Thanksgiving and Black Friday are behind us, Cyber Monday is upon us, and 2013 is awaiting us.
Yes, we’re in the homestretch of 2012, which means there are lots of things lead-generation marketers should be doing to wrap things up well this year and set their ships on the right course for 2013.
Just as consumers should be doing, marketers should be budgeting for the holidays. More specifically, they should be planning on ways to capitalize on the festive season by having enough money in their budgets for seasonal offers to their clients, according to Peter Klein, senior vice president of media services at MediaWhiz.
“Lead-generation marketers must ensure their budgets have enough leeway to meet seasonal offers for the holidays,” he says. “The holidays are the best-performing season for cash-advance offers. It’s important to keep existing clients happy, as they will undoubtedly present additional budgets to hit for year at the last minute. Lead-gen marketers need to do their best to meet clients’ year-end demands to ensure inclusion in advertisers’ 2013 budgets.”
Plan and set goals
Part of closing one year is planning for the next, so it’s only logical for lead-generation marketers to do likewise. But how should they go about this? “Review your financial projections for 2012 and plan realistic goals, month-by-month, for 2013,” Klein says. “Once the numbers are planned, it’s critical to outline how you plan on hitting these numbers, such as staffing, advertisers and potentially acquisitions.”
He adds that the first quarter requires special attention, given the slow start that’s likely to come thanks to New Year’s Eve/Day and conferences. “There are good offers to take advantage of, such as tax season and auto insurance, to help offset some of the slowness and set the proper tone for 2013,” Klein says.
Christina Pappas, inbound marketing manager at Eloqua, adds that goals need to be clearly defined by a team, and that deadlines should be set. “This way you can measure progress throughout the year.”
She adds that modern marketers have the ability to measure their effectiveness. “Use all the data and insight you can to help align your strategies and make data-driven decisions for next year,” she says.
Pappas says she uses a spreadsheet for her lead-generation calendar and annual planning. The spreadsheet helps her to visualize the channels she plans to use, along with the content or themes she’ll promote. “This makes it easier for me to drag and drop programs to ensure that monthly, quarterly and annual goals are fulfilled without gaps,” she explains. “It also allows my executive team to have a quick, decipherable snapshot of the program.”
Review org charts and processes
The end of the year is when people tend to take time off – it’s also a good time to take a sober look at your org chart and processes, according to Klein.
“If you are able to move the business forward without some of your employees, then you need to cut ties or upgrade their positions,” he says. “If you can’t succeed and are inundated with tactical maneuvers, then it’s time to get job specs together for the positions you need and seek out the right staffing level.”
As marketers ensure that org charts include positions, descriptions and an ideal model, they should also make sure that all processes are running smoothly. “Whether it is establishing weekly meeting agendas, sales processes, offers setup or just basic document storage, the quieter, post-holiday weeks at year-end are the time to go through everything in preparation for a successful 2013,” Klein says. He adds that marketers don’t even need to be in the office to carry out these kinds of audits.
No-man’s-land and revitalization
Lisa Cramer, president and co-founder of LeadLife Solutions, suggests that marketers find the no-man’s-land in their CRM system. In other words, “find those opportunities that weren’t won or lost, but just aren’t being actively worked,” she says. “These contacts are a starting point for a revitalization project.”
As part of a revitalization project, marketers should also look for leads that have been interacted with within the last 3-6 months, Cramer says. “Then, see what kind of interaction and how much opportunity might still exist with these prospects. Create messaging that is tailored for each specific group of prospects. Measure the success of your nurturing campaigns by using lead scoring in the interim so you can clearly see which leads had the best interactions with your company.” She notes that the most important metric of success is revenue.
“You should be able to pick up some prospects that are further along the buy cycle than they were originally when they first interacted with your company and get more qualified ‘sales-ready’ leads into the pipeline for the start of next year,” Cramer adds.
Health check and housekeeping
Micky Long, vice president and practice director of lead nurturing at Arketi Group, says marketers should have a “Lead-Generation Health Check” in place. He offers a list of what this review should cover:
- current-year strategies (what worked, what didn’t and why)
- database/list health
- product messages/offers
- lead-management practices (scoring, follow-up, sales/marketing integration, etc.)
- competitive landscape
- system performance/necessary upgrades
- overall technology needs
“Taking the time to do a real analysis — one that takes a few days to complete — puts marketers in a much better position to drive results in the next wave of campaigns,” Long says. “It also makes it much more likely to gain approval for that needed budget increase.”
He adds that this kind of end-of-year housekeeping should be used to purge or update older content, landing pages, lists and “database deadbeats,” among other things. “It’s amazing how easy it is to turn marketers into a group of hoarders without the proper maintenance best practices in place.”
By Jason Hahn