The Definitive Guide to Marketing Campaign Management

By Joe Weller | May 23, 2017 (updated March 27, 2024)

In this article, we’ve compiled thorough steps on how to create and manage an effective marketing campaign based on expert tips and insights.

Included on this page, we walk you through each step of the campaign management process, discuss how campaign management software can help (with a downloadable checklist), and guide you on how to choose the best tools to make your marketing campaigns successful.

Why Do You Need Marketing Campaign Management?

Large companies typically use ad agencies to create, design, and run marketing campaigns.  For example, Aflac used Kaplan Thaler Group to create and launch its memorable duck campaign that is still going strong over 15 years later. Whether or not you hire an agency or decide to manage a campaign internally, you still need a master marketing plan. Campaign management means identifying the strategies you will use to support your business goals, then designing, planning, testing and monitoring the campaign, and analyzing the results along the way.

 How well you create, execute, and assess your marketing campaigns is what will make your business stand out for the competition. Even the most creative campaign won’t succeed if it is not implemented and evaluated thoroughly and effectively.

Goals and Benefits of Marketing Campaigns

For many companies, big and small, marketing campaigns are the main way to engage with existing customers and acquire new ones. Many marketing campaigns use a range of messages over an extended period of time to tell an entire story. For example, Geico insurance campaigns are designed to appeal to customers who value a lower price over paying for a traditional insurance agent.

Campaigns have many benefits, including:

  • Increasing sales and profits
  • Introducing a new product
  • Increasing product awareness
  • Establishing a brand image
  • Defining the brand experience
  • Reducing the impact of negative publicity
  • Generating new customers

Since 2012, Lay's brand has promoted its "Do Us A Flavor" campaign, asking people to “pitch” their potato chip flavor ideas. In the campaign’s first year, sales increased by 12 percent, and its Facebook page averaged more than 22.5 million visits a week.

Starbucks launched a “Converts Wanted” campaign to attract customers who disliked the richer roasts of other Starbucks coffee blends. To get people to sample the Blonde Roast, employees collected stories from their friends who became fans of the lighter coffee. The Facebook-driven campaign educated consumers, offered coupons, and created a buzz for the overall brand.

What Is the Marketing Campaign Management Process?

A marketing campaign is your roadmap to all the marketing activities you will measure and monitor. It includes specific goals, a budget, and a set timetable, as well as the tools and platforms you will use in your campaign.


The process of developing and managing a campaign can be broken down into the following steps.

Step One: Define Your Goals and How You Will Measure Them

It’s not enough to say that you want more customers; you also need to be specific. Do you mean you want more sales, more new customers, more existing customers to buy more of your products, or more former customers to buy something new? How much do you want your sales to increase from any or all of these segments? For example, Lay’s goal for year-over-year sales during the 2012 “Do Us A Flavor” campaign was three percent. The actual sales increase was 12 percent. 

Your should also tailor your goals to your business needs. Say you want to gain brand awareness and customer loyalty: One way to measure that is to set a goal for increased customer retention. If you’re trying to generate 1,000 new customers, figure out how many leads you’ll need and when you’ll need them. You might find it easier to start with annual goals and work backward to determine the amount and kinds of campaigns you need to generate those leads during the year. The more detailed the goals are when you create the program, the easier it is to measure progress and see which campaigns produce the highest return.

With clear goals, you can create a campaign to capture and measure results, and also identify the resources you need to meet those goals. Some examples of goals include:

  • To improve branding to increase awareness of your company, product and/or services
  • To determine a measurement for direct sales, such as the number of units sold. Will you measure profit or net revenue?
  • To qualify leads so you can follow up with potential customers based on their timeframe and likelihood of buying
  • To nurture existing leads, reminding them of your value and offering information to move them along the sales funnel
  • To encourage current customers to buy related products or services
  • To encourage current customers to upgrade their existing product, to increase the quantity or frequency of their purchases

Step Two: Define Your Audience

When validating goals and tactics, keep your audience top-of-mind. Who are you targeting and what sort of campaign will resonate with that group? Defining your audience will help you speak directly to them, and you will improve your response rate if your marketing campaign is relevant and meaningful to them. Here are some ways to define, categorize and segment your audience. 

