It’s a simple question. Was your organization’s 2018 marketing plan a success? Your honest answer may be “Our company did well, I’m sure marketing played a role,” or “It was fine, I guess,” or “I don’t know.” If so, first, I appreciate your candor and, second, know that you’re not alone. Having a marketing plan doesn’t always mean you have set marketing goals or a measurement for what success truly is. The ability to effectively measure progress means that your organization has to clearly know what it is they’re trying to achieve with each portion of their plan. According to analysis by Smart Insights, a staggering 49% of businesses answered no when asked “Does your organization have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy?” Organizations generally understand the value that marketing can provide but being able to know specifically why they’re choosing certain tactics or how to measure the success can get trickier.
Answering that question doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, with a little foresight during your marketing plan development, you can easily set marketing goals that you can track throughout the year to ensure you have a full grasp on the value and direction of your campaigns, your time, and your budget.
Clear Marketing Goals. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.
Your marketing goals are built to support your larger business objectives, put in place to drive your company forward, to build a brand and the message behind it, and to increase sales. You need to be able to demonstrate how each of your tactics will help achieve these goals in a clear, specific, and measurable manner. That way, each goal has one outcome that will dictate its success, making it easier to judge its ultimate value.
Tying too many expectations to a single tactic unfairly allows tangential factors to interfere with understanding the actual performance against the one goal you should be trying to achieve. Aligning goals with those of your company will also allow you to keep the proper perspective in setting achievable benchmarks.
Measuring It Up: Your Goal-Setting Strategy
Subjectivity is the enemy of marketing plans. It’s the quickest way to persuade you that a tactic is performing better than it is or to convince you to pull the plug before a campaign has had a chance to succeed. A goal-setting strategy relies on objectivity and introducing metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to show marketing impact. A measurable goal is, again, specific. It’s not “we want leads to grow,” it’s “we are going to generate 10% more qualified leads over the next quarter through our website contact form.” This gives you a target to measure against and enough context to understand exactly what result is expected.
The World Doesn’t (Always) Revolve Around You
I’m on your side, I think marketing is the most important aspect of every business. Unfortunately, the majority of the world doesn’t agree with us. Success relies upon understanding how your marketing goals align with the rest of your organization and where there may be hurdles that need to be cleared to achieve goals. If your marketing goal is “increase web site visits by 50% through a paid media campaign during the first three months of 2019,” you and your company may assume that it will translate directly into sales. But even if your marketing execution results in delivering more traffic than you’ve ever dreamed of, if the site isn’t optimized to accept leads or your sales team isn’t aligned with the plan, that can lead to your company viewing the collective experience as a failure. Be sure to think the entire process through to ensure your plan is in the position to succeed.
Look at the Scoreboard: Measuring Marketing Performance
You’ve got your goals in place, now you need to measure your progress. Measuring marketing performance allows you to make strategic changes when your progress doesn’t align with the timeline that you’ve set. The tools available to you to keep track of performance are now more prevalent than ever. Platforms like Google Analytics, Salesforce, or a variety of marketing automation platforms (HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, etc.) all can present data that, when properly curated, can give you accurate, immediate insight into how your tactics are performing. Being able to access and translate this information can provide clarity about what adjustments you can make to ensure your marketing plan truly excels.
These guiding principles will allow you to make sure that your marketing plan has a purpose and a foundation to drive your tactics around all year. And at the end of the year, it’s going to make your 2020 marketing plan that much easier to both build and to justify to your organization after all the success you’ll have shown in 2019.
We hope you are enjoying this series on 2019 marketing planning. Feel free to drop us a line to tell us how you like it. Coming soon, look for posts on inbound marketing, market research, and team building, or read one of our previous posts in this series such as “5 Things You Can Do Right Now for Next Year,” or “Essential Steps to Launching Your 2019 Marketing Plan.”