2015 is here, and with it comes a brand new year with which to build and grow your business into exactly what you have envisioned. There are several components to growing your business, but one of the most important is your marketing plan. Are you implementing the appropriate strategies for your particular business and for your specific industry? Do you have the right team to implement those strategies? Are you using inbound marketing to its fullest potential? You can begin to answer those questions by setting marketing goals and laying out a plan for what your next year will look like starting right now.
For 2015 you want to ask yourself if your marketing goals are measurable, and if they are being supported by the right strategy, the right tools, and the right team. One of the best aspects of online marketing is that the results are highly measurable, but only if you have the right strategy, the right tools, and the right team. If you aren’t currently implementing inbound marketing into your marketing strategies, how to get started may feel like an overwhelming undertaking. Taking a look at what your methods have been thus far, i.e., what you’ve done that worked and what you’ve done that didn’t work, is always a good starting point. From there you can identify what you need to do to keep the momentum of what has worked well, while abandoning what hasn’t been successful at all. Once you let go of what hasn’t worked, it frees up funds that you can then re-allocate to implement other marketing strategies. A good place to start is by evaluating all of your lead sources from 2014 to determine which lead sources produced the most qualified leads, and which leads produced the most customers. You will want to look at all of the ways you receive leads – organically, by referral, through direct mail, via email campaigns, through paid sources, etc. – and then determine which of those leads had the highest close rates in the sales cycle. Can you measure your cost per lead acquisition? Can you measure what it cost you to produce the lead that actually produced the sale, or in other words, your “cost per customer acquisition”? Your answers to these questions will help you to identify what is working for your business so that you can further invest in those areas, and what hasn’t been working so that you can let them go altogether.
Another way to help you set improved marketing goals for 2015 is to look at your 2014 gross revenues and see what percent of those revenues you invested into marketing. For example, if you look back at your year and you spent $200,000 on overall marketing, and your business is a $10,000,000 business, that means that you have invested 2% in marketing for 2014. You then want to look in your industry and see what the average overall marketing spend is in that industry. That will help you to identify if you are investing as much as your competitor is, because if you’re not, meeting the industry standard in marketing spend will be a major goal for you for 2015. From there you will want to take a further look at what percent of your marketing investment is spent specifically on online marketing. It is expected that in 2016, the average online marketing investment will be up to 35% of the total marketing spend. So, if your $10,000,000 business is spending 2% of its gross revenue on marketing as a whole as per industry standard, you will want to invest $70,000 in online marketing alone. If your industry average is a higher percentage than 2%, you will want to increase investment accordingly. Also, if your business isn’t public, you can download the financial documents of competitors whose businesses are public and look at their P&L Statements and Balance Sheets and find out how much they are actually investing in marketing. This is a free and easy way to get valuable market research.
If you are new to investing in online marketing, you are certainly asking yourself, “How and where exactly do I invest it?” If you don’t know where to start, the best thing you can do is to talk to an inbound marketing agency because inbound marketing agencies are literally a hybrid of all the online marketing disciplines, and they will work with you to create a holistic program for your business. An inbound marketing agency will also have the tools to be able to measure what you need to know most, such as your lead generation, how many leads were converted into customers, and so on.
To pare down your 2015 inbound marketing plan so that you can begin with the most valuable pieces of the puzzle, the top five things you want to implement immediately are:
Content development (educating your visitors on your products and services as quickly and efficiently as possible, while offering industry-specific content that will establish you as a knowledgeable member of your trade)
Search Engine Optimization or S.E.O. (the process of gaining traffic for your website by using the keywords that potential leads use to search for the goods or services your business offers)
Website user experience optimization (designing a website that is laid out in a way that has the highest user experience for your customer)
Online conversion rate optimization (converting visitors into qualified leads via quality content that is showcased on a website that uses the best analytics possible to optimize the performance of your site)
Investing in promoting your website (promoting the content you have created which is highly specialized for your industry’s ideal demographics via social media and paid media)
Lastly, you want to evaluate the lead capacity of your sales team. Your sales and marketing teams absolutely must work together in 2015. Companies that have integrated sales and marketing efforts generally produce more sales, so you want to be sure that both of these teams are working together very closely.
The foundation for your success comes down to a well thought-out marketing plan using the right tools, managed by the right team. With a strong strategy and a good team implementing your plan, you can be confident that 2015 will be a highly successful one for your business.