“Let’s run a campaign.”

You’ve likely heard (and said) these words before. Or, it’s possible you’ve shied away from running “campaigns” in the past because they seem too time-consuming and expensive.

A marketing campaign is defined as a series of activities with a start and end date that is used to promote a company, product, or service. When well-planned, it’s a very powerful marketing tool. It can drive revenue, increase engagement, and support your business goals. However, most companies don’t have an unlimited budget and often find it difficult to tie their campaigns back to a return on investment.

How do you create successful marketing campaigns that are both cost-effective and able to deliver quantifiable results? Here are some best practices:

Define specific goals

The most important part of building an effective marketing campaign is defining a specific and attainable goal. Without it, you’ll have a difficult time measuring the value of the campaign. If you have multiple goals, develop a prioritized list of what’s most important and why. This will help you evaluate the effectiveness of each campaign and determine what was successful and what should be reevaluated in the future.

You should also avoid vague, overarching goals such as “get more leads” or “generate a larger email list.” These are too difficult to quantify. Instead, focus on goals that you can track and measure such as:

  • Generate 500 new website visitors
  • Increase our subscriber list by 250
  • Secure two new clients from our email list

Know your audience

When brainstorming and goal-setting, you must know your audience. Whom are you trying to reach? What type of campaign is going to resonate with them? What topics are popular (and unpopular) with these folks? There are many tools out there to help you find this type of information. Keyword research, social networks, product forums, customer surveys, and even competitive research are great resources that will help you learn what content will pique your prospects’ interest.

It’s equally important to know how to reach that audience. What channel (or channels) will be most effective? Email? Social media? Landing pages? When evaluating these channels, you’ll also want to consider your budget. Methods like direct mail and traditional advertising can be very expensive, while email and social media tend to be more budget-friendly and have a wide, universal reach. By determining the right combination of marketing channels, you’ll be able to get your content across efficiently and cost-effectively.

Develop a compelling call-to-action

Having a clear call-to-action (CTA) is vital to your campaign’s success. While it’s great to have people read your content, if you don’t tell them what you want them to do and encourage them to take the next step, you’re not making the most of your campaign.

A good CTA is short, simple, and stands out to your readers. It also closely matches up with the business goals you previously defined. For B2B companies, some examples of strong CTA’s include:

  • Take our survey
  • Download our free white paper
  • Register now
  • Subscribe to our mailing list
  • Get a free consultation

Review your website analytics

Your website is home base for all marketing and communications. Before running any type of campaign, it’s important to gather data about the current performance of your site. This will help you uncover areas for improvement and measure your campaign’s overall effectiveness.

Some basic website analytics you should review are:

  • Unique visitors: The number of people (each counted once) who visit your website during a specific period of time. Knowing this number will help you see what effect your campaign has on your overall web traffic.
  • Page views: The total number of individual pages people click on during a specific period of time. If your content is engaging enough, visitors will often click around to multiple pages. It’s important to know if people are browsing your site or just visiting a page or two.
  • Bounce rate: The percentage of people who visit your website but immediately leave (“bounce”) before clicking around to other pages. Your bounce rate should be less than 40 percent. If it’s not, it’s worth it to figure out why before you start running a new marketing campaign.
  • Conversion rate: A figure that shows the number of people who take a specific action on your site, such as subscribing to a newsletter or requesting more information. Hopefully, you’re seeing a conversion rate of two to three percent at the start of your campaign.

Track and measure

The metrics you’ll want to track depend on the type of campaign you’re running. Since email is one of the most cost-effective and widely used marketing channels, let’s say you’ve decided that this method is going to be the most impactful for your audience. What should you be measuring?

  1. Click through rate (CTR): The percentage of email recipients who clicked one (or more) links in your email. This is one of the very first metrics you should examine when measuring email campaign success. It gives you direct insight into how many people actually engaged with your content.
  2. Conversation rate: Similar to the conversion rate of your website, this measures the number of recipients who completed a desired action, such as registering for a webinar or downloading an eBook. To effectively measure this rate, you’ll need to integrate your email and website analytics by using unique tracking URLs. Otherwise, you’ll have trouble identifying where the clicks came from.
  3. Bounce rate: This shows the number of total emails that were sent but couldn’t be delivered. There are two kinds of bounces: “hard” and “soft.” Hard bounces occur when an email address is incorrect or non-existent. These should be removed from your lists immediately. Soft bounces, on the other hand, happen when there’s a temporary problem (such as a full email inbox) with a perfectly valid address. You can keep those addresses on your list for next time but be sure to check the rules of your email marketing platform. Some platforms allow a limited number of soft bounces without any subscriber activity.
  4. List growth rate: How quickly is your email list growing? Like all mailing lists, email lists get stale, degrading about 22.5 percent each year when contacts change jobs, opt out, or switch email addresses. It’s critical to pay close attention to your list size and keep it fresh.
  5. Email sharing rate: This figure shows the percentage of recipients who shared or forwarded your email content. Some consider this metric to be unimportant when, in fact, email sharing is one of the best ways to expand brand awareness. Why? Because sharing and forwarding means more visibility and new, qualified contacts for you.

Running a marketing campaign doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. With research and strategic planning, you can build an effective campaign that’s valuable to your audience and delivers quantifiable results.