Digital marketing campaigns can help you get more traffic, improve your brand awareness, drive more sales, and much more.
But, executing a digital marketing campaign can seem like a complex process. After all, there are dozens of different platforms, and hundreds of different strategies you can execute.
But, by taking the time to plan out your digital campaign step-by-step you can increase your chances of success while reducing overwhelm across the board.
In this post, you’ll learn what a digital marketing campaign is, and a 10-step process you can follow to execute and build a digital marketing campaign.
What is a digital marketing campaign?
A digital marketing campaign is a strategic online marketing effort that’s executed to achieve a specific goal. Usually, the end result will lead to greater brand awareness, more traffic, improved conversions, or more revenue.
The purpose of planning out a digital campaign is to help you articulate who your audience is, what goal you want to achieve, and the process you’re going to take to achieve that goal.
Putting together a successful online marketing campaign can be a lot of work, and there’s a lot of moving pieces you’ll need to get right.
How to start an online marketing campaign
These are the 10 steps for building a successful digital marketing campaign.
- Set your marketing goals
- Identify your target market
- Carry out a keyword and topic research
- Do market research and competitor analysis
- Choose your delivery channels and set your budgets
- Create your content assets
- Run pilot campaigns first
- Monitor the campaigns and analyze their performance
- Allocate more budget to profitable activities
- Set up remarketing campaigns
Step 1: Set your marketing goals
The first thing you need to do is figure out why you’re running a digital marketing campaign in the first place.
The options are nearly endless, but if you try and pursue too many goals at once you’re not going to achieve any of them. For example, do you want to improve your conversions, grow your email list, improve your traffic, rank for more keywords, get more followers?
There are a handful of different types of goals, brand awareness, increase in sales, lead generation, and social follower growth. Some of these goal types are easier to quantify than others.
For example, it’s much easier to see if your email list has new subscribers than to see if more people are aware of your brand. However, you’ll want to try to ground these goals with data as much as possible.
Here are some examples of attainable goals:
- Improve brand awareness by getting 5 mentions from major news outlets/websites
- Increase search engine traffic by 5,000 visitors per month in 45-days
- Double social media followers to 10k by the end of 2020
- Improve sales by 200% by adding an abandoned cart sequence to our eCommerce store
- Add 500 new qualified email subscribers in 30 days
Each goal you set will have a plan of action. For instance, if your goal is to increase organic traffic, then this will include evaluating your existing content, doing keyword research, updating older content, writing new posts, and even doing backlink outreach and promoting your content across social media.
You can run as many online marketing campaigns as you want. Overall, you’ll want to create a specific measurable outcome for every campaign you run.
This allows you to dig into your data to see what’s working, so you can refine your digital marketing strategy moving forward.
Step 2: Identify your target market
Do you know your audience? Before you start a marketing campaign you’ll need to define the exact audience you’re going to target.
If you don’t know this exact person yet, then you’ll need to spend some time thinking about and researching who this person is.
One of the best ways to do this is to create what’s called a buyer or customer persona. This is a description of your ideal customer, and will include information like:
- What they do for a living
- How much money they earn
- What their family situation is like
- Their age
- Any hobbies they have
When creating an ideal customer persona you should also include:
- What other types of websites they visit online
- The goals they have when visiting your site
- Any fears or desires they have
If you’ve never done this exercise before, you can actually pull information about your target market from existing data.
One of the best sources of this will be Google Analytics. If your website has been getting traffic, then you can pour through your data to pull out information like:
- Where they’re from
- How they navigate your website
- The types of content they value the most
All of this should be combined into a document or user profile, you can even include images, so anyone working on the campaign can visualize this person.
If you have multiple different audience segments, then you’ll want to do this process multiple times and create customer avatars for each segment of your audience or market you’re targeting.
Step 3. Carry out a keyword and topic research
By now you should have a clear idea of your ideal result and you’ll have a detailed view of the type of people you want to target.
By uncovering the right keywords you’ll know exactly what potential readers and customers are typing into Google to answer their questions, or find the products and services you offer.
No matter if you’re creating an SEO, PPC, email, Facebook, or an entirely different campaign, keyword research can help to move you in the right direction.
The goal with keyword research is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about the kinds of keywords they’ll be typing into Google (or another platform) when searching for your products and services.
Spend time brainstorming keywords that fit this description and then run these keywords through keyword tools to find SEO keywords and phrases that have decent volume and not much competition.
