How to Plan a Marketing Campaign That Actually Gets Results (Templates)

How to Plan a Marketing Campaign That Actually Gets Results (Templates)

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How to Plan a Marketing Campaign That Actually Gets Results (Templates)

The process of planning a marketing campaign is complex; delivering one consistent message across multiple channels to reach your audience isn’t easy. Truth is: without a smart strategy and sound processes in place, it can quickly become an unorganized mess.

In this post, you’ll learn how to map out successful marketing campaigns. From planning to execution, you’ll keep everything on track to guide your organization or client toward success.

We’ll walk through:

  • What makes up a marketing campaign.
  • Why you should spend time planning one.
  • 9 types of marketing campaigns.
  • How to create and plan a marketing campaign.
  • A checklist to simplify the entire process.

Plus, you’ll get two campaign plan templates to make sure you’ve got the tools to put this advice into practice.

Grab ’em both before we dive in.

Marketing Campaign Plan Templates to Crush Your Goals

We’re about to do a deep dive into marketing campaign planning.

Grab your free marketing campaign templates before we get to the details.

It’ll help you work through this blog post and turn your ideas into a finished campaign on schedule, every time.

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What is a Marketing Campaign?

A marketing campaign is a project consisting of multiple pieces of content or events, connected together by a unified theme, with clear start and end dates.

Marketing campaign planning is the process of organizing everything behind the scenes to ensure a smooth, efficient process. Planning helps you nail every deadline for every piece/event you publish/host within your campaign.

If you’re planning to promote something across several channels, you might see it labelled as an “integrated marketing campaign.”

Why Spend Time on Marketing Campaign Planning, Anyway?

Quality creative work doesn’t happen by accident.

If you’re churning out nothing but ad hoc projects or skipping strategy sessions, then your work is unlikely to impact the bottom line. That leads to budget cuts for your department — making success even more difficult to achieve.

Planned the right way, successful marketing campaigns do the following:

  1. Communicate one, clear message across several channels.
  2. Build brand awareness and memorability. This kind of consistency can see revenue increases of over 30%.
  3. Grow your business better than one-off projects. Attracting leads and raising revenue are what this is all about, right?

Execution without a plan is just busywork. Sure, you might have a jam-packed to-do list when you open your computer each morning.

But busywork doesn’t build businesses or make meaningful careers.

Work on a campaign that’s well thought-out.

11 Types of Marketing Campaigns

We know what a marketing campaign is, but what forms can they take?

Here are 11, common marketing campaign examples you’ll likely have on your calendar:

Inbound Marketing Campaigns

Inbound marketing activities use several channels to raise awareness about your business. The idea is that you’re building authority in an industry, so that leads will come to you — rather than you relying on aggressive tactics like cold calling or pitching to fill your pipeline.

Product or Feature Launch Campaigns

Got a new product, service, or feature to announce? You can plan marketing campaigns to revolve around them. The goal is to spread awareness about the launch and convince people to buy or try it.

Here’s a product launch marketing campaign from Descript, for example. They created a video to announce a new suite of tools they’ve added to their software.

Sales Campaigns

Your marketing campaign can have any goal. This type is purely focused around sales whether that’s bringing first-time customers onboard or convincing existing customers to spend more.

Here’s a sales campaign example from Vets4Pets that shows this concept in action. They’re trying to get more people to join their practice by running a referral program. If an existing customer refers a new one, they’ll both get £10 credit:

Vets4Pets email campaign

Holiday Campaigns

If a big event is coming up, you can plan a marketing campaign to coincide with it. That might be anything from Christmas, right through to Valentine’s Day and Fourth of July celebrations.

Take a look at how Pretty Little Thing does this with their holiday campaign.

Seasonal Campaigns

The difference between seasonal and holiday campaigns is that the first has increased demand at certain times of year.

