Now that we’re in November it’s time to get serious about creating your marketing plan for 2016. We’re quickly approaching the holidays so if you don’t get the plan done soon, then it’ll likely get pushed off until after the ball drops and you’re well into the New Year.
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 the 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 2016.
Step 1. Focus On Incremental Improvement
The first step is to identify the marketing channels that are already working. In other words, the channels that are driving traffic and conversions. It’s really important that you start here and avoid the natural human instinct to focus on fixing problems rather than on improving something that already works.
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 than it is to fix 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:
- Driving traffic to your website (you’ll see the number of website visitors per channel under the “Sessions” column)
- 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 2016 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:
- They are driving traffic, but little or no conversions
- They are driving some conversions (at a high conversion rate), but there’s 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 “working” 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 My Help Creating an Effective Marketing Plan?
I put together a special package to help you create an effective plan to get more traffic, leads and customers. This package includes a step-by-step online course and a 1-on-1 consultation where I’ll personally help you create your marketing plan.
Main Street ROI is a digital marketing agency based in New York City.
Our mission is to help small businesses thrive. With our services and training, we help small businesses succeed with marketing regardless of their budgets.
Since 2010, we’ve helped thousands of small businesses create profitable digital marketing campaigns.
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