How to Build a Better Campaign Template

Campaign ops can elevate all of your campaigns. And at the heart is the Campaign Template that guides every phase of the campaign lifecycle.

Each startup and agency I’ve worked at had their own particular process, but everywhere I’ve been, we developed something like this template to organize the process and collaboration involved in building and maintaining successful campaigns. Something like this document works at global enterprises, and early startups. Years of refinement and thousands of campaigns later, this Campaign Template is the result. And you can download it for free.

Benefits of a well-defined campaign process

This template adopts process with phases that force alignment. Everyone should be able to quickly discover which campaigns are live, which are being built, and which are in proposal or planning phases. These phases do add a little bit of friction to the process, and that’s on purpose. Adopting these phases brings the following benefits:

  1. Waste less work: Fewer surprises and misalignment about where people’s efforts are focused.
  2. Get better visibility for each campaign and team: It becomes easy to discover where effort is being focused.
  3. Fewer assumptions and better alignment. Using the same phase definitions and process makes it much easier to report, diagnose, and discuss campaign success and failure.

Campaign Template: The Document

The campaign template can live in any number of systems, from Smartsheet to Asana to Sharepoint. Usually we ended up choosing Google Docs. Why?

  1. Superior collaboration and revisions
  2. Easy to share with outside contributors
  3. People chips make it simple to comment, suggest, notify, and sign off on sections

Of course, Google Docs isn’t great for everything. So we generally combine this template with a task manager project for assigning individual components of work, a drive folder for collecting assets, a Marketing Automation program or campaign in Marketo or HubSpot, and the Campaign and Campaign members if we’re using Salesforce. But the Campaign Template becomes the heart of the process.

The “At a Glance” Header

This header will guide your team to the campaign and all of its artifacts, through its entire lifecycle. You probably won’t fill it out all at once, though it should be mostly complete once you end your Plan phase.

Most of the “At a Glance” fields should be a link, either to the appropriate resource, or people chips for the appropriate person.

Six Campaign Phases

This template has six phases. They are sequential. So you should only be working on one phase at a time, and a move to the next phase should almost always include alignment or approval between the owner, contributors and stakeholders.

Phase One: Proposal

This first phase is where the idea comes to life. It might start with a hypothesis, or a problem, a visual, a phrase, a potential swag item, whatever. The Proposal is where you capture your initial idea and build it into enough of a pitch to share with your team or your manager.

Phase Two: Plan

This is the phase where the bulk of the campaign research and writing happens. Who is your audience? What is your message? What are the offers, incentives, and CTAs that you can combine with your message into variants of the campaign, either for multivariate testing, or for personalization?

Don’t confuse the plan with the build. We’re not doing any of the construction yet. This is just the blueprint.

Phase Three: Build

This is where you will construct all the elements of the campaign. Build assets, and assemble components for various channels. Create forms, landing pages, lists, ad copy, images, all the artifacts of a campaign; and assemble them in the systems necessary for launch.

Ideally in this phase you will design the tests you’ll use to verify the campaign is ready to ship. A test-driven marketing approach can help you simplify your campaign design, and then to keep it up and running after it ships.

Phase Four: Launch

OK, so you got approval for your budget, you’ve built your campaign in all the channels, you’ve passed all your QA tests, and the countdown begins! Depending on the channels involved, a campaign launch can be as simple as pressing a button, or it might be a monumental logistics effort across many teams.

Once you launch, you’re done, right? Haha, right.

Phase Five: Iterate

Most campaigns don’t start out as legendary. Picking the winning variants, taking feedback from campaign members, watching early click or engagement rates, all of this can give you insights that can turn a campaign into a winner.

Most campaigns will give you the opportunity to further optimize while the campaign is live. Of course this is true for evergreen digital campaigns, but even events and other time-boxed or IRL campaigns can benefit from analysis and response to initial data.

This section of the Campaign Template is a great place to keep a changelog for your iterations. If you have too much data to keep here, feel free to link to another document for a/b test results, messaging variants, or whatever is too verbose to fit into the template.

This is also a great section to keep reports, or link to reports, for campaign results.

Phase Six: Archive

Most campaigns eventually reach the end of their journey. This section should include a post-mortem for the campaign as a whole (as well as for any major incidents or outages along the way). And you can also include final pipeline and revenue reporting, and a link to where the campaign artifacts will be archived.

Get the Campaign Template

So that’s it, all you need to do to get started is to click the image below, which will open up a copy of the Campaign Template in your Google Drive. Happy campaigning!

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