In the electronics industry, for example, Black Friday is huge. That’s why Best Buy runs tons of press releases about their exclusive deals, which get picked up by publications, like USA Today and Reviewed:

Twitter campaign from Reviewed

Product Comparison Campaigns

Every business has a competitor. Customers weigh-up which to buy from, but marketing campaigns centered around product comparisons can convince new customers to choose you.

Here’s how Monday.com cheekily captures people comparing Asana with their tool:

Product comparison campaign

Email Drip Campaigns

Email marketing is a superb way to nurture leads (i.e. people who’ve already opted in to hear from you). A drip campaign delivers a series of emails over a given period.

Here’s how Blood uses email drip campaigns to push their subscribers towards donating blood after signing up:

Email drip campaign from blood.co.uk

Social Media Campaigns

The beauty of this campaign type is that you can plan social media campaigns around anything.

Videos, images, and text all work together on social media, so long as you can combine them in a way that grabs someone’s attention, you can drive them to your website to complete any goal.

AdEspresso, for example, uses LinkedIn posts to drive people towards a webinar sign-up page:

AdEspresso social media campaign on LinkedIn

Ad Campaigns

Got extra budget for a campaign? A small cash injection in advertising can help reach people you wouldn’t organically reach. In-depth targeting means you can target people most likely to complete your goal — be that purchase a product, watch a webinar, or like your page.

Here’s how Podia use Facebook Ads to promote their products:

Podia uses Facebook ads for their ad campaign

Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Influencers are people with huge audiences on social media, their website, or YouTube. Brands can partner with them to reach a loyal audience and build social proof. It works because their audience trusts the influencer, and if they mention your product, audiences trust their recommendation.

Take Beauty Works, for example. They partner with influencers and give their followers a discount code that the influencers likely get a kickback from:

Influencer marketing campaign on Instagram

Offline Marketing Campaigns

It’s easy to think that marketing has to be purely digital, but there are offline marketing campaigns that you might run — such as billboard ads, radio advertisements, or TV commercials. Done well enough, people can even snap photos of them to recirculate online.

Here’s a superb example of how Smile At The World did this with their billboard.

How to Create and Plan a Marketing Campaign

Now that we know what a marketing campaign looks like, you might be left questioning how to actually plan one.

Here’s how to plan a marketing campaign and have your content, messaging, and assets ready for launch.

1. Determine What You’re Promoting

Every marketing campaign promotes something.

You don’t have to scratch your head thinking of what you want to promote. Oftentimes, businesses run marketing campaigns that promote:

  • A new product, feature, or service
  • A resource (e.g. a blog post, webinar, or video)
  • A brand message

It’s the easiest part of your campaign plan, but it’s also the most important.

You can have the greatest campaign in the world, but if the thing you’re promoting isn’t top-notch — or at the very least, something your target market wants — then it’ll flop.

2. Develop a Campaign Theme or Concept

You know exactly what you’re promoting, but your marketing campaign should have an overarching theme that ties everything together.

It’s what David Ogilvy called having a “Big Idea”:
Quote from David Ogilvy about big ideas

How exactly do you come up with an idea or theme for your campaign?

Start with this simple process:

  • Know what you’re going to promote. What is your campaign going to push out into the world? A new product feature? A new subscription price plan? Use the checklist to make sure you don’t miss a step throughout your planning process.
  • Think about your target audience’s interests and pain points. What problems do they face, and what will hook their attention? Refer to your marketing personas for this.
  • Find the overlap between your brand and your audience’s interests. Portent CEO, Ian Lurie, put together one of our favorite slide decks on how to do this. It’s long (over 150 slides), but it’s worth taking the time to read through.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself thinking up a big, extravagant idea. Your “big idea” doesn’t necessarily need to be groundbreaking.

You just need an overarching theme that connects all the pieces of your campaign building a consistent experience for your audience.

That’s your big idea.

Brainstorm Ideas With Your Team

When we need to brainstorm ideas at CoSchedule, we often use a simple, three-step process.

