Does your organization conduct regular evaluations of its marketing strategy?
The smartest marketing functions regularly assess their marketing performance, identify areas where they can improve, and revise or build campaigns to address these challenges. There’s no time like the beginning of a new year to set your marketing strategy resolutions, which help focus and streamline your activities to focus on those areas that will drive improved marketing ROI. Below, we’ve mapped out 4 easily achievable new year’s resolutions that will allow your business to flourish in 2017 and beyond.
Marketing resolution #1: Set SMART campaign objectives
How many times have you sat in a meeting and heard something to the effect of “we need to get better at this”? In those situations, it’s easy for everyone to agree on a vague goal or action like “explore revenue opportunities in adjacent markets” and leave the room feeling like progress has been made. But in reality, this kind of decision making often leads to misalignment and poor marketing performance because it’s too general to help guide your efforts.
Enter our first marketing resolution: setting SMART marketing objectives (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based).
Being specific means you are setting specific marketing performance metrics you want to achieve. Compare “get more people to come to our site” with “Increase site traffic to our subscription page by 15%”. The second statement gives your team a much more clear idea of your goal, making it easier to track progress and focus your efforts.
You won’t know whether or not your marketing strategy has succeeded unless you can measure your progress in some quantitative way. It can be easy to say “we want to be the best marketing company” or “we’re going to be people’s top choice for legal services,” but without any way to measure what “top” or “best” are, you’ll never know if you’ve achieved what your marketing set out to do. Make sure you’re setting measurable goals: improving social media mentions, increasing ad campaign ROI, growing the number of visitors to your website, etc.
Nothing frustrates leadership and employees more than unrealistic goals. I recently sat in a room with a small regional college’s marketing team and heard them say that they wanted to be the first college choice for all high school seniors in the state. Given their resources and the strength of their competition, this goal was wildly unrealistic, and I could already see how it was sapping their progress toward more achievable goals. When creating marketing strategy and campaign objectives, give yourself a reality check and ask yourself if this is something you believe the business can realistically achieve.
Your campaign objectives should be relevant to your business and how your business operates. Ask yourself why a particular marketing goal is necessary to your business or how it will help you achieve your strategic goals before proceeding. Often times, this simple test will help save thousands of dollars in wasted time and resources.
Deadlines get things done. More importantly, they bound a marketing campaign to an outcome within a particular time frame in order to assess progress toward a larger goal. Without a deadline, you might see a small sales increase in a month as a positive effect of your marketing campaign. But if you’re trying to achieve a five percent sales lift within a month, you may view your marketing campaign as underperforming due to the timeframe. If you’re working on a larger marketing campaign, create multiple milestones that build toward a larger objective in order to keep your team focused.
Marketing resolution #2: Test and measure channel ROI performance
You’ll never have all the time, budget, or staff you feel like you need to execute your marketing strategy, which is why measuring channel ROI performance is so important. Are you converting more leads from events and conferences or your website? Once those leads are converted, which are more likely to turn into customers? Evaluating your channel performance on a regular basis allows you to focus your resources on your marketing activities with the highest return, rather than trying to do everything at an equal level.
We’re currently working with a technology solutions provider to identify which of its marketing efforts lead to the greatest sales return for one of its products. We began by looking at the lead source of all of its customers, sales prospects, and new leads. In doing so, we found something interesting: the majority of its customers and sales prospects began as inbound web leads. This evaluation tells us that investing more resources in SEO and other online lead generation strategies will likely drive higher immediate returns than other channels, which will help them save marketing budget over the long run.
Marketing resolution #3: Be focused when working with limited resources
If you’re working with limited marketing resources, don’t lose hope. Two of our favorite marketing strategies below can help you make the most out of limited marketing budgets.
- Use concentrated targeting: Concentrated targeting is an effective marketing strategy for smaller companies with limited resources. This strategy focuses on marketing to one well-defined, specific segment of a customer population in order to maximize your reach to this audience. Specific tactics could include establishing promotional relationships with associations or industry groups in your space, limiting your PPC advertising or direct mail efforts to a particular geography, or narrowing your content marketing to target a specific demographic. Although there are some disadvantages to this strategy – demand among your chose audience may fall, or you may mistarget your audience – it can create a huge competitive advantage over other companies who do not speak as directly to your chosen audience.
- Stick to one channel: It’s always better to execute a single campaign in one channel well rather than trying to cover every possible channel where you may be likely to find customers. Take social media. While there are hundreds of potential sites you could advertise on, Facebook is near-ubiquitous, so we often recommend starting consumer-targeted campaigns on that channel first and assessing performance before expanding outreach efforts.
Marketing resolution #4: Keep your online presence active
Although it can be easy to get caught up in immediate business needs, keeping your online presence active is an essential marketing activity since the majority of customers will heavily research potential products and services online before making a purchase. In the short-term, an active presence will keep your business fresh in your target audience’s minds (which can help you create repeat customers). Longer-term, a sustained online presence will grow over time so that you can capture leads who are not aware of your company as they do their research.
Here are a few tips to keep your online presence active:
- Blog often and consistently: Google’s algorithm prioritizes recent content, and when it comes to this content there’s nothing like blogging. In fact, websites with blogs have 434% more indexed pages, every one of which will be showing in search results to a user out there somewhere.
- Stay active on social media: The more you share relevant material that your target audience will likely engage with, the better your chances of starting conversations with individuals and companies who have a strong chance to be your customers. This activity will also show up on various search engines and help with your search indexing.
- Monitor your reviews (and solicit them!): One of the most powerful online tools marketers have are the reviews of satisfied customers. If you don’t have any reviews, it’s time to start reaching out to your customers to ask them to help. If you aren’t monitoring your reviews, be sure to keep an eye on the major review websites and respond to any negative reviews you’ve received so that they don’t damage your reputation.
We hope that these marketing strategy resolutions have been helpful for you. If you’d like to discuss how you can evaluate or improve your marketing strategy in 2017, contact Young Marketing Consulting today.