As the end of the second quarter nears, it’s time to pull out your analytic tools and do a midyear marketing checkup. The goal is to figure out where you are, fine-tune your marketing efforts, and reach your corporate goals.
At major milestones, like the end of a quarter, it’s useful to assess your progress year-to-date in the context of longer time frames. From an analytics perspective, assess the following:
- Track major P&L lines. Especially track revenues, expenses, margins, and profit. Compare these results to your budget and the same period last year. If there’s a significant variation from the previous year, try to determine the causes. This is important whether the variances are positive or negative.
- Monitor your prospect and customer counts. This provides an early indicator of any change in your business’ health. Make sure your analysis is sufficiently granular to get a clear picture. Track the following:
- New prospects. These people have visited your site and shared sufficient information to enable you to communicate with them but haven’t purchased yet.
- Customers who’ve purchased once. These buyers may still be testing your firm. Create strategies for this segment that allow you to continue to engage them and get them to purchase again or recommend your firm to their friends.
- Customers who’ve purchased more than once. This is the core of your active customers. Consider what types of related products and services you can offer these customers to enhance your relationship with them.
- Non-purchasers. This segment includes prospects and former customers who haven’t purchased from you in more than 6 to 12 months. Your goal is to convert them to buyers. Think about how can you motivate them to buy, why they’ve stopped purchasing, and how much it’s worth to get them reengaged with your firm.
- Analyze your product mix. Among the questions to consider are:
- Has there been a shift in the products or types of products being purchased?
- Does this shift relate to how long they’ve been purchasing from you, the actions of your competitors, or other outside factors?
- How does any shift affect your margins?
- Are there any hot products you should promote more heavily?
- Do you have excess inventory that needs to be liquidated?
- Assess the environment. Consider the following factors:
- Macroeconomic factors. Has the overall economic environment affected your business? This impact can be a national trend, strictly for a local geographic area, or something that only affects a narrow customer segment.
- Competitors. Assess direct competitors as well as broader market leaders. Look for areas where your firm may have a relative opportunity based on these questions:
- How are your competitors doing on a relative basis?
- What are their product sets relative to yours? Are there gaps that can provide opportunities for you?
- What type of promotions have they been running?
- How are they priced relative to your offering?
- Do they have any ideas you should “steal”?
- Distributors. Assess how your distributors are doing and the challenges they face. Consider whether this will have an effect on your business.
- Evaluate Web analytics. Take an inward look at your business process to determine where there are changes in how customers interact with your firm online. This analysis can uncover opportunities for improvements.
If you’re in the enviable position of being ahead of plan, don’t think you’re home free. The second half of the year can always bring unpleasant surprises.
Five Ways to Extend Promotions
Constantly watch for opportunities to enhance your bottom line, regardless of where you are relative to your goals. Here’s a short list of favorites:
- Fine-tune your marketing calendar. Based on your results to date, modify your promotions calendar. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as add other promotions. Consider how your product offering relates to upcoming calendar events, such as Father’s Day, Independence Day, Bastille Day, and back to school. If none of these fit, get creative with holidays that suit your business, such as Founder’s Days, Anniversary Sale, or the ever-popular Christmas in July.
- Enhance business areas where there are gaps or opportunities relative to your competitors or the market.
- Look for areas of opportunity where results are strong. Can you up- or cross-sell products to enhance revenues?
- Consider adding new ways to reach customers. Test direct mail communications for customers who’ve unsubscribed or stopped purchasing. Add package inserts to extend your marketing. Send post-purchase confirmations to enhance sales.
- Improve on-site processes to encourage customer engagement. Consider soliciting and reading customer comments for insights.
Now is the time to assess where your business is relative to internal and external indicators. Collecting and analyzing this information is just the first part of the process. To be effective, you must then use what you’ve learned to determine how to modify your marketing going forward. To this end, you must analyze your business to determine where you’ve got gaps and to modify your marketing promotions to ensure you’re meeting goals. The summer season is a good point to retool your offering, engage consumers, and build relationships in preparation for the year-end push.
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