If you’ve followed our blog for a while now, you might have heard how it works before. No worries if you haven’t; let’s walk through the steps together:

  1. Get your team together in a room. Have everyone spend ten minutes writing down as many ideas as they can. Don’t worry about the quality of those ideas yet. What might sound like rubbish ideas at the start might turn into something 10x better with someone else’s input.
  2. Spend ten minutes reading each idea aloud. Have each team member score every idea on a three-point scale: three’s are ideas you think are home runs, two’s are average, and one’s are no-go’s. Expect a mix of all three.
  3. Spend ten more minutes reviewing each idea that everyone agrees is a three. These are your best ideas, and the ones you should go with.

By following this process, you can wrap up your campaign brainstorming in half an hour to an hour — depending on how much time you spend discussing ideas at the end.

Bonus!

Steps to brainstorming

3. Establish Marketing Channels

By this stage, you know what you want to achieve.

You’ve determined the customers you’re trying to reach and developed messaging to reach them. Now, you need to figure out how and where you’ll deliver your marketing messages.

In real-world terms, this means knowing the best places to create and share content where your audience will see it.

Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Are there media channels where we’ve traditionally done well? Look at historical data and go where you know your people are.
  • Are there channels where we need to develop a larger audience? It might be worth planning campaigns around weak channels with high potential to build better resources for your brand.
  • Are there constraints on our time and resources? If you don’t have enough money for a TV spot, social media campaign, and magazine ad, you’ll need to scale back what you can do. Stick within your budget — both human and money-wise.

The Hub-and-Spoke Model

One common approach to deciding campaign channels is called the hub-and-spoke model.

This entails creating one central asset, like a landing page, where you direct traffic from other sources.

For example, you might create one landing page with an opt-in form, and then promote it via social media and email. The landing page would be your hub, and your social media posts and email newsletters are its spokes.

The hub and spoke model

Single Channel Campaign

Don’t need a big, fancy campaign? If you’re tight on budget or resources, you could also decide to focus on just one channel for your campaign.

It could even be as simple as a series of related social posts on one network, or an email series directing back to a particular web page.

The main takeaway here is this: your campaign doesn’t have to be complicated.

Just do what will help you achieve your goals.

Which Channels Make the Most Sense for This Campaign?

Ultimately, your business goals should drive your channel selection.

For example, if your aim is to increase brand awareness, visual platforms, like Instagram, might be the way to go. However, if your goal is to generate leads, you’ll likely apply some combination of SEO, PPC, email marketing, and social media to direct traffic to a custom landing page.

You can figure this out by asking two questions:

  1. What do I want my customer to do? Ultimately, what’s your desired outcome for your audience? This can be anything from starting a free trial or joining a webinar, all the way through to buying something.
  2. How can I get them to take that action? Think about how you can take your customer from point A (discovering your product or service through a piece of campaign collateral) to point B (completing your conversion step).

Use your marketing campaign brief template to plan this out:

How will you reach your audience?

4. Set Campaign Goals

Producing content for its own sake is a waste of time and money.

Not only that, but if you want your department or agency to maintain positive cash flow, you’ll need to show how your efforts are making a measurable impact. There’s no better way to do that than to meet or beat your campaign objectives.

Start by choosing KPIs (key performance indicators) and metrics wisely. What does a successful campaign look like to you?

To do this right, keep the following points in mind:

  • Have one, overarching goal for your campaign. Such as lead generation, raising revenue, driving brand awareness, etc.
  • Choose metrics to monitor for every channel. That means having unique KPIs for social media, email, blog posts, and so forth. For example, increasing your number of Twitter mentions is a platform-specific goal.

Determine how you'll measure success

Understanding marketing measurement and analytics could take several blog posts in itself. Here are a few we recommend to start

Once you have your goals and metrics established, complete the following section in your campaign brief:

How are you going to measure your success?

5. Plan What You’ll Need to Create for Each Channel

You’ve already listed the marketing channels you’re using for your next campaign.

Next, you’ll need to comb through those media channels and establish the number of posts, ads, or pieces of content that will be needed to execute the campaign.

