The 2023 Comprehensive Guide to set up a Campaign Management function.
Why don’t enterprise brand marketing campaigns on Google and Facebook automatically boost your sales? Especially if you are not selling generic candy. But selling products and services that are “considered” or “researched” purchases, like financial services or a car.
Because campaigns run on the big daddies (big brother?) still need to run the gamut of the converse-convince-convert cycle with customers. The sales cycle for “introspective” (as against “impulsive”) brands passes multiple stages. Your audience sees the ads, clicks them, and hopefully shows interest by entering contact details. After this, your brand must woo them. Through multiple emails, text messages, website promotions, and voice calls. Convincing them to buy.
The wooing continues past the conversion. After the first-time sale, you engage customers by anticipating and fulfilling their desires, so they remain loyal to the brand. Again, over multiple channels. Continuously. For life. Much like marriage. Or any long-term relationship.
This process of periodically communicating with your prospects and customers across multiple channels is called a campaign. And software that helps manage such campaigns is, rather ingeniously, called a campaign management platform.
This brand-new, up-to-date guide is about implementing a Campaign Management Platform. If you are an enterprise brand looking to set up a campaign management platform from scratch, or have one that is sub-optimal to your needs, this guide is valuable.
We walk the talk: This guide is exhaustive. It starts by answering, “Should I? What if I don’t?” questions. It discusses best practices for selecting a platform, deployment type, vendor, vendor vs managing partner arguments, etc. Right up to what to expect if your implementation is screwed up, and suggestions for fixing it. Importantly, how to get it right the first time.
This guide draws from Xerago’s wisdom gained over 17 years of implement marketing automation platforms and managing campaigns for 100+ enterprise brands. Not the standard stuff you find scattered all over.
Who doesn’t want actionable techniques to improve customer acquisition, engagement, drive portfolio growth or build customer loyalty? If you want to set up a campaign management platform to do this, read on.
Basics of Campaign Management
What is Campaign Management?
Long sentence alert!! Campaign management is the process of planning, prioritizing, developing, executing, and optimizing marketing campaigns across channels targeted at acquiring new customers, and growing value from existing ones.
The campaign management function is set up with a campaign management platform. Also known variously as marketing automation platform, enterprise campaign management platform, enterprise marketing management platform, or marketing cloud. But, same difference, as they say.
Gartner prefers “Multi-channel Marketing Hub”, nicknamed “MMH”. Defined as,
“A technology that orchestrates a company's communications with and offers to customer segments across multiple channels. These include websites, mobile, social, direct mail call centers, paid media and email. MMH capabilities may also extend to integrating marketing offers/leads with sales for execution in both B2B and B2C environments.”
Why is Campaign Management Important?
For most businesses, revenue opportunities are spread throughout the customer life cycle. Even from a customer acquisition perspective, conversion of prospects to customers involves a series of convincing interactions.
Secondly, new customer acquisition is just one stream of revenue. Erratic at best. But in most part, a first-time customer is the beginning of an extended relationship. Enterprise brands keep this relationship vibrant through sustained customer interaction. Using relevant, contextual, and timely communication. Being careful all the time to not be labeled a spammer. And herein lies the nub. All this is easier said than done.
Imagine engaging hundreds of thousands of customers. Walking the fine line between keeping them interested, and not having them feel they are being stalked or badgered. This takes some doing.
Thankfully, enterprise campaign management platforms can automate these workflows. (They even come with tweakable “annoyance” thresholds!) So, you can focus on the fun part of crafting persuasive marketing messages. Rather than sweat the mechanics of it.
Setting up the Campaign Management Infrastructure
B2B vs B2C Campaign Management
The first question to answer before considering a campaign management platform is - are you a B2C or B2B brand? The dynamics of managing campaigns differ for each. And so do the features offered.
B2B campaigns skew towards acquisition. B2C campaigns span the customer life cycle.
B2C brands will have many more customers than a comparable B2B brands.
Consequently, B2C focused campaign platforms are built to engage with large volumes of customers, at multiple points across their life cycle.
Though the consequences of choosing the wrong type of platform are disastrous, it’s not difficult to do it right. Platform vendors usually tell you upfront.
For instance, Adobe’s Marketo and Salesforce’s Pardot, are clearly labeled B2B marketing automation platforms, and marketed to B2B professionals.
