The Marketing Campaign Planning Checklist That Will Get You Proactive

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This Is The Ultimate Marketing Campaign Planning Checklist That Will Get You Proactive 75

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The Ultimate Marketing Campaign Planning Checklist That Will Get You Proactive

Plan your work. Then work your plan.

^ That’s one of my favorite quips of all time.

Why, you ask?

Because it’s simple + practical + super helpful.

Proactively planning your marketing campaigns helps you:

  • Eliminate jumping into execution without clearly defined goals (or not knowing how you’ll measure success). Planning provides intense focus on¬†growth instead of being distracted by the trivial minutia.
  • Avoid the overwhelming nature of marketing. There is so much to do, so solid¬†planning helps you avoid the stress because you’ll become super organized.
  • Collaborate more effectively + efficiently. Planning eliminates last-minute fire drills¬†and miscommunication.

So… how can you reap all of those benefits?

I’m glad you asked.¬†ūüėČ

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Get Your FREE Marketing Campaign Planning Template (And Plan More Effectively Than Ever)

Download your free marketing campaign template kit to plan¬†anything. You’ll get:

  • A planning template spreadsheet you can easily customize¬†with Excel (or upload it into Google Sheets if that’s more your thing).
  • A¬†content calendar PDF template to help you visually map out your publish dates. This is¬†especially handy for rough, high-level planning‚ÄĒjust print, write your ideas on sticky notes, and add those to the dates so you can move things around as you map out your campaign timeline.
  • A campaign checklist to help you remember all of the main points from this blog post. This will help you focus + make sure you don’t miss anything.

I recommend downloading this kit now and implementing the actionable advice you’ll learn throughout this post immediately.

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After all... amazing ideas without solid execution never boost your results.

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What Is A Marketing Campaign? (For The Sake Of Understanding Everything In This Post)

Here's your marketing campaign definition:

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, then, 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.

A Few Marketing Campaign Examples

Some marketing campaign examples may help illustrate this concept a little better.

1. Product Launches

Has your business launched a new product or service? It's likely you didn't just publish one blog post and called it good.

Product launches are great opportunities for a multi-faceted marketing campaign. The last thing you'll want to do is share the news once and assume everyone in your audience now understands you offer something new.

For product launch campaigns, you may consider:

  • A product announcement blog post
  • A complementary content marketing style, educational, blog post
  • A landing page all about the new product, feature, or service
  • Social media messages directing traffic to both blog posts + your landing page
  • Facebook ads directing traffic to the landing page
  • AdWords and other paid search advertising to¬†capitalize on purchase search intent
  • Emails to your current customers
  • Emails to your prospects list you've built via content marketing best practices
  • Press releases for specific¬†niche publications
  • Press release for local news media
  • Native advertising in niche publications
  • Product demo webinars
  • Another blog post with the demo webinar video embedded
  • Retargeting ads for those who've seen the news anywhere on your blog posts, landing pages, and beyond

Kathryn, our Head of Product Marketing, manages product launch marketing campaigns like this all the time. Here's a screenshot of what this actually looks like mapped out on a calendar:

A marketing project mapped out on a calendar

Not all of this content needs to ship at the same time. You can plan when each piece will publish, outline the tasks you need to complete for each, map out the dates when each task needs to be completed, and delegate accordingly.

^ This is what you'll learn throughout this blog post.

2. Content Launches

Imagine publishing a brand new course, e-book, video series, podcast, microsite, or tool.

Just like a product launch, these large-scale content projects deserve more than one-and-done communication. You'll likely want to schedule:

  • A landing page that contains the content and is optimized to convert traffic (Example: Headline Analyzer)
  • A blog post¬†that shares the content (Example:¬†How To Write Headlines That Drive Traffic, Shares, And Search Results)
  • A social media campaign to promote the blog post or direct traffic directly back to the landing page (or both, because... why not?)
  • Emails to your customers to give the content away for free
  • Emails to your prospects
  • Emails to your friends in the industry asking them to share your content
  • Facebook ads, paid search ads, and retargeting ads to broaden your audience well beyond¬†the folks who already know your business
  • Internal links from your most popular blog posts with calls to action directing your visitors' attention to the new content
  • Links from your new blog posts to direct traffic to the big content

^ You get the picture...

You invest a lot of time + effort into large-scale content. Make the most of it by scheduling a campaign to share it long after the initial launch.

For example, when CoSchedule recently released the Marketing Strategy Certification Course, this is what the campaign looked like:

Our marketing course, mapped out on our calendar

3. Events

Events often require promotion beforehand (to get attendees), during (to communicate where attendees need to go + what attendees need to know or do), and after (to reiterate the value of the event + convert prospects as necessary).

