Advertising is simple and really hard. There are a lot of businesses, both big and small, wasting a lot of money on advertising. Bad advertising results can almost always be pointed back to poor planning and execution.
Whether you’re working with an agency or running your advertising efforts in-house, the following framework puts some structure around a proven approach to planning and launching a successful advertising campaign.
Part 1: Campaign Strategy
Step 1: Market. Who is this campaign for?
Defining your audience shapes the entire course of your advertising campaign - from how you position your brand and offer to where you strategically place your ads. The more clearly your target market is defined, the more focused and effective your advertising campaign can be.
- Geographics - Where is your audience located, geographically speaking? Break this down at the national (United States, Canada, etc.), regional (Pacific Northwest, Southeast), and local levels (Seattle-Tacoma DMA, Portland DMA). Liberalizing this term a bit, also think about where your audience is located from a media and technology perspective. Are they watching live national sports broadcasts or local news stations? Are they on Facebook or Instagram? Are they searching for your product on a mobile device or desktop?
- Demographics - What demographic attributes does your audience have? Think this through from age and gender to education and profession.
- Psychographics - Moving over to a more qualitative realm, understanding the psychographic attributes of your audience can radically impact the influence of your messaging and positioning as well as help you more effectively place your ads. What is your audience interested in? What values do they hold with strong conviction? How do these affect the lifestyle they have and the lifestyle they want?
- Behavior - Specifically, what is your audience’s shopping behavior like? Do they shop in a physical retail location, or do they strictly order your category of products or services online? How are they searching for you? What kind of language (or keywords) are they using to find you or find a solution to a problem you help solve? Do they tend to conduct a lot of research before buying your product category, or is a purchase decision more compulsive and emotionally-driven?
Step 2: Mission. What is the objective of this campaign’s effect on your audience?
Make sure the objective of your campaign is crystal clear at the beginning of your campaign. Is the goal to increase sales revenue? Drive more traffic to your store or website? Increase brand awareness within this market? The objective not only shapes how you construct, launch and analyze your campaign, but it also makes expectations clear for everyone working on the campaign. If helpful, the SMART goals approach can give you a framework to clearly define each of your campaign objectives.
Step 3: Message. Why should your audience care about this campaign?
Arguably the most important aspect of your entire advertising campaign is its message. While the creative you use in your advertising will help capture attention and even influence emotions, the words you use dictate what your audience remembers and how they decide to act in response to the ad. At the same time, if the copy of your ads is dialed in but the ad itself looks terrible, or worse, does not stand out from the noise to capture attention, then you risk never grabbing the attention of your audience to read or hear your message in the first place. Both the copy and the creative go hand-in-hand en route to delivering an effective ad to your audience. When working with creatives to put together your ad, take the following characteristics into consideration:
- Clear - Is it clear to your audience what you’re offering, what the benefit is to them, and how to get it? (If you don’t know, ask yourself this: would a 10-year-old be able to see my ad and understand what I’m promoting?)
- Creative - Does your ad stand out and capture attention? Does it meet or exceed expectations for quality and relevancy within the given advertising channel?
- Compelling - Does this ad communicate a message that compels your audience to act?
- Consistent - Is the message you’re communicating in your ad consistent with your brand? Is it consistent across all of your other advertising and marketing communications efforts?
Part 2: Campaign Implementation
Step 4: Media. When and where will this campaign engage with your audience?
What channels will you buy media from to strategically place your ads in front of your audience? Media planning and buying is as much an art as it is a science because it dictates whether your ad will be in front of the right person in the right place at the right time. This is why understanding your target audience and nailing messaging are so critical, because these determine not only when and where you place media, but also which ad you place in each media channel. Another key factor in selecting your advertising media placements is approaching your campaign with a holistic perspective. A holistic campaign approach can be multi-faceted, where one set of specific ad placements are measured by one objective with other ad placements measured by a different objective (i.e. using OOH billboard ads and local TV ads to increase brand awareness, while using Google Search Ads and Facebook Retargeting Ads to stay focused on driving people to buy your product on your website). Ultimately, whether you are running a single advertising campaign in one channel, or multiple campaigns simultaneously across a variety of channels, be sure to build each campaign outside of a silo and keep a holistic view of how each campaign and each specific ad can be integrated to support a holistic campaign effort.
Step 5: Money. How much will you invest?
One of the most frequently asked questions we receive when putting together an advertising campaign for clients is: “how much should I spend?” Before answering that question for your own advertising campaign, taking a backward approach where you start with the desired end goal - your objective - and end at the investment necessary to get there - your ad budget - will lead to a much more effective campaign. The process we follow is mathematically formulaic and conducive to quickly scaling a campaign up and down.
First, start with the end objective: how many customers, leads, visitors or impressions are you looking to generate directly from this campaign?
Second, calculate or estimate your cost(s) per desired result, which can be very simply calculated by dividing your total ad spend invested by the number of actions you are measuring for (i.e. cost-per-lead = total ad spend / # of leads generated).
Once you identify your average cost-per-result, simply multiply that number by the number of goaled results you identified in your objective within a specific time frame and you have your estimated ad budget to reach that goal.
Step 6: Measurement. How will you measure performance?
The first obvious step is to ensure you have the right tools set in place to accurately track the attribution and performance of each advertising campaign. Assuming all of the tools are properly in place, how do you then effectively analyze your advertising data to inform smart decisions moving forward? Especially in the digital advertising realm that we operate in today, we have the ability to measure and analyze so much data that looking at a reporting dashboard can quickly become overwhelming.
Regardless of which media you are using to run your advertising in, there are a handful of key metrics you should always be looking at to evaluate the performance of your advertising campaign.
One key metric is to evaluate the campaign’s success in achieving your goaled objectives. While the easiest way to do this is to simply compare totals, a more complete view of this is to actually look at your costs-per-result figures. Let’s say you want 100 leads but you currently only have 50, you might immediately look at that and see that as a failed campaign. But if in the past, it’s cost you $75 to acquire a new lead, and this campaign is running an average CPL of $40, then you’re actually acquiring leads at a much more cost-efficient rate and can very easily scale up your ad spend to reach or exceed your desired number of leads.
Another key metric is to evaluate the profitability of your advertising investment. While this isn’t always directly applicable to every campaign (if my advertising campaign goal is to reach as many people as possible, benchmarking sales growth and rates of return does not align with this campaign’s objective), it’s critical in informing responsible and strategic business investment decisions for the future. Calculating Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and Return on Investment (ROI) are the most fundamental measurements for calculating the profitability of your advertising investments.
Beyond these two categories of ad campaign measurement, all other data should be primarily leveraged to help tell the story of why something is happening in your advertising to influence the end results you are seeing. While these secondary and tertiary metrics (like click-through-rates, social media likes, brand recall lifts) are helpful to identify problems or opportunities for advertising optimization, don’t confuse these metrics with the primary KPIs you should be using to evaluate the overall success of your campaigns.
Are you looking for help launching digital advertising campaigns for your business? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help build excellent advertising campaigns.