Create a Media Plan and an Engagement Plan

Harry Gold says when it comes to reporting results from online media, even with the purest of branding campaigns, our eyes always head to the far right-hand side of report. We look past impressions, clicks, and cost per click to see the volume and cost of the actions we are getting. And why shouldn’t we? Today, marketers must focus not just reach but engagement, high-value brand interactions, and of course, actual leads and sales. Think of it this way: there are banner impressions and then there are lasting impressions. Engagement helps brands make lasting impressions with target audiences.

So in parallel to a great Media Plan, one should have a great Engagement Plan. An accompanying document should map not just where your creative will be placed, but what people will be encouraged to do when they see and click on your ads. Especially today, when properties offer an assortment of rich media units and engagement ads, how people respond can vary as much as what people see.

Let’s say you are advertising on LinkedIn. You can enable people participate in a poll and then be redirected to your landing page. Facebook’s Engagement Ads let people become a fan of your company right from the ad. And on all media you place, your clicks go to landing pages that should be help trigger chains of events and engagements.

So as a media planner your plan should show the whole picture: the Media Plan and the Engagement Plan. The Media Plan tells clients where their ads are going to “be,” an Engagement Plan tells the client what you are trying to get people to “do” and what you are going to “measure” from an action standpoint.

So here are 10 quick items that one would map out in a standard Engagement Plan:

Offers and calls to actions: What are the high-value actions and interactions we are trying to encourage?

Rich media functionality: What rich media technologies can we take advantage of to encourage high levels of engagement right in the banner? Consider lead capture, video, social enablement games, etc.

Site specific technical enablement: LinkedIn polls, Facebook Engagement Ads, InfoWorld’s White Paper Library lead capture, etc.

Landing page actions: Lead capture, video plays, coupon and materials/white paper downloads, free trials, free demos, send to friend, call us, talk to an expert, etc.

Thank you page secondary calls to action: Don’t just say “thank you” and end the experience. Keep visitors on your site! Say thank you and offer more highly engaging activities. How about: “Thank you and here is a great 2-minute video” or “Thank you, explore this new product” or “Thank you, would you like to speak with a rep.”

E-mail auto replies: If people fill out a form to get a coupon or white paper, don’t just say, “Thank you. Here is your white paper.” Offer secondary calls to action to continue the dialogue. Like the thank you page opportunity, say “Thank you and here is a great 2-minute video” or “Thank you. Explore this new product.” or “Thank you, would you like to get a quote.”

Viral/social/advocacy calls to action: Turn one impression, click or action into many by weaving viral calls to action and chiclets into the process. That includes things like forward to a friend, post this to my blog, tweet this, post to Facebook.

Lead triaging: If you are doing lead generation, what happens to the leads you generate? Are they being rapidly followed up on, categorized and escalated? What customer-relationship management systems are they being ported into? Siebel, Microsoft Dynamics?

Marketing automation: What are the marketing automation programs and applications being applied to the leads you generate based on their source, demographics or behavior? Are they being ported into Unica, Salesforce, Eloqua or Capterra? Are you triggering specific campaign or offer calls to action and emails when they return to your clients site?

Retargeting: Are you using retargeting technologies via your ad server, the networks, and large portals/sites to reinforce offers and brand impact once a consumer or prospect has visited your client’s site? What is the secondary message you are serving exclusively to people you retarget?

A Good Engagement plans ties everything together. It both bridges media planners with creative and production people, getting them all on the same page, and gives the client a complete picture of what their online campaign looks like.

As always please comment on this column and let me know if I left anything out.

Harry is off today. This column was originally published on Aug. 4, 2009 on ClickZ.

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