The Ultimate Marketing Campaign Plan Template
A well-designed marketing campaign can position your brand as a certain “something” in the mind of your customers, generate leads and create customers.
When designing a marketing campaign, it’s important to ensure that your campaign creative and tactics are tied to strategy and business goals. Use this marketing campaign plan template to establish your business goals, select your campaign media, determine your message and offer, outline your creative, build your campaign budget, project your campaign ROI and outline your fulfillment.
1. Select the Business Goal for Your Marketing Campaign
Start your campaign plan by thinking about what you need to accomplish. Are you focused on building brand awareness? Increasing retail traffic? Generating B2B sales leads? Supporting distribution partners?
Here is a list of potential business goals:
- Branding – To increase awareness of your company, product and/or people in your market; to communicate the value you provide and what you stand for.
- Generate new leads – To generate new leads.
- Qualify leads – To better qualify and rank leads so you can segment them and then follow up based on their timeframe and likelihood of buying.
- Nurture existing leads – To communicate with leads that are in the pipeline but may not be ready to buy or to take the next step; a nurturing campaign reminds them of your value and provides information that can help move them along.
- Direct sales – To close deals within a short time period – a campaign to encourage people to “buy now.”
- Cross-sell to existing customers – To encourage current customers to buy related products or services.
- Up-sell existing customers – To encourage current customers to upgrade their existing product, to increase the quantity or frequency of their purchases.
- Nurture existing customers – To communicate with existing customers and reinforce the value you provide.
- Generate referrals – To encourage customers or prospects to provide referrals.
- Training – To train current customers, new customers, or even prospects to use your product; to train distributors, channel partners, and even your own employees.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
Who is the target audience for your campaign? When you focus on a very specific audience of limited size, it’s much easier to deliver a message that resonates and gets them to take action.
If you’re using a buyer persona, list them. If you need to identify your target market or hear what they’re saying, there are plenty of social media monitoring tools, and even new offerings using AI for market research and market intelligence.
3. Determine Your Marketing Campaign Creative Concept
After determining your business goals and target audience, the next step is to think about a campaign theme. This is where you need to be creative. If you’re marketing a consumer product or service, then be as creative as possible! B2B marketers historically aren’t as creative, focusing on pragmatic, value-driven messages.
However, more B2B companies are adding consumer-oriented creative to their campaigns, so it’s good idea to be as creative as possible even if you’re in a “traditional” business like selling machinery or computer hardware.
It’s also common for many to focus our campaigns on why we’re better/faster/cheaper than the competition. But many times, customers don’t care about that — they care about using our product or service to fill a completely different need for them.
Have you ever thought about asking your customers what “job” they’re hiring your product or service to complete? Here’s an insightful 5-minute video from Clayton Christensen, professor at Harvard Business School, talking about a case study addressing why people bought milkshakes at a popular fast-food restaurant, and the “job” the milkshakes performed (which was different from what the restaurant thought.)
As you’re considering your campaign ideas, consider the science of persuasion – known tactics that influence people’s behavior.
This video by Influence at Work discusses the 6 principles that guide human behavior:
The science shows that using these principles in your campaigns should yield improved results. Do you best to incorporate them.
Marketing Campaign Examples
When planning a new campaign, it’s helpful to review campaign case studies to spur your creativity.
Marketing Sherpa is a great resource for campaign case studies. Here are a few:
- B2B – Content strategy improves lead generation and qualification for LENOX, a division of Rubbermaid
- B2C – Multi-channel direct mail approach generates a 700% ROI
- B2B – Pop culture infused video helps B2B technology company increase leads by 20%
- B2B – Create an inbound marketing program to reduce reliance on cold calling
- B2C – Live chat accounts for 39% of orders for fitness company
- B2C – 10-year SEO program accounts for 90% of new leads
Here are additional examples:
- Top 100 consumer ad campaigns
- Award-winning B2B campaigns from 2014 to 2004
- Best ever social media campaigns
- Thirty examples of brilliant direct mail campaigns
As you’re reviewing campaign examples, think about campaigns you’ve run in the past. Which ones worked well? Can you modify the creative to extend the life of the campaigns? Can you use a similar theme?
