Don’t Forget About 2006 Just Yet

For me, the budgeting and planning time has begun for 2007. I’m in the process of selecting the marketing media mix for next year. What mediums should I use? How heavily should we market online versus in print? Am I really going to spend this much on search engine marketing? All are questions I’m grappling with as I try to put together our plan for 2007.

First, and probably most important, is looking at the results from 2006. What is a future plan without reviewing the past? I’ve been breaking down the results of different online and offline activities in 2006 to see which provided positive results and which just ate up my budget. My 2006 plan included a combination of online ads, search engine marketing, and a targeted print ad campaign.

I have a post planned down the road covering my views on print advertising. I definitely lean towards online marketing, but realize print is an important component of presenting your brand and keeping it in the minds of our customers. Unfortunately, results are harder to track. There is the 1-800 numbers or specialized URLs that a reader could use to contact you. I’ve tried those and the results haven’t been strong enough to tell me that we should cancel our ad or spend more with that certain magazine. Was that because of poor ad copy or wrong placement? The variety of magazines from which we choose is limited so picking a wrong magazine would be tough. But, this is a discussion for my post down the road on print advertising.

Next, I look at my online mediums. Search Engine Marketing – largely Google Adwords – is a big generator of website traffic and lead conversions. I have to admit – I’m biased towards SEM because it is a fascinating medium in which to advertise your products or services. I’m hooked! Again, I have a post in the very near future on this that will go in-depth. My next post will actually be a teaser into the subject with links to some of my favorite blogs and online SEM and SEO information sources. As for analyzing this year, I focus on conversions and CTR by keyword and ad group. Conversions for me equal a lead generated via form on a landing page or, in some cases, a conversion equals at least 4 pages viewed by someone coming to the site from one of my ads. Conversions, CTR, and how deep a user went into our site will determine how I approach our campaigns in 2007

Other online mediums include banner ads, text links, webinars, etc. Positive results for me are high CTR, high page views, and lead generation. Those that didn’t hit my expected CTR will not be a part of my 2007 plan (keeping in mind I’ve tried various messaging with little success). Those I think can hit the CTR I want, but need adjusted ad copy will get another chance in 2007. And those that met my expectations will most likely see an increase in frequency.

Once all of my data is completed, I begin selecting my marketing mix for 2007. The mediums won’t change much, the amount and frequency of each will shift. For a small company on a limited budget results are key and the main deciding factor in future marketing spends. There isn’t the budget for a ton of experimenting so we need to focus on what works for us. But, what about blogs, RSS feeds, etc….? Phew, its a lot to digest but to stay competitive we need to get there.

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