Every good marketing plan has a set of goals behind it. But determining those objectives only makes sense when you track them.
Conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that it’s vital to set marketing goals before you figure out how to track them. But you’d be wrong. Instead, it is often easier and more productive to determine your tracking technique before you determine the goals you’re going to be monitoring.
This seemingly backwards approach makes sense, since there are tracking technologies readily available that will enable you to easily and accurately monitor appropriate goals. Note the word “appropriate” – this approach only makes sense if you can link a valuable goal with an available tracking technology. Just because you have a cool CRM analytics tool available doesn’t mean you should come up with just any old goal simply to use it. Take advantage of the tools you have when you can use them to track and analyze meaningful marketing goals.
Not sure what constitutes a good marketing plan goal? Here are three basic achievements that most accounting firms can track to analyze the effectiveness of their marketing plans and budgets:
1. Business Outcomes: New leads, quantity and quality of new clients, revenue growth and profitability are good examples of major business outcomes that can help track and measure the success of your marketing plan. Many financial and CRM systems contain tools to do this.
2. Brand Visibility: Traffic volume on your website is a good measure of your visibility in the marketplace – the more people are aware of your firm, the more traffic will increase on your website. Want to know how well your external links are working and which pages are most interesting to visitors? Just look at the traffic on individual pages and see where it’s coming from.
3. Thought Leadership: Accounting is a profession where expertise is especially valuable. Want to know how much your opinion is valued and for what areas of expertise? Track what content is downloaded the most and which blog posts are the most popular. What content is being shared? How many views are your videos getting, and how’s the attendance at your webinars? All of these metrics are valuable for gaining insight into the best ways to develop your visible expertise.
1. Set Reasonable Goals
This is part art and part science. After all, you should set fairly aggressive goals if you want to significantly grow your business, but you don’t want to create unreasonable ones that will demoralize your staff and set you up for failure.
Assess the current status of the areas you’re considering tracking. If, for example, one is revenue, what’s your current gross and net annual sales? Are they low, average or high, based on past years? Depending on the answer, what can you reasonably expect to achieve, given the money and other resources you have available to invest in your marketing efforts?
2. Track and Analyze Implementation
Even the best-laid marketing plans are ineffective if they are not successfully implemented. Was your goal to publish a certain number of articles and place a certain number of guest blog posts overly optimistic? What got published and what didn’t? Determine what content has been the most desirable and eagerly accepted for publication. This data can help you determine what to focus your efforts and outreach on next year.
Taking the time and making the effort to set goals and track them may seem like a waste to some. But accurate analytics, acted upon in a timely manner, not only provides perspective and insight into your marketing strategy’s effectiveness and efficiency, it also enables you to set achievable expectations and goals for the next quarter or next year.
Remember: Data drives success.
About Lee Frederiksen
Lee W. Frederiksen, PhD, is managing partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge conducts groundbreaking research into high-growth firms and offers a complete suite of services for firms that want to become more visible and grow.