Examples here include conferences, virtual summits, webinars, and Meetups.

Your event campaign may include:

Before

  • A landing where prospects can sign up to attend
  • Emails to customers to¬†influence more attendees
  • Emails to¬†the email list you've built using content marketing methodology
  • Press releases to niche publications that share¬†upcoming events
  • Press releases to local media to attract local prospects
  • Social media messages to share¬†the event landing page with your existing following
  • Itinerary emails for¬†those who sign up to help them 1) know they made the list, and 2) select the¬†sessions they'd like to attend most

During

  • A mobile app with daily itineraries
  • A print itinerary
  • Swag bags + name cards and lanyards
  • Wayfinding signage
  • Presentation decks + speaking points
  • Printed handouts to help attendees implement the advice you're providing
  • Landing pages to give away free product + content you talk about during the event
  • Booth materials and signage
  • An event hashtag + a way to showcase the social messages during the event

After

  • Emails thanking attendees for coming + reminding them of the value they received from your event
  • Emails providing additional information attendees may have requested during the event, like presentation decks and¬†video recordings of the event (which may also require landing pages, SlideShare decks, or YouTube videos)
  • Emails optimized to convert attendees into paying customers
  • An old school, physically mailed letter with a certification + swag

Again, you get the idea here.

Here is an example of a webinar campaign Kathryn organized when we collaborated with Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income:

A marketing webinar, planned out on our calendar

An event is definitely a marketing campaign with a clearly defined start and end date for each phase of the project, with all communication centered around a topic (the event itself).

Use These Marketing Campaign Examples To Plan Your Own Content + Promotion Checklists

You're going to learn a lot more about this throughout the campaign planning checklist. But essentially, with each of the examples above, I simply brainstormed all of the content pieces that would make sense for each campaign.

You will do the same for your own marketing campaigns.

It's not rocket science. But rather, identifying the content ideas that you can realistically execute to make your campaign more successful than publishing one-and-done content.

If you'd like more content ideas to kick start your campaign brainstorming, read this comprehensive blog post:

Your Marketing Campaign Planning Checklist

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. And overwhelm makes it hard to start, especially because humans are naturally adverse to change.

That's why the following checklist is kinda... minimalist.

I recommend NOT overcomplicating the process here simply because it doesn't have to be complicated.

Based on my experience managing marketing campaigns for years, this is what I highly recommend you do (consider this a marketing campaign planning checklist):

[ ] Draft The Campaign Launch Brief

Your launch brief is the version of truth for the high-level communication behind the campaign. It includes:

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

^^^ You can simply¬†copy + paste that list into a Word Doc, Google Doc, or Evernote Note, then flesh¬†out the details. There is also a free Word Doc template in the bonus content within this blog post‚ÄĒyou 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.

Write out all your talking points

So let's take a look into each of these points. I've found it helpful to answer questions as a framework for clarifying your plan:

[ ] Clarify The Marketing Campaign Idea

Answer this: Who will this campaign benefit the most?

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 sub-set within your audience.¬†For example, if you are targeting lawyers for your campaign, which kind of lawyers will you target (e.g. corporate lawyers, estate planning lawyers, personal injury lawyers, 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 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). You'll learn more about understanding what your audience values in the following Speaking Points check.

[ ] Know Your Resources + Budget

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

As you consider this question, you will:

  • Brainstorm the talent + 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) 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.
  • 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 budget. You may need to work with those partners, buy tools for your team, or account for overtime your staff will take on.

^^ At this point, you are thinking high-level. These are estimations (all aside from budget, which you can clearly know for actual money you will need to buy tools or services from external vendors). The rest is a very educated guess based on your experience.

In the Content + Promotion check, you will literally map out every piece of content within a campaign, then determine who will do specific parts + how much time it will take to complete. That will help you understand and define exactly what to expect from your resource.

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.

[ ] Define Goal + How You'll Measure It

Answer this: What results will this campaign produce?

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 campaign 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 Kissmetrics will help you track nearly anything. Or you may 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 + 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.

Find the admin panel in Google Analytics

Select Goals.

Select your goals

Click + New Goal.

Click New Goal in Google Analytics

Name the goal, select Destination, and hit Continue.

Find your destination and continue

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.

Select Begins With 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. But in the meantime, let's set up a Custom Report so you can view those results when they start rolling in.

Set up a Google Analytics custom report

Select Customization and click Custom Reports.

Customize reports

Hit + New Custom Report.