This guide will only cover B2C campaign management. Why? Because that’s what we are good at. 😊
Choosing the Right Campaign Management Platform
Most enterprise campaign management platforms are based on similar foundational principles. And offer comparable features. So how do you choose?
The basic considerations for choosing a campaign management platform are:
- Commercial viability
Enterprise campaign management platforms are pricey, with varying licensing models. Certain platforms require you to buy multiple modules to derive complete value. Check your MarTech budget.
- Choice of deployment
As an enterprise, think about the payoff between security and flexibility. An installation on your work premises is - all other things being equal - guaranteed for data security. An online “on the cloud” installation typically offers more flexibility.Some platforms offer both deployment options. Others don’t. Your preferred mode of deployment is a criterion.
Fit your existing marketing ecosystem
Different enterprises follow different marketing processes. Setting up a campaign management function involves streamlining these processes with existing systems. Don’t choose a platform whose implementation turns your existing marketing processes and tools upside down.
- Features and capabilities
At a functional level, make campaign management platform choices based on the availability of the following features and capabilities. This is a biggie.
The ability to build rules that define different segments for target audiences for different campaigns.
- Segment Management
The capacity to manage various segments globally.
- Data Source Connectivity
The ability to connect to various data sources with in-built link connectors.
- Journey Management
Journeys are lightweight campaigns where customers seamlessly enter and exit based on their actions or inactions. Choose a platform with an easy, intuitive drag-and-drop interface to create customer journeys.
- Support for Multiple Campaign Types
You may want to run several types of campaigns. Choose a platform with the ability and flexibility to run batch, real-time and ad hoc campaigns.
- Waterfall Count
The means to show the number of target audiences eligible for the campaign at the end of every rule filter. You need the ability to flex your filtering criteria on the fly.
- Omnichannel Communication
Your campaign management platform should be pre-built with email integration, flexibility to work with your existing email gateway and connectors to integrate all other digital channels such as text message, mobile push notification, website, social media, contact center, IVR, kiosks and any other 1:1 channel you may think of.
- Contact Governance
The “annoyance” threshold we talked about in the Intro? This is the ability to set a contact frequency cap and manage exceptions.
- Do Not Contact Management
This is the ability to manage audience communication preferences. Joined at the hip with communication frequency capping.
Check if your platform supports personalized fields in campaign communications. And if it has the provision to use anonymized PII.
- AB Testing
The ability to test variants before the full roll-out.
Defining a control group to validate how effective the campaign can be is an important pre-rollout feature.
- Offer Management
Check if the platform you are checking has features to manage offers and associate with campaigns. We are all suckers for a bargain.
- Marketing Resource Management
The ability to manage marketing campaign artefacts.
- Rich Reporting
This is essential. Can the platform generate business appropriate reports that go beyond opens and clicks? So that meaningful post-campaign diagnostics are possible.
Surround Systems in the Campaign Management Function
While the campaign management platform is the core of the campaign management function, no platform work in isolation. The platform needs to be integrated with upstream and downstream systems for making it work to its full potential.
- Data Warehouse / Datamart
Connecting individual data sources may be a bottleneck when you scale up. Campaign management platforms need multi-source data access to segment audiences. It is important that you aggregate data from all sources and provide analytically ready data to the campaign management platform. You need a data warehouse or a DataMart to get this done.
- Modelling Platform
Most campaigns are executed by segmenting customers on demographic, product ownership, and transactional history. But a time may come when you run campaigns on scored audience lists. For this, you would want a modeling platform.
- Inbound Marketing Platform
By default, most campaign management platforms support email outreach. To relay campaigns on inbound channels, such as website, ATM / kiosk, Mobile App etc., you need a platform / module that supports it.
- Omnichannel Communication Platform
Enterprise marketing campaigns relayed across multiple outbound channels are more effective than on a single channel like email. A platform should specifically support communication across other outbound channels, such as SMS, Push Notification, etc.
- Business Intelligence (BI) Platform
It’s about creating an effective feedback loop. Creating and executing campaigns is one thing. Not capturing customer responses as a basis for optimizing the next iteration is only seeing half the picture. If you are unable to do this from standard reporting templates, you may need to customize reports. And this needs a business intelligence platform.
- Data Management Platform
When second- and third-party data augments enterprise data, acquisition campaigns tend to be more effective. For better targeting, you may need a data management platform. This category of platforms may be dying as the death knell for third-party cookies has rung. It is wise to incorporate CDPs along with these platforms.
