Six-Step Year-End Marketing Checklist

It’s hard to believe, but 2018 will be over in a few weeks. Before the new year arrives, it’s worth taking a step back to assess your marketing performance in order to build your marketing strategy for 2019. Let’s take a look at six steps you can take to make sure your marketing stays on track to big returns next year.

2018’s Year-End Marketing Checklist

Step 1. Assess Your Marketing ROI by Channel

Most of us keep a close eye on our marketing ROI for a particular campaign, but how often do we step back and ask whether we should even be executing a particular campaign? The best tool I’ve found to do so has been a (relatively) straightforward ROI breakout by channel. The metrics you’ll want to consider:

  • Cost per qualified lead by channel
  • Cost per sale by channel
  • Revenue generated per channel
  • Marketing spend per channel

The numbers above will give you what you need to determine your marketing ROI by channel, as well as identify any conversion hurdles that could improve that figure. As an example, if you’re heavily invested in social media but struggle to generate traffic or sales returns from that channel, it’s worth asking whether that spend could be better used on other activities.

Step 2. Audit Your Web Performance

Your web presence is one of the most critical marketing tools and customer interaction points. Which is why it’s vital to regularly take stock of your web performance metrics to identify any significant wins or serious concerns. I recommend starting with three high-level metrics:

  1. Web traffic
  2. On-site conversion rates
  3. Target keyword rankings

In each case, set your review period to cover at least the last two years in order to identify your long-term trends, and then start evaluating each metric by source and medium. You’re looking for two things:

  1. Your long-term web traffic trend: ideally it’s increasing. If it’s not, you’ve got some content marketing and web traffic generation to do.
  2. Any peaks or valleys: these spikes will show you where you’ve been successful, and where you’ve floundered. Trace your successes back to the source and replicate those activities.

Step 3: Identify Your Biggest Content Successes

Content is king (as we’ve covered in a previous content marketing blog). And in every content campaign you’ll find pieces that perform better than others. Your goal is to identify why these particular posts worked and replicate that success in the new year.

To do so, begin by reviewing your most popular social posts to see what commonalities they share. Did you stumble on a particularly compelling social media hashtag? Did you catch the eye of one or two social influencers? Or did you manage to ride the coattails of a trend to gain some exposure of your own? Your goal is to distill 2018’s social media success into 2019’s calendar, so make sure to document what worked well and have your content marketing team tailor its efforts as appropriate.

Once you’ve reviewed your social media performance, it’s time to examine your on-site marketing content. Take a look at your website’s analytics and review your most popular posts and pages. Again, you’re looking for commonalities. Did your listicles outperform everything else? Are your white papers real hits? Identify what’s working, and double-down on your content marketing.

Step 4: Refocus on Your Industry and Your Audience

Markets evolve. What your target audience may have wanted in 2018 might be old news in the new year. Take some time to browse your trade press, industry groups, message boards, and other sources for what changes might be coming so that you can make sure your value proposition remains current.

Event better, survey your customer base in order to ensure that you’re still meeting their needs. The best way to stay in business is to meet your customers’ needs better than anyone else. And the better you know them, the more confident you can feel that you’ll be putting out the right message in 2019.

Step 5: Polish Your Brand Identity

If your business slows during the holiday season, you may find that it’s an ideal time to take care of low-hanging brand identity fruit that has fallen to the back burner all year. A creative refresh, website tune-up, or asset review may be the perfect task for the slower period.

Step 6: Re-Evaluate Your Marketing Stack

The marketing software that was the perfect solution to your needs two years ago may be showing its age today. Or worse, its costs could be rising. The end of the year is a good time to get a handle on whether or not you’ll need to upgrade your marketing stack in 2019. As you do, consider these questions to help assess your marketing software:

  • What is the business need that the marketing software solves?
  • How is it priced compared to its alternatives?
  • How much employee time would be gained or lost if you switched to a different tool?
  • What functionality would be lost or gained if you switched?
  • How much additional revenue do you think you could drive if you switched?


