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Finishing strong: key things to complete this month

Can you believe the end of the year is here?? The end of any year is a great time to ensure you’ve brought in as much business as you can with your marketing activities – and to plan for all the exciting new opportunities a new year brings.

You probably already have your to-do list made and are busy checking things off but in case you’re like me and have a nagging feeling that you’re forgetting something, here’s a roundup of key marketing tasks you ought to complete this month.

Budget review:

Making plans for next year includes the crucial element of determining an appropriate marketing budget. Any time and money spent on marketing is an investment in your organization, right? So review and evaluate your current marketing spend. Did the marketing spend to-date deliver on business goals and objectives? How does it compare to revenue and sales? What campaigns were running during high and low sales periods? Consider the cost of each of your campaigns (advertising, social, search, PR, etc.), the influence of certain marketing activities on customer behavior, whether sales can be attributed to a particular activity, and the ROI for each activity. Review the successes and failures of the past year as well as any opportunities you weren’t able to capitalize on due to lack of resources.

Evaluating your goals for next year is always helpful when considering budget. Whether it’s increasing sales, bringing in new leads, building brand awareness, or all of the above, having a clear understanding of where’d you like to go will help effectively allocate funds for next year. Do you think there’s a need to invest more in marketing, in order to bring in more customers? What changes have happened in your industry? Have there been particular innovations in technology that indicate you should be investing in better technology or resources? Making decisions now means you’ll have a plan in place to support growth when 2019 arrives.

End of year reporting:

This is always a big one. Depending on your business, you might have corporate partners who need reports, boards that need a report on the year’s marketing efforts, or just a manager who wants you to review your marketing.

The year is almost over and that means you have 12 months of data to leverage. As you take a look back and review your 2019 marketing efforts, look at performance trends on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. Check your Google Analytics data for the year. What patterns do you notice? Which campaigns increased web traffic the most? Where are the majority of your referrals coming from? Use this data to influence next year’s plan.

Review sales and consider how you might adjust the marketing calendar to better accommodate seasonality. Perhaps in times when your sales (or donations) are strong you can invest less. Historically slow months might indicate you want to invest more and launch more promotions. Now’s the time to be wrapping all your reporting up and using the data to make decisions for next year!

Next year’s plan:

It’s difficult; even as you look back and do some kind of report and analysis on the past 12 months you also must be looking forward at the months to come! Everyone wants to start the new year on a positive note and, as I’ve mentioned above, that means having a marketing budget and marketing plan set for 2019. These are big tasks but worth taking the time to prepare now.

You likely kicked off your budgeting efforts and mapped out your spend for next year at the beginning of Q4. Now that we’re nearing the end of December we want to makes sure all the research is done, brainstorming complete, and we’re focused on how to deliver future success. Have you identified topics your customers and prospective customers are interested in? Have you leveraged a ROI tool to do a cost/benefit analysis to better justify your proposed spend to your department heads? What about case studies or gathering customer testimonials in order to showcase your past successes?

I always like to think of one thing to invest in in the new year and make room for it in the plan (and budget). Maybe it’s chatbots, maybe it’s more video content? It depends on your business and objectives of course but have a wish list and test something out! That’s a crucial element of any marketing strategy, after all.

Are your plans for next year finalized?

Marketing health checks:

Hopefully there’s a little time left to tidy up your website and check Google Analytics. (If that’s not up and running, get it up before the new year!)

Take a look at any pages that aren’t receiving traffic; re they necessary pages or could you get rid of them? While you’re poking around your Google tool, check the speed of your website to make sure you’re not affecting organic rankings. Then check your site ranking. How are you ranking for a few key search terms? If you’re not appearing in the first few pages for the most important terms, make time in the beginning of 2019 to address this and any other SEO concerns. Check that your website is mobile friendly. At this point we all know how important mobile is but things have a tendency to fall through the cracks or get pushed aside. If your website doesn’t’ function well on mobile, again, make this a priority to fix next year. Another easy end of the year win is to audit your social media accounts and update the header and profile photos. Read through your descriptions and bios too to make sure they have accurate, up-to-date information and are keyword friendly.

End on a good note!

Send your clients (and employees) a thank you email or holiday card. Reconnecting with past people you’ve worked with is always a good idea at this time of year. Corporate gifts are appreciated but if you’re looking for something a little different, consider donation to a charity instead!

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As we wrap up the final quarter of 2018, companies are taking the time to look back at the year’s marketing efforts to evaluate the results, adapt strategies as needed, and plan for the next year. In December, it’s important to, yes, work on a final push for sales, but also to prepare for the busy quarter that’s right around the corner. Wrapping up end of the year reporting, looking back and forward with help ensure you market strong all year long.

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