4 Tips for Evaluating Your Q1 Marketing Efforts

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It’s hard to believe Q1-2014 is almost over. So, yeah: about that marketing plan. What worked and what didn’t? Before you answer, let’s talk about HOW to evaluate your marketing efforts before making any adjustments as you head into Q2.

Note: for the purpose of this post, we’re assuming you’ve created a marketing plan. But if you haven’t, don’t worry. Read this post on six things every marketing plan should have and this post on how to develop a marketing plan.

We’re also writing this post in a straightforward, easy-to-digest way. You’ll be able to find plenty of posts that go into cost analysis and that provide formulas, but let’s face it: as busy small business owners, sometimes it’s best to keep it simple so that we can continue to improve and move forward.

1. Don’t over think it. It’s easy to stress over and question every marketing activity you do, but that won’t make your life—or the decisions you need to make—any easier. Go in knowing that some programs will work, some won’t, and some will be flat.

Make your decisions based on your goals and if you achieved them. For example, was the goal of a particular program to increase leads? Then count leads. Was it to generate website visits? Then measure visits. If a program achieved its goal, then it most likely makes sense to keep doing it, for the short term.

We say “for the short term” because you need to be aware of trends that are going on within your own industry and within the larger world. You shouldn’t operate out of a vacuum. A particular marketing program might be working well for you now, but it might not always work, which is why you periodically evaluate everything you’re doing in the first place. Bottom line: be flexible.

2. Pay attention to ROI. A marketing program could achieve its goal (such as increased web visits), but the ROI (return on investment) might not be so great. For example, let’s say you spent $500 on a program to increase web visits, and the program delivered—your web visits increased. But what if the extra traffic didn’t convert into additional sales? That *could* indicate a problem with your ROI.

We say *could* because it all comes back to your goals. You might understand that those particular web visitors are at the top of the sales funnel—in other words, they’re not ready to buy just yet. Perhaps you’ll enter them into a lead nurturing program that pushes them further down the funnel until they’re ready to buy. Therefore, low-to-no ROI might be OK with the program that increases the website visits, but only a high ROI would be acceptable on the lead nurturing program. Just know that ROI is relevant at some point. Keep it in mind and aligned with your programs and goals.

3. Always strive for balance. Why? Because if something doesn’t work, then you haven’t risked everything on one endeavor. Take a look at your plan and ask yourself if you had a good mix between social, web, client communications, prospect lead nurturing, online advertising, and so forth. We’re not suggesting it needs to be an even breakdown—your particular business might benefit from more social activity than, say, email communications—but you should never have a marketing plan that’s 100% social media and nothing else.

4. Get friendly with Google Analytics (but understand what you’re reading). So much of what we do when it comes to marketing involves our website, so it’s important to have Google Analytics (or something similar) installed on your site.

The thing you need to keep in mind about any analytics program is that the data tells a story, and stories are always open to interpretation. If analyzing statistics is not something that’s in your wheelhouse, find someone who is good at this and ask him or her to look through Google Analytics for you and to provide you with feedback. You want to make sure you’re basing your marketing decisions on accurate interpretations of the data.

Once you’ve evaluated your Q1 marketing efforts, look at what you have planned for Q2. Based on your evaluation, is there anything you need to adjust? As long as you have a solid reason for making adjustments, go ahead and do so. And know that in just three short months, you’ll be evaluating all over again.

How do you measure your business’s marketing efforts? Don’t be shy. Share your tips in the comments.

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