Post-campaign analysis (PCA) – How to review a marketing campaign’s effectiveness

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Five components of a winning post-campaign analysis dashboard

The process of setting up, brainstorming, planning and ultimately delivering a digital campaign is an exhausting, challenging yet fun and extremely rewarding process, especially once the campaign goes live and you can witness first hand the fruits of your labour. However, every digital campaign must at some point come to an end and there is always one final step in the process: the post-campaign analysis (PCA).

Every company, brand or agency will approach the end of a campaign differently, with some going into detail and others taking a much broader view. However whilst digital campaigns can be quite simple and straightforward, perhaps with maybe just one or two channels, others may be more complex and multifaceted. I, therefore, believe it’s always best to err on the side of detail so that you can get a true picture of how different elements of a campaign performed in the context of the overall campaign objective. The main advantages of running a PCA include:

  • Understand what elements of the campaign worked well/ not so well
  • Learn how the target audience responded to the campaign
  • Review ultimate effectiveness of the campaign versus objectives
  • Discuss the campaign with key stakeholders
  • Provide valuable learnings for future campaigns

Because digital campaigns vary so wildly, I’m going to use this article to provide an overview of what in my experience are the most important components to include within a post-campaign analysis dashboard. This can be useful for in-house marketing teams or for discussion with supporting agency partners to create something that works for everyone.

If you’re either creating or initiating a PCA, I would also advise that you arrange a meeting or forum to discuss the outputs of the report. By all means, send the report out in advance as a pre-read but it’s usually best to get all the key stakeholders together as a group to discuss the campaign results.

Key steps and components

1. Review the campaign’s strategy and objectives

As a first priority, it’s crucial to set the right context and tone for the post-campaign analysis (PCA). At the starting point it will be important to provide a brief overview of the campaign’s strategy and objectives:

Campaign strategy and objectives

Being crystal clear about what the brand was ultimately looking to achieve with the campaign will enable those involved in the PCA to associate the results with desired outcomes and make better sense of the data.

Rather than waiting for a big reveal, it’s also advisable to include an executive summary at an early stage in the report to indicate whether the campaign successfully met the objectives it set out to achieve. Whether this is ultimately good news or not, it helps prime the audience for the right discussions throughout.

2. Overview of the campaign’s creative approach

Articulating the campaign’s general theme and approach is useful to provide some colour as to how the campaign was executed and delivered to prospects and customers. It provides consumers of the PCA with useful perspective which is useful when evaluating the results:

campaign theme timeline

Image source: http://www.searchermag.net/internet-advertising-timeline/

Within this section, it’s also useful to provide a snapshot of the timeline of activity so that everyone can see what was delivered and when over the course of the campaign.

3. Break down results by channel

Now you can start to go into more detail about how each element of the campaign performed. This will be the section most digital marketing specialists and brand managers will be interested in reviewing as it will go into specifics about all the different digital activity.

This section of the report should focus on:

  • Key channels
  • Channel objectives
  • Performance broken down by KPIs and metrics

To give you an idea as to how this could be structured I’ve used the following channels to demonstrate how this section of the PCA can be constructed:

Social

It’s likely that social media will be used primarily as a paid channel to drive reach and awareness. Organic social creative principles are still very important but it’s worth remembering that organic reach, especially on Facebook, is very low/ non-existent.

Objective: build awareness

Metrics:

  • CPM/ CPVV (Cost per Valued View) – consider CPVV versus different content durations
  • Percentage of target audience reached – how effectively your ads are reaching the right people for your campaign
  • Frequency – the time advert served to someone across different channels
  • View thru rate – a measure of the percentage of the video watched)
  • Positive earned media – where people have shared your content positively
  • Brand buzz – relates to the number of conversations taking place around the brand involved in the campaign

Search

Search may include both paid and organic activity, however for specific digital campaigns it’s likely that there will be an emphasis on paid as this will be more targeted/ focused on campaign messaging and creative.

Objective: influence consideration and drive action

Metrics:

  • Quality score – the quality and relevance of your paid search landing page
  • Click-through rate – gauge how well your keywords and ads are performing by how many visitors actually click on the ads
  • Impressions – the number of times your ads are being viewed by searchers  
  • Average position – determines how your ad typically ranks versus other ads
  • Conversion rate – how many people who click on your ad go through to perform a desired action on your site

Website

Your website is likely to be the hub or centre-point of the campaign, bringing together key messaging, creative and conversion points for prospects and customers. Many brands look to develop specific campaign landing pages or microsites for their campaigns, enabling them to be more targeted and specific around campaign messaging.

Objective: drive action and engagement

Metrics:

  • Total traffic – macro view of how the campaign has driven traffic to the site
  • Traffic by channel – traffic to the site segmented by main campaign channels
  • Bounce rate – percentage of visitors who leave before performing a desired action
  • Conversions – a quantifiable measure of how visitors have performed a desired action
  • Data capture – quality of data obtained from visitors arriving at your site

4. Provide key take-outs

After providing a richer review of performance by channel it’s worth covering the main themes and take-outs from the report. This section (along with the executive summary at the start of the report) is likely to be of most interest to senior leaders and non-digital specialists.

campaign key takeaways

5. Recommendations for next steps

As a follow-on to the key take-outs section, the final section of the report should highlight the main recommendations for next steps:

  • Review results versus the plan – avoid getting channelled down the areas that look good. Remember that big learnings also come from failure
  • Analyse step-change learnings – this may include new channels and/ or formats, alongside continuous improvement learnings
  • Include lessons learned and recommendations for future campaigns – highlight successes and failures and elements that may require further testing and refinement



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