#gxmxp Series

Campaign Creation and Execution

Throughout the Market Messaging phase of #gxmxp we regularly referenced future outreach campaigns. That future is now.

Here in Campaign Creation and Execution, we’ll develop, execute, iterate and optimize outbound customer acquisition campaigns.

In this #gxmxp exercise, you’ll create a campaign tracker that helps you evaluate the successes or failures of each campaign you run. This allows you to move toward using data to guide your strategy rather than using your gut instincts.

What is a Campaign? 

When people hear the word “campaign,” they typically think of an email campaign. But the term actually refers to any concentrated effort to initiate conversations with a specific group of people such as your ICP. Campaigns are channel-agnostic.

When you think of a customer acquisition campaign, don’t limit yourself to email.

Customer acquisition campaigns are not a monolithic effort. Rather, they are a series of individual projects with a discrete start and finish. Each campaign has to be intentional and in turn must test something specific such as an audience, channel or value proposition.

To get to the truth efficiently, divide customer acquisition activities into small, intentional campaigns that provide enough insights for you to incrementally improve your next campaign.

A Campaign in Three Parts 

Campaigns have three phases:

  1. Pre-Campaign Launch and Set-Up,
  2. Campaign Launch, and
  3. Post-Campaign Analysis.
Pre-Campaign Launch

In the pre-campaign phase, you need to develop the right copy for the right audience, get your data cleaned up, and get your resources prepared for launch.

As you prepare a campaign you need to think about timing – when is the best time to launch and how long will it take you to prepare to launch a campaign.

Think about when is the best time for your audience. For example, if you’re targeting CPAs, tax season would be a bad time to launch a campaign because your audience will be swamped doing taxes. 

Also, focus on how long it will take you to set-up the campaign the right way, as opposed to thinking about how quickly you can get “something out there.” Remember, if you compromise on the quality of the set-up then you will likely compromise the quality of the results themselves.

You only get one shot at a first impression with your potential customer so don’t blow it because you rushed to get a bad touchpoint out the door.

The pre-campaign launch phase is the most overlooked, yet most important phase of any good customer acquisition strategy. It’s filled with tedious busy work and it always takes longer than you anticipate. However, it’s during the pre-campaign phase where you can often make a big impact on the success or failure of your campaign.

Within the small details of setting up a campaign, you can often move the needle of response rates up to 10%. And we’re not just talking about subject-line optimization.

Yes, the best subject lines or calls-to-action get the best click-, open- and response-rates. But, those successful campaigns also optimized dozens of other small details for the campaign. 

While you can spend a lot of time word-smithing the perfect sentence, don’t forget to spend time on the low hanging fruit, such as:

  • Normalize company names. If you were reaching out to Coca-Cola, you wouldn’t say, “I’m looking to speak with someone at the Coca-Cola Bottling Company Inc?” 
  • Test to make sure any auto-fill fields (first name, company, city) work correctly in the context of the sentence.
  • Make sure all links are working.

During campaign launch, you should be constantly monitoring your campaign. If a customer responds to your outreach, it shouldn’t take you a few days to reply. It shouldn’t even take you a few hours.

Studies show that the odds of making a successful contact with a lead increase 100X simply by responding within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes. 

Sales campaign effectiveness depends on responsiveness as much as anything else. Click to Tweet

You also need to be continuously following up. If you respond to a lead asking them for a meeting and then don’t hear from them again, this doesn’t mean they are suddenly uninteresting and your work is done. Keep trying until you get that first conversation going.

Every professional sales organization knows that sometimes leads might not show up for the first two or three phone calls. That’s just part of doing business and eventually you will find ways to streamline these behaviors. You have to be prepared for that and ready to follow up.  

You should also avoid directing all of your efforts towards one specific individual at a company. Yes, the economic buyer is ultimately the person you want to talk to at each company. However, maybe that person is busy, on leave, or just has other priorities at the moment. In most cases, there are two or three other people you can reach out to at a company to get into that account.

This is called account-based marketing (ABM), and the logic behind it is simple. If you’ve done all this work and you know that this company is an ICP, why put all your eggs in the basket of one potential prospect? 

If you can start a conversation with somebody close enough to your economic buyer, then you can get your foot in the door and work your way towards the economic buyer from there. Or at the very least, confirm whether or not the company shares your worldview and should be a customer at all.

Post-Campaign Analysis

Most start-ups never do post-campaign analysis. They never evaluate what they’ve learned before moving on to the next campaign. Instead, a campaign ends and another begins in a vacuum devoid of any kind of knowledge transfer from one experiment to the next. This is a missed opportunity.

As you analyze a campaign in retrospect, try to avoid placing the blame on the audience especially if you simply did not get much of any response. In all likelihood, you have yet to crack the code on how best to get the attention of your ICP and there is more work to be done.

Remember, you put a ton of time and effort into your ICP, you shouldn’t be quick to dismiss it entirely unless you actually talk to people in your ICP and they tell you so.

