Marketing Goals for 2013 That Can Make A Difference
The new year is well underway, but its still not too late to commit to some New Year’s marketing resolutions for 2013 that can lift your online marketing results this year and in future years.
1. Talk and Listen
A new year’s resolution implies direction and goals. Its one thing to define goals for fitness or nutrition since you only have yourself to answer to. However, when it comes to marketing goals, you may have colleagues, supervisors or partners to answer to.
So, before you can formulate goals and commit to some resolutions for 2013, you ought to know what your organization needs. Don’t assumes “more sales” or other facile answers sum everything up. You may find other more pressing objectives like reducing lead cost, improving lead quality, or presenting an improved image to rank higher. Talk to colleagues, talk to sales, talk to customers, talk to anyone and everyone to determine a few things that could be considered signposts of success.
Not sure where to start? Treat it like a project, and begin with a good questionnaire and “discovery” process. Corral relevant stakeholders into a well planned one hour “kick off” meeting and set a follow up review of your findings. You’ll have a set of heroic goals and clear direction in no time!
2. Get Out the Tape Measure
If you know your goals, great! Now, you need to know when you’ve met them so you know when to give yourself that pat on the back and break out the bubbly. Plus, great analytics gives you something to demonstrate your value and work to management in a way that’s tangible.
This is a good time of year to make sure all of your analytics are working properly (or to implement some, if you haven’t). In 2013, with ubiquitous and often free measurement tools, there is no excuse to NOT measure progress, even on more contentious goals like conversion and sales. Its all possible with the right tools and expertise, yet in our experience, 95% of organizations of any size generally do not have properly setup analytics. They either measure the wrong things very precisely, or they do not measure at all. Occasionally, technical obstacles can provide limitations, but in our experience those can be overcome with the right expertise.
Check out online blogs, discussion groups, and talk to an expert to be sure your analytics are properly. If necessary, invest in a short report or in correcting problems with your web site’s forms, cart, or other pages that bar proper measurement of information such as cost of visitors, cost to conversion, or the cost to acquire each customer and your ROI.
3. Don’t Drown in the Writing
This may seem unorthodox advice given that the preceding year saw marketers “discover” content marketing as a strategy. In fact, this is nothing more than a re-discovery of a basic requirement of marketing that has existed since the early 2000s. Quality content has always been an important factor in SEO, social media and blogging. Come on folks, there’s nothing new here!
What is significant in 2013 and beyond is that so many people have woken up to content marketing as a “strategy” (read: requirement) that particular topics are now saturated with good quality content on the interwebs. This necessitates extremely well thought out strategies or a source of low cost but quality content generation.
Since most organizations don’t have the in-house content creation muscle to make content marketing a cost effective enterprise, especially given competition from affiliate marketers and bloggers, Polar Design recommends exploring a strategy of encouraging user-generated content through engagement and incentives. This leverages your resources and results in many times more pages of quality content per marketing dollar spent.
…what is significant in 2013 and beyond is that so many people have woken up to content marketing that the interwebs are becoming truly saturated with good quality content…
User generated content comes in many forms and flavors – our personal favorite is incentive-driven content creation, like the SearchBoston Share & Win app, a social media application that Polar Design developed. This app gameifies content creation, awarding points for reviews and shares, and SearchBoston then awards top point earners among both consumers and businesses with rewards like gift cards.
4. Testing, 1… 2… 3…
Even the smartest marketer doesn’t always know exactly what imagery, copy or strategy will work the best for an ad campaign. A/B Testing or Multi-Variate testing gives us the tools to run several variations at the same time – from landing page designs, to ad copy, to keyword selection or ad placement. The results of a well structure testing program, in our experience, are astounding – differences as high as 300% in conversion rates or cost per acquisition of each customer.
5. Develop a Customer Centric Approach
Whether you are tasked with marketing a commoditized product or service, or you simply need an edge in your marketing, consider adding product customization to your offerings. Simple features like engravings and custom labels, or enhanced capabilities like product configurators give your customers a greater sense of ownership, control and personalization in their choice of product. This delivers greater perceived value, improving everything from your offer’s appeal to its sales results.
That’s not all – there are plenty of details to sweat that cross the boundaries of design, technology and marketing know-how: for example, how you use thank you pages after e-commerce cart submissions or form submissions, whether you use autoresponders well (e.g., to ask customers feedback two months after a purchase, remind them of re-order dates or notify them of useful add-ons), and whether you invite discussion of your product or service benefits in social media.
6. Don’t Obsess Over Mobile Ads (for now)
Marketers have yet to figure out how to make money through mobile consistently. There are a few exceptions, but most have tried and seen their marketing dollars die. As exciting as it is to chase new opportunities, in online marketing as in technology, pioneers usually don’t fare well.
Excitement about mobile comes and goes in waves, most recently with the app revolution that has created a preponderance of interesting yet unprofitable apps.
Please take note: we are not advising that you ignore mobile entirely – certainly a mobile site that is optimized for small screens so it doesn’t require panning or zooming with fingers is one of many essential footprints your organization should have online (an example of such a mobile site – visit the link on that page on your smartphone).
However, if your organization is like most brands, there is still plenty to be done to eek out significant improvements in ROI with small adjustments to landing pages, e-mail newsletter subjects, social media strategies, and other aspects of now established and proven marketing methods.
7. Attend a Conference (or Two)
Its very easy to get caught up in day to day meetings, research, analysis, reports, more meetings… that you can lose sight of the relentless pace of change in marketing. Marketing conferences are more than a chance to meet vendors – most have educational seminars run by reasonably experienced specialists that can help you fill the gaps in your knowledge of particular areas. They often includes networking events where valuable relationships develop. We know how difficult it is to break away from the office, but we can’t stress how often we’ve made it to a well selected event and come back feeling intellectually refreshed and filled with new ideas for us and our clients.
8. Develop Your Processes
You can get small improvements in your marketing results require education and expertise. You can get major, long-lasting improvements with a disciplined approach. A consistent process of revisiting key marketing metrics, analyzing them in the context of your goals and what you’ve done, and then using that input, brainstorming to identify areas of strength (that should be repeated) and weakness (that should be addressed) is the only way to get outsized results that will impress management or clients.
You’ve seen plenty of circular diagrams or flow charts expressing how “iterations” in marketing lead to continual improvements, and we discuss this in the “iteration” section of our Crystallization philosophy – so we don’t need to repeat them here. However, we do have one point to make to close out this last not least of our 8 resolutions: process is easy to talk about, a little bit harder to define, and very hard to pursue consistently. Lack of discipline is the main reason most processes fails. However, if you can do something to remind yourself to implement and follow whatever process works for you (like a repeating outlook task or something similar), you can develop a great process into a habit that will:
- Build momentum in your marketing results
- Gradually lead to more sales
- Justify growth in your budget
- Permit you to access more resources to move even faster with marketing improvements
Consistent, disciplined pursuit of process is what can make your marketing efforts truly impressive.