3 Key Elements of a Digital Campaign Plan

Campaigns are big, daunting undertakings. When you’re starting with a blank sheet of paper, it can be hard to know where to begin.

There are a number of campaign components to arrange and polish—donation pages, email templates, Facebook advertisements, calls-to-action, etc. It’s tough to figure out how to put it all together into a coherent, concerted, and (hopefully) successful campaign.

By focusing on these three key campaign elements, you can organize your resources into a winning strategy and join the ranks of some seriously awesome digital campaigns.

Campaign Objectives

The objectives for your campaign will guide all communications and outreach, and will serve as a baseline for measuring your success.

Start out by summarizing the context in which your organization is launching your digital campaign. This should be written clearly, in no more than two pages, and in a way that’s easy to skim.

Within the summary, describe your approach to crafting a campaign strategy that will accomplish your goals. Make sure to address your stakeholders, significant external influences, and any obstacles you can foresee.

Make sure to highlight some high-level advocacy priorities for the campaign, such as fostering relationships with influencers, engaging with your grassroots supporters, or lobbying on relevant and timely policy initiatives.

If you notice your campaign objectives are a little too general, remember that they should be SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. This should help keep you on track and your objectives achievable!

Target Audience + Key Messaging

The next step is to figure out who you’re trying to reach. Remember, targeting a group as broad as “the general public” is far too inexact and can be a recipe for campaign disaster. Your digital campaign should target a specific, primary audience and its motivators.

Although you should continue to test and adapt your messaging throughout your campaign, having clear agreement on to whom you’re speaking and what’s important to them will get you started in the right direction.

Here are some things to consider:


Describing your target audience in terms of a fictional character that represents them in general can help you gain a better understanding of the groups you’re engaging with. This also helps you better plan your communication with them.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What sort of job might this person have, and in what industry?
  • What are their demographics? (age, income, location, etc.)
  • How do they find, consume, and share content?
  • What are their biggest challenges; and how do they work to overcome them?
  • What goals might this person have?


Get a deep understanding of what motivates an individual in your audience and the group as a whole to take action.

Using this understanding, try to align your campaign goals around what these audiences care about.

Key Messaging

Establish a single, clear message you want to get across to an audience, and treat it as a core tenet of each part of your campaign.

Next, craft a few “bylines” or sub-messages that can include specific wording you’d like to incorporate into your marketing collateral. These should be specialized for certain channels, like Facebook or email, as well as specific segments of your audience.

Calls-to-Action (CTAs)

We all know the importance of including CTAs throughout a campaign. It’s easy to forget, though, that each CTA should call for a specific, intentional action that aligns with your key messaging. As with your sub-messages, craft these CTAs for specific channels and audience segments.

Most importantly—especially if your aim is fundraising—be sure the CTA directs your audience to a donation page that doesn’t suck.

Media Mix

All of the media assets at your disposal fall somewhere in the framework of what’s called a “converging media mix.” This represents all of the communications channels and outreach efforts you’ll use during your campaign.

There are four key strategy areas to this media mix: paid media, earned media, owned media, and shared media.

Here’s a little more information on each one, including pros and cons.

Owned Media Strategies

Owned media strategies use the channels that your brand controls. This may include your website, campaign microsite, blog, videos, or other assets that you maintain as part of your content marketing strategy. (Events fall under owned media, too.)

  • Pros: great way to create long-term relationships with existing contacts; usually the most cost effective
  • Cons: take the longest to scale

Shared Media Strategies

Shared media includes any channel where you have some ownership, but not complete control. All social channels fall into this category, because you “share” the media with those that choose to engage with you. Shared media is vital to creating a conversation around your campaign—it’s much easier to get earned media (coming up next) if there’s chatter online about your campaign.

  • Pros: best platform to create a conversation; helpful when trying to get earned media
  • Cons: while you control what you say, you can really only control one side of the conversation

Earned Media Strategies

Traditional PR, buzz, word-of-mouth advertisement, and blogger outreach all fall into the earned media category. Once you get buy-in from key influencers in your sphere, they will then share your content with their audiences, greatly boosting your campaign’s reach.

  • Pros: external endorsement from outside individuals and orgs; can significantly amplify the reach of your campaign
  • Cons: hardest to measure because you have limited control

Paid Media Strategies

You guessed it: paid media strategies require payment to use a channel. The most effective ads will drive your target audience to owned media in order to create more earned and shared media.

  • Pros: harness the power and reach of social media (Facebook ads, Twitter promoted posts, Adwords, etc.); paid ad campaign opportunities are nearly endless
  • Cons: it may take some time to establish a working knowledge of digital ad platforms

Finally, finish off your campaign plan with a two-phase timeline (setup and implementation) and a resource plan that explains how your project team will operate. Include each member’s responsibilities, staff time allocation, any resources you’ll need, and of course, a proposed budget.

There you have it! Once you’ve defined your objectives, identified your target audience, and cooked up a good media mix, you’ll be on your way to running a stellar campaign (and impressing your boss).

Marcella Vitulli
Marcella Vitulli works in Community & Creative at EveryAction. She writes about trends in nonprofit technology, marketing, fundraising, and more on the EveryAction blog. She believes in climate change, a woman’s right to choose, and that nonprofits should love their software.