I hate to tell you this, but there are only a handful of weeks before we enter 2017. I know, where in the world did the year go?!
Nevertheless, a new year is almost upon us. That means it is time to start looking forward, examining your marketing and planning for the new year. If you are like many B2B businesses, you're likely entering your slower quarter as the holidays approach. Take that free time and channel it into your marketing now so you can start off 2017 with a bang and just completely crush it all year long.
Here's what you should do before the end of the year:
1. Tighten up your strategy
No doubt your marketing team has been cranking away all year long. You may have seen explosive growth or perhaps haven't had the results you wanted to see. This quarter, sit down and take a look at those results. Write down the answers to these questions:
- How was website traffic?
- Were there any trends in traffic (weekday, traffic from your newsletter, events, etc.)?
- How many leads did you get?
- How many leads did you close?
- How does that compare to your goals for this year?
- Who were your best clients?
- Which product or service was your biggest money maker this year?
- What did you plan to do but didn't get to try this year with your marketing?
The information you write down in response will help you inform your marketing strategy for 2017. After looking through your stats, you should be able to know exactly who you want to target, how you're going to get them to your site, and what you want to do more of or sell more of next year. Look at where you may have gone wrong. For instance, if your best clients this year were in one industry, but you focused your marketing on a different area you may want to recalibrate for the new year. If you were getting a lot of leads but were closing less than 10% of qualified leads, you may want to reconsider your
For instance, if your best clients this year were in one industry, but you focused your marketing on a different area you may want to recalibrate for the new year. If you were getting a lot of leads but were closing less than 10% of qualified leads, you may want to reconsider your content strategyand how you are bringing leads to your site.
2. Figure out where your best leads are coming from, on and offline
While you're at it, look at your CRM and figure out where your best (quality, average lifetime value, average sale, etc.) leads are coming from. You can do this by looking at your close rates. The lead source that has the highest close rate, for example from social media or networking, is one way to look at it. Another is to look at the source's value in terms of sales.
Let's say you got 100 leads this year from Google AdWords and 30 of them closed (30% close rate). From networking you got 100 leads as well, but 20 of those closed (20% close rate). From close rate, Google is the better source. But let's say the 30 leads you closed from Google were worth $500,000 while those 20 leads from networking were worth $1,000,000 in sales. In that case, networking is more valuable.
Does that mean you should quit Google AdWords and increase the networking? Absolutely not! But what this does help you look at is where your priorities should be. If Google AdWords has a higher close rate, you should definitely invest more into it. However, you may want to change your strategy to increase the value of those deals.
Make sense? By the way, you can use a free tool like LeadIn to get more visibility into where your leads are coming from. Email us to get that set up for free.
3. Update your website
Did you know that 75% of website visitors admit to drawing conclusions about a company's credibility based on their website's design? If you haven't updated your website for a few years, now is the time to take a look at that. Hire a marketing firm to audit your site and help you figure out how to redesign your site for the new year.
Don't know if you need a new website? Here are some questions to ask your marketing team:
- Have we gotten leads from our website this year?
- What was the quality of those leads?
- Is the information on our site still reflective of what we offer?
- Can you read our blog? Is it pleasant to view?
Lastly, do the spouse test. Ask him or her to go through your site. If they can't find basic information or come across a page that makes no sense, that's your sign: It's time to update your website.
4. Re-examine your sales pipeline
Okay, so this isn't exactly a marketing question, but the whole reason we do marketing is to get sales, right? Well, how has it been going?
Take a look at your sales pipeline (and if you don't have it online, you should definitely look at doing that). Where are the leaks? For example, are you losing a lot of people between your first and second meeting? Are you sending contracts that aren't coming back signed? This could be a strong indication of either A) your marketing team needs to work on lead quality or B) your sales team is not being aggressive enough in its follow-ups.
Understanding what's happening within sales is one of the most powerful insights into the effectiveness of your B2B online marketing strategy. Don't skip this one!
5. Audit your resources, vendors and partners
If you're anything like we are, you've probably accumulated software subscriptions and other vendors throughout the year. Every year we audit the resources we're using to figure out what we should renew or what we should cut for the next year. Sometimes we purchase tools we think are going to be amazingly useful, but we actually stopped using it in March. Those are the kinds of SaaS products we stop using.
It's also useful to take a look at the vendors or partners you are paying. Are you still paying that SEO company you hired last year, who you haven't talked to for a few months? (By the way, SEO alone is not a lead generation strategy). Are you still paying for ads on services like Yelp, Zillow, etc.? Are you happy with the results you've been getting? This is the time to cut the fat so you can start 2017 with a clean slate, bringing along only the products and vendors that are really helping you grow.
If you're working with a marketing agency, now is a good time to audit them if you're not happy with the results they've gotten you this year. To evaluate, You can simply send them the questions from #1 to get their feedback. A good marketing agency should know the answers to all of those questions, plus some. They should also be able to help shape your marketing strategy for 2017 based on the data they put together.
6. Plan for hiring (or start interviewing agencies)
Sometimes you'll find that it's time to bring new people into the circle to expand your marketing program. This could be hiring new employees or contractors, or simply bringing in a new marketing agency to help you make your dollars go further.
Figure out what you need to do by outlining the capabilities or the programs you need help with. If there are too many skills needed to hire just one person, consider hiring an agency.
7. Set some goals
Every successful entrepreneur will tell you that setting goals is so important. I'll take it a step further to say that you should set a goal that you may not actually hit. There is something about reaching a bit higher than you think you can to see what you can accomplish.
The new year is, after all, a great time to hit the ground running and really just go for it.
If you need help with any of the above, give us a shout!
We offer both monthly programs and one-off strategy sessions to help our clients find better, more efficient and more effective ways to grow their business through online marketing. Click here to reach out: