Today’s marketers are under more scrutiny then ever before and marketing skills are being challenged. A month into the new year is a great place to look back at what you’ve started. Then it will be easier to move forward.
Your 2014 marketing plan has been in place for a month now. You’ve set the wheels in motion for change but you’ve probably noticed some things haven’t gone quite according to plan. It’s perfectly normal – there are few guarantees that your customers, prospects and employees will behave exactly as you’d anticipated. And, gaps in skills will become apparent.
Take time to identify gaps or weaknesses in your marketing plans, systems and your in-house knowledge and resources. Technology has become something that marketing is more dependent on than ever before. How are you leveraging it to improve your marketing results? Scrutinise the marketing skills in your team and identifying weaknesses – then put adjustments or personal development plans in place. But do it now, or before you know it, you’ll be half way through the year, looking back at lost opportunities.
Here are some key areas to investigate, to make sure your marketing is fit for the remainder of the year:
If you don’t have a marketing dashboard, or some form or performance reporting, you need to get it in place. Back in October 2012, The Chartered Institute of Marketing CIM published the results of their Marketing Confidence Monitor. Over 70% of marketers stated that their business had become more measurement focussed. How did you measure your performance last year? What benchmarks did you set? if you did not measure your performance effectively last year, start again by determining KPI’s that matter most to your organisation. But don’t get lost in the data. Analyse what matters most. If you’re using analytics for the first time, you need to know how these systems influence the decisions you make and whether your team has the experience needed to interpret this information and make decisions based on it.
2. Marketing Automation
I’m sure you’ve heard about it, but what have you done to benefit form marketing automation? When you spend money on driving traffic to your website and getting the phone to ring, the last thing you need is to lose leads, because of your inability to nurture those leads. There’s a reason Hubspot grew by 50% in 2013. Marketing automation works. There are plenty of systems to choose from, for small to big budgets. The trick is finding the system that suits your business and your marketing methods – inbound and outbound. Here are a few to consider:
Softwareadvice.com have written an article reviewing different marketing automation platforms. Once you choose a system and implement it, automate effectively. Nothing is worse that getting poorly written automated emails everyday from the same person. Learn from the good ones that you receive, as well as from the bad ones.
3. Test. Test. Analyse. Refine.
We live in a digital world. Let data drive your decisions. Today’s marketers have to work differently than yesterdays. Your experience in developing concepts and ideas, your understanding of your business, and your instinct will no doubt influence your marketing decisions. However, there’s nothing more telling than data. Use it. Data will simply tell you the facts – what works and what doesn’t. If you’ve not done any A/B split testing, you need to start. Email marketing tools such as Mailchimp offer you the ability to split test Email subject lines. Unbounce offers a way to build great landing pages and split test their performance, all without IT support. So even if you don’t have the development skills in house, the tools are there for any marketer to leverage. Use them. And use the data they provide to refine and improve results.
4. Content Creation
There’s no doubt that by now understand the need for content. But are you set up to create the content that you need? That’s the big question. Make sure that first and foremost you have a plan to drive your content creation. Great content development takes time and money. Make sure what you produce is on message, unique, valuable and honest. Tell a story. Make sure it conveys an understanding of what your audience needs and wants to read. Don’t simply sell or plagiarise someone else’s content. And make sure whomever you hire to write knows not to do this. I love this picture that Steamfeed published – 5 types of guest bloggers. Aim high, not for a low position on the list! And make search what you produce is written with SEO in mind, but conveying natural links and a natural use of your keywords. You need to know how to do this and so does your copywriter. If you don’t know how, find out. And seed your content. You’ve worked hard to develop it, make sure it gains exposure. Simply posting it on your blog won’t get you the views you need. That’s like putting a product in a shop window and expecting it to sell, just based on whomever walks by and sees it.
5. Skills & Experience
Venture beat published a great article about why marketing isnt marketing anymore. Do you have the marketing skills and experience in your team to execute your plans? Technology has become a marketer’s best friend. I also think that digital marketing has become marketing. Social media is becoming embedded into marketing, not something that you give to an external agency. SEO is becoming embedded into every day marketing, with knowledge of use of the best keywords, across all of your content. In the past, much of the work within these disciplines has been implemented in isolation. But today, with technology, more visibility of performance and greater synergy of activity can be achieved by pulling all marketing together with an integrated, planned approach.
With a plethora of new technology, and a focus on automation and metrics, I caution marketers to not forget about the valuable skills that are now sometimes viewed as traditional marketing skills. It’s easy to get lost in data, but remember that knowledge from data, backed by experience drives the best decisions. Experienced eyes can see things in data what someone else may not. And experience gained from working closely with customers, talking to them and understanding their needs – developing relationships – knowing how to make that emotional connection with them. That’s hard to do with just data alone.
It can be difficult to understand the elements that are working well and those that aren’t. A marketing audit undertaken by an outside expert, is a valuable means of helping you to identify the state of your marketing. This objective appraisal of your marketing activities will help you to identify strengths and weaknesses in your activities. It’s a task far better undertaken now than mid-way through the year when a potential six months’ worth of time, effort and resources are spent on activities that aren’t working.
If you’d like help assessing your marketing, get in touch. We’d be happy to help with a marketing audit. Contact KG Moore on 01206 646 006.