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As the year comes to a close, it is time to look at how the last year has treated you and what marketing goals you want to set for the new year.
Remember the marketing trends just a couple of years ago?
- Video was on the rise.
- Social media was no longer optional.
- Live streaming increased in popularity.
- Mobile and offline marketing began to merge.
How did your company leverage those things, and what are the keys to marketing moving forward?
In the last couple of years, it seems that things have been changing faster than ever, and there are more ways to reach customers than there ever before.
General Guidelines That are Still Effective
Still, some principles remain true over time, and if you are looking to grow or revive your business in the coming year, here are the areas you should be concentrating on.
- Content is still #1, and you need content marketing more than ever to be relevant.
- Social media is still a huge source of referrals, and you need to use it creatively.
- Video still engages customers, and live streams are becoming even more important.
- Use artificial intelligence to your advantage.
- Tap into big data if you have not already, and understand and use analytics.
- Don’t ignore voice search
- Mobile marketing is still where it’s at.
While these are some general guidelines, there is not a one-size-fits-all recipe that will work for every business and every marketing scenario.
What works for a restaurant will not work for a shoe store, and an eCommerce store will have different marketing goals than a physical one.
No matter what kind of business you run, in order to set your marketing goals as the new year approaches, you will need to take some key steps.
Marketing Goals: Look at Where You’ve Been
One of the keys to setting goals going forward is knowing how you have done on your goals over the past year and where you have been.
Did you accomplish what you set out to do? If not, why not? If so, what worked and what did not?
Did your goals evolve throughout the year? How did your industry, and therefore your business, change?
What to Scrutinize
Since much of marketing efforts are now gauged towards the internet and digital advertising, there are some simple ways to look for the answers to multiple questions.
- Did your organic web traffic grow year over year? Use Google Analytics to determine this.
- Did your conversion rate increase or decrease? Why? Use tools like Moz or Ahrefs to determine this, and look at landing pages, SEO, and technical site issues. An SEO audit may be in order.
- What ad campaigns worked the best? Compare social media, PPC, and physical ad campaigns to determine your ROI, and look at how A/B testing informed those campaigns.
There are other ways to measure your success as well. Did profits and overall revenue increase?
Are you marketing the right services or products — specifically the ones that have the highest profit margins and satisfactions rates?
If you have a physical location, how was your foot traffic? What were the results of coupons, sales, and specials you might have run?
What was your ROI on these sales? How did they blend with online sales or coupons you may have offered?
Business to Business
For business to business companies, the questions are similar, but you may find that you have more detailed ones as well about your marketing persona, how you are reaching your audience, and what you can do better going forward.
Essentially it is the answer to these questions that will help you determine where you want to go in the coming year.
For instance, if your profits increased, but sales of certain products decreased, you may want to examine those products and determine what you can do to revive these products or you may want to consider removing them from your offerings altogether.
The solutions will largely be dependent upon your analysis.
Determine Where You Want to Go
To be effective, goals need to be measurable and achievable, yet challenging enough to spur growth.
This means if your revenue grew 25 percent YOY from 2017 to 2018, then your goal for the next year should be to increase that number.
While 50 percent might not be realistic, a goal of 30 percent may be achievable, but challenging to your sales and marketing staff.
At the same time, if you are in startup mode, 25 percent growth may be achievable YOY for the first few years.
But as you reach market saturation and your business begins to stabilize, you may need to adjust that number down so that it is still reasonable.
Choosing these numbers is dependent upon you looking at your specific business with a realistic eye.
You can look at several correlating goals besides profits and overall sales goals as well such as using your digital marketing to:
- Increase organic traffic
- Raise search engine rankings
- Increase website conversion rates
- Lower bounce rates
- Increase time on website and pages visited
- Increase customer lifetime value
- Higher ROI per ad spend.
Questions to Ask Yourself
What goals you set are up to you, but there are questions to ask yourself before you get started.
- Do you have the infrastructure in place to achieve your goals?
- Do you have the budget to spend on the marketing efforts you want to employ? If not, how can you increase it?
- Do you have the people in place to implement your marketing strategies? If you plan to double down on content marketing, do you have the writers you need?
Marketing is all about infrastructure and organization, budget, and personnel, and any one missing element can derail the best marketing plans.
Be sure you are prepared to meet your goals before you set them, and if you are not, create an action plan that includes these solutions.
Decide How You are Going to Get There
As mentioned above, there are a ton of different ways to meet your marketing goals this coming year.
What you need to determine, since you know your audience and have looked at where you have been and what has worked this year, is the best method of marketing going forward.
Should you continue with what you have been doing? Should you try something new?
The answer for most businesses is some of both.
Things to Remember
What you have used this past year that has gotten the greatest return may be a good idea to continue, but as things change that might not be as successful as you’d like.
Remember these things.
- Content is still king. You should have an active and evolving content strategy, and you should include various content that appeals to different users.
- Backlinks matter. As long as Google and other search engines use backlinks to help determine ranking and authority, you will need to create them and content that generates quality backlinks organically.
- Video, especially with devices like Facebook Portal and Google Hub, will matter more this year than ever before.
- Voice search is increasing as well, with voice-first devices like the Echo, Google Home, and Apple Home Pod. Make efforts to rank in these searches to stay ahead of your competition.
- Mobile continues to matter more. More searches are completed on mobile, and more purchases are completed on phones and tablets. Make sure your site is fast and responsive, and that your checkout process is simple, especially on mobile devices.
Following these guidelines will help you establish marketing goals for your business as the new year approaches.
Establishing your goals is a great start. Implement a strategy to reach them and stick with it.
Be constantly looking at analytics and reevaluating as things change.
Your marketing campaigns and your business will be more successful as a result, and you’ll be much more likely to reach your marketing goals in the coming year.