Table of Contents

Campaign Best Practices Across Systems

How should I think about Campaigns?

The key to getting more out of your campaign data is answering the following questions:

  • What do your executives want to report on? 
  • What does your team need to make better decisions? 

Fortunately, what your team needs for their respective campaigns will be much more detailed than what the executive team is looking for, so that’s where we’ll focus. 

The following article sections detail best practices for B2B campaign structure. Remember, there are multiple solutions to any problem; sometimes, what we suggest won’t make sense for your organization. We’ll try to make our examples specific so you can visualize whether our best practice recommendation suits your unique needs.

What Are Your CMO’s Goals?

For those of you in B2B who are trying to recreate your buyer’s digital journey in your CRM campaign object, we’d like to challenge your thinking with a single question:

What is THE question your CMO is trying to answer?

Nine times out of ten, they’re trying to prove the impact marketing has on your business compared to other departments. 

You may be looking for the “golden buyer journey” or a way to force people down a sequence of events that ends in a sale. However, business leaders equate results with bookings and pipeline. Campaign creation records the most meaningful interactions.

If we focus on representing marketing’s contribution to pipeline and bookings, we’re no longer concerned with capturing every brand interaction. It’s in our best interest to narrow marketing’s campaign responses to only the most influential.

Your CRM doesn’t need to represent every brand touchpoint exhaustively. This perspective permits our marketing teams to stop trying to achieve the impossible–capturing every digital touchpoint.

Does this mean you’ll stop running digital ads or tying those ads back to impact on pipeline and bookings?

No! But it does mean you’ll probably achieve this differently than how you’re tracking and reporting campaign activity in your CRM.

Virtual Campaigns in CaliberMind

Before we dive into best practices for CRMs and marketing automation systems (MAS), we need to take a moment to talk about virtual campaigns.

Virtual campaigns in CaliberMind are what we use to populate the CM Event tables. The virtual campaign captures everything you usually wouldn’t clutter your CRM campaign with. Beyond actual campaigns in your CRM and MAS, this includes the following:

  • Sales Outreach
  • Sales Inbound (calls, meetings, responses)
  • Web Visits
  • Non-Gated Content Consumption
  • Social Click-Throughs
  • Advertising Click-Throughs
  • In-Product Signals
  • Intent Data

CaliberMind virtual campaigns give your team a way to answer the executive team’s question: 

Which teams are generating pipeline and bookings?

And by using virtual campaigns, we aren’t replicating what’s already tracked in your other systems and forcing them into the CRM campaign structure.

CRM Campaigns: Track What’s Sell-able

Think of your CRM campaign responses (a type of “Member Status” on your campaign member records) as THE mechanism that triggers sales to interact with your prospect. You may use lead or account scoring to hold back some of those interested prospects, but for the most part, you create campaign responses so that your sales team knows when and why someone is interested.

We recommend structuring most of your data in your CRM with this thought in mind. 

Your campaign names should help sales understand what your prospect did with the brand and was interested in. 

Your campaign responses (a subset of all campaign statuses – more on that later) should represent the actions that would reasonably be followed by a sales call.

When deciding which data to push into CRM campaigns, prioritize tracking all interactions that reasonably result in sales follow-up. For example, if I fill out a form online, sharing my information will likely result in outreach from that vendor.

The Campaign Types we recommend tracking in your CRM are:

  • Content Download
  • Content Syndication (although many choose to gate this tactic due to low conversions)
  • Demo Request
  • Direct Mail
  • Event (AKA In-Person Event or Tradeshow)
  • Paid Social Form Fill (i.e., LinkedIn native lead generation forms)
  • Referral Program
  • Partner Sourced (AKA Deal Registration or Partner Referral)
  • Webinar/Virtual

Digital marketers, take a deep breath. You will be represented! 

We do recommend putting the campaign type and what they were interested in the campaign name so that sales can personalize their outreach at a glance. For example, one campaign name is “Webinar | CMO | Board Reporting Basics for B2B.” This campaign name includes the campaign type, intended audience, and what the webinar was about–which should allow sales to personalize their outreach based on a problem the key persona may have if they want to consume content to help them report to the board.

In MAS, we’re more interested in a comprehensive history of how your prospect interacts with the brand over time. The bar is lower. In MAS, we would track emails, clicks, and opens – which we don’t recommend tracking in a CRM campaign because clicks and opens may not be performed by the targeted person.

Campaign Types or Channels that should live in your MAS:

  • Email
  • Operational
  • Website

The Two-Dimensional Campaign Structure

Digital marketers, this section is for you.

A CRM campaign member should not only join your campaign to the person who interacted with your brand. Campaign members should also inform people about the UTM details associated with the campaign response.

