Why It’s Important to Review and Analyse Your Marketing Plan (Part 2)
Christmas is a distant memory; we’re starting to think about booking our summer holidays and we’ve only mistakenly put 2016 as the year once in the last week! It’s safe to say we’re firmly entrenched in 2017 now and hopefully your marketing strategy and plan are as firmly embedded.
(If not, check out our article ‘Why is a marketing strategy and plan so important?’)
However, establishing a solid marketing plan is only the start. Marketing plans are not a one-time tick on a to-do list. It’s vital to remember that a marketing plan is a live document, meaning you should be regularly visiting and tweaking it based on what is (and, more importantly, isn’t) working.
Why Do We Need to Revisit Our Marketing Plan?
Most marketing plans, no matter how comprehensive and awe-inspiring they may be, have the same flaw – they’re written to cover a year. 12 months is a long time in any business, and customer expectations can change considerably in that period. Relying on marketing activities that worked well for you in 2016, doesn’t guarantee your customers will respond to them with the same passion a year later.
Many factors can impact your marketing results; what your competitors and peers are doing, market conditions, demand for your product or service or new marketing methods becoming available such as a new social media platform.
You need to keep aware of all of this so you can adjust your marketing plan accordingly. Your marketing plan is a living, breathing document and it requires you to frequently analyse your results and make changes when necessary. Otherwise it’s unlikely to help you reach your business goals.
What Is Benchmarking and How Do We Do It?
To effectively review your marketing activities, you need to be able to measure whether the current plan is performing as desired. You can do this, in part, by assessing the specific goals you set out in your marketing strategy, such as: have you achieved a 50% increase in your email list subscribers, or found 20 new prospects in the first quarter?
However, some marketing efforts are harder to measure. How many new website visitors did your most recent Facebook ad bring, or how many people used the discount voucher and did it increase the amount of sales you’d normally have at this time of year. To judge these results, we use a method called ‘benchmarking’.
To know if your marketing efforts are working you must know where your company was before, benchmarking provides a reference point for you see how well your current efforts are performing.
So how do you collect the data required to understand the current state of your marketing? There are various tools that help with this, including:
- Google Analytics
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Social Media Analytics (referred to as Insights on Facebook)
These tools help you measure a variety of activities, below are some common ones to start looking at:
- Number of unique visitors and visits to your website
- How long customers are staying on your site
- Engagement on social media platforms (follows, likes, shares, retweets, comments)
- Current SEO rankings for important keywords
- Number of new enquiries
- Value of sales generated
If you’re currently not benchmarking when you do your marketing review, we recommend setting up the following to get you started:
- Connect Google Analytics to your website
- Connect and verify site for Google Webmaster Tools
- Review analytics on social platforms
- Create a spreadsheet to record key metrics (as above plus any other specific metrics associated to your business or industry)
- Enter figures for the last 3 months into the spreadsheet
- Revisit on a monthly basis to record trends
Troubleshooting Your Marketing Plan
Once you have your benchmarks in place you can use the data to review how your marketing activities are performing. The most obvious areas to review are sales and leads / new business opportunities – have these increased, stayed the same or decreased? Obviously remember to keep in mind any significant changes in your industry or marketplace that might contribute to this.
Other areas to review include:
- Can I trace new clients or increases in sales to specific marketing actions?
- Are my actions generating income or are they costing more than they’re bringing in?
- Which actions have had the most positive results, can we do more of this?
- Which actions have been least productive? Do we have more of these scheduled in the plan?
- Are there any tactics or actions that have ‘failed’? Do we have more of these scheduled in the plan?
Look at each piece of your strategy and try to identify what’s working for you and what’s not. It’s important to remember that if something isn’t working, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to ditch it entirely. Try tweaking it first, perhaps the copy needs reworking or a different image using, test different formats, offers and pricing to see what your audience reacts to.
A simple tweak could see positive results and you’ve saved yourself the work of having to coming up with an entirely new marketing activity. On the other hand, if none of the changes make any difference then there’s a more deeply rooted flaw and it’s time to head back to drawing board.
How Often Should You Review Your Marketing Plans Effectiveness?
This depends on how quickly things change and progress in your business and industry. Ideally, you’d make a regular check on general progress at least monthly, and as long as everything was going ok then a more in-depth review every quarter or so.
However, if your marketing activity is geared towards short bursts then you need to monitor the outcome of each burst of activity straightaway so you can make any changes required.
Mother’s Day, Easter, Father’s Day and the School Holidays are all fast approaching. Have you included how your business might add value to these in your marketing plan?
Overwhelmed? We Can Help.
C4B Media’s approach to marketing strategy is built on years of experience of helping blue chips, start-ups and everything in between. Our approach is simple; we’ll sit down with you to work out the best marketing strategy to help you achieve your business goals and aspirations.
If you’re interested in working with us to develop a marketing strategy designed to get you there, then contact our friendly team on 01763 877110 or click here to start your journey with us.