Paid media campaigns can be set up fast, it’s a fact.
However, there is a mentality that paid campaigns are like a tap that can be turned on and off at a moment's notice. Doing this usually means that these campaigns won’t perform very well and that their costs will be higher than necessary.
To get the best out of paid media promotions, your campaigns need careful consideration and planning in advance to avoid wasting precious resources and make the most out of them.
Nothing works in a vacuum; you will need to coordinate multiple departments and stakeholders to get a paid media promotion to the point where it will be truly successful.
So, go and take a look at your calendar and choose a date in advance of your campaign for when you want it to go live. Now move your finger back three months. That’s where you should be aiming to start your planning and production (if your business has many compliance stages, perhaps even further!).
As a rule of thumb, to get the most out of a large seasonally timed campaign you want to begin planning for assets, and sign off:
But for any sized campaign, we’d at the very least, recommend giving yourself a three-month window to operate within. This gives you enough time to get everyone involved organised, and the campaign effectively planned out. Customers can spot a poorly planned campaign, and the likelihood of receiving the response you want is significantly lower if they do. This is the last thing we want because you want to get as much bang for your buck as possible.
There is a lot that goes into creating and signing off a campaign that is going to truly excel. All areas need to be thought of in detail and work in harmony so you have a truly integrated offer that is going to make the best use of your marketing funnel and drive the best possible ROI.
For example, take these elements that need to be considered for a simple campaign:
These require input from the paid media team, CRO team, designers, product team, SEO team and potentially developers if your website is built on an unfriendly system.
This is a crucial part of your campaign because it’s quite literally the face of it! Your landing page is going to give your customers the first impression of your campaign, and quite possibly of your brand! Not planning your landing page far enough in advance could be detrimental to your campaign’s success.
Input from paid media team, product team and CRO team is required.
You should be thinking, in detail, about what it is that your messaging needs to communicate to your audience. Additionally, these communications could vary between segments of the same audience depending on what they respond well to. Investigating this in advance will save a last-minute scramble to come up with messaging!
Requires input from the sales team and product team.
This is crucial to get right because you don’t want to be promoting an offer that means you’re making sales at or below the break-even point. It’s an easy mistake to make and so communicating between teams in advance helps you to get it right when the campaign goes live.
What’s more, planning this in advance means that you have time to work out with the sales and product teams what kind of offers your target audience will respond best to. It’s no use running a campaign unless you’re running it with the knowledge that you’ve done all you can to appeal to your target customers. After all, the point of the campaign is to increase sales, right?
Needs input from the paid media team, tracking team, remarketing and email marketing team.
No matter what you hear, tracking and tagging is an art that comes over time with experience. But, of course, everyone’s had different experiences which mean lots of differing and conflicting opinions will be floating around. Planning ahead gives you lots of time to get debates about what and how to track and tag out of the way in advance of the campaign going live.
Requires input from the paid media team, design team, CRO team, and product team.
Everyone will have varying ideas as to how the campaign's creative elements should look. This is only natural when you’re working with marketers who are passionate about what they do and getting the best out of the end result - whether it’s in-house or on behalf of a client.
The creative process can take a long time, and the time it takes only gets longer if the campaign is bigger. So, make sure you factor in enough planning time to ensure that the campaign has a look and feel that everyone involved is happy with!
Sign-off is required at different stages, such as for the campaign budget itself, the offer used, the messaging shown and the imagery and creative elements used.
Naturally the larger the business, the longer this stage takes. It’s absolutely critical that you factor in enough time (and then some more time as a contingency!) into the planning stage to make sure that your campaign goes out when planned and isn’t held up by waiting for sign-offs.
This is even more important when it comes to campaigns that are event or season based, such as for Black Friday, because if your campaign goes live too late then the likelihood is that you’ll have already missed out on business to competitors!
Input from the CRO team and design team is needed, plus any other relevant parties!
Split testing requires a lot of time, thought, and hard work before a campaign goes live which means that, as with everything else I’ve discussed here, it needs to be allocated enough time prior to campaign launch in order for the split tests to be as effectively constructed as possible.
As you can see - there are far more moving parts than is often assumed, and every additional department or stakeholder sign-off involved can add a week to your schedule.
You should be launching ahead of the date of any national holidays or celebrations. For example, If your ads come out the same week as Father's day, you are already too late. The same goes for Black Friday, as I mentioned.
You need to inspire your target audience, remind them of the occasion, and give them time to consider your offer and buy your product. Not all customer journeys are as simple as a customer seeing one of your ads and instantly being inspired to buy it. In fact, it’s a rare occasion that this does happen!
Customers need time to think about their purchases and consider their options, and by putting your campaign live in advance you’re giving them time to do so!
Often for familial purchases (like in the Fathers Day example), siblings will potentially need to agree on your product as a shared gift to their parents etc. If they are only seeing your offer in the week of the event, one of your competitors will likely have already won their business.
[There is definitely a market for last-minute gifts, and it's a huge segment, but that's for a different discussion.]
A good agency will create clear roadmaps and production timelines for your internal stakeholders to ensure that there is clarity on what needs to be done and when.
If you are lucky, you work with an integrated digital marketing agency, such as Reflect Digital (sorry for the not-so-humble brag). The digital teams at an integrated agency work together day in and day out which can greatly reduce the delays that friction for additional consulting additional departments can have. Our teams can take care of everything digital, such as the Paid Media, SEO, CRO, Design, landing page content, Email Marketing, testing, tracking and tagging. This makes it easy to compile a project for your key stakeholders to sign off on in good time. It also makes it a lot less stressful for you, meaning fewer headaches!
So all of this is great information…but how and when can you use it? Hint: Begin your plans for New Year offers and Valentines now!
You can still create a meaningful promotional campaign for Black Friday & Christmas this year - you’ve still got some time - you will just need to work harder and faster to make it happen.
Take note of how long things take this year and the pressures felt in the run-up to campaigns and make sure to set a meeting reminder for next year so you can begin planning well in advance. If you log the issues you face, you can have a meaningful tidy-up of processes with your team and get buy-in from your senior leadership to encourage your teams to have their ducks in a row much earlier in advance next time.
For now, here are some key points to keep in mind going forward:
Wondering how Reflect Digital might be able to help you get ahead of your next campaign? Get in touch, we'd love to hear from you.