Spring break is upon us here in Texas, and it is a beautiful week for a South By Southwest Festival. For those of us who took part in all or some of the SXSW Interactive Conference, we are coming out of it with new ideas and a charge of energy.
Even if you didn’t make the trek to Austin for the event, now is a great time to take a step back from the keyboard and evaluate the direction you’ve been taking with your internet marketing efforts. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when looking to free up time to take on some new campaigns or start testing newly found techniques.
Audit All Of Your Internet Marketing Efforts
Don’t let the word “Audit” scare you off – there’s nothing involving the IRS at play. An audit in its purest sense is simply about making a list of everything you are doing, so you can evaluate whether you are doing the right things in the right way.
When looking to adapt your overall strategy, it is always important to start by getting a lay of the land. We’ve had countless clients who have a million new ideas they will get to “some day,” which is a day that never seems to come. Why? Because they are too overwhelmed trying to keep up with everything already in motion.
I often ask pointed questions such as, “You say [n] is important, so why is that a top priority for the business?” Sometimes I get a great answer. Other times, it could be “Well, we’ve always done it that way” or “The executives said to do it, so I have to keep working on it.”
If you don’t know why you are doing something, think hard about not doing it any more. To make a coherent decision, you really need to map out the entire landscape of activities. Otherwise, you are making decisions based on a fraction of the information you need to make the right call.
Audit everything. Figure out how many programs and campaigns are going on. Identify where you are spending your time. Figure out what is impacting productivity for others (e.g. web developers or in-house graphic designers). Uncover where budget is being spent, and in tandem, where the best results are coming.
Don’t start crossing anything off the list just yet. An audit is about pulling together all the data you need to make the decision.
Figure Out Where The Bottlenecks Are
Once you have a holistic view of your Internet Marketing efforts across the board, move your attention over to process. Which of these tactics and strategies are causing scheduling problems elsewhere? Which are the biggest drag on productivity?
For those of you who have studied operations management, you already know what a bottleneck is. For everyone else, a bottleneck is the place where the process hits a snag that slows down production. It’s almost like a kink in a garden hose – so long as the bottleneck remains there, downstream steps cannot function properly.
During this analysis, you will figure out what processes need to be modified. You will also figure out where the excessive red tape resides in the process. And sometimes, you’ll figure out that you are pushing something through the system which doesn’t need to be there in the first place.
Evaluate Impact vs. Effort
After uncovering issues in process, take that data into account for this next step. In fact, during strategic marketing planning, I always advocate the use of an Impact vs. Effort Matrix.
What is this matrix? It is a very simple chart, where you score all of the activities on the list according to the following:
- Impact: How beneficial to the business is this strategy? Is it meeting the pre-determined goals set out for it, and do those goals roll up successfully to the overall needs and objectives of the business?
- Effort: How hard is it to keep this effort going? Is it very difficult and complex to manage, or is it a simple task to keep it moving along?
If you make Impact the X-axis and Effort the Y-Axis, you can easily place items on your list into the chart based on your own estimate of how hard and how impactful each item is. This is very important as an input point for the next part: Prioritization.
Prioritize Old and New Internet Marketing Strategies
Using the matrix above, you should have a great idea of where the bulk of your time is spent, and where you are deriving the most value. At this point, take the new Internet Marketing strategies into account. If you can forecast out, try to determine how hard the new ideas are in comparison to existing activities.
Then, look at what a real and reasonable ROI would be for those new activities. Keep in mind that the initial push may not be as lucrative as it will be once you’ve tested and honed your execution plan.
Once you have at least an estimate of some data for apples-to-apples comparison, line up all of the items in one place. I find that it is also often useful to create a “score” for each of the items. You can use whatever variables you want in the score, and you can weight them however you please. Then a qualitative decision can be made based on the metrics you outlined within the score.
To build the score, or index measurement, pick out the attributes that matter the most. Some examples might be:
- Overall impact to the business (from matrix)
- Ease of execution (from matrix)
- Importance to balance the marketing mix (e.g. highest priority initiative for the PR team)
- Level of executive involvement or interest in the program
- Interdependencies between it an other important programs and campaigns (e.g. landing page testing for event promotion)
There could be several others, but you get the picture now. Once you know the variables, consider ranking them in importance as a weighting factor. Then multiple the weighting by the score in each category, and add them up for the overall prioritization analysis.
Build A Plan of Attack
After you finish prioritizing, you’ll find that there are new items to get moving, existing items to keep in the process, and things you have been doing that are no longer necessary.
This is where you can get very tactical about how you will transition over effort from Internet Marketing tactics that are no longer needed to the newer versions of marketing yourself online. Build out a full plan for moving over from one place to another.
Once the plan is done, you may need to shop it around if you work in a larger organization. If you are the only marketing person, though, you can start adjusting from day 1. I go through this exercise a couple of times a year just to be sure I am staying on track.
Summary: Internet Marketing Spring Cleaning and Refresh
It’s beautiful outside, but there’s still work to do. Take the time to do a review, spring cleaning, and refresh of your internet marketing efforts heading into the summer if you can. It’s always good to whittle down waste and focus on the positive, and this is one way to both get organized and direct the boat in the right direction.
Do you take on regular “spring cleaning” efforts? How often?
Feature Image Source: User storebukkebruse via Flickr Attribution Creative Commons License
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