’t done.

No matter the goal of your campaign, you want to continue the relationship so you can make leads into customers and customers into repeat customers.

I’m talking about lead nurturing.

The more touch points a lead has with your business, the hotter they become.

Successful Marketing Campaigns: Hot lead

You’ll want to keep track of those interactions (Customer Relationship Management tools such as HubSpot can help make this easy) – and then find ways to keep offering value.

Keep delivering value

The more details you have about your leads, the more opportunities you have to send them targeted offers that will make them happy – and more likely to do business with you.

When we recently launched an ebook campaign, we set up separate email marketing campaigns to fire based on answers prospects provided in the opt-in form.

Successful Marketing Campaigns: Opt in form

For example, if they answered “We don’t use landing pages” to the question above, we sent them a follow-up email schooling them about the importance of landing pages (and telling them about Unbounce).

Taking this approach gave us insight into the behavior of each subscriber, and allowed us to target subsequent offers based on their answers.

If you listen closely enough, you’ll have a good idea of what your prospects want. And that puts you in the unique position to give them exactly what they need.

6. Rinse, lather, repeat

When your campaign has come to an end, it’s time to look back and take in all the results.

Hold a postmortem with everyone involved to discuss your successes and shortcomings. For example:

  • Did you meet the goals you laid out in step #1?
  • What could have been done differently?
  • For anything that didn’t work out, what’s your best guess at why it went wrong?
  • How can you do things better next time?
  • What have you learned about your audience?

Holding meetings like this and keeping the notes on record allows the entire team to learn from each others’ mistakes and become better marketers.

And that will make your next marketing campaign that much more awesome.

Treat all your marketing activities as distinct campaigns

There is no such thing as the perfect marketing campaign.

There’s always room for iteration and improvement – not to mention more conversion lifts.

successful-marketing-campaigns-lift-conversions

If you’re deliberate about all of your marketing activities and break things down into smaller, digestible chunks, then you can get a clear picture of what’s working and what’s not.

And that brings you one step closer to the unattainable.

To recap, here’s the grocery list of tools I mentioned throughout the post:

  • Trello to keep track of all your brilliant ideas
  • Unbounce to create stellar, high-converting landing pages
  • Wistia to add explainer and product videos to increase your conversion rates
  • AWeber to collect email addresses, deliver incentives and follow up with prospects later.
  • KISSmetrics for getting into the nitty gritty of funnel reports and where people drop off
  • Hootsuite for spreading the word about your campaign on social media
  • WordStream for paid search advertising to promote your campaign
  • Moz for making sure your announcement post and landing page are search engine friendly
  • HubSpot for nurturing all your new leads so you can make them into raving customers.

While this is a solid start to running a marketing campaign, there are tons of other considerations that I didn’t touch on here. And there are tons of other tools that go into the planning of a campaign (at Unbounce, we’re big fans of RealtimeBoard and Basecamp to name a few).

So help me out. Which tools and tactics have you found invaluable in your marketing campaigns?

— Amanda Durepos

Successful Marketing Campaigns: What If I Told You Meme

About Amanda Durepos
Amanda Durepos is Unbounce’s Blog Editor and an aspiring dog owner. Former gallery director and freelance blogger, she has a love for curating great content. Find her on Twitter: @amandadurepos
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Comments:

  1. Paul @ IMH Blog

    Great resource list and basic overview of what is needed to make a marketing campaign successful.

    The thing that i struggle to do is come up with goals for a new project when I have no previous data to previously compare to.

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    • Amanda Durepos

      Thanks, Paul.

      And yea, it’s definitely tricky. Depending on the campaign, looking at industry benchmarks for conversions might be a good place to start.

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      Reply
  2. Stephanie Saretsky

    Great article Amanda! A very comprehensive overview of some awesome tools (and Ryan Gosling doesn’t hurt, either). I will be bookmarking this for the future!

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    Reply
  3. KW Stout

    Awesome resource! Bookmarked for reference later, there’s just too much to absorb in one sitting. I can also vouch for Trello, it’s easy to use and great for people who need things organized visually.

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    • Amanda Durepos

      Thanks KW. :)

      Yeah, Trello has done such an excellent job at making their tool intuitive to use. I couldn’t live without it.

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  4. Neil C

    Bit overwrought…?

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    • Amanda Durepos

      You think, Neil?

      When I was writing the post, I felt like I was only scratching the surface!

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  5. Lana Topham

    Dang, this is a mini bible of marketing awesomeness! As a community manager, I will definitely apply some of these tips.

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    Reply
  6. Alex

    Well done! Thanks for your post.

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    Reply
  7. Irina Johnson

    Cool post.. Thank you for sharing the list of tools

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    Reply
  8. Emma

    Great post! As a person who is quite new to marketing, this is a great resource.
    I’ve taken down these points and put them into Evernote so I can use them as a check-list/planning tool for future campaigns!

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    Reply
  9. Mona

    Amazing post! This will be my first time making a landing page and I feel confidant I can make a great one after reading this! Thanks!

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    Reply
  10. Chris Martinez

    Amazing article that really goes into detail on how to run a successful campaign. Shared with all my coworkers

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    Reply
  11. James

    That was an epic use of memes. Great flow and process in this article. Definitely bookmarked!

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    Reply
  12. Red Apple

    Well great article cool list of tools thumbs up for writer :)

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    Reply
  13. Ian

    Love the 9GAG memes!