Campaign Tracking

Now’s a good time to scroll over to the Resources/Downloads section and grab the Campaign Tracker.

The purpose of the Campaign Tracker is to track progress towards the conversations you want to have with 20-50 companies in your ICP.

A lot of startups will launch a campaign to those 50 companies. They’ll have conversations with a few of them, and when they don’t hear back from the rest, they’ll abandon their ICP and go after everyone in the industry. This is how companies burn through capital. It’s highly inefficient and often fatal.

If you have 50 companies that you absolutely know are right for you, but you only hear back from a few of them, try again. Don’t look at it as only getting in with four companies. Look at it like 46 more opportunities!

It’s going to take more touches than you think to get that first conversation started. Remember, you shouldn’t mistake no response for not interested. In most cases, if your persistence is done in a polite and professional manner, your audience will actually thank you for continuing to reach out. Persistence pays off.

Creating Your Campaign Tracker 

With the Campaign Tracker, you’ll be able to create a succinct library of all of your outreach activities. Anytime you’re trying to launch a new campaign, you’ll have data on what worked and what didn’t work in the past.

Here’s how to fill out each box on the Campaign Tracker

Launch Date: Put the campaign’s launch date here, and stick to it. Some people don’t do this until they’ve actually launched the campaign. That’s a mistake. This should be the first thing you fill out and it should be aspirational. It gets your team moving.

Hold yourself to this date as much as possible, but don’t launch a bad campaign just to meet an arbitrary launch deadline. It’s okay to push a campaign back a few days or weeks because you’re still learning. 

Email Copy Link: This could be a link to anything, not just emails. Link to whatever document captures the messaging you’re using in this campaign. Don’t cheat by just linking back to your Market Messaging document. You want to look back at this later and see exactly what you said in this campaign. 

Data Source Link: This is the list of people you’re reaching out to. Link to your CSV list of names, email addresses and LinkedIn profiles. 

# of Steps: A step refers to the number of touches or customer interactions you’re going to build out and execute with this campaign. Imagine that somebody on your list is never going to respond to you. How many touches are you going to attempt? Put that number here. Anywhere between 8-16 touches is what you should aim for.

Length of Campaign: How long will the campaign be? What do you have the bandwidth for and what’s the appropriate length of time for the number of touches you chose above? Most people space out touches too far apart. A campaign should ideally last about three to four weeks. 

Tags: Several CRMs have a tool where you can tag or identify individual companies or individual people as they go through each campaign. This will help you later when you’re trying to figure out what happened with certain groups of people during campaigns. 

Choose a name for this campaign and add that to your CRM. This makes it easy to find these people and organize them later for post-campaign analysis. 

Pre-Launch Hypothesis: What are you testing with this experiment? Who are you testing it with? Clearly state your intent in this box. 

Contacts: This is where you record the number of people you’re reaching out to.

MQL/Not MQL: MQL means Marketing Qualified Lead and refers to anybody who responds favorably or neutral to you. Not MQLs are everyone who responds negatively. The top row here is where you’ll put the number of each type of lead. The bottom row is for the percentage of the total contacts that meet these criteria. 

Reply/Open/Click: Similar to the MQL boxes, you’ll include the number of each reply, open and click you get and the percentage of the total below that. 

Accounts: How many total companies/accounts from your contact list are you reaching out to with this campaign? Ideally, your total list of contacts should be about two to three times larger than your account list.

Account MQL/Not MQL: Similar to the other section, put the numbers and percentages of the MQLs and not MQLs at the end of the campaign. How many accounts have you now activated?

Post-Campaign Analysis: What did you learn? What worked? What didn’t? Synthesize the learnings from the conversations you had. If someone said they got to your website but still don’t understand your product, that tells you that you might need to change your web copy to reduce friction. 

Also, capture the sentiment of responses you got. If people are saying no, are they hard nos? If people aren’t replying at all, that doesn’t mean your ICP is wrong. It may mean that you need to change your messaging or channel or that you need to let the campaign run longer. 

The Importance of the Inbox 

After you’ve filled out the Campaign Tracker, make sure your team discusses the learnings. Look at this document before you launch any new campaigns. 

If you feel like you’re being pushy with your campaign, don’t worry. Everybody’s inbox is a jungle. Use email touches as a way to start building brand awareness.

People will see your name pop-up over and over, even if they never open the email. That’s where the importance of multichannel marketing comes in. You’ll send someone an email for the fourth time, and they’ll also see a message from you on Linkedin and hear you through a voicemail.

You’re building credibility that way. You’re going to slowly rise to the surface of their priorities. Email is just one piece of that. 

Creating your campaigns, doing outbound marketing, and scheduling conversations with people requires a lot of lead time. Optimize that lead time by building the materials you will need later in the sales process. 

It’s what we refer to as your Opportunity Framework. Think of it as the MVP of your sales collateral. That’s next in #gxmxp!

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