By this time of year, most people will have stopped going to the gym every day, and they’re probably eating more than just lettuce. They’re back to driving over the speed limit and forgetting to floss. However, there are unbreakable resolutions every marketing team should have made to plan for the year ahead. The world of marketing is changing fast, so if your team didn’t adopt these changes on New Year’s Day, it’s not too late to start.
Document Current Procedures
If your marketing department spends the year with agile team meetings, insightful data analysis and overflowing creativity, but you don’t document the process, you’re missing out. Take some time to analyze what you’re currently doing and create a record of each marketing practice.
Documentation takes discipline and consistency, but making it a part of your routine can dramatically improve the effectiveness of your team.
Documentation can offer the following benefits:
- It provides evidence of change. With it, you can tell how many strategies your team generated and which strategies made it to implementation.
- Documentation enables you to track growth and revenue, and relate both to specific activities and procedures.
- It helps you pinpoint areas of weakness, to develop ways to improve underperforming indicators or support the need for additional staff.
- Documentation provides a clear reference for onboarding new employees. While training won’t explain why you do everything you do, documentation provides a complex overview.
If your team is new to it, identify for them the most important areas for documentation, choosing a handful of your team’s core functions. Decide how much detail your team needs and what format members prefer. Some groups require text they can skim, others favor videos.
Work together to select an appropriate system and assign roles. Most groups will seldom use a binder that sits on a shelf, but Google Docs and Evernote are accessible from anywhere. Set up a calendar that designates time to generate documentation.
Once a week or month, allow your team to generate documentation. Describe critical processes like lead generation, developing assets for inbound campaigns, the steps you take to optimize conversion rates and how you generate buyer personas. Note original project objectives and how you decide when you’ve reached the end. Over time, return to your documentation to see where you were successful and where you made mistakes you can avoid in the future.
Refine Email Marketing
Email marketing still works, but only if it’s personalized. Businesses invest in email marketing because it allows them to send material to users on their mobile devices without having to spend on pay-per-click ads or invest in new technology. Email messages offer more information than a text or ad.
Email offers and coupons consistently result in online and in-store sales. Users receive them more positively than other more intrusive forms of marketing when they are allowed to opt in and out. Email marketing can be easily customized and combined with other marketing efforts.
Make the most of email marketing by using dynamic content. Instead of creating a new email for each audience group, create multiple versions that automatically adjust based on the information you have on subscribers. Integrate your email platform with your customer relationship management (CRM) technology and your e-commerce website for a wider data range.
Use automation to trigger emails when users complete tasks. For example, you might send them a VIP discount when they spend more than a certain dollar amount to show how much you value them. Make sure that, when users follow the link within their personalized email, it takes them to a personalized landing page to continue the experience.
Maintain Data Quality Year-Round
Sometimes marketers start with the data, then get so focused on generating creative messages and propositions, they don’t continue to monitor data quality. Data-driven marketing is only effective if data is correctly captured and regularly maintained.
Start by finding out where the data you’re working with came from. If it was gathered from a telephone poll, verify it was recently compiled with a script or recordings. If it relates to a study, find a record of the actual tests, not just a summary of results published elsewhere.
Data quality impacts email delivery, marketing consistency, and lead generation. When marketers base work on bad data, they waste time and resources. The more time that goes by, the greater the impact.
Focus on your Content Strategy
One of the most important areas for businesses to invest in 2018 is content marketing. The Content Marketing Institute found organizations with a documented content strategy reported significantly higher success than those who had an informal strategy or no strategy at all.
Instead of just churning out ideas for content and creating it, revisit last year’s campaigns to see what topics generated a high number of leads, clicks, and social shares. Which assets can you connect to tangible improvement? Upcycle your most popular content by approaching it from a fresh angle or in a new format.
While pinpointing what worked is a good starting point, buyers are constantly changing. Identify current buyer pain points and marketing shifts. Find out what topics are fresh or not currently covered elsewhere to stand out from your competitors.
Map out your content for the year. While you want to leave team members free to respond to new trends and breaking news, there are themes that will carry from month to month. Collaborate consistently with other departments to receive a regular infusion of fresh material.
Align Marketing with Sales
Sales and marketing work together to accomplish the same goal, but because their day-to-day work is so different, they sometimes lose touch. Schedule a regular meeting to review how marketing and sales support each other where you can exchange information on what procedures you follow, what resources you use and the industry best practices you find most effective.
Let sales team members know what marketing staff is doing and update your team when sales teams meet goals and quotas. Invite their input for upcoming campaigns or content. Use Google document sharing to make the idea exchange easy and accessible. Create a shared calendar where marketing can input promotions and sales can add important deadlines.
Once you’ve created and posted offers and started gathering leads, share talking points about your promotion. Helps familiarize sales teams with the key selling points to emphasize when they follow up with prospects, and consider arming them with email templates they can use to follow up on prospect conversations.
Invest in Learning
Marketing has seen an explosion of new technology in the past few years, and the pace will continue to accelerate. To remain competitive, marketers of all ages should adopt an attitude of lifetime learning. Each member of your team has different interests and strengths. Start the year by developing a plan to make the most of them.
Analyze gaps in the skills your team already has and what your department needs. List current technology and build your wish list for the year ahead. Require each employee to write out a personal learning goal for the year and create a systematic plan for achieving it. It might involve completing an online course, completing coursework for an additional degree, attending an industry conference or mastering a new skill. Set checkpoints for evaluating progress toward that goal and encourage their initiative each step of the way.
Set aside time while it’s still early in the year to plot a course for success, with a plan that encourages accountability and provides rewards along the way. When you look back at the end of the year, you’ll agree your growth was worth the effort.
At Aquent, we supply creative, digital and marketing solutions to change the way the world works. Find out how we can help your organization reach its goals when you contact us today. We solve digital and marketing staffing issues across businesses. We believe every detail counts.