Blog

Looking back to optimise the future

Triana Jarman
So we are now well over half way through the year, yet it seems like only a few days ago that we were setting 2015 objectives!  If the success of the B2B marketing campaigns we’ve supported this year can be any kind of indicator, then we can be confident lots of you will have made significant achievements towards your 2015 ambitions. But are the objectives we set back in January still appropriate, and if not what do we change and how do we go about it?
 
They say to understand the future you must first look at the past, which is rather a timely comment for those of us currently reviewing H1 objectives. What better way of shaping (or reshaping) the agenda for the rest of the year than focusing on achievements from the past few months and gauging them against where you want to be in the months ahead. This applies both to individual or departmental objectives and also to those of the business overall. For while there should clearly be a close alignment between the two, there can be significant differences in the degree to which they may change.
 
For example, overall business objectives may remain constant, but marketing tactics may need to be significantly amended depending on how they have performed in the first half of the year. Perhaps your webinars didn’t quite get the traction you’d anticipated or maybe the promotional channels failed to deliver? Does your data indicate that your target audience is less inclined to have the time to attend webinars but perhaps download other types of collateral which they can digest in their own time? Perhaps webinars are the right component of your content marketing strategy to invest in at this point?
 
Clearly, the examples here could be virtually endless. The point is that now is the time to identify what hasn’t been working so far this year and use whatever insight you have to change your tactics to something which is more likely to deliver against your objectives.
 
Of course it may be that the business objectives themselves have changed. Six months can be a long time in certain industries. Perhaps there is a new competitor? Perhaps new legislation has brought with it significant changes? Or maybe there has been some game changing technology which has entered the fray? Depending on the size of the organisation it may be that the changing of business objectives are a little more challenging to re-address – the chances are they will also require a more significant overhaul of your marketing strategy. What remains however, is the fact that it is essential to look back and reflect on what needs changing.
 
So whether you are looking to adjust your strategy (and therefore tactics) in order to reach previously set objectives, or whether you are adjusting this strategy because your objectives have changed, there is some good news. It’s never been easier to be agile, especially when it comes to digital. Consider the top digital marketing priorities which arose from our study at the end of last year; content marketing, mobile and brand/creative.
 
Content marketing remains a top priority for 99% marketers according to the recent B2B marketing report, which also suggests that almost half of marketers’ time is being taken up by this activity. This may in part be due to the fact that content marketing is such a catch all term from the creation of a whitepaper to the posting a 140 character tweet. But this particular form of marketing is also tremendously popular due its agility. While the time spent writing quality content must not be compromised it is certainly quicker and easier to produce, send and share and is increasingly simple to re-purpose. If your H1 review suggests you need to make amendments, your content marketing strategy may be the most effective place to start.
 
Mobile as a channel is continuing to grow. As a statement that may seem like old news, but it now accounts for 60% of time spent consuming digital media. How much did this feature in your planning all those months ago? Are you still focusing primarily on the 40% who still access via the desktop? Let’s forget the fact that you may be getting penalised by Google’s recent algorithm change and consider whether your campaigns have been less effective over the last 6 months than they could have been. Was your content really fully accessible or digestible via a mobile device? Perhaps now is the time to re-address things.
 
The third of the top digital marketing priorities from our study was ‘brand and creative’. In fact it was revealed that while 60% claim to have digital brand guidelines in place, fewer than 18% consider their brand to be ‘enhanced’ by their existing online presence. Clearly there is a very significant gap here between intentions and the actual brand experience being delivered online. As we analyse our achievements to-date this year, we should perhaps reflect on our performance in delivering a positive online presence. Once again, the tools to manage activity relating to brand presence and creative delivery allow us to be more agile than ever before and it is quite reasonable to make significant changes in a short space of time – should this need to form a part of a change in strategy!
 
So now we’re getting a grip on the rest of the year, let’s start planning for 2016. Another saying comes to mind… Fail to prepare and you can prepare to fail. Even if that preparation is reassessed after a few months!