- Customer Data Platform (CDP)
Your audience interacts through multiple channels. The ability to establish identity and capture their behavior across these channels helps create a unified audience profile. A customer data platform enables this for improved campaign targeting.
- Digital Asset Management / Marketing Resource Management Platform
Marketing assets like e-mailers, SMS copy, mobile and web push notification creatives, and so on, are the inventory of any omnichannel campaign. To develop such assets and tag for reuse, you would need a Digital Asset Management / Marketing Resource Management Platform.
Campaign Management Deployment Options
Campaign management platforms are usually deployed on any of the following deployment options:
Your entire campaign management application and audience data resides on-site in your data center if you choose on-premises deployment. And so, typically bigger capex.
You also need a multi-functional team or partner to manage and maintain the platform. With ongoing programs for updates and upgrades to software and hardware, maintenance, and optimization. But this mode gives you greater control.
Cloud / Hosted Deployment
In a cloud/hosted deployment model, your campaign management application, as well as the audience data, are hosted in the platform vendor’s cloud. However, if your organizational policies forbid moving customers’ data outside your data center, this deployment mode is not an option. The next one may be.
Software and hardware updates, upgrades, maintenance, and optimization. Platform vendors themselves handle these things in a cloud/hosted deployment model. Takes away the bother and brings the opportunity to focus on your core areas.
With vendors deploying campaign management applications on the cloud, you can opt for a monthly subscription fee. So, the initial capex is not huge. But some vendors may insist on committing a minimum time.
And it’s not so straightforward for enterprise brands to integrate organization LDAP. LDAP allows hierarchical access to the platform based on roles. Cloud/hosted deployments may require customization to enable LDAP. As a marketer, you may care less about LDAP. But your IT team would care more.
In this type of deployment, all personally identifiable customer data reside on your premises, behind a firewall. The campaign management platform and the communication relaying module are in the vendor’s cloud.
Data for creating segments is stripped off personally identifiable information (PII) and encrypted, before being fed to the on-cloud campaign application for execution. Hybrid deployments are not as expensive as on-premises implementations.
Choosing the Right Deployment Type
Each deployment mode has its own pro-cons. How do you choose? Consider the following:
Can you make a one-time capex investment? Or maintain an ongoing op-ex investment?
Can your team or partner manage a complex ecosystem?
Do you have compliance regulations on the movement of data outside your data centres?
How do you want to handle communication relay? With the platform’s own modules or through other?
What other modules do you wish to buy, along with the campaign management module and their dependencies?
Procuring a campaign management platform
Now that you have a fix on platform deployment type, take the next step to procure it.
Its straightforward, really. Once you have a decent idea of your requirements, contact the platform vendor, validate how well the platform suits your requirements, and then directly buy it. Or invite a few platform vendors to make a pitch, and then choose.
Alternatively, as most enterprises do, detail your requirements, float an RFP to various campaign management platform vendors or marketing agencies.
So, you either buy the platform directly from a vendor and get implementation recommendations. Or you work with a campaign management partner competent to lead the procurement process on your behalf. Regardless of your choice, do get clarity on the following before initiating the procurement process.
- Expected number of platform users
How many members of your team are expected to use the platform? Now. A few years from now. This is important. Platforms have this as a component of the license fee.
- The number of environments
Ideally, as an enterprise, you have three environments, viz., development, staging and production. Often, just a staging and production environment may suffice. You need this information to finalize hardware requirements.
- Size of customer base
How many customer records do you have? What is the size of the active customer base? How do you expect this to grow in the next three to five years? Most vendors use this as a basis to price their platform license fee.
- Choice of data integration
How are you planning to feed data to the campaign management platform? Is the platform accessing individual data sources, or from a data lake, data warehouse, or data mart? Some vendors provide link connectors for various data sources. Have clarity on how many connectors you may need.
Do you want to buy only the main campaign management module? Or will you also need other package components that handle allied marketing functions as well? Platforms have core and ancillary functions. You don’t want to use an ancillary function for a core marketing activity. Think this through carefully
- Communication volume
The number of emails, text messages, push notifications, and other digital interactions that you expect to send. Most vendors have this as a pricing component. Thankfully, most also provide the flexibility to purchase additional interactions à la carte.
At this point, you are possibly unclear, or don’t have visibility needed. Or just not confident enough to do this on your own? The prudent route is to talk to an expert. Like Xerago.
