The above might not make business sense to your business but the point is, this is Q3, or 2H (second half) of the year. What have you learned from the first half? Let’s assume a few things and then work through those assumptions.
Assumptions…You were tasked with…
1. Creating a brand new 2015 marketing strategy at the end of last year.
2. Increasing brand awareness for your brand while also supporting some sales goals, such as improving web sales.
3. Increasing web traffic.
4. Improving the SEO & PPC outcomes.
5. Helping launch new products.
How will you track success on the above?
1. Creating a strategy is one thing, having that strategy work out is quite another. As a leader of a team, or department, you need to be monitoring the outcomes of all of your activities.
Can you track how many leads were collected at a tradeshow? Is this more or less than last year? And did more of them open a post tradeshow email you sent?
What about costs for all of your activities? Is the effort worth the investment?
I was once told that as a manager I was spending too much time on planning and research. I would have agreed with that statement if my team wasn’t proving that what we were doing was actually working. And if no one spent any time thinking about what the next practical thing to do would be we’d be in the same situation we were in before. No plan and a lot of time and money wasted.
2. Brand awareness is a tricky thing. Wouldn’t it be nice to tie a pretty bow around every “like” you get and tie it to a sale? That would be the best success story ever and I would take that job in a heart beat. But, reality is that brand awareness is hard to track. Your best bet is to be present in the places where your customers talk. Find the right forums, social platforms, news outlets, sites, blogs, magazines, whatever and be present. Answer people’s questions and be there when they need you. It’s a huge effort, but somebody has to do it in order to get your brand out there in the right way…and the right way isn’t beating your customers over the head over your most awesome widget and its 13 different features. BORING!
Now web sales fall into that “yay factor” where you can easily track things back to your marketing efforts, most of the time. If you have the right tracking tools in place you’ll be able to easily see that a sale came from an email you sent, or that they clicked through a digital ad in a pub, or better yet thought your Facebook posting was SO compelling that they simply had to have your latest whos-it. Congrats! You’re on easy street now. But, if your efforts are not driving sales then you need to re-evaluate what you are doing. Perhaps you’re in the wrong place, or perhaps you’re simply there at the wrong time…or, you’re not using the right lingo to attract your perfect customer. Evaluate, measure, repeat!
3. I love to help increase web traffic. In my last role, my team was able to increase web traffic by over 100% as compared to the previous year. Now, the fact that we had an online store at that time certainly helped, but the planning that went into all other marketing activities also didn’t hurt. We were able to roll out a new PR plan and got a ton of new eyes on our site. We also improved the look of our emails and our paid ads. Just those three things alone will help you bring in some changes.
4. Improving SEO & PPC outcomes is a monumental task. Let’s break these two into two topics.
SEO – this is an effort that a lot of people need to be involved in. Marketing needs to hold the reigns on this one as all marketing activities must tie into the same SEO plan. You can’t have three different departments on three different pages and marketing trying to keep up with everything, that’s how you end up below the fold or worse yet on page 2 of a google search. You need to sit down with whoever the other stake holders might be…perhaps it’s your technical writers, or product folks, or applications team, and don’t forget your sales team. You need to make sure that you set some very specific goals as to what you need to be focusing on and what specific terms you will be using to convey your story. To be honest, this should have been done at the beginning of the year, but let’s not get the perfect get in the way of the good.
Once you have your strategy in place, make sure that those terms are the ones you are using everywhere.
Title tags, alt tags, meta descriptions, video descriptions, product descriptions, social media postings, PR, ads, the list goes on and on but at a minimum you need to have these areas covered.
PPC – this can be a tricky one. The easy part is that once you have your SEO strategy and keyword list you should use the same keywords for your PPC efforts. The fun part is, that you can really play with your PPC money. If you’re looking for brand awareness, then do some display ads. Google will even help you with this. Pick the keywords you want to focus on and they will supply you with a list of sites that talk about those related topics. Pick where you want your ads to appear and once again Google will step in and create the ad for you. You might not get a lot of sales out of it, but you can be optimistic, but you will sure as hell get a lot of eyes on your ads…i.e. impressions, and that’s a good thing.
But, be careful with your budget as it can dwindle very quickly. In one of my last roles we had to really reel in the spend and instead of trying to be all things to all people we chose to focus on branding and getting our name out there, and guess what, we finally got some conversions!
5. Ahhh, product launches. Another place where there can be too many cooks in the kitchen. But, this can be easily mitigated if you have a plan! Have I said that word a few times already? I love to plan, and I love numbers…but I digress.
In a previous role we had just gotten into phase gating. Phase gating allows for proper planning for a product launch. There can be times when a product needs to be launched yesterday but if that’s the case then often times…someone dropped the ball, especially if no one knows about this new hullabaloo product.
In order to have a successfully marketed new product you need to get a few ducks in a row. Get everyone aware of the product and its features, but more importantly, why its even needed in the market. Get the appropriate content written about this new product and get some collateral pulled together. Collateral that has been planned ahead for will not only look better but will also last you more than a month…I say this because if everything is a rush, then chances are some things haven’t been thought through and you’ll need to update your new lit the minute it comes in house, and that would be a shame.
Make sure that you have your team trained, your ads lined up, your press releases written, samples ready to show off at the next tradeshow, and your team ready to blast the hell out of this new thing.
Here is a word of caution, just because you’re the first on the market doesn’t mean you’ll succeed. There is a time and a place and a right way to do things.
So with that, I leave you with a few thoughts.
1. Have you looked at the metrics from the first two quarters? What are they telling you?
2. Have you thought of a way to improve a current process or two that will allow you to have even more success in something?
3. Have you considered not doing something? It’s ok to say that this thing you suggested just didn’t work. It’s better to admit that now, rather than at the end of the year when you’ve spent twice as much on it.
Good luck, and knock Q3 out of the ball park!!!