As 2006 begins, it’s a good time to assess your marketing programs to determine what worked last year and where you should put your effort in the year to come.
Interactive marketing changes continue at an amazing pace. What worked in the past may not work going forward. Marketers must remain disciplined in measuring marketing campaign results and build ROI (define) tracking into the planning for new marketing initiatives. An informal survey of senior marketers reveals 2006’s seven most prevalent resolutions for interactive marketing are:
- Extend consumer engagement. Though this engagement may take a variety of approaches, such as customer input solicitation and contests involving customer submissions, it must be relevant to your product, brand, and consumer segment. Consider how you will measure its effect on revenue generation.
- Diversify revenue streams. 2005 was a strong year for many interactive media companies. But as the dot-com crash taught us, multiple revenue streams are needed to mitigate a weakening market environment’s effect. Among the ways to diversify revenues are:
- Develop paid products for content offerings. In 2005, the NYTimes.com’s TimesSelect was a notable example.
- Leverage consumer engagement on your site with third parties. This can be a straightforward paid arrangement, such as co-registration, or a less-obvious approach, like a shared sweepstakes.
- Create new ad opportunities. This can include monetizing highly trafficked site areas, utilizing email or postal mail lists, and inserting third-party pieces in packages sent to e-commerce customers. Though this is obvious for media entities, it can happen on other types of product sites, such as travel.
- Improve branding. With the online market’s maturation, a more sophisticated approach to branding may be needed. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need a special branding budget. You may just coordinate the various components of your marketing mix to ensure they’re consistent and contribute to your overall image. Branding should be present everywhere your firm touches your customer, including your Web sites, email, and packages.
- Drive traffic using new methods. This resolution seems to be a perennial challenge that appears on every interactive marketer’s list each year. Consider whether every aspect of your marketing mix pulls its weight. For the coming year, you may add blogs, podcasts, and RSS (define) feeds as a way of combating the overstuffed email box.
- Test, test, test. Marketers constantly look for ways to improve their yields. Testing is one way to ensure optimal results based on experience rather than gut feelings. Just because an approach worked last year doesn’t mean it will continue to work. According to Optimost CEO Mark Wachen, “It’s important to go beyond the basics, and test non-obvious factors. Our clients have seen significant conversion rate improvements by modifying features commonly thought of as secondary or unimportant, such as form layouts, copy order, background colors, product order, and audio volume.”
- Use analytics to drive your marketing. Set up your systems and processes to collect key performance metrics. Routinely assess your progress and modify your marketing tactics based on performance trends. Many marketers noted the need for a lifetime value model.
- Try new forms of marketing. Expand your company’s ability to tap into the latest trends. Set aside a small portion of your budget to test one new marketing technique. This way you can expand your ability to reach new customers. You’ll get an opportunity to find new ways to break through and reach new consumer segments.
Annual Promotional Analysis
To assess your 2005 marketing campaigns and prepare for 2006’s, set up a promotion-by-promotion analysis. The major headings are:
- Campaign title: This contains the promotion’s name, a short description, or both.
- Dates: List the campaign’s start and end dates.
- Special details: Include short comments, including media and other specifics.
- Actual performance: Depending on your goals, include response and revenues.
- Budget: For the factors you tracked under actual performance, show the projected goals.
- Prior-year results: Use the actual measure to assess your performance, as budgets can be overzealous.
- Market/environmental factors: Note external company issues, such as Hurricane Katrina.
- Competitive landscape: Include observations about your competitors, such as an increase in competitive ad spending or actual results based on third-party reporting.
- Comments: List any additional information to assess the campaign.
Based on this analysis, you can determine which promotions to keep and which to revise. Laying out your campaigns in this fashion can also reveal the gaps in your marketing calendar.
Regardless of what you decide to do for your business, use a promotional calendar to plan the coming year. This helps you better plan for your campaigns and visualize the timing and preparation required for each promotion. Remember to incorporate post-campaign assessment. This is particularly important, since it enables you to formalize the learning from each promotion.
Interactive marketers must deal with constant market and technology change. Your results will be better if your organization gets accustomed to planning, measuring results, and constantly looking for innovation that pays.
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