Happy New Year! Somebody asked me what my predictions for 2022 would be, and I answered, “I don’t know what you can predict because there’s something crazy happening all the time.”
Take 2021, the year we thought everything would start getting back to normal. I even suggested dusting off your 2020 marketing plan and updating it. Then the Delta variant threw everything into flux again, followed by Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection, inventory shortages, the Great Resignation, and Omicron. Who knows what’s next?
Many companies had to file away the grand innovation plans they developed in 2020 and concentrate on getting through 2021. After diving deep into their data storehouse, others took what they learned, moving to agile marketing and finding new ways to use marketing technology more effectively to stay ahead of covid-driven uncertainty.
One thing that has stayed the same — it’s January, and marketers are looking at 2022 and evaluating what they can do given the continued business uncertainties.
Friends, we have plenty of opportunities to use what we have learned over the last two years to create an effective marketing plan for 2022. But first, let me caution you with an anecdote from my own work life.
A few years ago, I was on the verge of starting a new job, and I was full of ideas about the things I would accomplish in my first 100 days. A friend listened to me as I went through my list, and he laughed.
“Why are you over-promising when you know you’ll under-deliver?” he asked.
Whether you just stepped into a new position or you’re solidifying your budget and marketing plan for 2022, the best place to start is to identify the biggest gap in your program. This will help you set concrete goals to address it.
1. Examine how your email programs are performing now and find ways to fix them quickly
Follow these three steps to discover what to focus on first.
Audit your email program
- Look at your program as if you had never seen it before. Look at the foundational items first. These include your acquisition strategy, welcome/onboarding, promotional emails, marketing automation for transactional and triggered messaging, and your opt-out process. They’re the keys to any email program.
- Review how these programs performed according to your KPIs. Does each part have its own set of stats? Are they trending up or down? Did they deliver as expected, such as a steady influx of valuable email addresses or meaningful and relevant messaging that attracts and retains customers and moves them to act?
- Look at what makes money in your email program. Is your creative content up to date? Does every email align with your brand? Do they reflect current conditions because of COVID or supply problems?
Create a hit list
As you go through your audit, put together a hit list of things you need to do to fix gaps, errors or inconsistencies in these programs. Sort them into three groups:
- Quick wins: Housekeeping items you can do quickly, like fix typos, broken or incorrect links, or outdated store hours or contact information and company policies.
- Short-term goals: These will take a little more time, maybe a month or so. They can include tech or database requests, design updates, anything that requires approval.
- Long-term goals: These are year-long plans that will take major lifts to accomplish, like new integrations, changes in data, lots of approvals and sign-offs, meetings, turf battles, RFPs and the like. Pick one you can knock out of the park.
Put everything in a slide deck
Why a deck instead of a spreadsheet or document? Because it will help you organize your thinking. In a slide deck, every slide is a new thought. You can progress through them in an orderly and systematic process. This objective method also helps you anticipate what’s coming next.
2. Send that deck to an agency
When you do that, whether you have an agency partner now or you’re vetting new agencies, you can get their feedback. What could they do to help you? You’ll also save a lot of discovery time by doing the legwork upfront. Your agency can see your issues, your priorities and what you envision for both short-term and long-term goals.
You’ll benefit from accelerated innovation through partner enablement. You don’t have to commit at this initial phase; you’re just kicking tires to see how much it would cost and what they could do for you.
If you see a net gain in revenue over your investment, you can present your plan to your boss. Your agency can help you here, too. Give them an opportunity to help you sell your plan inside your company.
3. Review and update your KPIs
When working with clients or prospects, I ask to see their dashboards. Often, they’re fairly simple. Every once in a while, I’m impressed to see a spreadsheet like the one I would create, with 12 to 16 tabs Excel sheets with every stat you could dream of.
I often find a lot of aggregate reporting in client dashboards, where every statistic is thrown into a single report. Don’t do this.
Each foundational program should have its own KPIs, tracking and review process so you can see results over time. This division of results can reveal a decrease in one program offset by increases elsewhere. Aggregate reports might not reveal that weak area.
Develop a new approach
I was working with a client that was dealing with a blocklist problem. We changed a step in the process, and the next day, the client was asking to see results. That was too soon.
You can’t rush through changes and expect to see an immediate impact. That’s why you review your KPIs over time. Upload new stats every week or even every day. Watch for performance fluctuations. You might fail one day and succeed the next.
- Adopt a new metric. Look for a metric you’ve always wanted to measure and haven’t yet. Maybe you’re trying to find out whether Apple’s MPP is affecting your performance to the degree where you can measure it. Is this change being reflected at a program level?
- Review your KPIs. Take time beginning this month to review your KPIs, update your tracking and analysis, and start measuring more things that matter.
January is supposed to mark a fresh start for those of us whose marketing year follows the calendar. But I’m just as exhausted in this first month as you. We’re all just trying to get through the day and find a win when we can.
One thing we’ve learned over the last couple of years is that no matter what life throws us, we can handle it if we work together systematically and lean on our team members.
In 2022, try to find something that improves your program and helps you take your mind off the never-ending crazy train.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.