To build an effective outreach campaign, you must first look at the big picture. It can be tempting to think you know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there, but moving too quickly, skipping steps, or worse, starting in the middle, can spell doom for any outreach campaign.
The Brain: A Solid Plan
At this sage, you’re focusing on building the overall plan for your outreach campaign. You’ll focus on the goals, objectives, and the driving forces behind it.
What are the Driving Forces of the Outreach Campaign?
What’s behind the marketing campaign? Why do you need to do this campaign? Why is outreach the best approach? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you in the formation of the rest of of your plan.
What are the Goals of the Outreach Campaign?
Goals are the principles that guide your decision making. These can be broad outcomes toward the efforts and actions taken in the campaign. Typically, there isn’t measurement here, just general direction, as the objectives add the specificity to the plan. Think of your objectives as subsets of your goals.
What are the Objectives of the Outreach Campaign?
You can have multiple objectives in a single campaign, but each objective should be realistic, measurable, and specific. These objectives should be designed to support the goals, and state what you hope the outcome will be.
- Increasing consumer awareness: Either a number, or a percentage of target audience members reached through the various methods used in the campaign (websites, social media)
- Behaviors you want your customers to take: Number of customers who are taking the desired action – scheduling a consultation, attending a demonstration, registering for a conference, joining your email list…
- Customers showing interest: Number of responses to a call to action or click throughs on your website.
Regardless of what the objectives are, include a timeframe you expect to meet it. Ultimately, you need to be flexible and realistic when you set your objectives. As your campaign progresses, it’s entirely possible for the objectives to evolve.
As you set the objective, make sure you have a way to measure whether or not you’ve reached the objective. Most of the time, a tool like Google Analytics offers the data you need, but beyond looking at the basics, you can setup Goals to help you measure the success of those objectives, should they all be taking place on your website.
Each Goal must have an objective, a visitor action, and a success measure. For instance, if you’re looking to generate leads (objective), the visitor action could be to complete the contact form, and the success measure would be something like thankyou.php – or whatever the file name is for the page the visitor sees after they submit the form.
It’s also possible to have a Goal Funnel – or a sequence of steps that are required to successfully complete the goal.
In Google Analytics, you’ll follow these steps:
- Define the funnel goal: Move through your website, taking note of all the steps required to achieve the goal, keeping track of the names of pages in the sequence. If it’s a single page, no funnel is required.
- Configure the goal settings for each profile: If you’re working with a single website, define the funnel on that funnel only. If you’re working with more than one, repeat the steps for any other profiles on your Google Analytics account. Make sure your active goal is set to on. If there’s a specific dollar value associated with your goal, then you’ll need to enter it in the “goal value” box.
- Define the goal funnel: Now, place the URLs in each step, and give them a meaningful name so you can know what they are on the report. If there’s a single step, there’s no need to define anything here.
- Wait to analyze: Now Google Analytics will start collecting the data. You’ll need to wait a few days before you’ll start to see the results come in. You can look at the whole funnel, or look at it on a page by page basis to see how your campaign is performing.
If your outreach campaign is focused on social media goals, you can see social media information on your Google Analytics account, as well, but it’s a good idea to look at each platform’s data for comparison’s sake.
If you want to see social information in Google Analytics:
On the left side of your analytics screen, go to: Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. Here you’ll see a high-level view of all your traffic sources, so if we want to dig deeper and see which social media networks are bringing us traffic, to go: Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals. Now you can see the traffic data for each network.
But, that’s not really enough in all cases, is it? What if we want to see the revenue of our social media posts? That’s where UTM tracking comes in to help you.
Google’s URL builder will allow you to set source parameters to tell it that your posts are coming from social media. Then, set the medium parameter to the social media network where the post will be published, and the campaign parameter for something unique for each post you want to track.
You can also use it for other outreach methods – setting the source to things like “newsletter” or “Google”, with medium changing to “email’ or “cpc” as appropriate.
Now it’s time to go back to those goals. For revenue, you’ll want a custom goal – but for a share or connection, there’s one already built in.
Choose the destination page – where someone will go on your website after they click the link from social, and assign the correct dollar value.
Once you’ve identified all of that, you’ve got one more thing to do before you can begin working on the message of the campaign: the target audience.
Want to find out how social visitors are consuming your website content? Instead of sending them to a destination page, choose a duration goal.
Who are you hoping to reach?