What about your competitors? What campaigns have they run in the past that you liked?
Also think about other industries, even B2C if you’re B2B, and vice versa. Then, list your campaign creative ideas. Here you’re focusing on just the creative aspect. In the next task you’ll select your campaign media.
4. Select Your Campaign Media
After you’ve settled on your campaign theme, select your campaign media. Don’t hesitate to combine multiple media; integrated marketing campaigns often perform better than campaigns using a single medium.
Here are potential media:
- Online Advertising – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other ad networks
- Website – A blog post, microsite or special landing page
- Video – Hosted on your site or on YouTube or Vimeo or Facebook or Twitter
- Social Media – Any or all of the communities where your audience participates
- Email – Sent to your existing list or rent a vetted list
- Email Newsletters – Banner ads or sponsorships
- PR – Pitch your story to journalists or bloggers
- Search Engines – Use paid search or SEO for your campaign content
- Print – Advertise in magazines or trade publications
- Events – Hold a special event or seminar or be creative at your annual trade show
- Podcast – Promote it on SoundCloud
- Webinars – Host an online presentation via GoToWebinar
- TV – Advertise on a highly targeted cable show
- Radio – Sponsor an industry talk show
- Outdoor – Create a building wrap or special display
5. Determine Your Offer and Desired Audience Action
When you focus your campaign around a key message and call-to-action to a defined market segment, you’ll have a better chance of it resonating and influencing your audience.
After receiving the campaign, what action do you want these audience members to take? The “offer” refers to the benefit your prospects get by responding to your piece – for example, receiving your value-packed email newsletter, a sale price, free use of a piece of software for a month, a white paper, a spot in an important seminar.
If you’re B2B, you may wish to tie your offer to the stage of the buying process you’re targeting. Here are some general stages of the buying process and what’s occurring:
- No problem – Business as usual; the buyer has no pain
- Identify problem – Someone identifies a problem. It may come at annual planning time when a goal is established and the company or buyer realizes that they need help
- Validate problem and gain support – The person who identifies the problem begins the process of gaining support to find a solution. May identify other areas that are affected by the problem
- Research solutions – The person begins to research potential solutions to the problem
- Vendor or supplier discussions – The buyer begins to talk with vendors or suppliers
- Identify leading vendors or products or services – The buyer has selected one or more leading vendors or suppliers and will use that company as its benchmark
- Formalize bidding process – The buyer sets its formal objectives, budget, and parameters for the project, then seeks bids, proposals or quotes
6. Determine Required Creative Assets and Team
What creative do you need for your campaign? Can you produce it with your in-house team? Or do you need to outsource to an agency or freelancers?
List all required creative assets (design files, video, etc.) and the resource you plan on using. It’s a good idea to write a creative brief for either the entire campaign or specific creative assets.
7. Estimate Campaign Metrics
Creating detailed estimates of your campaign metrics forces you to think through the key drivers of your campaign success. It also helps you better measure your results and final ROI.
Start by estimating your response rate – the percentage of people that respond to your offer (i.e. those who take the initial action you request, like filling out a form, downloading a document, creating a trial account or placing a phone call). It’s important to estimate your response rate in the campaign planning phase so you can estimate your media buy (if needed) and your return on investment.
Response rates can be difficult to project because of the many variables involved in any campaign:
- creative design
- list quality
For example, a campaign promoting a discounted upgrade sent to the customers of a popular product might have a 35% to 40% response rate, whereas a cold email blast to an unqualified list might have a 0.2% response rate.
NOTE: Download our Marketing Campaign Planning Excel Workbook if you’d like help with the calculations.
Open the workbook (the macros are VBA programming in the workbook and are safe) and input a response rate projection for your media on sheet a. If you’re not sure, estimate it now and refine later.