I hope that our six-step year-end marketing checklist helps you refocus and drive progress in the new year. If you have any questions or would like to discuss support with any of the items above, please contact Young Marketing Consulting today.

What’s the most valuable asset in your business?

I recently posed this question to a room full of business owners, and received the usual answers: people, process, intellectual property, and more. And while these suggestions weren’t necessarily wrong, I was surprised at how long it took until a member of the group volunteered what I consider to be the correct answer: time.

Time is the only resource your business can never make or buy more of, and there’s never enough.

So how can we invest in areas that maximize our time? The answer, as we’ll see, lies in harnessing the potential of modern digital marketing and automation. But we’re getting ahead ourselves.

If you’re in charge of marketing a small business, experiencing significant growth at any size organization, or maturing your marketing function, you’re probably facing a scenario where immediate operational concerns regularly overwhelm the time you feel you can devote to more long-term investments such as marketing. Last week we tackled the question of how much time you should be spending on marketing. This week, we’re going to assume you’ve referenced our handy marketing spend benchmark guide and know how much time and money you can invest in advertising and promotions. In both cases it’s probably less than you’d like, so its time to get strategic about how you’re invest.

A Four-Step Marketing Strategy When You Don’t Have Time for Marketing

Any good digital marketing effort begins with a solid strategy. Building that foundation by following the four steps below will help you maximize the effectiveness of your time spent on marketing.


1. Identify your target audience

Every marketing agency and consultant will trot out this chestnut, but it’s never been more true than in today’s digital marketing world. You’re about to start making decisions about where to invest your limited resources, and the easiest way to do so is by narrowing your focus on a core market. That’s why we’ve defined a target audience as follows:

Your target audience = defined demographic or psychographic segments that allow you to narrow your promotional efforts to fit your resources and generate a positive return

Demographics are the measurable areas such as income or revenue that dictate whether your customer can buy from you, while psychographics are the values and attitudes that determine whether they will. Defining both in as granular detail as possible is the starting point of any solid marketing strategy.


2. Build your channel strategy

Your marketing channels are those advertising paths you’ll take to reach your target audience. And while the internet gives today’s digital marketer a nearly infinite number of advertising platforms, your channel strategy should be based on those efforts that will scale with as little effort on your end as possible and are in heaviest use by your target audience. We’ll be addressing those channels more in the second part of this series, but for now here are some teasers for those who like to work ahead:

  • Searching Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM/PPC Advertising)
  • Marketing Automation
  • Inbound Lead Generation


3. Create your business logic

Solidifying your business logic is THE critical step to saving time in your marketing efforts, but very few companies spend time in this area. Why? Because business logic looks like this:

Marketing Automation Flowchart Example


It’s a tedious exercise to go through every scenario and permutation of how, for example, your organization captures and nurtures a lead, but doing so is a critical step in order to create a replicable marketing process. To ease the pain, try thinking like a computer: if X happens, then Y happens. For example, if a lead submits a web form and asks for a quote, then they’ll be routed to your sales team.

The more you codify your business logic, the more you’ll recognize inflection points and set yourself up for a strong marketing automation function when it comes time to build your system (which we’ll cover next week).


4. Prepare your carrots

The last element of our time-saving marketing strategy concerns your offers. At its core, digital marketing is about information exchange: your goal is to provide your target audience with something that they consider valuable enough to give you either their money or some piece of information that you can use to market to them in the future. So what are those carrots that you’ll dangle in front of your audience?

Carrots can range from discounts and special offers to exclusive deals to well-researched guides and tutorials, but you won’t necessarily know what works until you try them. So what you want to do at this stage is to sit down and develop your offers. Plan them out over the course of your campaign, and then incorporate them into your marketing channels.

What’s that you say? We haven’t gotten into the marketing channels yet? Patience, gentle reader. Part 2 of How to Market When You Don’t Have Time for Marketing is coming next week.