How have you (or will you) alter your marketing and advertising plans for 2015? Are you ahead of the game, or is it crunch time?
There are 12 working days until Black Friday. Just like the Muzak in your local retail store switched to holiday carols in mid-July, (and potentially, just as annoying), the industry articles have been looming in your Inbox and RSS feeds forewarning you for months that you must change your marketing and advertising strategies. The buzz words are flying at you just as fast as the retail sales papers and catalogs are filling your mailbox - big data, small data, analytics, tagging, multi-channel customers. Believe it or not, it's not too late to effect change in your 2015 budget and strategy; The even better news... it doesn't have to overwhelm you. To effect change you do need to view your data through a different lens. But there are a few areas where you need more of the same.
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Here's a great read from Michael Della Penna about the importance of "different". Not surprisingly, we were particularly drawn to his take on analytics: "Data will increasingly drive marketing decisions, thus requiring a major investment by marketers. As marketers are challenged by more channels and devices in our highly fragmented customer-centric work, strengthening key customer relationships and growing marketing ROI will require a new level of competence in the organization. Investing in real-time data analytics that allow marketers to make decisions faster and smarter will become a key differentiator in a highly competitive marketplace. Marketers and their IT partners will need to redefine their approach and processes to make decisions quicker, create better customer experiences, and ultimately increase ROI."
The changes that continue to be made in the way that car buyers shop must be taken into account as soon as possible. The landscape is not static. It is evolving as quickly as technology and sentiment allow, driving us to make adjustments to marketing strategies much more rapidly than before. All decisions should be ideally be driven by data, but in a world where decisions must be made faster, the data becomes the most crucial factor.
Della Penna then turns his attention to the customer journey: "Are you collecting data from key digital touch points? Can you identify known users in a particular channel and more importantly across channels? What is the brand's strategy toward tag management and have you linked these IDs to really know and understand your customers throughout the journeys? And what partners are helping you do that efficiently and effectively?"
"But, this is overwhelming!" you say, "Where do I start? I am out of time!" Hold on, hold on, you haven't blown it yet! Read the last line of the previous bullet again. There ARE people who can help you make this simple. Partner with them.
Now, on to what should you definitely keep the same. Below is a wonderful dose of advice based on old school strategy. Mapping your marketing plan still requires common sense, a pen and some paper. Writing down what hasn't changed helps you keep it simple.
We love these tips from Entrepreneur's August 2013 story, "How to Start Mapping Your Marketing Plan Right Now":
"1. Sketch it out. On a piece of paper, sketch out all the stages it takes to convert a prospective customer into a repeat customer.
2. Start monitoring. Track and put percentages next to each step. For example, perhaps out of 5,000 visitors to your website; 5.6 percent make it to your order form; 32.1 percent of those people complete the order; and 28.3 percent purchase one of your upsells.
3. Figure out where to improve. If you see percentages declining over time, start testing new options. For example, perhaps changing the text or positioning of images on your homepage would raise the 5.6 percent of visitors who go to your order form to 8 percent. That one change alone could radically improve your performance.
4. Consider ways to expand. What new methods can you add at the top of your marketing funnel? For example, are there new advertising methods like social media, pay-per-click, radio or email that you can use to get more prospects? And what methods can you add at the bottom of your marketing funnel? Could you offer more upsell opportunities, better market to customers after their initial sale, or partner with other companies who pay to market to your customer base?"
So, why is the tone of each article so different? The first is an urgent looming edict on the way we need to change and change now! The second is a calm and simple narrative to help you hone a process. The answer is that as marketers, we need both.
The sane and strategic answer to changing your plans for 2015, this late in 2014, requires putting the advice of both articles into action. Pursue sound data. Combine it with a sound understanding of the process it takes to convert YOUR customer. Then, prioritize the areas where the two overlap.
Partner with a SaaS Business Intelligence provider to put the first article to work. Use the advice in the second article to fervently and passionately communicate what you know about your processes, advantages and opportunities to your partner. Then you will have a winning strategy for 2015.