When you read the term project management, what do you think of? Probably something to do with engineering and building something, be it a skyscraper, system, or other tangible outputs. Managing time, cost, quality and scope are invariably important in these projects but these concepts can be applied to many other disciplines to add structure and controls. One of which includes planning online marketing campaigns. Having worked with dozens of MARCOM managers I’ve seen what strategies work and don’t work from the perspective of the online marketing outlet. This entry will attempt to provide media buyers, online marketing managers, and IMC managers with a template that applies project management concepts to get more value and ROI out of your next online marketing campaign.
Clearly define goals and objectives before signing the dotted line
Objectives should be in every online marketing initiative; you need to know where you’re going so you’ll be able to tell when you’ve arrived. Baseline your objectives and then build on these in subsequent campaigns. Tie these objectives to your metrics.
When designing an effective online marketing campaign, it’s like embarking on a road trip. Before you jump in your car and start driving it’s a good idea to know how long it will take to get there so you have a sense of whether you’re progressing. Make sure you have clearly defined the campaign duration so you know how long it should take to get the return you’re looking for.
While the old sayings “there are no free lunches” and “the best things in life are free” offset each other, it’s fair to assume there may be costs involved in your online marketing campaign (although generally “you get what you pay for”). Identifying costs ahead of time to maximize your budget helps avoid sticker shock later on. Do some research and determine what campaigns your competitors have done through subscribing to their newsletters. Project Managers have one eye on the bottom line and one on everything else so the financial metric needs to be monitored the duration of the campaign and managed carefully.
This metric can be applied in several ways, internally by taking a look at the campaign in context of other marketing campaigns and asking: how does this campaign stack up compared to past campaigns? To borrow from academia, it’s good to determine a marketing campaign’s reliability and validity. Can it be replicated easily? Does it do what it’s supposed to do? Just like these concepts are important in academic research, they could also be considered good measures of the quality of online marketing campaigns. Then it can also be used to look at the target audience the campaign was designed to reach to determine the quality of those prospects. Quality over quantity (unless that’s what you’re looking for).
This is an important metric as well because it helps reel you in and focus more closely on reaching the objectives you outlined in the first place. If your intention is to grow your database by x% in 2 months through a new product awareness campaign centered around a webcast at a marketing outlet, keep that squarely in your sights and set lead count milestones. Set a goal where you should be after the first month of promotion and try to match that pace for the second so if you meet halfway you’ve hit your initial goal.
Setting milestones is an important addition to marketing campaigns. It’s important to know you’re progressing so if you are a media buyer check in with your rep at the marketing outlet weekly or bi-weekly to keep tabs on the progress of their co-marketing activities. Ask for their insight on what has worked in the past. Good outlets add value to the campaign through creatively working with their clients.
Measuring your Campaign
Depending on your objectives set at the beginning, measure how well the campaign went through a brief descriptive closing summary. Just like a project, a marketing campaign has a defined beginning and end so it’s important to analyze the performance so you think about what went right and wrong. Then save it to use in the next campaign.
Applying these PM principles is a straightforward way to save you a lot of headache, aggravation, time and money in the future.