The first quarter of 2018 is over. I can’t believe it, either. While you might normally wait until mid-year to conduct a marketing analysis, doing it now will benefit you the rest of the year.
Why Conduct a Marketing Analysis
Assessing your marketing strategy now will help you identify problems and opportunities, giving you three whole quarters to act on them. For example, are you on track for your quarterly and annual revenue goals? Are you within budget? Have any changes occurred, internally or externally, that could disrupt your strategy? Can you glean any data from your Q1 campaigns to strengthen your marketing for the rest of the year?
Asking these questions now will help you position your company for a more successful year. Here is your 20-point marketing analysis checklist.
Your primary goal as a marketer is driving growth, so, while many marketers shy away from financials, your marketing analysis should start with reviewing revenue and budget.
Revenue: Assess whether you are on track in terms of revenue goals for the first quarter. If you are lagging, consider how this affects your forecasting for the next quarter. More important, how can you make up for that loss? In addition, look at product or service trends. Are certain products performing better or worse than expected? This may affect how you allocate your marketing budget for the remainder of the year.
Expenses: Look at your expenses from a high level. Is your media spend on track? What is your cost per customer? Have you had any unforeseen expenses? Do you predict any new expenses that you should account for?
Sales Marketing Integration
Next, assess how well marketing is aligned with sales. For example, I often see a breakdown in the lead qualification and hand-off process.
Lead Qualification: Do sales and marketing agree with the existing lead scoring model and the current definition of marketing qualified lead? One way to assess this is to look at the percentage of leads that are marked unqualified after they are passed to sales.
Sales Enablement: Does sales have what it needs to be successful? Are there any areas where that marketing could provide more support to improve close rates? Areas to assess could include:
- Sales materials
- Email templates
Your campaigns should clearly align with your business objectives and marketing goals. Evaluating whether your campaigns are helping you meet these goals and their performance will help you make any needed adjustments now.
Campaign Performance: Evaluate campaign performance across channels, particularly for new advertising channels or markets. Look at high-level cost per acquisition metrics including:
- Cost per lead
- Cost per customer
- CPM (cost per thousand impressions)
- Conversion rate
Did you find any trends or surprises? Use these insights to guide your strategy. Re-allocate media spend and resources if needed.
Your customers determine the success of your company. Looking for changes in your customer base or customer sentiment will help you make more informed marketing decisions.
Customer Base: Evaluate whether your new customers are similar to previous customers. Identifying shifts in your customer base could present opportunities for future marketing campaigns.
Customer Feedback: Conduct an audit of customer feedback. Use anecdotal sales feedback, sales calls and notes, customer service calls and notes, social media and other data sources to understand customer sentiment. Do you see any areas where customers are experiencing frustration? What about opportunities for brand ambassadors or referral programs?
Customer Journey: Have you noticed any changes in your customer journey? Are there any gaps or areas that might cause your prospects annoyance because they can’t find the information they want? Your research into customer feedback, as well as your website analytics, can help you identify areas to improve the customer experience.
Your website can tell you a lot about the success of your marketing, the quality and value of your content, and how your customers are interacting with your brand.
Website Performance: Assess your high level website metrics to ensure they are on track. You should have website KPIs that align with your marketing and business goals. Examples of metrics you might look at are:
- Traffic sources
- Bounce rate
- Pages per visit
SEO: There are many SEO tools that can help you assess your website. Start with looking for crawl errors on your website, and then check your site speed. Next, look at your search rankings for your target keywords. In 2018 this should go without saying, but if your site is not mobile optimized, make that your number one priority for Q2.
Looking for areas to optimize conversions will help you reduce your cost per acquisition and improve your campaign results.
Marketing Funnel: Look at which channels and content are driving interactions and conversions at each stage in the funnel. One way to assess how channels are driving sales is through marketing attribution, which allocates revenue to customer touch points. Many marketing automation platforms have attribution reports. Alternatively, you can use goals in Google Analytics. You will need to decide on a consistent attribution model, and if you have the resources, I recommend multi-touch for a more accurate picture of key revenue drivers.
Landing Pages & Forms: Place heatmaps on key pages and forms so you can see where visitors are engaging or dropping off. For example, if you notice one form field is causing a large percentage of visitors to abandon your page, then eliminate it. This should help you increase conversions.
Email & Marketing Automation
Email remains the highest ROI channel for marketers, and that means if you are not analyzing your email marketing, you are missing out on revenue.
Email: Look at email engagement metrics and if you see any concerning trends, such as a high churn rate, it may be time to create a re-engagement campaign. In addition, look for any trends in open rates for day of the week or time of day. Have you conducted any A/B tests? Analyze those results and apply the insights to your future emails. Metrics to evaluate include:
- Open rate
- Click rate
- Spam complaints
Nurture Campaigns: When did you last analyze and revamp your marketing automation campaigns? While the point is automation, this does not mean you create your campaigns, set them on autopilot and never look back. Look at your campaign’s performance for strengths and weaknesses, and then optimize them.
Social media is changing constantly. Ensuring your strategy takes advantage of new features, targeting opportunities, and even new platforms will help you reach your target audience.
Organic Social Media: Analyze how your organic social media is performing. Are there any platforms you are putting a lot of resources into but not seeing return or vice versa? What about new platforms you should consider? Metrics to assess include:
- Percentage of leads from social media platforms
- Percentage of customers from social media platforms
- Engagement (likes, shares, comments, views)
Paid Social Media: Now, look at how are your paid campaigns performing (if paid social is not part of your advertising plan, then you are missing out). Are you noticing any changes from 2017? Dig beyond platform comparisons and assess the following:
- Bid structure
- Retargeting campaigns
Public relations not only strengthens your brand awareness, you can use it across marketing channels to build credibility and drive conversions.
Placements & Speaking Opportunities: Look at how many media placements or speaking opportunities you’ve received. Are they on track with your goals? Do they reach your target audience? Have you noticed an uptick in website traffic or leads following each? How are you leveraging them on other channels?
Stories & Case Studies: Evaluate the content and resources you have to support your PR. Are you generating newsworthy content? Do you have fresh customer case studies or other content that can strengthen your pitches?
Finally, consider forces that are often beyond your control. Preparing for disruption can help you minimize the damage.
Internal Disruptors: Think about organizational changes that could impact your marketing plan, for example, shifts in leadership. In addition, identify resource gaps in terms of staff or software that you need to budget for and onboard.
External Disruptors: Look at your competitors. Are there any new companies in your market? Are your existing competitors introducing new products or shifting their strategy? Next, look at the economic and regulatory landscape. Are there substantial economic, regulatory or market forces at play that could affect your company?
Once you’ve completed your first quarter marketing analysis, go back to your 2018 marketing plan and update it. You may have unearthed a number of areas to improve. Especially if you are a small team, prioritize and focus on those that will make the biggest impact.