In last month’s blog post, we discussed the third of the five core marketing processes essential to effective and efficient marketing operations: the data-related process. This month let’s switch gears and discuss the campaign development process.

“What?” I hear you say. “We don’t need more process, red tape and nonsense slowing us down. Just get out there and execute some email campaigns and call it good.” STOP! Winging it in campaign development will ultimately lead to launching faulty campaigns, take longer to execute than anyone imagined, frustrate team members and get you reassigned.

Campaign Development Process

If all your campaigns look like this, you may not need a campaign development process:

Campaign Development Process

But if you are considering account based marketing (ABM) or multichannel campaigns, then your campaigns could look like this:

Multichannel Campaign Development Process

They may be multichannel, have lots of touch points, offers, landing pages, ad copy, graphics, emails, etc. Developing richer, more engaging campaigns such as this on your marketing automation system requires a defined campaign development process to ensure high-quality results and flawless campaigns. A defined campaign development process outlines the roles and expectations for every player involved.

Your campaign development process, however simple, will probably contain at least the five stages shown below.

5 Campaign Development Stages

The strategy stage is where the program or campaign is proposed, the costs and benefits are weighed, and if approved, it moves to the design stage. During the design stage, the campaign brief, potentially a creative brief, and ultimately the detailed campaign blueprint are created. While the campaign brief is a simple, one-page document that describes the campaign, the blueprint is the document that you hand off to your marketing automation platform (MAP) campaign builders. It contains every detail they will need to build, test and launch the campaign. It has every requirement in it, including dynamic content rules, A/B testing, campaign flow, timing, templates to be used, URLs desired, channels, offers, UTM codes, etc.

In general, we recommend you do not move into the develop stage until the blueprint is complete and all the assets, offers and content are ready. Changing the blueprint (aka the requirements) after development has started will cause rework, slow the campaign down, affect other campaigns in the queue for building, and increase the risk of errors.

Quality assurance (QA) and user acceptance testing (UAT) are vital. Please do not discover this for yourself by sending an error-filled email to 100,000+ people. Builders, especially neophytes in your MAP system, are allowed to make mistakes, but QA has to be flawless so use your senior people to do the QA.


There are several distinct roles involved in launching multichannel campaigns. They include the campaign builder, the campaign strategist, the QA person, perhaps an inbound or social media expert, a marketing campaign manager, and potentially a traffic manager. The latter two deserve a little more detail.

The marketing campaign manager is a project manager with experience in campaign execution. As such, they have skills beyond those of a typical PM. They must understand the different campaign requirements for different channels — email vs. display ads or boosted posts, for example. They must understand the campaign development process, the implications of compliance or the campaign strategist attempting to make last minute changes. Most importantly they need to have a strong marketing background to understand all the moving parts in complex multi-channel campaigns.

The primary function of a traffic manager is to work as the go-between that connects marketing campaign managers and campaign designers to the creative resources available to the firm. The traffic manager sets a schedule of deadlines for the completion of a creative design or writing tasks and assigns the best workers to each necessary step in the process. The traffic manager then checks on the progress of the project, communicating with the marketing campaign manager as needed. If your campaigns are multichannel and have many offers to be created the traffic management involved can overwhelm a single marketing campaign manager. In addition, a good traffic manager knows exactly the specifications for ad images in all the social channels or copy length requirements, etc.

Center of Excellence (COE) and Service Level Agreements (SLA)

If your plan is to have a COE that executes campaigns for disparate parts of the business, then you not only need the development process, but you also need to offer your customers an SLA. I.e. from the moment you receive the campaign blueprint plus all the assets and offers, how fast will you guarantee you can crank out a campaign? Obviously, this will depend on the complexity of the campaign, but for simple two or three touch campaigns the answer should be within three business days.

6 Steps to Rolling Out Your Own Campaign Development Process

  • Step 1: Assemble the stakeholders to define the process.
  • Step 2: Document the process and train those with a role in it.
  • Step 3: Deploy any technology you may need to assist you for handling campaign requests.
  • Step 4: Deploy a technology for collaboration of the development team.
  • Step 5: Execute some simple campaigns using the new process.
  • Step 6: Determine your SLA criteria and roll it out to your customers.