For example, my campaign type may be Gated Content, but on the campaign member, I’m also pushing down the UTM parameters that tell me that the content download came from a PPC ad on Google called “ABM Scoring Guide Spring 2023 Promo.”

Tools like CaliberMind don’t make you create a unique campaign to track your UTM variables under a parent campaign. We view the “how they got there” or UTM associated with the click as something we need to tie back to the CRM campaign member. This prevents a lot of work upfront on automation workflows in your MAS and campaign creation in your CRM.

flattening your campaign hierarchy

Those of you paying attention to gaps in reporting in your MAS may have noticed your tracking capabilities fell off a cliff in the 2020-2021 timeframe. For more details, check out this podcast episode.

To mitigate this issue to a degree, consider installing a snippet of javascript into your website header to enable web tracking. At CaliberMind, we help our customers install this code and then use it to track what we can via first-party cookies. Then we use logic to append the UTM parameters associated with the user’s first visit that day and perpetuate the results across all subsequent touchpoints for the day. Alternatively, you can use your marketing automation tracking to push the UTM parameters associated with a form fill down to the campaign member using automation.

This tracking will not replace early indicators housed in your digital advertising platforms. Web trackers must observe the same privacy rules as your other digital technology.

If your visitor blocks cookies or enables ad blocking, their touchpoint can’t be tied back to what they clicked on. Social platforms no longer pass information via third-party pixels, and many iOS users have chosen to mask their identities completely. 

For those of you holding on to the hope that Chrome maintains its majority market share, Google has only postponed its cookie ban. So it’s only a matter of time before the vast majority of traffic is untrackable.

What About Intent Data?

Intent data can contain meaningful triggers that signal sales should reach out to an account. We don’t recommend creating campaigns and campaign members for these interactions for a few reasons:

  1. It can be tough to narrow down which intent interactions are the most meaningful to sales without the proper analytics
  2. If sales is overwhelmed by the signals, they’ll stop viewing marketing qualified leads as meaningful
  3. Intent providers only provide the company name

In CaliberMind, we create what is known as “virtual campaigns” for intent signals we’ve analyzed as meaningful, and we can list them against an “anonymous” contact. Whether we include these signals in attribution is debatable, although they are great for ABM or Surge scoring to signal interest to sales. Then, we push these engaged accounts to sales via email and surface the most relevant information on the account so sales can sort their territory and prospect accordingly.

Campaign Costs

Salesforce has standard fields for every campaign's budgeted and actual costs, and we recommend using them. In addition, your campaign costs should reflect non-digital advertising costs associated with the campaign. In CaliberMind, we connect directly to your advertising platforms, which give the actual costs of all digital campaigns. Then we tie that back to your CRM campaign activity via UTM mapping.

Tracking costs allows you to calculate ROI in your CRM and an external tool like CaliberMind. However, if you’re only relying on your CRM, I recommend calculating customer acquisition cost (CAC) using topline bookings and total marketing and sales spend (including salaries) rather than trying to get to campaign-level return.

Timing Is Everything?

Suppose you rely solely on a single-touch model like Lead Source (first touch) or Opportunity Source (also known as primary campaign source or last touch). In that case, you must upload your tradeshow badge scans and in-person event attendee lists as soon as possible. If sales begins working on an opportunity based on a conversation they’ve had, you will not have proper attribution.

This is one of the greatest benefits of multi-touch attribution. If we’re looking at the lifespan of the buyer journey, we’re no longer concerned with making sales wait until our data is in order. Instead, we can direct them to act immediately because we know that the campaign will be represented in influence.

The second greatest benefit of multi-touch attribution is that it gives us a way to demonstrate how our in-person campaigns are influencing in-flight sales. If you’ve ever been in field marketing, an in-person event is a salesperson’s favorite way to hook a client they’ve been trying to keep engaged.

Organization vs. Parent Campaigns

We’ve seen many clients try to put a lot of initials in a campaign name to organize campaigns, and we’ve also seen them create multi-level parent-child hierarchies to try to achieve the same.

If you want to track initiatives, business units, industries, or any other factor that warrants initials or a parent campaign, save yourself a big reporting headache and create a picklist field. That way, campaign names can be meaningful to sales, and you still get the data you need to organize your reports. You can add as many fields as you want to a report, but reporting on hierarchies in your CRM is a mess, especially when you’re trying to summarize your pipeline influence. 

By abandoning multi-layered hierarchies, you can achieve much better results!

Let’s say we were using one level to capture the industry, another to capture the business unit, another to capture the campaign type or what they do with your brand and the final layer to spell out UTM parameters. Your report would look something like this:

multi parent report

We recommend structuring it like this instead:

one campaign many picklists

Your report would look like this:

flat report for campaigns

It’s a much easier way to get the same results!

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