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Regarding personal goals, September is an iffy month. You have either achieved the goals you set out for yourself at the beginning of the year or have come to accept that you will not accomplish those goals and will just wait until the new year for a fresh start.
For marketers, however, September is different. Unlike a personal goal that can be shrugged off, an end of year marketing goal must be met in business. And you are heading into the fourth quarter of the year, most notable for a tremendous number of holidays in the United States and many other countries.
Depending on your business, this may mean a boom or drop off in business. Hence, as marketers, you may either be ramping up to meet those end of year goals, grasping at straws to meet those end of year goals, or preparing for the beginning of a new year.
Depending on which type of marketer you are, the following seven are the top end of year digital marketing priorities. The first one may not apply to all businesses, but the last six definitely will be.
1. Get Holiday Campaigns In-Sync and Finalized
Do you have your holiday marketing and advertising campaigns planned out for the upcoming holiday seasons? If so, now is the time to make sure they are all in-sync and ready to be rolled out at the appropriate times.
When I say in-sync, what I mean is that your holiday campaigns are consistent throughout your entire online and offline presence. The same colors, the same designs, the same message, the same featured products, services, benefits, etc. Similar to your logo, having consistent holiday campaigns will help ingrain your brand and your promotions into your customers minds.
Visit Toyotas main website and social channels. Chances are, you will see that the websites hero image matches each social profiles cover photo. And if you went to one of their dealerships, youd likely see matching banners there as well.
From left, clockwise: recent banner ad campaign, Facebook cover photo, and main websites hero image. Screenshot by the author.
Campaigns like that lead the customer straight to the thing that got them excited about your business in the first place without any breaks in the messaging or distractions.
2. Start Comparing This Years Data to Last Years
How will you know if youre on track with your goals and ready to meet them by the end of the year if you havent been comparing this years analytics data to last years? You probably arent shooting for the same goals as last year, so you should adjust your data comparison accordingly.
This Conversions Overview report for a service-based business that measures contact form submissions as goals shows that this business is already behind compared to last year. At this stage, its important to know whether this years conversions were higher, dollar value wise, or if more conversions need to be made during the last quarter to meet the businesss overall goals.
For retailers who can plug a real dollar figure into the goal value, the report will be much simpler. They will instantly see if their website has produced the amount of revenue compared to last year to either meet or beat your goals.
For either marketer, if you havent met your goals, then it may be time to look into some aggressive marketing and advertising options for the fourth quarter.
3. Plan for a New Yearand a New You
Everyone wants to improve upon something each year. Lets say its their looks, their health, or their education. A business can shoot for the same things.
When it comes to looks, a business can update its logo, website, graphics, and other branding materials. If your business hasnt done so in several years, this may be the first New Years goal you tackle.
When it comes to health, a business can look at the health of the businesss finances, products, services, or its employees. With the latter, it could be anything from getting employees discounts at your local gym to hiring more employees so everyone can go home on time each day.
When it comes to education, a business can look at helping employees grow themselves through more training opportunities. Employees with more training will become more valuable for your business.
The goal isnt to just create a new budget for the new year, but to create new aspirations for your business to strive towards. Growing your business in a more meaningful way can have even longer term benefits than simply setting yearly sales goals.
4. Organize Your Marketing Strategy
If your marketing team is all over the place regarding not knowing who is handling what, not having a guided process to use to train with, and not having a reason for every tactic used by your team, then its time to get your marketing strategy organized. Implementing a new strategy during a busy holiday season where lots of campaigns are going may not be the ideal time.
Thats why youll either want to get it in place before that fourth quarter or immediately after in the new year. The sooner you get your strategy organized, from top to bottom, the smoother each of your campaigns will be to run.
A lot will depend on the size of your team, but here is an example of what youll want to do.
Each member of your team should have their primary role, the skills to backup another team member should the need arise, and the ability to train new employees for both roles.Each process that you use in your marketing strategy should be fully documented so that anyone on your marketing team could pick up your documentation and do a specific task if needed, such as how to edit a blog post from your freelancers or how to run a Facebook ad.Each task that you do should have a justification. This can just be a document where you have different headings (Content Marketing, Search Marketing, Social Media Marketing), and under each, you note why each thing you do in that particular area is valuable to your business. Include each years conversions data if possible to backup your statements.
Once youve established this strategy, you will only need to review and modify it periodically to ensure it is still current and the best way to manage your marketing team, processes, and task choices.
5. Track Website Visitors with More than Web Analytics
Ive mentioned conversions a few times throughout the post. If you havent set up your web analytics to track conversion goals on your website, now is definitely the time to do so. You may have missed out on a lot of great data for this year, but if you have a busy holiday season, you still have time to capture that traffic and be prepared to capture all of next years analytics data and beyond.
Also, remember that its not just about web analytics anymore. Google Analytics allows you to reach website visitors through remarketing via Google AdWords. Facebook, Instagram (by way of Facebook), Twitter, and now Pinterest allow you to advertise to your website visitors by adding their tags to your website. Some will even use those tags to give you some insights on your website visitors through their network.
As shown above, you can use Facebook Audience Insights to analyze the ad audience you create from your website visitors. Its like web analytics, with more personal demographics about your visitors. Including with standard demographics are other Facebook pages they like, how they engage on Facebook (i.e., do they click on ads?), household stats, and spending habits (i.e., are they more likely to shop online or in your store?).
All of this information can help you get to know your website visitors better. Combined with your standard web analytics, you should have enough information to make important business decisions about your marketing strategy, what to feature on your website, and much more.
6. Optimize Your Website for Mobile
Im probably preaching to the choir, but if your website is not optimized for mobile, either now or after the holiday rush is the time. I only suggest after for those worried about crashing their website before the major shopping months to come.
For everyone else, get mobile as soon as possible. While you dont have to opt-in to everything that is mobile, such as Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (unless youre a major content publisher, in which case, you should), you should, at aminimum, have a responsive web design.
A responsive web design, as recommended by Google, will allow anyone to view your website easily with any device, from their TV to their smartphone. It will allow them to engage with your website, whether its filling out your contact form or making a purchase.
So be sure to find a good responsive template, theme, or designer for the platform you use on your website (WordPress, Shopify, etc.) and make your website friendly to any visitor, regardless of the device they use.
7. Optimize Your Website for Speed
Its not all about the layout. Speed can make a huge impression on a website visitor. Or not if it takes too long for your website to load, your visitor may never see your website at all. Thanks to technology like Google Accelerated Mobile Pages and Facebook Instant Pages, people are becoming accustomed to fast web page loading speeds. Hence, your website needs to load as quickly as possible to meet their expectations.
A good way to find out how long it takes your website to load is the WebPageTest. It will rank your page load speed.
Then it will let you click on the waterfall view to find out what files are causing the most harm to your page load time. This will usually reveal things like large images on the page, code for website software or plugins, or callouts to APIs for widgets displayed on your website.
If any of these things are slowing your page speed, ask if they are necessary for your business, websites design, or websites functionality. If they are not, remove them. If they are, see if they are in some way compressible.
Whether you are looking for a Hail Mary in the fourth quarter of this year to achieve your goals, or you are simply getting ready for your slow season, there are lots of things you can be doing to improve your marketing. Dont let this month be spent in dreaded anticipation. Spend it planning with intention instead.
In-post photo #1:gustavofrazao/DepositPhotos.com
In-post photo #2:grublee/DepositPhotos.com
In-post photo #3:-Baks-/DepositPhotos.com
Screenshots by Aleh Barysevich. Taken August 2016.