If you haven’t already begun planning your strategy for next year, now is the time to start. Now that it’s Q4, you’ve had more than 75% of your year to develop a good sense of your trajectory heading into 2020. At this point, you should have a clear picture of your goal attainment for the year.
You can use that data to your advantage, helping to inform your decisions for the future.
Here are six steps for building your 2020 marketing strategy:
1. Consider Your Funnel
The best place to start is with your funnel. It’s wise to begin at the bottom, analyzing whether you reached your revenue goal. Ultimately, marketing needs to result in revenue even though not every campaign or activity will directly generate it.
So, first consider if you hit your revenue target. Then, work backward up the funnel to determine which areas of your customer lifecycle can be improved. In evaluating your customers, opportunities, SQLs, MQLs, leads and visitors, you’ll begin to understand how many individuals you are generating within each lifecycle stage. This is the basis you need to improve your conversion rates between the stages.
2. Calculate Your Conversion Rates
When you’re evaluating your performance, the total number of individuals you generated within each lifecycle stage is not as important as the conversion rates between the stages. In calculating these conversion rates (the visitor-to-lead conversion rate, the lead-to-MQL conversion rate, etc.), you will be able to tell if an area within your funnel is performing poorly.
If you didn’t hit your revenue goal, you’ll probably find that there was an issue with one of your conversion points.
Overall, your funnel’s efficiency is what really matters. You can pull in countless visitors to your site, but if you can’t convert them, you will never make any money. Alternatively, if you only bring in one visitor and your conversion points are perfectly optimized, you will close that individual and generate revenue.
Obviously, you want to do both, attracting many visitors and quickly moving them down your funnel. However, improving your conversions is normally more effective.
Once you analyze your conversion rates, you can figure out where you want to focus your time and energy during the upcoming year.
3. Find Your Areas of Focus
Examining your past performance helps you determine where to focus your efforts moving forward. By comparing your current year’s results to the projected performance you hope to produce in the future, you can decide which parts of the funnel need the most improvement.
Ideally, you will be able to improve each conversion point within your funnel over time, but in the interim, you need to concentrate on a few high-priority areas. If something is working sufficiently, you don’t need to make changes or invest in it immediately, but when you identify issues that need work, you can start to think about what to change to make them better.
This is where creativity comes into play. Focused problem-solving can spur innovative solutions. Once you identify your areas of need, you can hone in on what should be corrected, ideating improvements.
4. Set Goals Around How Much You Need to Improve
Now you’ve identified where to focus your efforts across next year’s funnel and where you want to devote your time. The next question is: How much do you need to improve specific conversion rates?
This calculation is simple but vital. You just take the difference between where you want to be (your projected, future conversion rate) and where you are now (your current conversion rate). Knowing the gap you hope to close informs how far you must move the needle, which is critical when it comes to forming SMART goals
An example of a SMART goal in this scenario could be, “We plan on increasing our lead-to-MQL conversion rate by 15% by the end of next year.” Setting goals like this will guide you when it comes to answering questions like:
- How much budget do I need?
- How much time will it take to accomplish this goal?
- Do I have enough resources at my disposal?
Without answers to these questions, putting together an action plan will be like taking a shot in the dark.
5. Put an Action Plan in Place
Once you know the deficit, you must determine which actions to take to overcome it. You should gauge what activities are going to yield the best results, how likely it is that you’ll accomplish those tasks and how much time they’ll take to complete.
First, though, you should consider which part of the funnel you want to improve. Here are a few examples to illustrate why this distinction is important.
Example 1: Top of the Funnel
If you are hitting your goal in the current year and you’re converting well across your funnel, then one of your only opportunities for improvement is increasing the number of visitors and leads you produce.
Here at New Breed, that was essentially the case for us last year. We knew we wanted to put some time and attention on improving our MQL-to-SQL conversion rate, but our other conversion points were performing well. Basically, we just needed to bring more people into the top of the funnel.
With that in mind, we focused on a plan that would garner top-of-the-funnel success. Specifically, we employed SEO tactics like internal linking, content optimization and an expanded keyword strategy. So far, it’s proven successful.
At the top of the funnel, if you need to attract or convert more leads, it’s important to focus on your channels and conversions. In terms of channels, evaluating your website SEO, social media, paid search or other mediums is wise.
Assessing your website conversion points is also a good idea. Looking into your forms, conversational marketing efforts and CTAs can highlight if one of your conversion strategies isn’t working. It could also help you brainstorm new angles to convert visitors moving forward.
Example 2: Middle of the Funnel
If you’re attracting plenty of site visitors and generating lots of leads, but not seeing those people convert into MQLs or SQLs, you probably want to focus on the middle of your funnel.
At that point, you should look into a number of potential causes, including lead nurturing, lead scoring, lead segmentation, MQL criteria, buyer personas, revenue operations and your overall marketing-to-sales handoff.
Maybe your nurture tracks aren’t directing leads effectively. Maybe you aren’t making it easy for your sales team to determine who to target first because your lead scoring efforts are misguided. Perhaps your MQL criteria are characterizing someone as an MQL when they’re not a good fit for the sales team. It’s possible your buyer personas aren’t accurate or focusing on the right customers. There could be any number of factors that impact your ability to convert leads into MQLs or MQLs into SQLs.
In analyzing these areas, you should eventually get to the root of your issues.
Example 3: Bottom of the Funnel
If all of the top- and middle-of-the-funnel transitions are going well, but you’re not securing meetings that result in opportunities or closing customers, you should focus on the bottom of your funnel.
In the bottom-of-the-funnel (BoFu) stage, you must demonstrate value and build trust, so it’s worthwhile to look into the pieces of your organization that do that, including sales enablement materials, testimonials, case studies, reviews and different offers (e.g. New Breed offers audits which demonstrate value to consumers).
Consider whether your current tools perform sufficiently. Do you have enough BoFu content or offers? Do they demonstrate value and help to build your audience’s trust? Do they enable sales to secure meetings or close deals? How are they lacking?
If you analyze what is and isn’t working within your organization, you should find voids in your content. This can help you identify opportunities for improvement so you can secure more meetings and customers.
At the end of the day, if you had unlimited time and resources you could focus on improving every aspect of your business and build a perfectly optimized funnel. The reality is you are limited, so you need to go through this strategic planning process to understand where you want to focus.
In this way, you can create your strategy for next year, building out the subset of activities you will concentrate on. Over time, if you optimize one area of your funnel at a time, you can move to the next area and then the next. Eventually, by accomplishing short-term goals with a concise scope, you can reach long-term goals with a much wider scope.
Isaac is an Inbound Specialist at New Breed. His passion for the inbound philosophy of giving value to customers before extracting it brought him to New Breed. In his free time, he's an avid outdoorsman.