Yes, the year is nearly half over, and you’ve been heads-down and marketing for almost six months. It’s time to look up and see what you’ve achieved as a result of all your hard work. Where are you against your marketing plan and goals? What adjustments do you need to make to your marketing strategy, mix, or budget?
This post will do two things. First, remind you it’s time for the checkup. Done. Second, offer you some ways to approach the checkup and give advice on what to do with the results. Open up and say “ahhhh!”
The Data Approach
In the data approach, you compare a set of current marketing data against the measures of success, goals, or metrics you put forth in your original 2012 marketing plan. You could be tracking anything and everything that you deemed relevant to your marketing objectives. This includes everything from clickthroughs on e-newsletter ads and page views on your Web site, to impressions on a banner ad network, Webinar registrants, white paper downloads, Facebook likes, blog comments, video views, engagement opportunities generated for sales, and more.
Your media partners should be able to provide you with a dashboard or detailed reports for your online marketing campaigns. They will also have suggestions on how to adjust your marketing mix if you’re not meeting your goals. Your Web analytics program is the source of reports for the performance and effectiveness of your Web site. If you use social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, they offer reporting as well.
Gather the data, compare against plan, and determine where you are. You may end up investing more in programs that perform, pulling back from those that don’t.
The Anecdotal Approach
If you use the data approach, you can also use the anecdotal approach to gain additional information. But if your marketing plan doesn’t include specific metrics, but rather general objectives such as “increase brand awareness in our target markets,” “generate engagement opportunities for sales,” or “increase customer satisfaction,” you’ll need to rely only on anecdotal evidence to measure your marketing health.
Talk to sales people about their volume and quality of inquiries. Speak to customer service managers to find out what customers are saying. Ask your company’s executives about what they’re hearing in the market. Call a few customers for a chat.
You should have Google Alerts set up to notify you when your company and products are mentioned somewhere on the Web, whether it’s a blog, Web page, video, or news story. If you aren’t using Google Alerts, you can type the name of your company or products into search engines and see what results come up, other than your own company’s results, to get a sense of your company’s presence in the market. There are also a number of monitoring tools that can track your mentions on social media channels.
While these tactics are useful in the absence of quantitative marketing data, we suggest you attach metrics to your marketing plan to better measure the performance of the plan. In fact, you can do it starting the second half of this year. Which brings us to…
The Next Six Months
If you’re halfway to year-end goals, congratulations. If you’re not halfway, you may need to make seasonal or quarterly adjustments before drawing any conclusions. For example, your company may get its biggest bump in sales during the fourth quarter, or in the summer season.
If you’re not where you need to be after six months, you have several options. You can do one or all three:
1. Adjust your marketing mix to take resources from programs that aren’t working or whose performance you can’t measure, and put them into measurable programs that are more specifically aligned with your goals. Talk to your media partners and/or your agency to get their recommendations.
2. Change your goals. This isn’t necessarily a suggestion of surrender. If your industry or the economic climate has changed, or if something occurs beyond your control (budget change, for instance), you may need to change your plans for the second half of the year.
3. Pick three new or revised objectives you want to achieve in the next six months, determine the measurements of success, and adjust your marketing resources to achieve them. Then put your focus there.
Six months to go. Keep on marketing.
Have you done your six-month checkup? Where do you stand? What adjustments will you make? Let us know in the comments section below.