Stages in the marketing funnel or customer journey mapping: Where do people interact with your business? What do you want them to do next? 


Audience Demographics: You can tailor marketing campaigns to target demographic information such as age, sex, income level, race, employment, location, home ownership, and level of education. Other demographics can group people by hobbies, lifestyle, and more. For example, you may want to target Millennials (born 1980-2000), a group with defined buying patterns and characteristics.

Customer Profiles: Use surveys, quizzes, or purchase history to learn about your customers’ interests and behaviors. Once you know their preferences, you can target offers and products to them.

Step Three: Identify Your Marketing Campaign Tools

A marketing campaign connects the company to your audience. One you’ve identified your goals and your audience, you need to pinpoint the best ways to reach them. Tools range from a blitz of TV commercials to brochures to social media campaigns. While you may not be able to afford a multi-million dollar ad campaign, you can still create effective marketing with a range of tactics. The trick is to select the platforms that will best meet your goals and audience needs. 

Don’t limit yourself to one medium. Today’s customers seamlessly go from mobile to desktop to retail and more. Your campaign should reach them across the customer journey. An omnichannel marketing campaign approach uses a combination of platforms to reach customers.

Overview of Features for Different Marketing Tools
Print Advertisements in newspapers or magazines, as well as newsletters, flyers, brochures and catalogs.
Radio Radio offers local reach and repetition, but no visual element. Peak time spots get the attention (and imagination) of those who are listening
Television TV offers visual stimulation and creativity. Words, picture, and sound must work together to create a memorable campaign. These ads can be targeted locally or broadcasted on a regional or national scale.
Events and Trade Shows Many trade shows offer displays in an exhibit hall, allowing you to connect with your audience and potential customers, as well as demonstrate your product. Other in-person events include invitation-only special experiences or open meet-ups that you can host at your location or at sites around the country.
Outdoor Media These campaigns can include promotion on billboards, ads on park benches, bus shelters and newspaper racks or in subways cars and taxis, as well as ads wrapped around cars, buses, and trucks.
Inbound Marketing Use these campaigns to draw new people to your company, even before they are ready to buy your product or service. The content for this medium creates brand awareness and can include content marketing, blog posts, events, and social media.
Forms and Surveys Learn more about your audience (and the perception of your brand) by asking questions and gathering data. You can collect product feedback, create and refine personas of your potential customers, and understand buyer behavior.
Landing Page The first page your audience visits is your best chance to convince them you are worth their time, attention, and money. Use this page to get their information on a form, start a conversation, or lead them to a product offer.
Microsites These host online content that reside outside your company’s URL. Use microsites to offer more information about a special product or service, or to reach a niche audience.
Blog Post Shorter articles on your website are a powerful way to connect with your customers and potential customers. You can provide product information, with links to the page with step-by-step instructions, FAQs, and an order form. Show your authority by talking about trends in your industry. Offer readers a peek into your plans for future products to start generating interest in what’s ahead.
Video Videos build brand recognition, can offer quick how-tos on using your product, or share engaging testimonials from your customers.
Contest Build your following, and your database, by offering prizes for various activities. People can share a story, submit an entry, vote for their favorite item, and more. With every submission, you can collect more information about who they are and their experiences with your products and offerings.
User-generated Content Put your marketing in the hands of your customers by letting them create and share photos, tweets, videos, testimonials, and more.
Ebook Build your authority and establish your credibility with this in-depth content. Ebooks can go beyond a blog post with the details about your company, your products, and highlight your brand. They can also be segments and repurposed into blog posts, social media and other marketing channels.
Telemarketing Make calls to targeted lists of customers, potential patrons, or purchased lists, to learn more about their experience with your brand or determine where they are in the buying cycle.
Direct Mail These printed pieces can introduce your product to targeted prospects or lists of potential customers based on specific demographic information.

Messages delivered to people’s inbox can serve a variety of functions:

Newsletters provide a regular update of your company and its products and can help you evaluate which products are the most (or least) popular.

Nurture (or drip) campaigns guide people through the sales process with a series of ways they can learn more about your product and take action.

Autoresponder emails are sent in an automated sequence based on the response of the person who receives each message.

