How to set campaign goals and allocate budget effectively

June 28, 2022

Whether you’re looking to generate qualified leads or raise brand awareness, your marketing campaigns are what make your brand stand out from the competition.

But even the most creative campaigns backed by big marketing budgets won’t succeed unless they are set and implemented correctly. In fact, getting good campaign results relies on a data-driven marketing strategy. 

Learning how to effectively set and track your marketing campaigns also enables better optimization — allowing you to reach your business goals and increase revenue. 

So, where to begin? Set yourself and your campaigns up for success with our proven best practices below.

Three steps for setting successful digital marketing campaigns

Step 1: Set the correct goals for your campaigns 

As a marketer, there are several aspects to consider during the goal-setting stage.

Define your audience: Who do you want to reach? Your audience should be targeted and focused. Build marketing personas around location, age, and job. Find out their needs and pain points, and establish how your product or service can help solve their problems. 

Tip: The more specific you are with targeting, the easier you’ll be able to define key messaging and create tailored content for your campaign. The same messaging won’t apply to different personas. For example, buying groups in scientific organizations are diverse and require multi-target campaigns. Our targeting strategy pairs deep knowledge of researchers on our platform with an iterative approach to prevent you from missing out on potential customers.

Place your campaign in the right stage of the funnel: First, define at what stage of the funnel your target audience is:

1. Initial Consideration: The Awareness and Knowledge stage 
2. Evaluation: Consideration/Selection
3. Decision: Purchase 
4. Post-Purchase 

Are you targeting prospects, existing customers, or both? Are they in the top or mid-funnel? Place your campaign strategically in the funnel with the right call-to-action to drive engagement and boost sales.

Tip: An analysis of lab group buying dynamics revealed that the majority of brand choice (57%) occurs in the early funnel, during the Awareness and Knowledge stages. Advertising the right content is a great way to reach researchers at these stages.

Define clearly measurable goals: A marketing goal should be a specific and measurable objective that enables you to meet your broader business goals, for example: “My goal is to boost website traffic to the campaign landing page by 7% by the end of June 2022.” Using a framework like RACE or SMART helps to quantify success. 

Depending on your campaign goal, you can run both awareness and lead generation campaigns on ResearchGate, optimizing them toward your objective:

- Brand awareness campaign: The goal is to raise awareness around your brand and drive traffic to a landing page, by sharing category-leading content and delivering a consistent message. ResearchGate found that educational content carries the most influence on purchase within the scientific community. In fact, the best conversion rate (CR) comes from white papers and application notes.

- Product or sales campaign: This type of campaign aims to generate high-quality leads around a product or service. It leverages native and sequential ads that are placed responsively across the platform as standard or video ads. Results are tracked via total leads generated and  effective cost-per-lead (eCPL).

Tip: Once you understand your campaign aim, the ResearchGate account management team can help you identify and set the right KPIs.

Monitor the right metrics for your performance marketing campaigns:

Set overall goals, but also individual KPIs for each campaign channel, such as:

- Email marketing: Open rate (OR)
- Web traffic: Click-through-rate (CTR) 
- Lead gen ads/emails: Number of leads / effective cost-per-lead (eCPL)

Tip: CPL is a good indication of your marketing efforts’ return on investment (ROI). 

Knowing your CPL helps you better optimize your marketing strategy. By identifying which channels perform best, you can determine where to allocate spend. 

Step 2: Set budgets effectively to meet your goals

Now that you know your goals, how much should you spend to hit targets?

When allocating marketing budgets, follow these guidelines:

- Base budgets on the goal you’re trying to achieve and the rates for each goal
- Consider increasing budgets to get the most out of well-performing campaigns

When it comes to targeting a scientific audience, ResearchGate has run thousands of marketing campaigns across ads and emails, optimizing these to achieve one of three marketing objectives: brand awareness, engagement, or lead generation. Proprietary data reveals that in 2021 the majority of advertisers on the platform ran lead generation campaigns, making up over 20% of all campaigns. These were followed by on-site leads campaigns at 16%, and off-site leads campaigns at just over 11%. 

Meanwhile, over 10% of total ResearchGate marketing campaigns in 2021 were optimized toward generating traffic, followed by awareness at 8%, clicks at nearly 7%, and downloads/sign-ups at just over 5%. Finally, sponsored events and external landing pages make-up the smallest percentage of all marketing campaigns. The remaining data analyzed is made up of other types of campaigns.

Tip: There is no one-size-fits-all approach when allocating budget. Teaming up with an advertising partner like ResearchGate to gather first-party data via lead campaigns can help you make the most of your budget. By testing out specific messages on a platform contextually relevant to your target audience, you can understand purchasing intent more accurately. You can see what actions an advert is driving amongst specific target personas. This first-party data can be consulted alongside your standard campaign metrics like CTRs to better optimize your campaign. 
Seven stacks of coins with plants sprouting from the top, increasing in size from left to right.
Step 3: Use media planning to support goal setting and budget allocation

Media planning is an advertising strategy that determines how, when, where, and why your business shares media with your audience. 

Once your campaign target audience and the goal are known, a well-developed media plan can help illustrate different budget options. For example, ResearchGate identifies researcher target segments and the content most relevant to them from your content database, and then suggests ideas for future content that could get high engagement on the platform. 

Case study: By leveraging a marketing strategy based on media planning on a network platform like ResearchGate, bioinformatics software brand QIAGEN Digital Insights was able to increase qualified lead numbers and improve campaign ROI. Their average eCPL decreased by over 75%. 

How well you set up your marketing campaigns has a significant impact on results, so developing a clear process and strategy is a must.

Start by identifying your campaign audience and goals, followed by setting the right budget. Then, optimize your KPIs — either to generate awareness or leads — and ensure they’re supported by strong media planning.

Using a platform like ResearchGate, you can tap into a network of over 20 million researchers. Promoting high-converting content with contextual targeting tools can help drive awareness and achieve lead generation objectives.

Grow your brand within the scientific community. Reach your target audience with ResearchGate Marketing Solutions. Find out more.

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