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    Reply
  14. Penny

    I know it’s not a competitor of Hootsuite ( Hootsuite is a social media management tool ), but I would recommend another tool – Engator – for social posting.

    http://engator.com/ allows you to post or cross post to Twitter, Facebook (profiles, pages or groups), LinkedIn (profile, groups or company pages).

    I really like it. They’ve got great customer service and a nice user interface and it is easy for me to reblog content. Been using them for about 3 months now.

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    Reply
  15. Rohit Agg

    Thanks for your great writing.

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    Reply
  16. manu

    Thank you for sharing such informative article for us

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    Reply
  17. myntra

    Nice article, thanks for the information. It’s very complete information. I will bookmark for next reference.

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    Reply
  18. Leo

    When it comes to email marketing campaigns you really need to know your audience. I think this is for a-must for marketing. I really learned a lot from your tips.

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  19. BG

    I just finished an internship in advertising – my main job was making e-mail marketing campaigns :) Wish I’d stumble upon this article earlier – so many useful tips! I’m bookmarking it to come back to it later on. During my whole internship I was using Kanban Tool , just like the whole team in my office. I found it extremely helpful and I even started using it in personal tasks, such as my studies or portfolio building. So if you wanna try out a new tool – aim for this one!

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  20. vivek raj

    good info about marketing campaigns..

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    Reply
  21. shashank

    great resource!!! the read was actually enlightening to a beginner in social media..thank you.

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    Reply
  22. Giri Patel

    Great Post about Marketing Campaign.. its helpful for beginners like us..

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    Reply
  23. Humberto Olden

    Practical commentary ! Just to add my thoughts , if someone want to merge two images , I encountered a tool here http://goo.gl/riyHFc

    (0)
    Reply
  24. Steve Wilkinson

    Excellent article….very useful to me as an Accountant turned Marketeer

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    Reply
  25. Purnima

    This is fantastic! Great step-by-step guide to marketing campaigns! Thanks so much, Amanda.

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    Reply
  26. Stefan Wermenbol

    Hi Amanda,

    Thanks so much for breaking it down for me. I am new to i’marketing, but very interested. I am going into the development phase for a tool I’ve designed, of which I know success is highly probable if launched wisely.

    In Holland, if you are interested in buying solar panels, it is next to impossible to find valuable information that will help you understant 1) what different types of technology exist; 2 what an installation can produce; 3) what it will set you back. My goal is to answer all three questions within three easy steps, with an accuracy similar to inviting a specialist to your house. And the great thing is, users get to fool around with the tool until they put together a system they’re in love with. Only then can they decide to invite an expert.

    I built a demo of my tool and tested it ‘qualitatively’ on 50 people – all core-demographic. 95% told me this was the product they were looking for.

    But let’s face it. If you don’t have an active and interested audience who will broadcoast your message for you, you’ve got to come up with some innovative way of making your presence known, but also in a way that is not too shouty and obnoxious. That doesn’t mesh with our product; certainly doesn’t with our company image.

    The campaign has to start with a bit of honesty: no-one in Holland is interested in solar panels beyond the money they can save with it. This is not a subject people read about ‘for fun’. Any kind of media coverage is therefore likely to have to be paid for. Viral social media presence is also improbable, mostly for the same reason. As snazy as the tool is, it is likely to provoke any ‘joy’ use.

    I am thinking of a comprehensive approach in which I use Adwords and SEO-marketing. I have a an existing website with a modicum of presence in search results for more arcane search requests. Atleast it’s been around for a while, and can be bolstered with the right attention.

    I will be getting to work on this meaty article and employ it where applicable.

    Many thanks,

    Stefan

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  27. Jennifer

    It was a very fun read and informative, but as a beginner I could only scratch the surface of understanding. I actually agree with the comment just above. Though very informative it assumes you have a team of people and an arsenal of cash to get one single campaign going. There needs to be a simplified version of this article geared toward startups and do-it-yourselfers. If a person was sophisticated enough to implement all these they wouldn’t need this article. It was very well-written though and definitely showcases the expertise of the writer.

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  28. chunkymoon.com

    An interesting discussion is worth comment. I believe that you should publish more on this issue,
    it may not be a taboo matter but usually folks don’t talk about these issues.
    To the next! Cheers!!

    (0)
    Reply
  29. nesongs

    thanks for the step by step detailed information on how to become a successful marketer, thanks once again, please provide more case studies

    (0)
    Reply
  30. nesongs

    ubounce thanks once again u have delivered an awesome article for us, very detailed and step by step procedure which is very helpfull buddy, its like i want to join any premium course if have one ?? please let me know

    (0)
    Reply
  31. Pritam Nagrale

    Indeed! Awesome content! A very comprehensive overview of some awesome tools. I’m going to bookmark this article for the future! It’s easy to use and great for people who in need to organize Marketing Campaign easily.

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  32. stephen carter

    This is one of the more complicated, circuitous, & baffling discussions of marketing online I’ve read. I’m amazed at how arricles like this are just packed with jargon, suggest new aps to install, include checklists with more aps, more jargon, more endless impenetrable confusion at every stage. Ordinary people fon’t have a prayer using this as a blueprint to build a series of marketing steps that are easy, do-able, results-oriented, & don’t involve getting multiple layers of tevh working together seamlessly. Most ordinary people just give up.

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    Reply
Comments