Check-lists can be extremely useful in suggesting that you are actually getting somewhere without having to put too much effort into it. For instance, if you were running a campaign to obtain email addresses for an email marketing campaign then you could tick the box against Aims just by deciding that you want email addresses. Job done.
But for a check-list to actually mean something, for it to be a useful management tool, it needs to be detailed. The one below might look good on a submission but is of little help in planning.
Overall aim of the campaign
- The offer
- Offline support
- Customer profile
- Email design
- Online support
- Domestic arrangements
These are just overall headings. It is the detail in each that provides assistance to those who are planning the email campaign. For it to be developed into an effective and efficient plan, one that will be of use to those monitoring it, then each has to be expanded.
The obvious item under this heading is email addresses for use in a direct email marketing campaign. But to limit planning to just one aim is wasteful.
Some of those who receive the email, or become aware of the campaign via other methods, might well be impressed by your company or tempted by what it produces but not be prepared to share their email address with you at this stage. There should be other methods for them to contact you in all aspects of the email campaign and the value of these leads means that some form of follow-up should be built into the campaign.
You are making an offer. Would your current customers appreciate being able to access it? You might consider, perhaps, directing a modified email to those on your current email list who have been dormant for a certain period.
So to refine the heading:
- Email address acquisition
- Lead acquisition
- Customer retention
Using emails as the sole procedure in a campaign is a perfectly reasonable method. It allows close control, limits the responses and cuts costs. But this must be an informed decision. There is no reason why there should not be advertising, both online and in printed matter, mail shots and the use of such opportunities as trade exhibitions and seminars.
A broadly-based campaign will allow for fine tuning during the run time. If the figures are not reaching the target or, just as problematical, exceeding them by a margin which makes it difficult for your systems to cope, then you can vary the influence of other subordinate campaigns.
A viral email campaign can give unpredictable results but its potential return on investment if it hits customers’ imagination can make it well worth running. But you need methods of coping with a sudden upturn in responses. This is not a Plan B. It is built in to the original plan.
If you are considering using newsletters then you have the choice of your own or those of a third party. If opting for the former then it can take a formidable period of time to build up a worthwhile circulation.
Your own website can and should be part of the email campaign. Use if for those who are reluctant to supply their email address but who, their interest aroused, want to know more about you. Choose between your established website as the main contact point or set up a dedicated one. However, it should be remembered that registering a website with a search engine takes time and, indeed, might well be one of the first actions to consider in your campaign.
- Email campaign via bought-in list
- Advertising (In Newsletters, Printed Periodicals and Mail Shots)
- Website (Established and Dedicated – Search Engine Registration)
Targets are not a pass or fail exercises. They are there to allow you to manage the email campaign as it progresses. As you become experienced in such campaigns then the variation in responses should become less wide but there is always the chance that you might spark the public’s imagination or accidently time your start to circumstances which change the desirability of your product.
Your targets should be the anticipated number of leads or responses that you planned for in total and over set periods. They are used as indicators that your plan is, or is not of course, running to schedule. If there is significant diversion or worrying trends are noticed then modification is advisable.
- Number of addresses or leads per set period,
- Plan to control responses.
Many campaign plans start with a maximum spend and so it tends to be the limiting factor. Despite this immovable object, the budget still requires considerable application. The general rule is that the value of an email address for use in a direct email marketing campaign comfortably exceeds the cost of acquiring it and this can lead to a cavalier attitude to the budget. There can be euphoria when the returns begin to overwhelm the infrastructure that has been established to deal with them. There is pressure to merely increase staffing to cope but that way can lie disaster.
The budget is there to define your reactions and indicate whether you need to modify the situation. Running under-budget might seem a good item to add to your CV but if it is costing email data then it undermines the campaign.
So your budget is not just the one figure designed to limit or a line drawn in the sand. It should be a series of figures which will allow you to fine tune your campaign as it unfolds. It should be something that negates you having to approach your boss with the phrase: “First, the good news … ”
- Total spend,
- Daily/weekly/monthly budget. One, two or all depending on usefulness.
What you offer to tempt those you are after will, in most circumstances, cost. If you price it at a figure that could be beaten by a quick Google then why should the recipients part with their personal details? Whilst you will probably be selling the item or service at a price over cost, to be tempting it will be below what the customers normally expect to pay. If you were selling the item or service at a higher price before the email campaign then by reducing the price you are, in effect, losing money. Further, if you are offering at item at 20% below normal price then it should be realised that, once the price goes up at the end of the campaign, sales might well be hit.
