More followers, more traffic, more engagement, more, more, more…
What does all of this actually mean for your business?
Many brands fall into the trap of chasing the metrics. They obsess over vanity numbers that distract us from what really matters.
Of course, what really matters will differ from brand to brand. But when you’re constructing a marketing plan and defining the metrics of success, it’s all pointless if you can’t trace activity back to a meaningful business outcome – your goals.
Instead of doing things that help us reach a goal, we sporadically implement an array of somewhat unrelated activities that add up to what? A good feeling inside?
Take a moment to really think about that…
What is your marketing activity trying to achieve? Is everything you do contributing?
Your business goals need to be a clearly articulated destination. A future state that you wish to arrive at. Something you can work towards and anchor your efforts around.
So, let’s start there…
What are your business goals?
Knowing what your business goals are can help you turn them into something quantifiable and measurable. They help guide your marketing decisions and keep things on track.
If you don’t have a set of goals to work towards, and a way to measure them, then you’ll never know if you are succeeding. The metrics you track then become a way to systematically move toward these greater goals.
Academic research shows that by writing down goals and creating a plan to reach them, you are 76% more likely to achieve them.
Business goals vary depending on the situation of your brand, the nature of the industry, and an array of external economic factors. But, for the most part, they will center around profitability, growth, market share, customer success, innovation, employee attraction, and retention.
The sheer nature of a business goal makes it high-level. It’s essential to translate your goals into a string of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that measure your progress towards them. The table below from Curata shows a list of KPIs and how they relate to business objectives:
KPI examples for business objectives.
If you are confident that the goals of your business are succinctly articulated, measurable, and associated with a list of leading KPIs, the next step is to audit your marketing activity to ensure it aligns with these components.
Audit your current marketing activity
If you want to align your marketing efforts with the goals of the business, audits are a necessity. Put simply, a marketing audit is a review of the strategies you use to reach your goals.
If you conduct regular inspections of your marketing practices, it’s easy to identify areas where time and money are wasted, as well as the tactics that are driving real business outcomes.
The audit workflow looks something like this:
Plan > Implement > Audit > Change > Repeat
The success of a marketing audit comes down to data. If you track the right data, you will be able to make meaningful decisions about what to change, where to keep pushing on, and when a tactic needs to be discontinued.
Yes, every marketing audit will be different depending on your KPIs, however; here are some areas that you should be monitoring:
- Brand consistency – Use a style guide to check how your brand appears across all marketing channels.
- Brand messaging – Ensure you have a clear and concise value proposition that is represented in your messaging on all platforms.
- Content quality – Establish a certain expectation for quality when it comes to marketing materials and ensure it is upheld.
- Conversion data – Make sure your marketing activity is resulting in the outcomes you are trying to achieve, and if it isn’t, analyze exactly where in the customer journey things are breaking down.
- Customer lifetime value – Increasing customer lifetime value is the most effective way of sustaining profitability and growing a business. Assess your retention and re-engagement strategies to move this metric in the right direction.
- Processes – Assess how efficiently you and your team are working, in terms of cost and time, and determine opportunities for refining the workflow.
- Customer experience – Identify important touchpoints with customers and monitor how well your brand is being perceived in the market.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of areas you could audit – it will depend on your business goals and KPIs.
Adjust your marketing plan accordingly
Now it’s time to do something with the findings of your marketing audit.
What needs to stop? What needs to change? And what should continue as business-as-usual?
Here are some areas of your marketing plan that could be under question:
- Priorities and goals – Are the KPIs you have set the right ones? Do they contribute to the achievement of your greater business goals?
- Budget – How is your budget distributed among the tactics you use? Is this weighted towards their relative influence on your KPIs?
- Platforms and channels – Are the channels and marketing platforms you use effective? Should you be leveraging new or emerging channels that will better serve your goals?
- Roles and responsibilities – Finding top marketing talent is one of the biggest challenges brands face. Do you have the right people working on the most impactful areas of your strategy?
The top marketing challenges.
Sometimes all it takes is a few small tweaks to your marketing strategy to get it back on track and chugging along towards your business goals.
If I revert to the headline of this article, are you content that your marketing plan aligns with the goals and objectives of the business?
It’s easy to get lost in a sea of metrics that don’t mean a whole lot. They may look exciting, such as your follower count on social media, but they lack depth.
At the end of the day, your executive team doesn’t care about followers. They care about market share, growth, profitability, customer experience, and shareholder value. It’s your job, as a marketer, to adjust your activity in a way that satisfies the objectives of the business as a whole.
Take some time on a regular cadence, at least quarterly, to audit your marketing activity and adapt accordingly.