Sales nurturing emails build a relationship with your prospective customers and move them through the sales funnel. For example, a person may fill out a form on your site requesting information. They receive an email about your product that can be followed with a special offer to buy.

Snackable emails are short, shareable messages designed for on-the-go customers.

Invitations extend an offer for people to register and attend an event, or try a product or service.

Identifier emails place customers on the sales funnel. You will know their level of interest based on the links they click on.
Publicity Build awareness of new products and services through promotional channels such as a news release that is picked up by local media organizations.
Interactive Ads and Web Banners Online ads offer engaging graphics and distinct calls-to-action, with analytics about how many people see and respond to your campaign.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Search engines use an ever-changing set of criteria to list relevant web pages when someone enters a search term. While the specific criteria change, you can help your content be more accessible if you offer relevant, engaging information on those topics.
Paid Search, Bidding/Clicking Optimization

You can buy "paid" or "sponsored" listings on search engines so that your content appears prominently when people type in the keywords you've bid on.


Step Four: Identify the Resources and Responses

Whatever the size of the company, make sure you’ve got the resources to handle the response to your marketing campaign. How will you monitor traffic to your site, order fulfillment, website content, comments, and more? If you are asking people to sign up for a newsletter, make sure you have the resources to manage the list and that the newsletter is regularly delivered. Do people want a software demo? Assign someone to coordinate those follow-ups.

Step Five: Create a Budget That Fits Your Campaign Needs and Strategy

Your budget should include all the costs associated with your marketing campaign: advertising expense, staff salaries, web hosting, media buys, and content creation. However, remember that larger marketing campaign budgets do not always guarantee success. Rather, the budget should align with your goals. Here are some approaches to consider: 

Arbitrary Allocation: Managers set the budget at the level they think the firm can afford or the amount that they think should be spent.

  • Advantage: Managers make educated guesses based on their expertise and past experience.
  • Disadvantage: These allocations can be arbitrary and only as good as the people making the decisions. 

Percentage of Sales: The budget is based on a percentage of total sales. For example, a company may decide to budget 10 percent of its total sales for marketing.

  • Advantage: This is an easy way to calculate your budget.
  • Disadvantage: Without previous data, it can be difficult to accurately set the percentage of sales. 

Objective and Task: Once you’ve identified the objectives and tasks of your campaign, this budget estimates the cost for each task.

  • Advantage: The budget is tailored to what is important to your company and customized to your campaign.
  • Disadvantage: This method works best if you have a lot of data about your business processes. It requires multiple calculations to link objectives with tasks and company priorities.

Meet the Competition: Spend the same amount as your competitors.

  • Advantage: If you’re unsure how much to spend, you can use your competitor’s spending as your guideline.
  • Disadvantage: It’s not easy to find out what the competition is spending. At the same time, they base their decisions on factors (sales, profits, size) that may not apply to your company.

 Once you determine your budget, you can use any of these 12 free marketing budget templates to start planning.

Step Six: Create Your Marketing Content

Your customers — and the people you want to become your customers — are flooded with messages every day. In a crowded media marketplace, your content has to grab their attention. Here are some points to consider:

Find content that resonates. What type of content that you’ve done is popular? What failed? What are the topics your audience is talking about: in blog comments, on customer support, on social media?

Deliver valuable content. Share information with your audience that tells the more than specific product or service details, but also about the marketplace for your business. Be informative and helpful about how your product sits in the larger space.

Keep your content focused. Your goal is to move customers one step at a time. Don’t tell them about all your products. Tell them about one at a time, with a clear call to action about what step you want them to take next.

Brainstorm a lot of ideas. Make sure to organize and prioritize the ideas by those that have the most potential and define the scope. Don’t spend a lot of time with ideas that you don’t have the time or money to actually create.

Personalize your content. If you know which products and services appeal to certain customers, you can target future campaigns specifically. Maybe they’ve shown an interest in patio furniture in the past, whether they’ve shopped online or filled out a survey in your retail store. When you introduce a new product line, you can target email and direct-mail brochures to that segment of your audience.

