A debate recently arose at 4Ps Marketing, about campaign planning, and how vital it can be to distinguish a mediocre campaign to an excellent campaign. Every year, many of my friends and family say that their excitement and planning for Christmas begins after seeing the Coca-Cola Christmas advert. Yes, the holidays are coming, but if you are a brand, and the festive period is one of your key campaigns, chances are that the planning and ‘excitement’ will have begun long before seeing an advert during the X-Factor in mid-November.

Arguably, the most vital and time consuming part of the planning process is the depth of research that is required, particularly in a Christmas campaign. First and foremost, it is important to look at the campaigns you ran the previous year and take note of what worked well and what can be improved on.

At 4Ps Marketing, we like to sit down with our clients before a major campaign, to have an open discussion about this in order to identify what needs to be different about the campaign this time round, e.g. starting link-building earlier for better results. Being strategic digital marketers at 4Ps Marketing, we also take on board our client’s campaign targets and KPIs and build a strategy around this, geared towards generating the best possible ROI.

This can be done by analysing popular campaign-related keywords; these can give an indication as to what other keywords should be targeted. Tools such as Google Insights, Google Trends and Doubleclick should be used to look at previous trends and insights, and finally, our research would include reading different blogs to see what sort of products and services are anticipated to be popular Christmas purchases. This research can help the keyword building process.

Having a timescale is also key in planning a good campaign. Not only does it help you with the different stages of implementation, it also gives your client something tangible to analyse; a clear indication of what you’re doing and when you’re doing it. It is true of Christmas campaigns in particular that time can be of the essence, so it is important to begin your activity as early as 6 months before the campaign ends. In these early stages, initial link-building should begin to establish relationships with bloggers so that these relationships can be capitalised on when the campaign begins. The tone of voice will be calm at this point, focusing on educating the consumer. The tone will then become more aggressive as campaign-time draws closer.

Four months before the campaign ends, the campaign landing pages should be in place, as should a link-building strategy. Data capture forms should also go live so that potential consumers can be contacted during campaign time.

Two months before the campaign ends, the email offers go out to potential customers, and any last minute offers are communicated aggressively. Data capture forms should also be used to their full potential at this stage to push those all-important last minute conversions!

After the campaign has finished, it is an ongoing process of reviewing what worked well, and what didn’t work well in order to improve the next campaign.

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