Strategic Marketing Planning: How to Improve in 2017

strategic_marketing_planning.jpgAs marketers, we are always looking for areas of improvement. Whether it’s writing better emails, targeting more focused keywords, or crafting especially compelling CTA’s, the range of possibilities never end. 

It is so easy to get carried away with all the things you could be doing, that sometimes marketer’s need to take a second to look at what they should be doing. Making this distinction can then channels itself into more strategic marketing planning if done properly. 

So before you get caught up in all the possibilities for your marketing strategy in 2017, follow this process to ensure a more strategic plan, and ultimately better results. 

Know Your Metrics

Before you do anything you have to be familiar with the data. While it’s easy to get caught up in what you think is working well, the real key is to actually know the metrics and understand what they say about your activities. Focusing on metrics allows you to combat your perception with the reality of your efforts. 

This means tracking your blog visits and conversions, measuring email effectiveness, monitoring social media metrics, assessing SEO efforts, and all around keeping tabs on whatever other activities your marketing team is pouring their efforts and energy into. Armed with this data you are better able to move into the next stages of planning. 

Analyze & Diagnose

Once you’ve gathered the data, calculated your metrics, and are familiar with the results, it is time to interpret what the metrics actually mean within the context of your marketing strategy. 

Are you seeing a drop in blog traffic? Tracking when the change began to happen can narrow down what may have caused the change. Maybe you’re team has been blogging less frequently, maybe they are changing the types of topics they write about, or perhaps they are focusing on more competitive keywords. 

Don’t forget to also analyze and diagnose what has been working well. Maybe your social media visits have been up. Perhaps you’ve been using ads, or tweeting more frequently. Whatever the case may be, you want to know what activities are working and should be replicated in the new year. 

Get Strategic

Once you’ve diagnosed what is working well and what is not for your business, crafting an actionable strategy is so much simpler. 

Start with what isn’t working. Create a strategy around ways to improve it based on your diagnoses from above. To continue the blog traffic example, let’s say you discover that your blogging less frequently. A way to improve this metric again is to produce more content. While you never want to sacrifice quality for quantity, you may be able to find some ways to recycle some of your best content into different formats that will help you post more frequently, without spending large amounts of time crafting posts. 

Once you’ve determined what to focus on in the areas that need improvement, you can then create an ongoing strategy based on what is working. Just because you are upping your game in other areas, doesn’t mean you should lose all the hard work you’ve put into different channels. If your social media is providing you with lots of click-throughs, continue to use the methods that have proved successful, which you should have also diagnosed in the step above.

Once you’ve identified areas to improve and areas to consistently maintain, it is important to balance these strategies. Sustaining the strategy that is working is just as important as trying ways to improve other areas. Carefully delegate specified amounts of time to each area so that you continue to get results, but also start seeing improvements.

Finally, Execute

Now is the time to start creating blogs, or social media posts, or changing the layout of the website. Once you have a strategy in place you can better track your changes and see what is effectively making a difference, and what might be harming your marketing strategy.

Creating the strategy is simply half the battle. It is important to make sure that strategy is implemented with consistency in order to actually see the results of your hard work.

Next time you get caught up in ways to improve your marketing, instead of starting on them all at once, write them down. Then visit the metrics. Where are your efforts really needed? What is working really well and should be maintained on its current course? These questions lead you to strategic marketing planning, not frantic marketing activities.