As the tinsel and confetti of the holiday season settles, and the New Year is upon us, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get back to work. Sure, your tree might still be up (how long do those Scouts run their pick up?) and your to-do list may be bustling, but now is the time to resolve to start strong, particularly where your marketing is concerned. The holidays are a time of reflection, and looking forward, themes which fit in perfectly with your marketing game plan! Here’s how to look back at last year’s marketing efforts in order to make the most of the year ahead.

Analyze Your Leads

If you don’t already have a tracking system to track the origin of your leads, this is an invaluable way to make your marketing more effective. Make sure you’re keeping a spreadsheet of where your leads come from. Make a column for every possible source and commit to an end-of-the-month ritual of entering those stats.

Look At Your Numbers 

Assess whether your revenue increased or decreased from your previous year. Depending on that data, investigate the factors that may have created the change. The more you understand these factors, the more effectively you can spend your marketing dollars. Are there periods where your sales went up or down? Look for patterns. Assess where your spikes in leads occurred in relation to sales, and notice if there’s a correlation with your marketing efforts. Did you employ any special offers or coupons, and how much did those drive new customers and/or sales? If you don’t use special offers or coupons, consider doing so. It’s a marketing technique that’s been proven to be quite effective.

Utilize Your Employees

Give your receptionist a New Caller Sheet so they can ask for useful information (such as how the customer heard about your business) each time a new customer calls. You may have asked for this in the past, but a dedicated document will help make this a consistent practice. If you’re making the effort and spending your marketing dollars to send postcards or special offers, for instance, it’s extremely beneficial to understand and track their success. Keep a stack of new caller sheets at your front desk, or ask your receptionist to always have one open on their computer so they’re sure to be used.

Utilize Technology

Consider call tracking to to track and record calls automatically. Assign a unique phone number to each marketing campaign. It will serve as an automatic tracking device to assess the success of that campaign. There is no limit to the number of lines you can dedicate, nor is it an expensive method. The information you gain will be invaluable in making smarter marketing investments in the future. Many call tracking services have an online dashboard so you can see the numbers at a glance, as well as gain insight into demographic details. The ability to notice trends, such as a majority of your leads coming from a certain zip code or age bracket, lets you tailor your future marketing efforts accordingly. An additional bonus is being able to listen to each call that comes in, which allows you to train the employees taking the calls more effectively.

Analyze Your Website

Install Google Analytics to look at the way your website is performing. Usually your website is the first place prospects go to get a feel for your business. Seeing where they click through, on which pages they spend the most (and least) time, allows you to better understand your leads, and make tweaks where necessary. Utilize landing pages with a capture form to collect contact information, and designate landing pages for each campaign (an online version of a call tracking number) so you know which campaign moved that prospect to take action and visit your site. 

Keep Your Eye On The ROI

It’s common for businesses to focus on the response rate of a campaign, when they’re much better off paying attention to the revenue it generates. Marketing is valuable in that it leads to sales. It’s entirely possible that a campaign may have a low response rate, but a high ROI (or the other way around.) For example, if you send 5,000 postcards and only get a handful of responses, but the portion of those that become sales generates more than the original expenditure, that’s a successful campaign. Focusing on the right numbers is integral to understanding the value of your marketing efforts. Make sure you observe which campaigns (and channels) produced the most ROI.

So, take some time to look back in order to look forward, and see your marketing dollars go further in 2019. Now, about that tree…