Your content should be easy to find. If your content doesn’t surface when using a search engine, then it won’t matter how much time you spend writing and designing a campaign. Consider using SEO tactics, but stay focused on your audience. When you are relevant to your customers, your company will be easier to find through search engines.

Download from a wide selection of free content marketing templates to support your content marketing efforts.

Step Seven: Create and Monitor Your Workflow and Timetable

None of the great ideas in the world will garner success unless you identify who is going to be accountable for executing each step of your campaign. Who will do the writing and design? Who will send the emails and social posts? Who will approve the work as it’s being done? You should diagram the workflow so everyone can see what they are responsible for and what steps depend on the work of others.

Marketing campaigns don’t stop once content is created. Also identify who will fulfill orders, respond to customer service questions, and monitor comments on your site or feedback received via email. All these elements must work smoothly together for your campaign to be a success.

Your workflow should also set specific deadlines. For big projects, it also helps to set due dates for smaller pieces of the work, including outlines, drafts, and final content. Make sure to include time in your schedule for approvals and revisions. Set the launch date of your campaign and work backward to determine the dates for completing elements in order to hit your target.

Step Eight: Test and Evaluate Your Marketing Campaign

Even the smallest of marketing campaigns is not finished once you’ve hit “send.” Before you start the major rollout, you can test variables with a smaller audience. Which subject line gets the highest open rate? Which wording in your call to action (CTA) gets the most clicks to your site? Limit your testing to one variable at a time, otherwise you won’t know which one is generating the intended response.

Testing helps you see trends, and potential trouble spots, before you spend your entire budget on your campaign. Keep the testing cycle going throughout your campaign. Monitor your response rates and ROI with each element you roll out. Compare your results with the goals established at the start of your campaign to see what’s working and what needs improvement. Are you on track to get the number of Facebook likes you wanted? Are you meeting your revenue projections? Continuous monitoring ensures you against surprise failures at the end of the campaign. Regular updates give you the flexibility to adjust your campaign as it progresses, rather than scramble for success in the waning days.

Step Nine: Map the Customer Journey

Customers move from retail stores to mobile ads, to social media posts to desktop computers continually. Your campaign should be able to track where they start on their journey and where they actually complete their purchase (or stop looking).

You can create unique URLs in your social and web content to track which ones generate clicks. You can use unique phone numbers in print and broadcast ads to see which ones get the most calls. Once they’ve shown an interest in your product, personalize your content to follow them from platform to platform. Did they show an interest in a new kind of ice cream? Email a coupon to get them to try it, or use this information to generate new leads with a two-for-one offer.

For additional resources, visit "Free Marketing Campaign Templates and Guide."

What Tools Should You Consider for Marketing Campaign Management?

Even simple marketing campaigns can feel daunting. According to eMarketer, senior marketers say their biggest challenges are lack of time and resources. From setting goals and identifying the audience, to choosing marketing channels, to creating content and tracking ROI, many marketing managers struggle to stay ahead of the constant grind and create compelling, successful campaigns.

 One option is to use an agency to create and track your marketing campaign. In addition to managing the campaign, agencies can be objective in tracking your results. They also bring outside creativity that can improve your marketing materials. Here are some factors to consider when choosing an ad agency:

  • Who else does the agency represent? Make sure the agency isn’t also working for your competition (this is information they should readily disclose).
  • What services do they offer? If you want to implement a certain strategy (such as targeted email), does this agency have the expertise to create and implement the campaign?
  • How big is the agency? You may get less creativity and diversity from a smaller agency, but it also may cost less.
  • How much do they charge? Does your budget allow for the cost of hiring an outside agency?

How Marketing Campaign Management Software Can Help

Even with clear goals, messaging, and workflow, managing all the moving parts of a campaign can be overwhelming. Many marketing teams use a complicated network of spreadsheets, calendars, Word documents, and meetings to track campaigns. Fortunately, marketing automation and collaboration software can help. You can use these tools to create workflows, schedule the components of your campaign, track response rates, segment your audience, personalize your messaging, and analyze your results.

 Choosing the right project management software is as critical as identifying the right medium and message to reach your audience. You need technology that will handle your campaign so you can focus on strategic success. There are a range of marketing campaign software features. Which should you consider for your business?