Knowing these deliverables in advance can help budget your time effectively.

Here’s an example of what that plan might look like:

  • Twitter
    • 5 x video tweets
    • 3 x text-only tweets
  • Facebook
  • Website

Remember that your audience, timescales, and the thing you’re promoting all tie together here.

If your main goal is to drive people back to the website, and your campaign is a month long, you might need more content spaced over that period of time.

6. Map Out the Execution of Your Campaign on a Marketing Calendar

A marketing campaign has many moving parts. It’s impossible to keep track of where things are up to if you’re relying on your brain power.

We created a tool that makes it 10x easier. It’s like sharing your brain with your team.

CoSchedule’s Marketing Calendar helps:

  • Set deadlines for each part of the campaign. Things like research, writing content, and approving can have their own task deadlines. Set them with enough time for them to get completed before your entire project’s end date.
  • Assign tasks to each member of the team. Have a copywriter handle the copy, a graphic designer manage visual assets, and an editor approve everything. No more “Oh… that was my job?” causing you to fall behind schedule.
  • Show campaign statuses to stakeholders. If you’ve had to convince a stakeholder to sign-off on budgets and resources to get the campaign moving, use the Marketing Calendar to show them where you’re up to.

Think of it as your ultimate project management tool designed specifically for creating, planning, and launching marketing campaigns.

CoSchedule's project management tool

A Checklist to Plan Your Next Digital Marketing Campaign

Our CEO and Co-Founder, Garrett Moon, says…

The simplest approach is often the best place to start.

It’s easy to let the amount of things you could do overwhelm you. Being overwhelmed makes it hard to start — especially because humans are naturally adverse to change.

That’s why the following checklist is kinda… minimalist.

The step-by-step process is your master guide for planning a marketing campaign. Read and understand it all, then use this checklist as you go through the process each time.

1. Draft the Campaign Launch Brief

A launch brief shares everything someone needs to know about the campaign. It includes:

  1. The marketing campaign idea
  2. The resources and budget
  3. The goal and how you’ll measure it
  4. The speaking points
  5. A link to your content and a promotion checklist
  6. A link to your high-level marketing campaign sprints
  7. A link to your marketing calendar campaign timeline and ship dates

You can simply copy and paste that list into a Google Doc, then flesh out the details.

There’s also a free Word Doc template in the bonus content within this blog post — you can simply download that and get started immediately.

Think about these seven points as an outline that will help you easily communicate the purpose of your campaign and how you will execute it. It’s the go-to place for anyone who has a question on what the marketing campaign is about.

2. Clarify the Marketing Campaign Idea

Who will this campaign benefit the most?

You’ve already created a concept based on your target customer’s interests or pain points, but as you think through your audience:

  • Try to target only one prospective customer. If your idea is broad, or you know it will benefit multiple audiences, consider planning multiple campaigns. This will prevent you from spreading your message too thin or sharing information one audience type just wouldn’t care about.
  • Target a specific subset within your audience. For example, if you are targeting lawyers for your campaign, which kind of lawyers will you target (e.g. corporate, estate planning, personal injury, etc.)?
  • Write a story about why your campaign will help this audience. Fill in the blanks of the following framework, putting yourself into your audience’s shoes: As an {audience type}, I want to {do something}, so that I get {a desired value}.

At this point, you will also describe the project in a couple sentences or a paragraph, essentially coming up with the campaign definition.

Think of this as the elevator pitch for your campaign.

For example, when we recently released the Marketing Strategy Certification Course, this is what the project description looked like:

Staying organized is a never-ending struggle. As marketers, we live in a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants world, and if we aren’t organized, it can feel like one fire drill after another. Well, not anymore.

This course is all about getting you insanely organized and giving you the tools for real 10x growth. We’ll teach you how to prioritize the RIGHT kind of content, how to optimize it for 237% more engagement, and how to take control of your marketing strategy (not the other way around).

