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How to Plan Your Q1 Marketing Strategy

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How to Plan Your Q1 Marketing Strategy

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Whew! Another (hopefully) successful year is in the bag. But don’t rest too easy because the best time to set yourself up for success in 2024 is right now. The beginning of the year is a perfect opportunity to reflect on last year’s wins and losses and use them to refresh your strategy heading into Q1.

Read on as I reveal how you can develop a cohesive plan that focuses on your audience, goals and budget.

1. Nail your quarter-one marketing plan

Every new year brings new opportunities for brands to grow their profits and keep those customers smiling. Now is the perfect time to conduct an annual reflection on your marketing and deeply dive into how your strategy performed.

The year’s busiest season is over; now it’s time to plan for an even better coming year. That said, here’s how to develop a cohesive plan focusing on your audience, goals and budget.

Related: How to Create a Successful Marketing Plan: 5 Steps

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2. Reflect on the previous year

Now isn’t the time for business as usual. The goals you set for this quarter will set the pace for the entire year, so it’s the perfect time to reevaluate what you think you know about your brand and audience. If you want to see success this year, it’s time to question everything.

That means taking stock of your past achievements and mistakes (key word there). Analyze your previous years’ KPIs and metrics. How did last year compare to the years before it? The answers to these questions hold the secrets of success and should be the light that guides you throughout the new year.

Start by gathering these key things: your annual website traffic, engagement rates, conversion rates and customer acquisition costs. Identify the patterns of your consumers’ behavior by studying the social media engagement flow, website behavior and sales data to use for your next batch of creative ideas.

3. Audit and optimize your online presence

Every business strives for a strong online presence, and while some of you may have seen that come to life, others may not. Regardless of your performance last year, it’s time for a full online brand audit. Pull together all the metrics from every community you are a part of and determine whether critical elements such as brand message, social content, ad campaigns and website visits are working or need adjusting.

Remember, you should always go into your audit with a plan in mind, so here’s how you can work your magic:

Firstly, take a look at your website design and content. Is it making you want to explore what’s on the page or click away immediately? Is it user-friendly and easy to navigate where the customer needs to be? Can your website be easily viewed on mobile? If not, it needs a refresh.

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Additionally, take a quick look through your social media profiles. Update your bio, banner and profile picture to reflect your current brand and target audience. Keep your profiles consistent with one visual aesthetic, and optimize using keywords in every content posted.

These small steps make the most significant difference in the world when it comes to attracting a new audience and keeping your current one.

Related: How to Grow Your Brand’s Digital Presence from 0 to 100,000 Followers in Just 6 Months

4. Clean up your communities

If you want to stay in your audience’s good graces, you need a solid plan to tell them about your products and provide something valuable that keeps them coming back. This includes everything you post online, including blogs, social media, emails, networking groups, etc.

The answer to this? It’s simple: every quarter, you should be going through and cleaning up all of the communities your brand has been involved in within the last year. Identify your messaging, content types and aesthetics across all platforms to be sure your brand is represented consistently and cleanly.

Online communities are vital for any brand, but too many communities can often lead to slip-ups.

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Most importantly, remember your email community. Take a look at your subscriber lists, as they’ve likely changed a lot in the last year. Reevaluate your content, and make sure it’s written to speak to your audience as it is today, and not the audience you had a year ago. Remember, it’s not about you.

5. Adjust your paid advertising plan

Advertising is truly an art form and with each campaign comes new insights into how you can continue to improve. The beginning of the year is the perfect opportunity to look at the annual overview of how your ads performed over each month or quarter. So, to refine your ads, here are the top things you should be looking for when analyzing the previous year’s results:

First, take a close look at how your ad campaigns over the full year performed individually. Look at each campaign’s numbers and analyze the specifics. Looking at details such as ad spend, engagement, and ROI, you can figure out which campaigns did well and which ones didn’t, determine why, and going forward you won’t waste time and resources on things that don’t work.

Next, make some changes to how you fund your ads. This could mean moving money around to the campaigns that did the best or making small adjustments to how much you’re willing to pay for certain demographics or geographic areas.

Finally, something we marketers know all too well: adjust your campaigns based on changing trends. There are always new places to show ads and new ways to make them. So, be on the lookout for new opportunities, like trying out video ads instead of carousels.

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

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This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

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“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

Instagram’s testing out some new options to help spice up your live-streams in the app, with some live broadcasters now able to select a game that they can play with viewers in-stream.

As you can see in these example screens, posted by Ahmed Ghanem, some creators now have the option to play either “This or That”, a question and answer prompt that you can share with your viewers, or “Trivia”, to generate more engagement within your IG live-streams.

That could be a simple way to spark more conversation and interaction, which could then lead into further engagement opportunities from your live audience.

Meta’s been exploring more ways to make live-streaming a bigger consideration for IG creators, with a view to live-streams potentially catching on with more users.

That includes the gradual expansion of its “Stars” live-stream donation program, giving more creators in more regions a means to accept donations from live-stream viewers, while back in December, Instagram also added some new options to make it easier to go live using third-party tools via desktop PCs.

Live streaming has been a major shift in China, where shopping live-streams, in particular, have led to massive opportunities for streaming platforms. They haven’t caught on in the same way in Western regions, but as TikTok and YouTube look to push live-stream adoption, there is still a chance that they will become a much bigger element in future.

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Which is why IG is also trying to stay in touch, and add more ways for its creators to engage via streams. Live-stream games is another element within this, which could make this a better community-building, and potentially sales-driving option.

We’ve asked Instagram for more information on this test, and we’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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