Xerago, for instance, has implemented campaign management platforms for over 50 enterprise clients over 15+ years. So, we know the right questions to ask. And to question the answers. We understand your marketing goals and create the ecosystem to achieve them. Xerago is technically competent with the tools that convert marketing strategies into actionable campaigns.
Key Enterprise Campaign Management Platforms
These are a few major and comprehensive enterprise campaign management platforms:
These platforms are enterprise grade. Many enterprises have successfully deployed them in banking, insurance, telecom, retail, technology, and e-commerce spaces. But several others are available.
Implementing the Campaign Management Platform
The make-or-break point in your campaign management journey. Depending on who you are tying up with, your platform vendor, system integrator or marketing services agency will manage installation and subsequent implementation activities. So choose judiciously.
This is an overview of Xerago’s proprietary on-premises implementation. This process has a demonstrable record of success.
Let’s look at the stages.
- Analyze existing or newly acquired infrastructure for suitability and sufficiency.
- Recommend additional hardware, if required, depending on
- expected growth in business and volume of customer records.
- your responses to the factors mentioned in the previous section
- Technical configuration and installation.
- Integration of marketing channels.
Set up a new campaign process with clear demarcation of roles and responsibilities. This is a key step. Implementation of a campaign management platform is more than just a technical installation. The platform is made to seamlessly fit existing marketing processes. Or existing marketing processes are tweaked to accommodate the new system.
Development & Setup
In this phase, your partner develops and demonstrates a few campaigns end-to-end. So that you know everything is working to mandate. This is also when your team gets familiar with the campaign creation process on the new platform. As induction to managing campaigns on their own.
Testing & Training
Establish a User Acceptance Testing (UAT) framework. This is executed to demonstrate completion of the implementation activity. Your partner also creates and hands over training materials and assets. In addition, your team can create a campaign from start to finish to further acquaint themselves with how the new platform handles the campaign creation process.
Production Planning & Transition
Migrate the application from the development or UAT environment, to the production environment. Bottlenecks are identified and fixed at this point before the sign-off for production migration. The final activity in the implementation process. But partners are known to provide post-production support for pre-agreed time.
Channels integrated with the campaign management platform
A huge advantage of a campaign management platform is the ability to engage audiences across all digital channels.
Most campaign management platforms come with native email and SMS gateways. And ready-made connectors for a few other channels. But not anywhere close to the number of channels you need to reach customers through. Here is a non-exhaustive list.
Technically, most enterprise campaign management platforms can integrate as many channels as your campaigns need. Give you the chance to stagger communications over several channels. Reduce communication fatigue. Just make sure your partner has the competence to do this seamlessly.
Some platforms have separate modules for inbound and outbound channels. When documenting the technical and functional requirements, mention what you need. So, you get a comprehensive solution.
Choosing the Right Campaign Management Partner
The choice of partner significantly impacts returns from investments in campaign management infrastructure. Choose carefully.
A partner with full spectrum campaign management capabilities - consulting, procurement, implementation, technical maintenance, functional maintenance, and BAU campaign operations support – has the best chance of generating the kind of returns you want.
How do you judge a competent partner? Here are some indicative parameters.
Experience of 10 or more implementations on different campaign management platforms.
Experience of 5+ years on the platform you are considering to buy.
Provided campaign managed services for 10+ enterprise brands.
Of which at least one is from your industry. This is important. The partner should be capable of foreseeing potential issues when planning the implementation.
Understanding of marketing, with marketing solutions as part of core offerings.
Demonstrated ability to tweak marketing processes and fit in the newly procured marketing automation platform.
You should know that Xerago ticks all the boxes. Just saying.
Working with a campaign management partner - models of engagement
There are four ways to engage with your campaign management partner.
- Implementation Only
You procure directly from the platform vendor. The partner only implements it for you.
- Turnkey Implementation
You pass the responsibility of procurement and installation to a partner. You manage the campaigns yourself.
- Managed Services
You pass the entire responsibility of procurement, installation, technical maintenance, administration, and campaign management operations to the partner.
- Build Operate Transfer
The partner builds the entire campaign management infrastructure, manages it for a specific period, say 3 years, and then hands over the entire infrastructure along with the resources.
We recommend you go with Managed Services model or a Build Operate Transfer model. Everyone comes up trumps with a Managed Services model.
What is Campaign Management platform implementation failure?
If you opt for a hosted or managed campaign management solution, the partner handles the entire implementation. Including fixing the glitches.
