How to Look Back & Plan Ahead with Your Marketing Efforts in December

December 26, 2018 | Kaleigh Moore

The end of the year is an exciting time for marketers. There’s the talk of emerging trends in the year ahead, new products, the latest stats, and can’t-miss conferences to plan for.  

But with all the bright and shiny newness a fresh year brings, it’s also an important time to pause and assess your digital marketing strategy as a whole.

After all, what better time is there to look retrospectively at your overall efforts than at the end of the year? December gives you the chance to see what was wildly successful, what fell flat, and how to improve in the new year.

But what’s the best way to go about doing this?

Follow the steps below to map out your end-of-year digital marketing strategy assessment and to plan for 2019.

Review your goals

A great place to start is back where it all began—your goals. If you don’t have any goals set in place, now is the perfect time to establish them.

Goals are important to have because they validate the purpose behind each tactic and enable you to track performance easily. When setting goals, be sure to define your KPIs or the crucial metrics that help you determine the success of a tactic. If you have goals set in place, reviewing them at the end of the year can help you figure out where your efforts are trending.

While reviewing your goals, it’s important to verify if they still make sense for your company and what you’re trying to accomplish moving forward. This is also an excellent opportunity to establish new goals in case your priorities have shifted or if you’ve achieved your objectives and have new areas to focus on.

Understand what your customers are saying

There is nothing quite like good old fashioned customer feedback. And that doesn’t only mean positive feedback. Companies can gain valuable insight from all types of customer feedback—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Customer feedback can help you reevaluate your goals, make changes to products or systems, and even identify holes in your marketing strategy. This valuable information shouldn’t be overlooked—after all, it’s your customers that see your product differently. Leverage that perspective.

Also, knowing what your customers are saying about a particular product or aspect of your business can ultimately help reduce customer churn, and if approached correctly, can increase customer loyalty, too. If customers see that you’re making changes based on their feedback—under the premise that it’s going to help improve the customer experience, of course —that will help build customer loyalty.

Armed with this valuable knowledge, you can help ensure you’re doing everything you can to make your existing and potential customers happy and engaged in the coming year.

Assess your content and digital properties

Things change in the blink of an eye these days, which is why it’s essential to have a solid grasp on your content and digital properties.

The end of the year is an optimal time to take inventory of what content you have and determine its value. Did you know that according to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising?

Do you have any content that needs to be tweaked, updated, or overhauled?

Take a look at how each piece stacks up against the KPIs you set and determine what action, if any, needs to be taken. As you go through your content, you may even be struck with a genius new idea.

A few questions to keep in mind while taking stock of your content include:

  • Are there pieces of content that can be improved or refreshed?
  • How are your digital properties faring as they currently stand?
  • How can you use your content to provide even more value to your customers in the new year?
  • Can any content be repackaged into a different format?
  • Do you have existing content that is no longer serving a purpose?
  • What changes need to be made to maximize the performance of each piece?

You should also revisit how your team creates content in the first place. Are you creating content that can be scaled? Or are you having to spend tons of time reworking everything you create after six months? Constructing content that is relevant and scalable is critical.

Although this process can be tedious, analyzing your content and digital properties before the holiday break will set you up so you can hit the ground running come January.

Calculate your digital marketing ROI

Similar to checking your content against your KPIs, calculating the ROI of your marketing efforts can help you understand the true value of your strategy as it relates to the energy, time, and money spent.

To calculate your ROI, you’ll need to consider two factors:

  • The amount you invested in your digital marketing campaigns (including money and time)
  • The financial gain of your tracked conversions

This helps you back up claims with hard numbers and verify performance. Having hard numbers to bridge your tactics can not only help you see the results of your efforts but can help you make more informed decisions about what you should try next year, what tactics need work, etc.

If you aren’t sure how much time and effort you’ve spent on your digital marketing this year, there is no time like the present to implement a tracking system. Make it a priority to track your budget and hours spent throughout the year, as well as your conversions, so you can accurately see the benefits of your hard work.

Additionally, calculating your digital marketing ROI can help you make a case for budget and salary increases. In fact, according to Hubspot, marketers who calculate the ROI of their strategy are 1.6 times more likely to receive higher budgets. This simple figure can help prove the impact your team has on growing the company, so it’s always smart to keep tabs on this.

Make a plan

After you’ve reviewed your goals, analyzed your customer feedback, assessed your existing content, and calculated your end-of-year ROI, it’s time to make a plan.

It’s important to ask your team, “How can we take our findings and forge an even better plan for next year?” Then ask how your new plan will align with trends expected for the next year.

Many marketers think that once a plan is approved, it’s set in stone. However, this isn’t always the case. As you know, things shift, priorities change, and tactics no longer render effective.

If you haven’t already, implement more check-ins throughout the year with your team to assess the performance of your campaigns and the overall strategy. This information can help you stay on track all year long. It also enables you to intercept any mistakes before they turn into more significant issues. Check-ins give you the opportunity to make changes during the year when necessary. Waiting for things to derail is not an effective way to determine what needs to change. Instead, try to get ahead of any issues.

Wrap up

The close of the year brings the temptation to sit back, relax, and “worry about it next year.” But there is valuable work to be done before the ball drops.

Taking a hard look at what you’ve accomplished this year, as well as where you can improve, will make all the difference the following year. Starting Q1 off on the right foot sets positive precedence for how the entire year will fare.

Need help adding interactive, value-adding content to your digital marketing strategy? We can help.

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