Other ways to brainstorm keywords:
- Search for your market on Quora to find questions related to your niche
- Use a tool like Answer the Public to find question-based keywords
- Use Google Keyword Planner to find out the exact search terms types by users on Google search.
Once you have your initial list you can use these seed keywords and run them through a tool like SEMRush for detailed keyword analysis.
PPC keyword research
If you’re going to be running a paid advertising campaign your keyword search will be a little different. You’ll also have to compare the cost per click of each keyword and group these keywords into different groups.
When you run PPC ads you pay whenever a visitor clicks on your ad and visits your website. So, your goal is to keep your cost per click (CPC) low, while still reaching a solid volume of people.
Once you’ve found the keywords you want to target for your PPC ads, you’ll use these to help create your ads. For example, you can include your target keywords in your headline and body copy.
Step 4: Do market research and competitor analysis
With an understanding of your customer, you’ll also need to figure out where they hang out online and what your competitors are doing.
This will help you better plan a campaign and give yourself the best chance of your campaign succeeding.
You can also model your campaigns off of what has been successful for your competitors. This allows you to shortcut the process and give yourself a greater chance of your campaign succeeding.
Here are a few questions to ask when researching your competitors:
- What kind of products are they promoting/what’s selling well?
- What kind of content is working well for my competitors?
- What popular products and services are being sold in my market?
You can also use tools like Buzzsumo, and even a simple Google search to find content that’s incredibly popular in your space. It can be helpful to study content that’s been incredibly popular since it’s tapping a deep need in your niche and successfully speaking to a large portion of your market.
If you’re going to be running a Facebook ad campaign there’s a tool you can use called Facebook Library Ads which allows you to search through ads related to your niche that have been successful in the past.
Step 5: Choose your delivery channels and set your budgets
As you start to execute digital marketing campaigns you’ll probably create campaigns across a wide range of digital channels. However, when you’re first starting you’ll want to focus on only one or two channels.
For example, you have Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest in the social media space. You have Google ads, content marketing, onsite and offsite SEO, email marketing, and a lot more.
Chances are you’re going to be using a combination of different channels. But, you’ll have one main channel that ties into your goal.
If your goal is to increase your email subscribers by 500 in 30 days there are all kinds of tactics you can employ the achieve that goal:
- Test different email opt-in form copy and placement, including pop-ups
- Optimize your existing content and create new content focused on pushing people to your list
- Create value-add email newsletters that encourage readers to forward to a friend
- Guest blog on popular sites in your niche with links back to an opt-in page
- Share the link to an email subscriber page on your social media profiles
As you can see there are a lot of different overlapping channels you can utilize to help you achieve your main goal of growing your email list.
Before you start creating your campaigns you’ll want to define the channels you’re going to utilize.
For any digital marketing campaign you’re running you need to come up with a budget. Digital advertising is the cheapest form of advertising, but you’ll still need to set aside a budget.
Even running organic campaigns will require an investment of time or money. For example, you can do keyword research, write your content, and do backlink outreach yourself, or you can pay someone else to do it for you.
Other forms of digital advertising will cost right from the start, like paid advertising.
Your budget needs to take into account anything you’ll be spending within your company, plus costs to any external companies or contractors you’ll be using to create creative materials, or even manage your campaigns for you.
Step 6. Create your content assets
Depending on the campaign you’re running, there are different content assets you’ll need to create.
Here are a few examples:
- If your goal is to grow your organic search engine traffic, then you’ll have to create a series of blog posts.
- If you’re going to be running Facebook or Instagram ads, then you’ll need to create all of your ad creative materials and landing pages you’ll be sending traffic to
- If you’re executing a video marketing campaign, then you’ll need to create, edit, and publish a series of videos
All of the previous steps will help you create content assets that will serve the campaign goal you decided on early on.
Some content assets, like blog posts, and videos will be relatively static once you create them. However, you’ll be more creative with how you choose to promote and will refine your strategy based on which promotion tactics get you closer to your goal.
However, if you’re running a digital advertising campaign, your content assets will evolve based on the data. Maybe you’ve found that a certain type of image performs better than the rest, or that a certain headline results in 10% more sign-ups. Your audience targeting will stay relatively the same (targeting your ideal customer), while your ad creative will evolve based upon what your market responds to most.
Step 7. Run pilot campaigns first
If you’re running advertising campaigns or any kind of paid media campaigns, you’ll want to run test campaigns first, so you don’t blow through your entire budget.