Ready to get started? Cool. Keep scrolling.

As in the example, your campaign description connects the dots between what you will provide (e.g. the content within the campaign) and the value the audience gets (e.g. what’s in it for them).

Your stakeholders will need a refined idea before they give sign-off.

3. Know Your Resources and Campaign Budget

What kind of resources might you need to complete the campaign?

As you consider this question, you will:

  • Brainstorm the talent and people the campaign will require to be successful. For example, if you decide to build a free online tool, you may need help from a developer who is typically not on your marketing team. Now is the time to think through this roadblock and work with the right folks internally, or look for an external partner (i.e. a freelancer or agency) to help you make the campaign a reality.
  • Make sure your marketing team has the tools it needs before you start executing. The last thing you need is to take on a campaign, only to have it come to a halt because tools weren’t part of your budget. Make a list of what you need beforehand. That might be using video editing software or grammar tools, like Grammarly and Writer. Even if they’re free to use, it’s smart to have them set-up first.
  • Consider the time it may take your team to complete the project. How much can they take on, given the campaigns they are currently working on? What might your launch date be given this knowledge?
  • Have a clear marketing budget. You may need to work with those partners, buy tools for your team, or account for overtime your staff will take on.

Right now, knowing your resources and budget at a high-level can help you get sign-off from the big wigs, so they know what to expect as you take on this campaign.

Faster sign-off means less being stuck in limbo, waiting for the go-ahead.

4. Define Your Goal and How You’ll Measure It

Earlier, we mentioned that every marketing campaign needs a solid goal behind it.

Otherwise, you could be pushing forward a new idea that just isn’t profitable or sustainable.

If you have data from similar campaigns, you may be able to get to a specific figure here. This extremely detailed blog post will help you understand what to expect from future content performance based on your historical data.

If you don’t have historical data on similar campaigns of this kind, it’s still helpful for your team to know why you are taking on this campaign and not something else.

You can write this simply in your launch brief:

The goal of our campaign is to influence {specific metric}.

Now, before you launch, you will need to know how you will track the results the campaign produces. A tool, like Databox or Klipfolio, will help you track nearly anything.

You can also opt to use Google Analytics with its goals and custom reports functionality.

Let’s look at an example of setting up Google Analytics goal tracking and custom reports to view the information. Since a majority of you likely have larger marketing goals to influence email subscriber signups from your campaigns, let’s use this as an example for your goal metric for your campaign.

Open Google Analytics and click Admin. Then select “Goals”.

Setting goals in Google Analytics

Click “+ New Goal”.

Choose whether you want to create a goal from a template — such as visiting a page or playing a video — or start from scratch. We recommend using a template for this case.

Then name the goal, select “Destination” to track a conversion, and hit “Continue”.

Tracking a conversion in Google Analytics

Select “Begins With” for your destination, then write in the slug of the page your users see after they convert into your email list.

Oftentimes, that is a specific thank-you page on your website, so that’s the example you’re learning here.

Then hit “Save.”

Describing your new goal in Google Analytics

It takes up to two days for Google Analytics to know you want the tool to track that metric, so give it some time.

5. Research Your Speaking Points

Why will your audience care? What’s in it for them?

At this stage, you’re looking for the words your audience uses. You’ll use these terms throughout all of the content within your marketing campaign to create a unified and cohesive message and appeal to the value your audience will receive from your content.

At CoSchedule, we call these “speaking points”.

Find yours by digging into:

  • Customer support tickets. What questions does your audience ask most often? What words do they use to describe the issue?
  • Customer surveys. Chances are, you ask your customers why they hired you in some way. Can you use their terminology to help you attract a similar audience with your marketing campaign?
  • Blog post comments, social media, and forums. Are there trends in the topics your customers talk about?

From here, think about the value your audience will receive as they consume your content.

What’s in it for them to spend their precious time reading, watching, or listening to your marketing campaign?

Write at least 3–5 bullets of speaking points that will fuel how you market your campaign via emails, social media, blog posts, paid ads, and beyond.

