Now that we’re in December it’s time to get serious about finalizing your marketing plan for 2017.  With the holidays only a couple weeks away, it’s easy to keep pushing this to the bottom of your to do list. But, if you don’t get it done now it’s likely to get pushed off until after the ball drops at midnight and then you’re starting 2017 without your plan put in place.

I want to see you start the new year off on the right foot. Don’t make the mistake of putting off this critical, yet not-so-urgent task!  You’ll thank me later for the extra kick in your holiday party-pants. :)

To help you get started, I’m going to walk through a 3-step process you can use to identify your best marketing opportunities for 2017.




Step 1. Focus On Incremental Improvement

The first step is to identify the marketing channels that are already working — meaning, the channels that are driving traffic and conversions. You’re natural insinct is likely to start fixing problems before giving attention to what’s working. It’s really important that you don’t do that.

Personally, I find this to be quite difficult because I get so much more satisfaction from fixing a problem than making incremental improvements to a marketing campaign.  However, if you want to maximize your return on effort, then you need to focus your resources on what’s already working.  It’s much easier and less costly to improve what’s working than it is to fix a problem or start a new channel from scratch.

To identify what’s working, log into your Google Analytics account and go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels.  The Channels report gives you a high level view of all your different channels, along with their corresponding conversions (or goals).



To qualify as “working” the channel must be:

  1. Driving traffic to your website (you’ll see the number of website visitors per channel under the “Sessions” column)
  2. Driving conversions on your website (you’ll see the number of conversions under the “Goal Completions” column)

Based on the 2 criteria above, which are your top marketing channels?

Again, the goal here is to prioritize your 2017 marketing budget and resources on what’s already working.  That’s where you’ll likely get the biggest bang for your buck.


Step 2. Clear Your Clogged Channels

The next step is to identify and clear your clogged channels.  While you’re reviewing your Channels report in Google Analytics, you may see some of the channels fall into one of the following two buckets:

  1. A channel drives traffic, but has little or no conversions
  2. A channel drives some (at a high conversion rate), but creates very little traffic

Those are your clogged channels!  These are opportunities where at least something is working (either traffic or conversions) so it will require less resources to get the channels to be fully functional versus launching new channels from scratch.

For channels that are driving traffic, but no conversions, review the landing pages to make sure you’re matching your message to your market.  For channels that are converting, but there’s not much traffic, find ways to expand to other similar traffic sources.


Step 3. Fill In the Missing Gaps

The third and final step is to fill in the missing gaps in your marketing channels.  For example, are you missing the Paid search channel?  How about Display advertising?  Social media?  Email? Referral partners?

Again, make sure you complete steps 1 and 2 before moving on to focus your time and energy launching new campaigns.  Like everything in life, launching something new always takes more time than we expect and usually doesn’t work right away.  That’s why it’s best to improve what’s working and what’s “almost working” first.


What’s the Direct Channel?

While you’re completing these steps you may find that your Direct channel is “working” really well or needs to be unclogged.  But what is your Direct marketing channel?

You can think of the Direct channel as everything that Google Analytics was not able to categorize.  In other words, it’s not a real channel!  It’s likely a combination of a lot of different channels that Google Analytics lumped into one channel because the exact source of the traffic was unknown.

For example, if someone clicks a link in an email and a new browser window opens up your website, then that will look like “direct” traffic.  However, that should have been categorized as “Email” traffic!

To ensure your traffic is categorized as accurately as possible, use Google’s URL Builder for all of your marketing links.  The URL Builder will generate a URL that explicitly tells Google Analytics exactly where the traffic came from (ex Email, Facebook ads, Banner ads, etc.).


Want More Advice and Help?

Join us for our upcoming LIVE training on Thursday, December 15th:

“How to Create an Effective Marketing Plan for 2017!”

Click here to learn more and register