With your test campaigns, you’ll start with a small budget and make refinements as you get feedback and data. For example, when you’re creating ads you could test different headlines, different images, body copy, CTAs, and more.
You’ll want to strike a balance between keeping your initial budget small, while still getting enough data to refine your ads.
If you’re doing paid advertising, even something as small as $1-10 per day will give you enough data to work with if you let it run for a month.
If you’re paying for content it’ll be more difficult to see instant feedback, however, you can see how your audience reacts to your articles via the comments section, social shares, sign-ups, and clicks (if you’re promoting your blog posts to your email list).
Step 8: Monitor the campaigns and analyze their performance
With digital marketing campaigns, there’s no shortage of data available. Whatever platform you’re utilizing, you’ll be able to find all kinds of data.
For example, email marketing tools have built-in analytics, every advertising platform has its own ad dashboard, and there are a variety of third-party tools you can use for website statistics, and more.
However, before you start pouring over data you’ll want to refer back to your goals. This will help you zero in on the numbers that actually matter. Once you can analyze those numbers you can figure out what’s working and what isn’t, so you’ll have insights you can take action on.
By looking at the right data points you’ll be able to answer questions like:
- Did the new blog posts lead to an increase in traffic and email subscribers?
- Did you receive any new press mentions from the news piece?
- Did the new email series lead to more product purchases?
- Which Facebook ads led to more product sales?
There’s a good chance that a lot of your digital marketing campaigns won’t generate positive results. However, it’s important not to get disheartened, instead, look at conducting campaigns as an experiment to find what does and doesn’t work.
Step 9: Allocate more budget to profitable activities
Once you’ve been able to see which campaigns are generating the most results, it’s time to double down. By now you know that you won’t be wasting your money on certain activities, and they’ll be able to generate a verifiable return.
However, you’ll still want to scale your investment up slowly instead of spending all of your remaining budgets right away. It can be tempting to invest everything, but as you start to allocate more of a budget you’ll still continue to get data.
Then, you can use that data to further refine your campaigns. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where your campaigns are about as optimized as possible. When you reach this point and you’re getting the highest ROI and conversion rates possible, then it’s really time to scale up.
Step 10: Set up remarketing campaigns
Remarketing is something you should be using throughout your entire campaign, especially if you’re using digital advertising.
Remarketing is the process of running ads to visitors who have already visited your website. These ads will appear wherever else your visitor is online including, watching YouTube videos, reading a blog, scrolling through social media, or browsing the web.
This allows you to generate more sales than you otherwise would have missed out on. If someone is looking at one of your products, or visits a certain page on your site, but doesn’t make a purchase, you can target this person with a variety of ads. The most common are Facebook ads and Google ads.
These ads will essentially follow this person around the web and direct them back to your website to complete their purchase. You can even add a coupon to these ads to make your visitor’s purchasing decision much easier.
Remarketing ads are available across every big digital advertising platform including, Facebook ads, and Google ads.
Another form of remarketing that doesn’t rely on advertising is email marketing. You can create a cart abandonment email sequence that will automatically get sent out to your visitors if they add items to their cart, but don’t complete the purchase.
People are incredibly busy and distracted these days, so there are a number of reasons that they’d forget to complete their purchase. A cart abandon sequence can be a single email reminder or an entire series of emails that get sent out at a certain interval.
Adding remarketing campaigns to whatever campaign you’re running will help to plug any conversion holes and make sure that you’re getting the most out of the new traffic you’re generating for your website.
As you can see there’s a lot that goes into executing a successful digital marketing plan.
It all begins with choosing the right marketing goals. Make sure your goals are attainable and trackable, meaning they can be tied to data.
Next comes the research phase, where you’ll dive deep into your market, competition, and start researching keywords that you’ll use in your campaigns.
With the foundation set you’ll determine the digital channels you’ll use to execute your campaign and set your budgets for how much you want to spend.
Finally, you’ll start creating the content assets you need to run your campaign, whether that’s blog posts, advertising materials, or another form of content, and start executing your campaign. However, you’ll want to start small, so you can monitor your campaigns and see what’s performing the best.
Then, you can tweak your campaigns and scale up your budget once you’ve found what’s actually working. It’s also important to include remarketing campaigns wherever it’s applicable. Remarketing will help you bring back old visitors who didn’t complete their purchase.
There you have it, a step-by-step process of executing your very own digital marketing campaign.