The best way for companies to improve their marketing is by learning from their prior successes and missteps. As 2015 draws to a close, now is the time to make sure the lessons you learned have been applied to the marketing plan you will implement in 2016. To be sure your plan is as strong as it can be – and is poised to generate optimal marketing ROI during the year ahead – ask yourself these five key questions before pulling the trigger on implementation.
- – Are the marketing goals I set S.M.A.R.T.?
- – Did I use data to inform my marketing strategy?
- – What is “Plan B”?
- – Am I giving my customers what they want and need?
- – Does our 2016 marketing plan have an adequate amount of flexibility built into it?
When setting marketing goals, they should be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound. Ensuring your goals have these core attributes will allow you to assess what is and is not working and make refinements to increase your marketing success rate in the future. While being optimistic and reaching for the sky is admirable, we don’t advise aiming to achieve goals that are not scaled to match the marketing resources you are able to invest in achieving them. For example, if you want to generate more leads through social media – let’s say by 50% – yet your social media marketing budget is only increasing by 5%, there is a misalignment that should be addressed. As you implement your 2016 marketing plan, be sure what you are going to do, when you are going to do it, how you are going to measure it and what you aim to achieve are all clearly outlined from the onset.
The beauty of online marketing is that there is a wealth of data available to help evaluate success. From Google Analytics to Facebook Insights to tools that score social sentiment and reach, there are a number of ways to benchmark your successes with quantitative metrics. Your new marketing plan should be informed by the data you collected during 2015 and reflect a reallocation of resources based on what worked and where you identified areas for improvement.
Waiting 12-months to evaluate the success of your efforts is not advisable. If data from Q1 showed an opportunity to shift budget dollars to amplify the success of high-performing tactics/campaigns, you want to be able to seize that opportunity when it presents itself. Similarly, you don’t want to wait until December 2016 to discover you spent a significant portion of your budget on an online advertising campaign that yielded negligible results – and that its minimal ROI was apparent early on in the year. Before launching your 2016 marketing plan, ensure you have built-in benchmarks throughout the year and have plans to reevaluate the plan on a periodic basis. Remember, marketing is an investment and generating meaningful ROI doesn’t happen overnight – in the same token, a year is a long time wait to assess ROI.
Harkening back to the importance of data, customer insights should influence your overall marketing strategy. If your company’s e-newsletter is your single most successful upselling tool, make sure an appropriate amount of resources are invested in maintaining – and, if possible, enhancing – this important, ROI-generating communication. Whether you deploy post-purchase satisfaction surveys, conduct an annual survey of communication preferences or conduct periodic phone calls to secure customer feedback, make sure your marketing resources are allocated (in part) to communicating the information they value most through the channels they are most open to receiving it.
While you want a roadmap in place to help guide your marketing efforts, it is also important to implement a plan that will allow you to be nimble and seize timely opportunities as they arise. So, what does flexibility in a marketing plan look like? The ability to shift resources in a timely manner, the capacity to execute an additional deliverable and accessibility to expert resources who can provide timely media commentary when opportunities arise.
Whether 2016 is the year you unveil a new product or service, shift your focus from general awareness marketing to a vertically-driven strategy or the time you test new marketing channels and tactics, focus on benchmarking your efforts along the way and ensuring you can definitely answer “what worked” and “what didn’t?” when it comes time to plan for 2017.
Is your company in need of a new marketing plan? Our team seamlessly blends creativity and strategy to develop award-winning campaigns that help clients achieve their business goals and generate tangible marketing ROI. Contact us today.