Optimizing your campaign for the best results

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You did it! You set your goals, wrote your creative brief, set up the marketing automation and launched your campaign. Now you can simply wait for the customers. Right?

Not so fast. Your campaign work doesn’t end with the launch or even after it has run its course. You need to measure and optimize if you want to maximize your results.

Right after launch, it’s fine to sit back and let it run a little, tend to the millions of things you’ve been neglecting in the mad dash toward your launch. But as soon as results start coming in and pointing to a trend, it’s time for campaign optimization. Campaign optimization means using metrics to adjust and modify campaign variables for the best possible performance.

This post will cover what to measure, setting goals, when to start, how to optimize, and how to organize it all so you can present your ideas and get buy-in for your optimization plan from your stakeholders.

What to measure

Management guru, Peter Drucker, once said, “What gets measured, gets managed.” In today’s world, we can add a bit: what gets measured, gets optimized and delivers the best campaign results — right to your bottom line!

So how do you do it? Well, first you need to determine what key performance indicators (KPIs) and variables to track. On a high-level, metrics and variables tend to fall into four categories:

  • Distribution: Channel, platform
  • Target: Geo, demographic, psychographic, interests
  • Awareness: Impressions, views, visits
  • Engagement: Clicks, likes, shares

Select the exact metrics to follow depending upon the channels in your marketing plan. Here are some examples:

  • Email: open rates, click through rates, unsubscribes, undeliverables, bounce rates
  • Social media: impressions, likes, comments, shares
  • Video: views, completion rates
  • Banners: impressions, click through rates
  • Print/mail: mail quantity, responses, response rate
  • Website: overall visits, new visits, source of traffic, top landing pages, page views per visit, time on site, referrals
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Add your Goals and KPIs to your Campaign Plan in Confluence so everyone on your team and all your stakeholders can see what you hope to accomplish.

How to set optimization goals

While you will want to collect data on all the possible metrics for your channels, you should pick one or maybe two primary goals, communicate them to anyone working on the campaign, and highlight the KPIs that will show your results most clearly.

For example, let’s say you have a primary goal of lead generation, meaning that you will want new prospects’ names and a way to connect with them, such as an email. Your first KPI might be click-throughs to a website page with a form that collects the name and email address. So you would want to optimize your ad to encourage click throughs with a strong call to action (CTA).

Your next goal is getting people to fill out the form, so you’ll make sure the form isn’t long, asking for too much info, or getting too personal. And you’ll want it to encourage people to finish filling it out, usually by offering something in return like an interesting download or newsletter.

For each goal, take a stab at deciding what you expect for a metric. If you can, get some benchmark industry statistics. If the average email open rate is 12% in your industry, is it reasonable to expect 35% without any previous results? Having outsized expectations can be a costly mistake. A little research goes a long way.

When to start optimizing

Whether or not you have a benchmark, set yourself a goal and start measuring from day one. With digital channels, you can check in real-time and evaluate results right away. Keep in mind that engagement can be impacted by distractions like big events (celebrity breakup got everyone distracted?), by the weather (fewer opens on a gorgeous beach day?), or other influences. Take a few days to identify trends before making any changes. But start watching right away so you’ll see trends. You also will want to check the results to make sure your campaign is running correctly — with the right creative, on the right channels, etc. Consider if the initial impressions and early results make sense. If they don’t — like absolutely no engagement at all — then look for a reason. Maybe the ads that were supposed to show at 4PM are showing at 4AM because of a typo.

If you’re confident that the campaign is running properly, then continue to peek at the results daily. You’ll start to get an idea of the numbers, see trends emerging, and begin having ideas for optimization, like running more of that one ad that’s outperforming all the others. Once you have enough data, you can identify solid trends to guide adjustments, which is where the optimization really takes place.

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Try running a premortem exercise with both teams to imagine everything that could go wrong throughout the course of a product launch and how to prevent it.

How to optimize

Let’s go back to that example of a campaign trying to get email addresses. Maybe the click-through rate is high, but the bounce rate on your form is astronomical. To make your campaign more successful, you’ll need to change the form. You could offer a stronger incentive to fill it out, write better copy, or maybe cut down the number of fields. That’s optimization.

Don’t change too many variables at once. Try to change one thing at a time and see if it works. That’s how to learn what to do next time.

Optimization is like cooking — if you taste a dish and then add 5 different seasonings to fix the flavor, you’ll never know which one to use next time. Add and taste, add another, and taste again. Then you’ll get it just right and know what you did! Optimizing marketing campaigns is no different. You can keep tweaking as long as you’re collecting data so you know the effect. Understand the impact of one change before moving on to the next one. Tweak and record the results to figure out the special ingredient and how it drives results.

Keeping it all organized

Campaign optimization is a must, so make your life easy and set your KPIs before you launch, track from day one, and start recording the metrics in one organized place as soon as you’re live.

If you have a full-fledged, integrated marketing campaign, you’re probably looking at dozens of metrics across a campaign and test plan. Multiple stakeholders are undoubtedly asking to see the latest reporting. You will need to analyze the trends and results to make the best decisions and communicate them to your team. And you’ll need to keep doing it over and over again as the campaign runs.

Instead of spreadsheets and slides with many iterations as the campaign progresses, put all the info in one centralized repository that’s open and up-to-date.

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Try using Confluence to make sure all the info is in one place that’s easy to find – and that everyone always has the latest version any time they look, with the most updated results. That makes campaign optimization reporting a whole lot easier.

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