Though preparing for the new year can be overwhelming for eCommerce retailers, especially those operating on limited resources and smaller teams, trust us when we say: Start planning out your 2017 marketing strategy at a high level NOW.
This doesn’t mean you have to write every email campaign, blog post, and social media content you plan to publish for the next year. It simply means you should have an overall idea of what campaigns and initiatives you’re planning to launch in the new year to drive revenue. We (the springbots) just finished building out our own high-level marketing plan, and we’d like to share a few things we learned along the way:
1. Go over your data from the previous year.
The best way to figure out where to focus your efforts this year is to take a long, hard look at what did and didn’t work for you last year. This is a vital standard practice for marketing strategy anyway, but it’s especially important to start the new year off strong.
Where did the bulk of the traffic to your store come from last year? Which channels yielded the highest number of converting visits? Which types of emails led to the highest open rates? Which social media platforms encouraged the most interaction from your audience? If, for example, social media marketing yielded the best results for you last year, you’ll know to prioritize that channel in your strategy as a starting point.
Don’t just aim for doing the same thing all over again, though. Take what you accomplished last year and figure out how you can make it bigger, better, and even more effective this year. For instance, if social media was responsible for nearly half your converting sales last year, test new content types, posting schedules, and more.
2. Make a special note of any website changes you’ll need to make throughout the year.
Website changes include new landing pages, increased web hosting for high-traffic occasions, updated creative for sales and holidays, and more. When you’re working with limited resources and have no technical background, making changes to your site can be a pain point. Planning the updates you’ll need sooner rather than later gives you time for build out before crunch time.
For instance, if you know you’ll be running major promotions on Father’s Day and Christmas, you may need a dedicated landing page for holiday deals, graphics to promote your sales on other parts of your website, and additional web hosting to account for an increase in site traffic (so your site doesn’t crash and cause you to miss out on sales). Determine how far out in advance you need to begin these tasks so you’re not pressed for time when it counts.
3. Map out your email marketing campaigns.
Email campaigns have a lot of moving parts; there’s writing the copy, choosing accompanying visuals, creating custom segments, deciding timing and follow up, and more. Build out a cadence for how many times a week/month you’ll reach out to your customers and how many of those email touches will be promotional. Figure this out now to avoid accidentally sending too many email messages to your customers in a short time period (and risking a high unsubscribe rate). This tends to happen when marketers don’t plan out their strategy ahead of time and think of things on the fly that they want to tell their customers. Ease into an email schedule that allows your customers to anticipate when they’ll receive messages from you so they’ll begin to look forward to your updates and promotions.
4. Make sure your website and store are as mobile friendly as possible.
Test your site to make sure it’s easy to read and navigate via all of the most popular devices out there today. Google has a handy mobile-friendly test that’s great to start with. However, you’ll want feedback from real people as well, if at all possible.
Enlist the help of a few colleagues, friends, or family members you can trust to be 100% honest with you. Have them visit your site on various devices, interact with your shop, attempt to access your offers, try to contact your business with a customer service question, and fill out/send any forms you might have online.
Pay attention to what they tell you as far as what could use improvement, and make the necessary changes. A form that doesn’t work properly or a link that times out instead of successfully delivering a deal to your customer can be all it takes to lose a sale.
5. Get a head start on your content-based marketing efforts.
Great content that really engages the reader and delivers results takes time, effort, and forethought to create. The sooner you get your ducks in a row when it comes to things like blog content, social media posts, and videos, the better.
Decide on some relevant themes for your blog or influencers’ blogs now before the year begins full force, and then start chipping away at them. By the time the holidays get here, you could very well have every last one of your posts written, refined, and scheduled to post well ahead of time. This step becomes especially important if you rely on someone other than yourself to write your content, handle your SEO, or make sure your blog stays up to date.
6. Up your social media game by scheduling some of your most important posts in advance.
If you haven’t already automated some of your social media posts, now is the time to start. Automation allows you to schedule the most critical posts for times when you know they’re most likely to be read or to encourage interaction from your followers. It also allows you to make sure your followers are treated to a steady stream of new posts, whether or not you are in front of the computer at that very moment.
People look to social media for recommendations and links to reviews on products they are interested in. It’s important to make sure you’re adding the correct keywords and hashtags to your posts for increased exposure. The more strategic you are about making sure your potential customers are able to easily find your content, the more engagement your posts will generate.
Looking for more eCommerce tips for the new year? Check out our other guides here!