What does world-class campaign planning look like?

What does world-class campaign planning look like?

Campaigns are the heartbeat of your marketing team. Good campaign planning leads to a delightful customer experience and paves a seamless journey from awareness to conversion.

Whether you’re wrangling a large marketing team, or you're growing one from scratch, a solid campaign process is essential. Research from Gartner reports integrated campaigns outperform single or dual-channel campaigns by 300%. And, where traditional advertising, (non-integrated ads on social media, TV, print, and outdoors) can be “intrusive” or “irritating”, Kantar Millward Brown found integrated campaigns are 31% more effective at building brands.

Recently, we released an ebook on the best practices for campaign planning. It digs into how teams can improve their planning process with cross-functional collaboration and shared data. It also includes anecdotes and ideas from enterprise customers like Equinox, Taylor Guitars, and BlueOcean.

You can download the ebook to read in full, and we’ve included 4 key takeaways below.

> What is marketing campaign management?

Integrated campaigns start with integrated planning

“Integrated” refers to the multi-channel aspect of great campaigns. To capture your target audience with the right message at the right time, campaigns should span several channels—your blog, PR, email, social, paid marketing, and more. This level of coverage requires cross-functional planning. By aligning initiatives from the outset, content, product marketing, campaigns, and creative can produce complementary assets that share the same storyline.

Many of you know, this is easier said than done. With too many folks contributing to the planning process, it becomes difficult to decide on a final direction. Teams can spend weeks in an ongoing cycle of brainstorming, outlining, reviewing, and then back to brainstorming.

Using a RACI model is an effective way to navigate this murkiness; the acronym stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed (RACI). Assigning team members different letters makes it clear who’s responsible for driving the strategy, and whose involvement stops (or starts) at certain points.

Tip: Use executive sponsors

We’ve also seen successful customers adopt an “executive sponsor” for every initiative. This doesn't mean execs are involved in every decision, but that they serve as “tie-breakers” in sticky situations to keep you moving quickly.

Establish a single source of truth

The term “single source of truth” is thrown about a lot in marketing, but the underlying principle—that teams should consolidate information and data to live in one, shared place—is oft-cited for good reason. In a recent survey of more than 300 marketing leaders, we saw a huge spike in performance (meeting deadlines, achieving goals, driving revenue) in teams with fewer sources of truth.

Why? When information isn’t stored collectively, your team is forced to spend time reaching out to stakeholders, gathering the correct information, and then figuring out which version is the most accurate or up-to-date.

An example of an effective single source of truth is the global tracker at Equinox: “Everything flows up to our global tracker and that’s where you can see all the information for upcoming classes,” says Meagan Nelson, publishing manager at Equinox Media.

“Our metadata includes class type, skill level, class length, different body focuses, and equipment. Having this information side by side helps our team make decisions quickly. At a glance, we can see if we’re releasing two advanced-level classes in one week, for example. We don't want to do that, so we’ll update the schedule.”

Tip: Start with a shared taxonomy

As you embark on cross-functional planning, you’ll quickly realize that what one function calls a certain activity or concept is not necessarily the same as what another function calls it. This can cause teams to trip up at the first step: “wait, how do we define a campaign?” Start by standardizing taxonomy across marketing and enforcing this shared language via the tools you use daily.

Create an avenue for requests

Typically, two things happen when you receive requests from across the org: Your team gets distracted, working on ad-hoc, always-urgent asks; and, your time is sucked into the back-and-forth with the requestor before and after publishing.

To solve these problems, Nicole Dahl, marketing project manager at Taylor Guitars, streamlined marketing requests with Airtable forms. Now, if someone wants an asset created for a specific guitar model, they fill out a form and the information automatically populates the marketing team’s Airtable base, where they track work and share information.

“One of the primary things I wanted was a form where everyone could submit their requests, receive project identification numbers, and all requests would be trafficked through the project managers,” Nicole said.

Tip: Use forms to reiterate OKRs

You can use forms to keep your team on track to achieving your goals. When you build your request form, include questions that reinforce your campaign themes or OKRs. For example, you could ask requestors “what objective does this roll into?” or “what goal does this help drive?” This not only helps your stakeholders understand your focus as a marketing department, but also helps you say yes or no depending on priorities.

Bring confidence to your workback plans

One of campaign planning’s biggest challenges is accurately predicting timelines, especially when multiple stakeholders are involved. Getting this right becomes even more critical when your team is supporting a big company moment—for example, a product launch.

According to Jenny at BlueOcean, customer-facing deliverables are the most cross-functional, and these are the assets where you need templated and repeatable processes for every motion. She uses Airtable to keep her team aligned.

“You have to line up activities from every different function to make sure they happen in the right sequence, and that they happen at the right time. You’ve also got to clarify what tasks can happen simultaneously, and what tasks are reliant on dependencies,” says Jenny. For example, cross-functional feedback on an asset can happen all at once, but copy should be tagged “complete” or “final” before a designer begins their work.

“Without a cross-functional workback plan, what happens is that something that could have been predicted, and could have been planned for, appears as a last-minute fire drill that everyone has to rally against,” says Jenny. “And they will rally, but it’s not repeatable at scale and it’s just a recipe for burnout.”

Sharpening your campaign-planning process helps amplify every aspect of your marketing strategy.  But for this magic to happen, the foundational work must come first. Creating a shared language, establishing a single source of truth, and changing the team's mindset aren’t easy to accomplish. And they don’t even touch the nitty gritty of creating workback plans, managing requests, and setting benchmarks. All of these best practices bring unique challenges and present a (sometimes steep) learning curve to working together differently, and planning as one.

And yet, the results speak for themselves. Integrated campaigns more effectively drive revenue and consistently outperform ad hoc marketing strategies. They also transform the workplace into one of proactive collaboration and unified impact.

For more tips and ideas to streamline and strengthen the campaign planning process, download 8 Best Practices for campaign planning. You will find sample timelines, OKR suggestions, RACI models, and more.

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