How can you tell if your marketing efforts are working? Do you know your audience? Do you know how your customers perceive your web presence? There are plenty of expensive ‘assessment tools’ on the market, but they don’t go into detail about HOW to fix gaps you have in your marketing efforts or give you more in-depth information about your market and current trends. Below are the key areas you need to focus on to understand where you are and create a plan for moving forward.
Define Your Audience.
Who are you trying to reach? Most businesses have a general idea of who they are trying to reach, but have you written it down? Discussed the problems they’re facing? What their responsibilities are? Is the group you’re trying to reach able to make purchasing decisions on their own, or are there other parties involved? Are you actively engaged with your current customers? Do you know if they are recommending you? There is nothing more powerful that a happy client.
Until the various details about your audience is clearly defined it’s hard to develop the correct positioning and messaging, which is the next step after assessment.
You need to have consistency from the marketing message to the sales pitch, to the customer service rep. Audit your content to ensure this is happening. Look at your website, social media, emails, brochures, sales presentations and other materials for inconsistencies. If you aren’t saying exactly what you want, or it isn’t resonating, go through a positioning and messaging exercise to hone in on the correct message.
Do you know who your competitors are? How are you different? It isn’t about splashing their name all over your marketing materials and bashing them, it’s about setting yourself apart. If you know who you’re competing against and what their strengths and weaknesses are you can make sure that you’re better than them, or at least different. You can also start to understand what sort of messaging resonates with your audience and what platforms are used to reach them. If you have a lot of competitors, you can learn a lot from them, based on how they market, that could save you time and money in the long run.
Are potential customers able to find your website? The first thing a customer does when they are looking for a product or service is google it! Are you showing up when your prospective customer is searching for your solution? Do people who actively search for businesses like yours find your company? What keywords are bringing visitors to your site? What important keywords are you missing? Assessing this will help drive a plan for the balance between search engine optimization and paid search activities.
Have you ever heard that first impressions are worth a thousand words? That’s often a website for most companies. Once your customers find you, what is their first impression of your site? What does your website look like? Does it seem professional? Are you getting across the right message, not only with your content, but with your design? Websites are the hub of all communications. Your prospects are 70% through the decision process by the time they reach out to you. Is your website giving them the information they need and helping take them through the buying process? Does your design help or hinder them from finding the information they need? Does your content reach out to your target audience? Does it clearly communicate what you do and why you’re the best choice? Is it consistent it all of your messaging? Do you have a blog to go into further detail to educate your audience and show them you’re an expert?
Content: What other content can be found on your website? Do you have any: Case studies, White papers, Videos, Photos, Webinars, Press releases, eBooks.
Functionality: Is it easy to revise content on the site? How does it appear on a computer and a mobile phone? The majority of traffic on websites are now coming from mobile browsers, so this isn’t an area that can be ignored. Is there a way for customers to passively get more information without having to talk to a sales person first?
Analytics: Do you know who is coming to your website? When they are landing there? What they are reading? What content gets the best conversions? This data can be a window into what improvements need to be made or where more efforts should be directed.
Nowadays a website isn’t enough. There are so many other ways to reach your customers and to reach the largest audience possible you need to assess the following:
Social Media: As part of understanding your audience you need to know what social media platforms your audience engages with. Do you have a presence there and are they finding your page? How large is your audience and is your message getting across?
Email: Email can be an important part of your marketing process and it’s often forgotten. Do you have email campaigns with specific messaging to nurture leads? How is your click through rate? Are there any chances or testing you could do improve your response rate? Have you thought about a newsletter?
Paid Advertising: Advertising isn’t always the best option, but sometimes it can really beneficial if it’s used properly.
Tools & Technology.
Are you using any marketing tools to help you with your efforts? These can be a bit of an investment and might not be right for you, but are worth taking a look at and planning for the future. There are even some pretty great free tools available in many of these categories.
- Content management system (CMS)
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
- Web analytics tools
- Email platforms
- Marketing automation platforms
- Social media publishing and monitoring
- Editorial calendars
63% of companies outsource all or part of marketing automation strategy planning
Ascend2 “Marketing Automation Trends Survey” (2016)