Download Checklist Here

How to Choose the Best Marketing Campaign Tools For Your Organization

One of the first choices to make is how much software you need and whether you can develop it in-house or contract with a service. Software as a Service (SaaS) plans are ready-made platforms that have been built and tested by the vendor and the other clients who use them. They are typically faster to implement and easy to use, and the provider handles technical support and updates. Costs include the implementation fees, maintenance costs (monthly or yearly), and upgrades.

If you choose to develop something on-premise, you may not get all the tools that a service bureau or vendor can provide, but you can limit development to the tools you need. However, you also limit your ability to grow the capacity of your software if you rely on on-premise developers and IT specialists.

Ask yourself these questions before deciding:

  • How often do you conduct marketing campaigns and how many people are you targeting?
  • How complex are your campaigns? How many marketing channels are you using and how are you tracking your goals?
  • How many people need access to your marketing campaign software?
  • What platforms are you currently using? Can you upgrade your existing tools? What expertise do you have in-house to develop the programs you need?
  • What other systems need to be integrated with your marketing software? Do you need a content management system? How will the system work with your customer database? How will you track other marketing channels such as print, events, and broadcast efforts?

Multi-Channel Marketing and Lead Tracking

Multi-channel marketing automation is the key to identifying prospective clients and reacting to your customers. Smart multi-channel marketing uses a continuous cycle of messaging and interaction that builds long-term loyalty and engagement with your product.

It allows you to use all technology channels (web, video, social, mobile, email, and more) to promote your product and offerings, and schedule initiatives driven by date or other factors. Additionally, it includes triggers that automatically follow their behavior with responses to drive them to the next step in the sales funnel. This process lets you know where you first attract potential customers and prospective clients.

Multi-channel software automation helps you refine your campaign planning methods, track response rates, and measure your results. It’s also the key to scoring your potential customers or sales leads. To discover what features you need in multi-channel marketing automation, ask:

  • How do you engage your leads promptly?
  • How do you measure or score your leads to identify the ones with the most potential?
  • How do you track quality leads across your marketing channels?
  • How do you communicate these leads to your sales team?
  • How do you nurture these leads?
  • How do you measure or score these leads?
  • How do you track the data for all your leads?
  • How do you maintain and update your contact database?
  • How do you choose customer records and personalize your campaign?

 Content Creation Tools and Software

Relevant, engaging content is the key to your effective marketing. How can software automation help with creating the types of content you need? Here are some elements to consider:

  • Standard web page templates that create elegant page designs for dynamic campaigns
  • The ability to easily update content, images, and other assets
  • The ability to host digital assets
  • Workflow to write, edit, publish, and update campaign content
  • The ability to localize and personalize content based on previous consumer behavior
  • Publish to mobile and social channels
  • The ability to subscribe to email updates and newsletters within websites, blog posts, and other online content
  • Drag-and-drop functionality to create pages and WSYIWYG editors
  • The ability to import pages with web technologies such as HTML and CSS

 Email Automation

Email lets you deliver targeted message to existing and potential customers. It is a critical step in the sales funnel and you should integrate automated email workflows into your marketing campaigns. For example, as people complete a form on your website, add them to a relevant email distribution list so they get updates about your products and services. Software features for email automation include:

  • Email templates and other digital assets that offer brand consistency
  • The ability to personalize emails
  • The ability to segment, track, and optimize email
  • The ability to simulate email clients and other variables
  • The ability to automate follow-up emails based on the customer’s actions through the sales funnel
  • The ability to create lists or segments so you can track signups and send relevant messages about your offerings
  • The ability to schedule emails rather than manually queue up your messaging

 Social Media Marketing Software Tools

Social media can promote brand awareness and build your company’s reputation. With so many social media platforms, software can help you manage multiple accounts as well as prepare, schedule, publish and archive your posts. To find out if you need social media management tools, ask:

  • Which social media platforms do you use?
  • Which social media outlets help you generate leads and customers?
  • Where do you spend the most time in social media marketing?
  • How do you track and access your company’s accounts?
  • How do you schedule and automate posts in each platform and account?
  • How do you evaluate the success of each platform in your campaign?
  • How do you monitor social media feedback about your product or company?

