Now that we’re officially in 2014, this is a good time to review marketing strategies from the past year and determine what worked well, what needs improvement, and where it’s time to look into some new initiatives.
Remember, marketing in today’s digital age requires continual management and the willingness to adapt to new trends and initiatives.
As we often note, the playing field changes rapidly these days, and while that doesn’t mean you should get away from solid core principles, it does mean you need to stay on top of what’s working and what isn’t — because those can change virtually overnight, especially given Google’s proclivity for suddenly instituting massive changes.
With that in mind, consider these tips and notes regarding your marketing strategy in 2014. They’re mostly big-picture considerations, and some likely will seem like common sense, but it’s always important to make sure the basics are covered before expanding out from there:
Analyze 2013 trends
Take a very close look at exactly how the past year broke down for your business, asking key questions as you go:
- Where did your sales and revenue come from in 2013 — mostly from existing customers, or new customers?
- Who were your best (and worst) customers, and why?
- What are your best lead sources?
- Could your closing rate be improved? Who was able to slip the hook?
Analyze Your 2013 Marketing Trends
Similarly, ask yourself these questions and determine the answers:
- How much traffic did your website receive?
- How many leads did you generate, both online and offline?
- What’s your conversion rate on those leads?
- Are you happy with the return you’re getting on your investment
Determine your goals and company vision for 2014
Where do you picture your company by the end of the year? Take a moment to craft a description of what things will look like then — don’t be afraid to dream big, and be specific about your goals. The only way to put those plans into action is to write them down and focus your efforts toward them.
Clearly define anything that’s standing in the way of achieving your vision and start determining a strategy to attack those obstacles. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” might be a cliché, but some clichés exist for a reason: because they’re true.
Determine ways you can clear these obstacles, and don’t make these down-the-line strategies: Choose a few that you can start this quarter, and get to work. As with anything, be sure these strategies can be clearly tracked through metrics, because another important truism is “What gets measured gets done.”
Catch up on what your competition’s been doing
If you haven’t taken the time lately review your competitors’ practices and any new initiatives they’ve launched, now’s the time. Just as we encourage you to be flexible and adaptable to the constantly changing playing field of marketing today, you have to figure some of the competition has been doing the same.
So it’s time for some detective work: Review your competitors’ websites and see what’s been added, what’s been changed, and what they’re doing that might work just as well (or better) for you.
See whether they’ve been upgrading their social media outreach, and how successful (or unsuccessful) they’ve been at that. Sometimes you can learn more from your competitors mistakes than from their successes. (That is, they can help show you what not to do.)
Check out their business profiles on LinkedIn (presuming they have them), and do some Google searching for news articles and other press mentions. It can also be beneficial to run their websites through online utilities such as the HubSpot marketing grader to see how their online presence compares to yours.
Track, analyze, and evolve
The most critical aspect of refining your marketing strategy is tracking everything you do with quantifiable metrics, taking the time to understand those metrics, and evolving your approach based on them. It’s a basic tenet of business, sure, but it especially important in all phases of online marketing.
If you have several people on staff tasked with oversight of various business goals and promotional aspects, make sure they’re working on formalized projects with structured deadlines and goals. Set up regular meetings to review progress and to identify and solve issues. Learn from what works and what doesn’t, and evolve your tactics as needed.