These on-costs must be included when considering the total cost of the campaign.
- Costs (In hand budget and Total costs)
- Offline support
Most campaigns include other supporting methods, such as mail shots, press releases, advertising, or even just literature at counters with encouragement for your staff to distribute. These can be extremely useful in budget and target management.
It can be tempting to use every method you have available to run concurrently with the email campaign but care needs to be exercised. You do not want to erode the budget on a procedure that will give lower return on investment unless it provides some other function that increases its value.
- Own or third party newsletter,
- Mail shot,
- Trade exhibition,
- Counter, etc.
- Customer profiling
It is, no doubt, fair to say that you would accept any email address offered to you. If they are unreceptive to email marketing then they can be weeded out at a later date for very little cost or effort. However, you need to know who you are aiming for in order to target the campaign.
How do you plan to segment your consumer data? The more particular you are, the better the email campaign results. For B2B a business profile is needed, as is the level of management you are aiming for. Your target audience defines the style of your campaign.
Profiling can also help with regards in such things as planning and managing the level of offline support. Investment in a trade exhibition needs to be carefully considered if your primary target is consumers.
- Consumers (Demographics)
- B2B (Position held and Authority)
- Email design
The first decision is whether to design the email in house or to opt for an agency. Regardless of which you choose, the creative team should be aware of your brand values. Logos and other forms of identity, including your rationale, must be conveyed. Further, you need to specify the tone of voice, the image you wish to portray and, if it is a large list, the variations in the addressees profile.
There must be integration with other marketing methods and this unified image should be established early in the planning stage.
- Agency or in-house,
- Brand values, tone of voice, corporate image.
- Online support
The landing page, or microsite, can be part of the corporate website or a specific site established for the campaign. Like the email, they must support the values of your company while, at the same time encourage those who have clicked-through to continue. If going for a new site then remember that search engine optimisation takes time.
One of the most daunting features can be the form. Its design is vital to any campaign. Things to consider are the number and complexity of the fields, those which are mandatory, whether to ask for address and/or postcodes as well as technical matters. The balance between being intrusive and lack of sufficient detail needs careful consideration and it should be remembered that that just the minimum necessary detail is better than a wasted potential customer.
Before asking for all details, consider that you could obtain further information later as well as making valid assumptions on the basis of their orders. All that is essential, at least initially, is enough to enable you to target them accurately for a direct email marketing campaign.
The back-up pages, such as those for successful completion or in the event of an error, should not be viewed merely as procedural. Don’t just leave the potential customer hanging in the ether: give them the option of the home page of your corporate site. If a person refuses to sign up then perhaps a secondary offer might well capture their imagination.
- Landing page
- Support pages (Secondary offer and Success/error pages)
- Form design (Number of fields and Obligatory fields)
This does not require a clock. Whilst the timing of the actual sending of the email is vital, and almost an art form, it is not the only consideration. You need to decide how long the campaign will continue. Will you maintain offline support until, for instance, you have used all the forms? Or do you want all types of marketing to stop at the same time? When will you disband admin support? Will this be a date or will you wait until demand falls to a point which makes it inefficient? Or does the campaign end-date rely on an external event, such as the football World Cup?
- Start date
- Completion date
- Support campaigns (Start and completion date of each)
- Disband admin support
- Domestic arrangements
A simple one this time. You will need to include a link to your terms and conditions as well as a privacy statement. Whilst these are not the most frequented of pages on any website, some do visit them so don’t just have them filled with legal jargon and the conditional paragraphs your insurance company demanded. Use them for a bit of image polishing by telling them that you value your customers and treat each individual as an individual. Reassure them of your honesty and trustworthiness. If they have made their way to your terms and conditions they might well be nervous of them.
Ensure the legal requirements are fulfilled, including contact numbers and your address.
- Terms and conditions
- Privacy statement
- Legal requirements
Whilst the number of items on the things to do list might seem daunting, for all that they are essential, most can be resulted within a few minutes. However, the advantages of such detail is that it makes delegation easier and, more to the point, enables you to check that all the required work has been completed, whether by you or your staff.
Planning costs but its return on investment makes it essential.