Testing Your Marketing Campaign

A/B testing is a method of comparing two versions of a web page, email, or social post to determine which performs better. For example, you might test the location of the CTA on your web page using the exact text that appears in an email or Facebook post. The results quantify what works and what doesn’t with your targeted audience. Consider software that gives you results, preferably in a visual format such as a dashboard, has an interface that’s easy to use, and integrates with your existing marketing campaign management software.

Reports and Analytics

The right metrics tell you if your campaign is on the right track, so you need to put the proper analytics in place to measure and understand your ROI. Above all, analytics give you an edge over your competitors. A marketing campaign can be tweaked based on your analytics reports. Remember, however, to give every platform time to show results. Digital marketing has immediate results, while print and broadcast ads require more rotation to drive sales. Analytics can tell you:

  • How many people your campaign reaches
  • Website activity such as time spent on site and the most popular content
  • Customer preference and trends
  • Which products and services are most popular
  • Which content is most effective in generating sales
  • How many people move through each phase of the sales funnel, and where people drop off
  • How each element of your marketing campaign is performing

 Analytics reports can be used for all the components of your marketing campaign: audience segmentation, content development, email automation, multi-channel communication, and message personalization. Look for software that creates dashboards to help you easily understand and share relevant data.

 A final benefit of analytics is tracking the time and money spent on each phase of your campaign. This gives you a realistic picture of the return on each phase of your investment, which you can then use to create the budget for future marketing campaigns.

 Support and Training

As you consider marketing campaign software, ask what training and support each platform provides. Be sure to ask what training is included in the installation and implementation fees and what additional training and support would cost. Training and support can include: 

  • Classroom training with an instructor
  • Virtual training led by an instructor
  • Self-paced online training
  • Webinars to demonstrate new features and software
  • Chat rooms for customer support
  • Phone support where you can talk with training staff

 Overall, formal training will help you best leverage the functions and features of new software. Down the road this will save you time and increase productivity.

Hold a Post Mortem to Review Your Marketing Campaign

When the campaign is completed, review all your results. Meet with your team so they can all learn from one another, and take notes to document your discussion and action steps. Remember, this isn’t a meeting where you play the blame game. Instead, a post moretm is about learning how to run more successful campaigns in the future. Ask these questions: 

  • What worked?
  • What needs improvement?
  • What would you do differently?
  • What can you apply to your next campaign?
  • What did you learn about your audience?

The Future of Marketing Campaign Management

The future of marketing will be predictive. As marketing campaign software becomes more sophisticated, it will create an even more personalized consumer experience by anticipating what will influence a customer and deliver it at the best time.

Multi-channel marketing will be based on a 360-degree view of your customer interactions. Smarter analytics will be delivered in real-time. Not only will you be able to track what and when people buy, but the next generation of software will also predict their next purchases and customize their consumer experience.

Imagine machine learning-powered automation, referred to as artificial intelligence (AI), that can learn and grow with your company. AI not only collects information, but also understands the rules for using the information and reaching conclusions about the data. It can crunch enough data to make better decisions than any person can, and can be used to help determine what will create future growth. Imagine a fully-connected consumer who receives uniquely personalized communication and offers who will interact with your company through phones, tablets, and wearables. Smarter software will integrate your clients so closely with your business that they may not shop anywhere else.


Acquiring, growing, and retaining customers will be tougher to achieve in an always on, ADD world. It will require true augmented intelligence, wherein humans and machines use customer insights to deliver personalized marketing messages that move customers to act or buy.

But while customers feel special when they receive personalized messaging, privacy will become a bigger issue going forward. Some consumers will be unwilling to provide any data, regardless of the benefits. Others (usually younger consumers) will appreciate the utility of frictionless experiences and embrace the idea of giving up more data for better service. This means that marketers will need to measure campaigns not only on their financial success and ability to create awareness, but also on their ability to provide great experiences without alienating consumers.

Improve Marketing Campaigns with Smartsheet for Marketing

The best marketing teams know the importance of effective campaign management, consistent creative operations, and powerful event logistics -- and Smartsheet helps you deliver on all three so you can be more effective and achieve more. 

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed.

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time. Try Smartsheet for free, today.



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