If you fail to plan, then you’re planning to fail. Follow our 4 A plan and you can’t go wrong!

Aims
targetWithout setting clear target and objectives you will never understand how successful your marketing activity is or what can be done to improve it next time. Consider what you want to achieve at the end of your campaign. What would perfect success look like? Are you looking to gain direct sales, grow your social media audience, generate leads, or improve your data capture?
It is not just these primary goals that you have to set but the secondary ones that might result from your campaign. For example, when driving online sales are you also considering data capture at an early stage if the potential buyer doesn’t complete the transaction, and are you spinning referrals following the transaction alongside signposting your social media channels? Finally, before moving on decide how you will measure these Aims and put the tracking tools in place.

Audience
audienceDefining your objectives above will have helped understand who your target audience is. And we’re not just talking age, location and gender. With the targeting tools now available online your marketing activity can be very precisely aimed at small potential user groups.
Facebook gathers information on interests, behaviours, education, income, ethnicity and others. Twitter allows targeting by interests, TV show engagement and behaviours. And Google AdWords campaigns allow targeting based on specific keyword searches.
Next you have to consider which advertising channels are most appropriate for your target audience. 90% of Instagram’s users are under 35 whilst Facebook continues to grow its 55+ market. Direct mail can generate a return for all age groups if the call-to-action is specific enough to the end user.

Action
actionWith objectives set and target audience defined now you have to plan and carry out your strategy. Consider what resources are needed both in time and direct costs. Fully commit to each marketing channel you choose, for example, if you’re planning a Facebook advert, then craft an attractive image(s) to accompany the advert, choose keywords that will capture the potential customer’s eye, setup tracking pixels to monitor conversions, create a landing page that achieves your objectives (data capture, sales, etc.) and decide on the metric that will define a successful advert.
Avoid leaving things too late. With most digital advertising you can schedule your campaigns weeks in advance leaving you time to setup offline advertising, brief your staff and fine-tune your enquiry procedures.

Assess
assessThis is the part of a marketing strategy that is often overlooked by the novice marketer. Not only does it help refine your next campaign but can shape your existing campaign as it happens. Only a few years ago we would have had to wait for enquiries to walk through our front doors and monitor ‘where they heard about us’ before deciding if our advertising had worked. Now we can login to Google Analytics or check out our Facebook Insights and see what is happening with our campaigns.
Using a url shortener such as bit.ly allows the tracking of clicks on particular links. Monitoring the click-throughs and open-rates on your email campaigns will produce a hot list of prospects.
But remember where we started; what were your original Aims? Have you been able to track success linked to your objectives? What will you do differently next time? Now go plan your next campaign.

John Leaver Head of Alliance Digital As Head of Alliance Digital, John is the go-to expert for all things digital and marketing.  With a passion for technology, gadgets and marketing John delivers exceptional insight into a quickly-changing and often confusing world of digital media channels. @JohnLeaver M: 07909988532