The home stretch: 12 easy ways to improve end of the year results

Constant optimization is a given in online marketing, but as we approach the end of the year, there is extra motivation to gather every bit of value we can. We want those year-over-year results to shine and the annual comparative dashboard to be a point of pride. But with the holidays upon us and the bulk of your budget already committed or spent, you may be wondering what impact you can have at this point in the year.

Below are some tips to make the most of that critical home stretch.

1. Ask someone unfamiliar with your campaign to take a look at your results

A fresh but knowledgeable eye on your current work can offer astounding insights and recommendations. It need not be a full site or program audit to be of value. Simply give that fresh person your goals and your performance data, and ask them what they see. I am betting you would be willing to do the same for them.

2. Re-sort your data in new ways

We can become blind if we look at the same reports in the same ways all the time. Flip the data. Use new data ranges. Sort on different variables. Drill down in new areas of interest. Utilize a new chart or graph type to help open your eyes to what you may not have been seeing before.

3. Arrange a quick partner swap to give your budget an extra boost and extend your reach

Pick a partner with a similar or relevant, non-competitive audience and offer them respectful access to your customers in exchange for a similar opportunity.

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4. Be selective in directing your optimizations

You probably have a number of conversions you are tracking of different priorities and with different results to date. Pick a few laggards, the most critical, or the low hanging fruit, given the season and other environmental factors. To maximize impact, give the short list all your attention and the lion’s share of your remaining budget.

5. Use urgent, holiday appropriate messaging and ad creative

You can’t be coy in this crowded marketplace.

6. Consider aggregating budget into a shorter period of time

Break out of that crowded ad marketplace with some impactful, can’t be ignored strategies. Challenge your media partners to detail some options for you as early as is practical.

7. Plan differently for moments when your audience is likely to be in holiday mode

For some that means shopping, and for others it means family time, relaxing, or traveling. Tap into the moods and priorities of those in your audience and cater to that during the holiday season.

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8. Consider that your audience has their own end of year objectives

Take advantage of shifts in consumer shopping and cooking behaviors, searches and priorities as well as B2B planning cycles. How can you help them? What information or resources can you provide?

9. Make time for continual planning and optimization

The end of year is often chaotic and rushed, encompassing goals and activities for both this year and for the year to come around vacations and holiday planning. Don’t count out this year until it is actually over. Hold your teams accountable and look for ways to make it fun, fresh and challenging to get their best work ever. Gamify it for internal, friendly competition.

10. Challenge the status quo

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Now is the time to review how your process, programs, reporting, and budget allocations connect to your business goals. If there is not clear alignment all the way across the organization and in your work, make sure you restate this year’s results and start with fresh thinking and dashboards for next year.

11. Spend some quality think time with challenging but unrelated material

Firing your brain or your team’s brains with novel tasks can open up entirely new ways to think about your everyday challenges.

12. Use your wild card

Hopefully you have been testing various elements, approaches, offers, channels, messages and audiences all year. Don’t stop now! Is there a wild card that you would be willing to make a very small bet on to see if it pays off big?

In conclusion

Don’t give up as you approach that year-end finish line. If you had a great year, you have the opportunity to make it even better, but if the results have not been stellar, you should be fighting to improve the overall picture as much as possible. Catalog what you learn to help make next year that much better.

How are you going to finish strong this year?

Homepage and article image via Flickr.

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