Is your campaign goal to generate new customers? If so, continue in 6.9.a by selecting the number of the step that reads “Become a customer.” This will allow the workbook to calculate your metrics for you.
Then, enter the step that is the primary goal for your campaign. Many campaign goals end at “Become a customer,” but not all of them. If yours is different, select the step that is the primary goal for the campaign to determine your conversion goals.
Then, list any other key metrics you’d like to measure, including your customer conversions, total revenue, unit sales, etc.
8. Create Your Marketing Campaign Budget and ROI Projection
Once you have your initial campaign metric estimates – your response rate, conversion ratios, customers acquired and total revenue – create more detailed financial projections.
The first step is to estimate your total gross profit from the campaign which is accomplished by subtracting the total cost of goods (from your new customers) from the total campaign revenue.
After creating your campaign budget, subtract these expenses from the gross profit to calculate your net profit and estimate ROI by subtracting the net profit from your marketing investment and dividing the result by your marketing investment.
If you’re using the Marketing Campaign Planning Workbook, follow these steps:
DETERMINE IMPRESSIONS, LEADS AND CUSTOMER TARGETS
You may have already completed these. If so, note that some of the data you entered in the workbook for 6.9.a will flow through to other sheets in the workbook.
If you haven’t completed this yet, enter your results in 6.9.a. You may enter the results below if you wish.
ESTIMATE CAMPAIGN REVENUE AND PROFIT
Your next step is to determine your revenue and profit projections. Open 6.9.b and enter your data there. You may want to speak with someone on your finance team to obtain some of the information.
Here’s the data you’ll need:
- Average price per unit of products/services sales resulting from campaign.
- Average cost of goods per unit of products/services.
- Per-unit overhead costs (optional – some companies just use a standard percentage to project overhead).
- Per-unit incremental expenses (optional – same concept as above).
- Estimate of unit sales per product (if you’re selling multiple products from a campaign).
DEFINE CAMPAIGN BUDGET AND PROJECT ROI
To create your marketing campaign budget, use 6.9.c to evaluate your quantitative objectives and preliminary ROI for your entire campaign if you wish. The worksheet 6.9.d will summarize these costs. You can estimate them initially and then use the detailed budget sheets for the individual campaigns to create your exact numbers.
If you use 6.9.c, your entries from 6.9.b will estimate how many additional leads you will obtain from the activities you previously outlined. It’s an ongoing process; when you create a plan, you’ll need to continually evaluate multiple criteria.
After you’ve entered your budget, you’ll see your projected ROI at the bottom of the sheet. Is it positive? If you have a hurdle rate, enter it and compare. This will give you valuable insight as to whether you should run your campaign.
9. Outline Your Media Plan
If you’d like to create an extremely detailed media cost plan, 6.9.e can help you break down your costs per impression for each media outlet based on your initial projections.
Here you can also track your response and conversion rates for different types of media and calculate costs per impression, response rate and conversion rate based on your media buy.
10. Determine How to Fulfill Requests from Your Marketing Campaign
Great fulfillment is crucial for any marketing campaign. You’ve invested a lot of money in your prospects – if you don’t follow up and deliver what they expect, you risk losing the investment you spent to get them interested.
Your fulfillment processes directly affect your conversion rate, so make sure you outline your requirements. For example, if you’re running a campaign where prospects request a software demo, and it’s held three weeks later, your prospects may lose interest.
Here are some typical campaign fulfillment actions:
- Handle inbound calls
- Convert website visits
- Respond to emails
- Process orders
- Send mail piece
- Fulfill BRC responses
- Transition to sales
11. Create Your Campaign Calendar
List the key dates of your campaign and milestones or deadlines. Include the person responsible.
After you’ve completed your campaign, calculate your actual ROI and compare it to your initial projections (by adding the actual numbers in 6.9.a, 6.9.b and 6.9.c.). Review your key metrics to learn what you did well and what you can improve on in the next campaign.