What does your ideal customer look like? How old are they? What is their gender? Marital status? Where do they live? Job title? What problem do they have that your products/services can solve? The more details you have about the person you’re selling to, the better you can craft your message, the better you can target them, and the higher chance you have of being successful with your campaign.
Where are they most often found online?
If you’re marketing to Millennials, you’ll find them in different places online than you will older people, so it makes sense to factor these differences into your distribution plan. Snapchat is a great for marketing to the Millennial audience, but not many other demographics spend a lot of time on the platform.
If you don’t know where to find your people, and are relying on a “spray and pray” approach, you’re wasting time and money, negatively affecting your ROI.
The Heart: The Message
Now that you know exactly what you’re aiming to do with the campaign, and exactly who you’re trying to reach, it’s time to craft the main message of the campaign. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, focus on the reader rather than yourself.
Begin by thinking about what your solution is, and how it helps solve the problem your target customer is having. Present your solution as the cure to all their frustration and pain. Show, rather than tell the benefits of whatever it is you have to offer. This helps customers see how your solution will help improve their lives. Back it up with social proof so they see how your solution has helped others in their situation. Then, explain how you are different from the competition, while showing the perceived value in those differences.
Shy away from “what we do.” Focus on “What’s in it for me?” and you’ll be far more success in reaching your audience.
The Body: Message Distribution
You can have the greatest marketing message in the world, but if no one sees or hears it, it’s worthless. Borrowing from where you know you can find your audience online, start crafting the plan for how you’ll distribute the message to get it in front of as many of those eyes as possible.
Options for message distribution include:
- Press Release: Write a press release announcing whatever it is you’re trying to bring awareness to and pay for distribution.
- Influencer Marketing: Find the key influencers in your market, or reach out to existing contacts you may already have. Pitch them to share your news with their networks.
- Ads: Run pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Google and any social media network where your target audience can be found. If your campaign calls for and the budget is available, consider using television and radio ads, too.
- Social Media: Beyond running ads across social media platforms, share the news with your existing audience.
- Linkbuilding: Building links to your website increases the chance that people will find you from another source, while also helping to improve your search engine rankings, over time. There are many methods of building long-lasting, credible links to your website, but that’s another post for another day.
Google Analytics makes it possible to track offline message distribution, like TV ads and radio, too.
You’ll use that same handy URL builder tool, changing the source to “radio”/”print”/”TV”. Change the medium to the radio station, print publication, and TV network, as dictated by the details of your campaign.
You’ll end up with a nasty URL that looks something like this:
That’s definitely not going to be easy for anyone to remember, let alone someone in your target audience to remember. So, what now?
You have a few options.
- Register a new domain to direct users to.
- Create a subfolder for each campaign tracking, like http://yourdomain.com/christmassale
- Create a subdomain for each campaign tracking, like http://christmassale.yourdomain.com
The only thing that really matters is that you use different custom URLs for each ad, and never send traffic to those URLs with other sources, to avoid skewing your results.
Then, use PHP redirects to send each custom Google code to the page with the simpler URL. In our first example, we’d create a PHP code that looks like this:
header( ‘Location: http://www.yourdomain.com/?utm_source=tv&utm_medium=cbs&utm_campaign=christmassale’ ) ;
A word about using a new domains – you’d have to register a new one for each ad campaign, so it can get a little harder to manage over time. But, if you go that route, all you have to do is turn on the domain forwarding function in your hosting control panel to forward users to your tracking URL.
The Finishing Touches: Evaluation
It’s not over til it’s over. Once the campaign ends, you’ve got one more step – evaluation. Take time to look at all the campaign data to determine how well you were able to reach your goals.
Report results to any stakeholders at your company. Your Google Analytics account includes a number of reports to choose from, such as audience reports, advertising reports, acquisition reports, behavior reports, and conversion reports that you can use based on the goals and objectives of your outreach campaign.
Not all outreach campaigns are going to blow you out of the water – and that’s okay. If you miss your mark, take what you can from the data and use it to improve the next campaign. Use the insights to make adjustments to the strategy in future campaigns each time, and you’ll make progress each time.
Rinse and Repeat
After the evaluation, it’s time to start the process over again for the next outreach campaign you plan. With practice, each one will become more efficient and effective, but it’s critical to never assume two campaigns will ever be exactly alike – and to plan accordingly.
What else can you add about crafting effective outreach campaigns?
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