Hit new Custom Report

Title your custom report (I like to use the same Name from my goal). In Metric Groups, search for your goal name and select that goal's Goal Completions option from the dropdown. In Dimension Drilldowns, search for and select Goal Previous Step - 1. Hit Save.

Google Analytics custom report metric groups and dimension drilldowns

Now once Google Analytics starts tracking your goal, you will use the Custom Report to view the pages your audience saw immediately before converting into your email list. This will help you understand which pieces of content within your campaign have been most successful (along with viewing how all of your other content is performing for this goal, too).

Best performing content in Google Analytics custom report

^^^ Essentially, now you know how you will measure your marketing campaign's success.

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Action item: If getting approval is an issue for your marketing team, you now have enough of a marketing campaign plan to show the big wigs. Get your yes, then move on.

[ ] Research Your Speaking Points

Answer this: Why will your audience care? What's in it for them?

Now 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 + cohesive message and appeal to the value your audience will receive from your content.

For example, here are the speaking points from the Marketing Strategy Certification Course:

  • Get 10x growth for your business. Learn how to create 10x goals for your overall marketing strategy and prioritize the stuff that CONVERTS and drive more sales, engagement, traffic back to your content.
  • Own your marketing strategy! Build out a six-month marketing strategy in ADVANCE. Stop letting your content control you. Take control of your marketing strategy and start seeing the results of your hard work.
  • Never run out of ideas for TOP-NOTCH content. Generate dozens of ideas for your marketing strategy with repeatable tactics AND never run out of content to fill your marketing calendar‚ÄĒever again.
  • Eliminate manual guessing and tedious data digging! Quickly learn the mechanics of promoting your content at the most optimal times for increased engagement AND traffic back to your content!
  • Get insanely organized. Plan your work, then work your plan‚ÄĒby March 27‚ÄĒyou‚Äôll have a marketing calendar full of content, ideas, and a game plan to rock the rest of 2017!

You will do this for your campaign, too:

  • Look at customer support tickets. What questions does your audience ask? What words do they use?
  • Look at 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?
  • Look at blog post comments + social media + 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?

Like the example, 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.

[ ] Prepare Your Content + Promotion Checklist

Answer this: What does done look like?

Marketing campaigns are multiple pieces centered around a unified theme with a launch date + end date. Now you'll define what those pieces are.

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

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

It's your job to write down everything they say (and not to interject). If they start to get way off track or talk about a single idea for too long, simply re-ask the question:

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

As you do this, 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.

You can use the free template available in this blog post for mapping out your Content + Promotion Checklist for your campaign. This is essentially a comprehensive list of the pieces you will create for the campaign, along with fields to help you take progress notes.

Open the Content + Promotion Checklist tab in your free template

 

[ ] Plan Your High-Level Marketing Campaign Sprints

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

  • You will need to write the content.
  • Someone will need to design or record it.
  • Your editor will need to format + code it + get it in the final format to launch.
  • Someone will need to promote it, whether that's through email, social media, ads, and beyond.

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.

Your free template that complements this blog post gives you a sprint backlog to help you put this advice into practice immediately.

Open the Spring Backlog tab in your free template

 

[ ] Map Your Specific Marketing Campaign Timeline + Ship Dates

By this point, you understand:

  • What content will make up the campaign
  • Who will complete each phase of content creation
  • When each person will complete their work, generally speaking

Now 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.
  • 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 looked like:

Marketing campaign example in CoSchedule content calendar

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 phase of content creation. To do this, you can use the campaign's sprint backlog as your guide.

If you'd like to learn more about breaking down a piece of content into easily delegable tasks, read this comprehensive blog post on the topic.

[ ] Host Sprint Reviews

Part of the marketing campaign planning process includes making sure execution goes efficiently. Sprint reviews are touch points between you (the campaign's project manager) and your team to proactively prevent roadblocks + 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?

This will help you understand how far along in the process you are. If anything is getting off track, these touch points give you the opportunity to address concerns before you miss any deadlines. This series of questions is a good framework if this happens:

  • 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.

In addition to sprint reviews, there is a handy Team Report in CoSchedule to help you track your campaign's progress.

Example of a team report

You'll easily see when team members hit their task due dates, if they completed tasks late, and if they have overdue tasks. All of this helps you and your team stay accountable for meeting deadlines and gives you the visibility to keep your campaign on track.

Get Organized With Marketing Campaign Planning Software

Good luck as you get started with your next marketing campaign! If you want to stay organized throughout the entire execution process, I'd love to check out CoSchedule. You get 14 FREE days with the #1 best-selling marketing calendar.

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