6. Prepare Your Content and Promotion Checklist

What does “done” look like to you?

Marketing campaigns are multiple pieces centered around a unified theme with a start and end date. Now, you’ll define what those pieces are.

Set up a 30-minute meeting with your team, and ask:

What would a campaign like this look like for our company?

Make sure everyone on the team participates. You may need to call out your quiet folks who have great ideas but just haven’t vocalized them yet.

Afterward, you will sift through the ideas, knowing roughly when you want to launch your campaign and take on the pieces you can realistically execute.

Use the “Content + Promotion” tab in your checklist to jot these down.

7. Plan Your High-Level Marketing Campaign Sprints

Each piece of content you take on will likely require several phases of content creation:

  • Writing
  • Designing
  • Editing
  • Promoting

A sprint framework helps you think through the process for each piece and when your team members will work on each phase.

Start by thinking of the four phases for each piece, then simply layer them together.

This is very subjective but gives you a visual of who is doing what and when, so you can realistically see if someone has too much or too little on their plates. From here, you can modify your publish dates for specific pieces when necessary.

Use the “Sprint Backlog” tab in your sheet to track this:

Open the Spring Backlog tab in your free template

8. Map Your Specific Marketing Campaign Timeline and Ship Dates

What good is a marketing campaign if it stays in the planning stage for months?

Here is where you’ll actually set dates for your marketing campaign to launch.

You need to assign a hard publish date for each piece of content within your campaign. This is the day you will ship the content, so all phases of content creation need to be complete beforehand.

Next, break down each piece of content into tasks you can assign with clear due dates to keep the entire campaign on track.

Luckily for you, the Marketing Campaigns feature in CoSchedule exists to help you put this advice into practice. For example, here is what the Marketing Strategy Certification Course campaign looks like:

CoSchedule's marketing campaign feature

By first mapping your publish dates for each piece, now you can assign tasks (complete with due dates) to the team members who will complete each part of the workflow.

9. Host Sprint Reviews

Sprint reviews are touch points between you (the campaign’s project manager) and your team to proactively prevent roadblocks and keep the campaign content creation moving forward.

Since you know when your team will be creating the content within your campaign, you can proactively schedule 30-minute sprint reviews.

In these touch points, you will open your Sprint Backlog and run through each piece of content within the campaign, asking your team a simple question for each piece: Where are we at with this?

If anything is getting off track, address concerns before you miss any deadlines using this framework:

  • What happened?
  • Why did this happen?
  • How can we make sure something like this doesn’t happen again?
  • How can we get this campaign back on track?

You can schedule these meetings before you start executing to keep everyone on the same page. I recommend at least two per week to make sure everything moves forward smoothly.

Bonus: The Team Report in CoSchedule is designed to help with campaign management. You’ll easily see when team members hit their task due dates, if they completed tasks late, and if they have overdue tasks:

Team performance analytics

All of this helps you and your team stay accountable for meeting deadlines and gives you the visibility to keep your campaign on track.

Ready to Launch Your Next Campaign?

Every campaign needs a solid plan behind it. Failing to do so means you’ll fail to spot shiny ideas; things that look and sound great, but in reality, don’t meet your business or marketing goals.

Use this checklist alongside your free download to set benchmarks, deadlines, and tasks to your team.

Remember: if you want an easier way to view all of this data, the Marketing Calendar is the tool for you.

About the Author

Elise Dopson is a B2B content marketing expert who writes for SaaS and eCommerce companies. She’s written for sites like Content Marketing Institute, HubSpot and Social Media Examiner, and loves nothing more than a good cuppa tea. (She is British, after all.) Follow her, and her tea obsession, on Twitter @elisedopson.

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Ditch the spreadsheets for good.

Finally see all of your marketing in one place with Marketing Calendar software from CoSchedule.

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Bring together your emails, blog posts, events, and the rest of your marketing with Marketing Calendar software from CoSchedule.