How to conduct a year-end review of your marketing
Uncovering the true performance of your marketing
This is the right time to do a mop-up of your marketing and undertake some general housekeeping to ensure you start the year in the best shape. It is easy to jump to the wrong conclusions and also feel marketing isn’t working without doing any proper analysis.
Remember that marketing can serve several objectives from raising awareness of your business to generating website traffic to generating leads. Always start by looking at what you set out to achieve.
Here are some key areas to look at:-
1. Look at how your leads are generated
Examine your lead or enquiry source throughout the year. How have your prospective customers found you? Break down the main areas. For example, this could be Google, Paid Ads, referrals, Linked In, events or newspapers. This is an invaluable exercise, as it often tells you to need to relook at how you track your leads to ensure you’re capturing the right data consistently. This becomes more complex when you have sales, business development and customer service teams. As you expand your marketing, you will need to refine this criteria.
Once you have this data you should be able to see where the most valuable channels are for your future marketing. Now you can calculate the cost per lead. To do this, you’ll need a record of all your external costs – this will include media spend, event attendance, content creation, and production etc. Of course, it won't factor in any internal time you and your team have spent.
A cost per lead will allow you to understand your top-performing channels and aid budget planning for the year ahead. Be aware though, that it won’t include new areas of investment that you haven’t considered or generated any leads from. For example webinars or email marketing. Over time this metric will become more useful.
2. Examine the original enquiry source of your sales
Now repeat the exercise but look at how your customers originally found you as there can be a difference. Remember these are the customers that have converted into a sale so these are your most important source of data and if your business is growing and is profitable, ideally you want to repeat this customer journey to win more customers.
Remember not all sales are equal. You want to focus on your more profitable customers so this may depend on what they are buying, what they are spending and how often. It really depends on your business model.
As long as you have sales or billing data and a record of how the sale has originally been generated, you can calculate the acquisition cost, also known as the CAC. This is a key metric for marketing. You can then work out how much money you can afford to invest acquiring customers. Clients often ask how much should they spend on customer acquisition. This really depends on your industry. A general rule is 25% of lifetime margin.
Ideally, you can then take this a stage further and calculate the lifetime value of a customer to give you the complete picture. To do this you will need to know how long the average customer stays with you and how much they spend. You should aim for a lifetime value of at least 3 times your customer acquisition cost.
3. Analyse website traffic
Look at your website traffic using a tool like Google Analytics. Analyse the key sources of traffic – can you spot monthly and annual trends? Has there been an increase in traffic this year? How is the most amount of traffic being generated? How important is organic traffic and traffic from social media?
There are no rules about where your traffic should come from and this does vary from business to business. However, the key here is to look at upwards trends and ensure annual growth. You want to aim at growing free channels like organic, social media and referral channels and reduce paid for channels such as social media advertising and Google ads.
4. Undertake a social media audit
Social media can easily absorb 1-2 days a week of your time , or a significant amount of spend a year if you outsource. Therefore, you want to know that this investment is worthwhile and paying off. It is a question I get asked all the time. But it isn't this straight forward to answer.
You’ll need to take into account what you want to achieve with social media. According to Quick Sprout, these most commonly fall into 3 main areas for small businesses:-
Generating leads - 70% of businesses main social media goal
Generating brand awareness - 53% of businesses main social media goal
Engaging with customers - 50% of businesses main social media goal
Remember this really comes down to your business - for some businesses, customer service will be the key driver, whilst other sales. Social media requires dedication and commitment, so you only get out of it what you put in.
To conduct an audit, you'll need to examine your social media insights for each platform. There are dozens of metrics within social media and it can become overwhelming but essentially there are 4 core areas:-
Awareness - impressions and reach
Engagement - likes, comments, clicks and shares
Share of voice - volume and sentiment
ROI - referrals and sales
However, if you want to take more of a birds eye view, then start by identifying how many followers you've acquired year on year and what actions they have taken i.e. have they visited your website, have they shared posts and how they are contributing to your website traffic, lead generation or even customer sales.
5. Ask your customers for feedback
When was the last time you asked for feedback from your customers? So much has happened over the last year so it would be wise to ask your most loyal fans how they are feeling and undertake a satisfaction survey. A free tool like Survey Monkey makes it easy to administer and analyse.
Prospectus customers love reviews and case studies so if you haven't already, start collecting these. You can learn a lot from these as well. Customers may be more receptive to taking part at this time of the year and people are already starting to get into the festive spirit.
Start the year in the best shape
Hopefully, this has given you some practical advice to take forward. Marketing is complex and has hundreds of different ways you can measure it. Learn more over in my blog how to measure your marketing.
A review focusing on your marketing at this time of the year will prove fruitful and you'll get a lot out of it. Above all it will tell you what is working and what isn’t so you can make well informed decisions for the year ahead.
If you need some help undertaking a marketing review of your business led by an impartial and experienced expert, then please get in touch.
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