But you run the risk of sub-optimal or even failed implementation by choosing a system integrator over an established marketing partner. Despite the integrator’s assurances to the contrary. Especially for on-premises implementation.
A campaign management platform implementation has failed when the marketing team cannot execute campaigns at scale, even after procuring a campaign management platform.
This problem is almost endemic. Many large global enterprise brands have faced the ordeal of failed implementations. In our experience, these are the top reasons for potential failures in campaign management platform implementation. With our recommended solutions.
Prevent failures in Campaign Management Platform Implementation
A dollar of prevention is worth a C-Note of cure. A stitch in time saves embarrassment. Measure twice, cut once. Only truisms become cliches. You'd rather prevent problems than fix them after they arise.
Here is a quick guide on how to prevent a campaign management platform implementation failure.
- Suppose you procure directly from the platform vendor. And then use separate vendors for implementation, and for campaign support, respectively. You may want to consider the following options
- Engage in a turnkey project with tightly defined acceptance criteria.
- Engage in a Build, Operate, and Transfer (BOT) model with a partner who already has such experience.
- Engage in a Managed Services model, where the entire platform and campaign management functions are your partner's responsibility.
Ironically, this is a situation where it pays to have all your eggs in one basket. It beats having multiple partners shift blame to the other for your travails. We are strong advocates of the one-neck-to-choke principle.
But, hey! Different strokes for different folks. If you still want to go with different partners for implementation and campaign support, you may want to ensure the following:
Identify about five complex use cases for the vendor to demonstrate on the platform. Define the use-cases as rigid acceptance criteria for implementation. Make them comprehensive. For instance:
Connecting and consuming data from multiple sources
Demonstrating complex logic to select a target audience and
Execution across all channels with personalized information
Scope of implementation includes the start-to-finish execution of at least three campaigns by your campaign team. The implementation partner validates your team for process adherence. And also suggest improvements, if any.
Surround System Integration
The scope of implementation extends to the integration of all data sources and channels. Usually, implementation partners try to limit their scope to integration to email and mobile channels, citing execution timelines. Be clear and firm in defining the scope.
Ensure the scope of implementation includes implementation of best delivery practices, and recommendations for ongoing deliverability management.
Campaign Operations Team
Set it up with resources from your marketing / campaign teams, and your partner’s team. So, your team can learn the nuances while on the job.
Why did we publish this guide?
At a subversive’s training camp, the suicide bombing instructor, all strapped up with explosives and thumb on detonator, tells a class of students – Pay attention y’all! I’m only going to show you this once.
Setting up campaign management infrastructure is complex. With disproportionately large consequences of failure. You get only one shot at doing it right.
You need to get all four things right. (1) Define your current requirements. (2) Define growth paraments that drive your needs for the foreseeable future. (2) Procure a campaign management platform which meets all that at the best price point. (4) Implement it right.
In our experience, most enterprises need help with (1), (2) and (4). Points (1) and (2) cover the introspective process of defining scope. Our guide suggests the questions to ask. Knowing the questions is half the battle won. It suggests the breath of technical and functional areas to focus on.
Our guide also talks about implementation failures. Point (4). Because even when your platform is procured after painstaking needs-analysis, botched implementations are all too common. The strength and agility of your marketing workflows live and die on the altar of implementation.
The process is complex. And if you didn’t know better, partners with little idea or interest in your existing marketing systems and workflows, will install features and modules more to tick off the completion sheet, than to have them work at full potential.
Which is why most enterprises have an expert partner manage the whole process, start to finish. Though this is the more expensive option, the incremental cost pays off over the first batch of campaigns. And there is demonstrable value for money.
Xerago is one such agency. We primarily offer managed marketing solutions. Many such mandates use our expertise to procure, successfully implement, and maintain campaign infrastructure. And fix faulty implementations. Streamline the campaign management processes.
Our interests are aligned with that of the client. Because we use the same implemented platform to run campaigns and other managed solutions. And get paid for meeting mutually decided marketing goals. Doing a fantastic job is not a choice. At Xerago, it’s built into our business model.
Setting up campaign management infrastructure is only the beginning of the journey The sooner we get your operations in business-as-usual (BAU) mode, and move to managing campaigns at scale, the better it is for all concerned. This is the proof of the pudding. This is what maximizes value from, and for customers. This is what drives ROI.
But that’s another process. For another time. We will cover it in the next piece.
Check this for more on Xerago’s Campaign Management offerings.