How marketing automation enables better campaign planning and design

By Chuck Leddy

In an earlier blog post, we described seven massive benefits of marketing automation (MA). One of the biggest benefits MA offers is the ability to plan and design marketing campaigns in advance, which not only improves the effectiveness of the campaigns but also makes the lives of marketers simpler and more productive. In this post, we’ll dig deeper into this particular benefit, explaining the what, the why, and the how.

What Doesn’t Work: Ad Hoc Campaigns of “Spray and Pray”

A marketing campaign can be defined as a series of activities designed to change the perception and behavior of your customers and prospects. Marketing automation, by definition, systematizes the activities associated with any marketing campaign. Manually performing these same repetitive, routinized campaign activities, especially when you develop your campaigns in an ad hoc, “spray and pray” manner, leads to more human errors, misaligned activities/messaging, confused customers, and wasted resources.

Planning and designing a marketing campaign in advance, by leveraging automation, forces you to think through the entire campaign and all relevant activities prior to setting the campaign to “go live” in the automation workflow. You’ll need to design the journey and prepare the content as part of enabling an automated campaign, so you’re forced to think deeper while getting more organized and coordinated before the journey even begins. All of this is clearly to the good for marketers and customers alike.

Planning and designing campaigns in advance is a huge paradigm shift for many companies and marketers who have not previously used MA. It’s a huge win when compared to less planned, less reflected upon, and more piecemeal marketing campaigns. Cobbled together campaigns simply don’t create a great customer experience, and certainly not a seamless or cohesive one.

What Works: Begin With the End in Mind

When you are planning a marketing campaign, you need to “begin with the end in mind.” In other words, know where you are going (the destination) and how you’ll get there (the strategy). Sitting down with your team and thinking through a campaign’s objectives, goals, and how you’ll measure success is at the core of great planning and design, providing you a North Star to guide your actions.

Of course, you’ll need to define the campaign’s key performance indicators (KPIs) and its relevant metrics in order to track and monitor campaign performance, another massive benefit MA offers (we’ll tackle MA’s role in enabling tracking and monitoring of campaigns in another post).

Cohesive Campaigns Are Simply Better

Rebecca Le Grange, Managing Partner at Sojourn Solutions, explains that campaign planning and design “is mainly about cohesiveness and creating that ongoing customer conversation, because when marketers have to think through the entire journey, how they’re anticipating somebody responding or not responding to the content, it forces them to plot the entire course, to think through the whole campaign” before it goes live.

In order to drive peak performance in the campaign planning and design process, marketers must ask and answer a series of important questions:

  • If customers respond well to one piece of content, what should happen next and then after that?
  • How could the campaign trigger another piece of relevant content or perhaps invite customers to a particular event?
  • When should we send customer information to a sales rep for follow up?

Advance planning and design require marketers to use their imaginations and deeply understand customer behavior in order to map the entire customer journey.

This “in advance” planning and design phase also facilitates better internal coordination, compelling marketers to have relevant conversations with internal colleagues and other departments in order to optimize the customer experience. So telemarketing, sales, finance, and IT know exactly what their roles are in advance and when they should perform those roles. All of this planning and design is far superior to just doing batch and blast campaigns where the customer journey can end in a ditch or with a disappointed customer broken down at the side of the road unsure about what to do next.

More Control, More Data, and Adaptable Workflows

Far too often marketers are overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time to do it in. Marketers struggle to “simplify, simplify,” as philosopher Henry David Thoreau (“Walden”) famously advised. Doing the work of campaign planning and design upfront, as enabled by MA, pays off handsomely because marketers can then take a step back and either think through the next campaign (learning lessons from the ones they’ve planned and designed before) or monitor the real time results of the ongoing (planned and designed) campaign. Marketers can simply observe what’s working and what isn’t, making tweaks based upon incoming data.

As Rebecca Le Grange explains, “marketers can set up the automation to execute the campaign and then focus on improvement, looking at the results, pulling the reports, analyzing the data, and then determining what’s working and what’s not working.” And because MA uses a modular design, it’s easy for marketers to tweak and customize automated campaigns on the go, driving effectiveness and peak performance.

When it comes to leveraging MA, Salesforce.com recommends that marketers “[a]nalyze as you go. See what’s working and what’s not. Use some of the time you get back from automation to dig into the analytics and make the changes that will grow your business.” Good advice, that.

The Takeaway: Planning and Designing Campaigns Drives Performance

The ability to plan and design marketing campaigns in advance, simply put, renders marketers more strategic, data-driven, and effective. Automating your marketing efforts and leveraging MA to plan and design campaigns will also provide a more data-driven focus to your campaigns. Marketers can develop highly targeted campaigns based on CX insights gained from the data, such as purchase history and profitability potential to name just two metrics. MA also simplifies the workflows of marketers, allowing them to map out the full customer journey and then make tweaks along the way.

At the end of the day, the ability to plan and design campaigns using marketing automation unleashes agility and greater strategic focus, allowing marketers more visibility into what’s happening during the customer journey as well as enabling them to make tweaks to reach customers wherever they might be. More cohesive campaigns aren’t just better for customers, but better for marketers too.

To find out more about how to drive peak performance with your campaign planning and design, reach out to us today!