It’s already the end of October, and 2016 will soon be coming to a close. If you’re a marketer, you are likely scrambling to finish up tasks from last quarter, ramp up to maximize the remainder of your 2016 budget, and plan for how you will make 2017 your best year ever. It’s a busy time, but the end of the year also offers a great opportunity to finish strong and get a jump start on preparations for a more profitable first quarter in the new year.
So which marketing initiatives should you prioritize to get the best results in the final months of the year? Consider the ones we’ve put together on this checklist below!
1. Finalize plans for holiday campaigns
November and December are the perfect months to promote your company through holiday marketing and advertising campaigns. Even if your product or service isn’t something that customers would buy for a gift, you can still use the holiday season to increase sales. People are always looking for products and services that are convenient and save time or money during the holiday rush, so partner with your sales team to see what opportunities there are to release holiday-specific promotions to your customers. And if you haven’t tried email marketing yet, then now is the time! Email is the champion of holiday marketing, with promotions starting in late October and going strong through Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and even after New Year’s. Email campaigns can be used during the holidays to increase sales with special deals and coupons, release new products, introduce changes to services provided, and even as a way to survey your customers.
2. Review fourth quarter spending deadlines
Do you have some marketing budget dollars left to spend before the year’s end? Many organizations have a “use it or lose it” policy in place when it comes to excess dollars, so make sure you stay on top of the spending deadlines in Q4. Whether you are in charge of just a few hundred dollars or several thousand, the pressure is on to ensure the remainder of your budget balance is invested wisely. Not spending it could mean an undesired cut in funds for next year, so try these quick ideas to make the most of it:
- re-purpose the content for a current campaign to increase conversions
- purchase any inevitable upgrades for your software
- invest in better CRM integration
- conduct an SEO audit and revamp any keyword opportunities
- test a new social channel to see if there is any traction there
- implement a side project that shows potential
- get a jump start on next year’s projects
3. Do an analytical evaluation of the current year’s marketing strategy
There’s no better way to track your goals and be ready to meet them by the end of the year than having a hard, analytical look at all your marketing efforts throughout the course of the year. Review what worked and didn’t work, and make sure you compare the data to the previous year so you can see the areas of most growth or decline. Here are some questions to ask:
- Are this year’s conversions high enough or do more conversions need to be made during the last quarter to meet the business’s stated goals?
- Which offers were the most successful and which networks or channels brought you the best results?
- Did you have the right tracking and reporting tools in place to achieve your goals, or do you need additional technology or education to take your results to the next level?
4. Schedule meetings with your team to organize next year’s marketing strategy
The sooner you can get next year’s strategy organized, the smoother the first quarter of the new year will be. Schedule meetings with your team so everyone has an opportunity to address any issues they are having and share their insights on improving marketing initiatives. Work together to develop a marketing calendar for the upcoming year to coordinate everyone’s efforts and plan out a first quarter campaign schedule. Meetings will also allow you to make sure each member of your team knows their primary roles and has the skills and training needed to implement any new strategies that will be coming into place.
5. Plan for business growth and develop your marketing budget for next year
After completing the previous steps, you should have a pretty good idea of what your business needs to grow in 2017, whether it is expanding into untapped marketing channels, investing in new technology, adding additional employees to supplement your team, or partnering with different vendor resources for better campaign results. Organize what you actually need and put together a budget wishlist. Don’t forget to consider whether the current year’s marketing spend delivered on the business goals identified, and do some research to find the biggest bang for your buck in each area of growth. After this, you will have a better awareness of the actual costs and their worth, and can map out a realistic budget plan for the next phase of growth.
6. Update and optimize your website
Your website is one of the strongest and most cost-effective tools you have for communicating with your customers and executing your marketing strategy. Studies show that industry-leading companies refresh their website at least three to four times each year, so make sure you are taking time to review your website’s design, functionality and user experience before the start of the new year. Here are some things to make sure you have in place:
- fast webpage loading times
- responsive design and/or mobile optimized features
- up-to-date content featuring your latest products, services and promotions
7. Thank your customers, agency partners and staff
The holiday season is also the perfect time to reach out to all your customers, agency partners and staff members with a message of appreciation. Offering discounts or specials to loyal customers not only generates sales, but also provides a great way to get referrals, as a happy customer will let others know that they had a positive experience with your company. And don’t forget to celebrate the success of the past year and get ready for the grind of the new year by treating your agency partners and staff members to a nice surprise. Whether it is a review that tells them how much you care, gift exchanges, a company lunch, or holiday event, a team that knows it is appreciated will also be one that is motivated in 2017.
Have an idea to add to our end-of-year checklist? Feel free to leave it in the comments!