One of the great advantages of digital marketing is the availability of tracking tools, from free options like Google Analytics to paid solutions like HubSpot, to measure the success of campaigns. Adjusting your marketing strategy is a necessity as you learn more about your results, but this raises an important question: how long should you try a strategy before making adjustments? This isn’t an easy question to answer: there’s a difference between adjusting aspects of your strategy and revamping your strategy, and different circumstances call for different actions. Let’s examine these situations so you can better understand how to move forward with your marketing strategies.

Scrutinize the Details

Did you know content marketing strategies may take up to 6 months to deliver results? At Main Path, we use analytical tools on a regular basis and compare metrics with the goals set at the beginning of the campaign. What conversion rates for your latest eBook were you expecting by three months? What engagement rates were you hoping to see with your social media accounts? If you find your results are lagging behind monthly and quarterly goals, consider tweaking components of your marketing campaigns before doing an overhaul of your strategy. Some things to consider include:

    • PPC Ad Copy: Weak advertising copy can create the illusion that your marketing campaign isn’t working when all it needs is stronger copy. Review the click-through rates of search engine ads, maybe one phrase is driving higher results than others. A/B test campaigns to bring to light the most effective headlines. Also, ensure that landing pages, call-to-actions, and offers are easy to understand.
    • The Timing of Social Media Posts: While some general patterns can be seen for different platforms (e.g. Post to Facebook on weekends), your target audience may be active at completely different times. Compare the engagement rates of your social media posts with your engagement rates to find any patterns. Free tools like Tweriod and Facebook’s page analytics are available so you can review your account’s followers and find when they’re most active.

 

  • The Value of Your Offer: You might have launched your marketing campaign promoting a free consultation or 20% off your latest product. Perhaps your strategy isn’t working because your promotions aren’t resonating with your audience. Try reaching out to previous customers for feedback on the promotion. Use audience research tools like Facebook Audience Insights to understand the interests of your target audience.

 

Evaluate External Changes in Your Market Conditions

External changes related to your industry, target audience, or national discussion can sometimes trigger a need to change a marketing strategy sooner rather than later. These can range from product releases by competitors (e.g. Apple removing headphone jacks on the iPhone 7) to changes in public opinion (e.g. the backlash against pharmaceuticals due to pricing practices).

The best way to handle external changes is to ask if the core elements of your marketing strategy have been affected. Have the attitudes of your target audience changed? Can you leverage a different aspect of your product or service to better compete with competitors? These are what Tim Berry refers to as assumptions, and if these have changed then it’s likely necessary to switch up your strategy. If your assumptions haven’t changed, then you might simply need to adjust aspects of your campaign but stay the course with your overall strategy.

Adjust Strategy with Immediate Goals in Mind

Sometimes when working on a digital marketing strategy, the long-term goal of improved organic rankings doesn’t mesh with the immediate goals of the business. Often the immediate goals of more leads, faster closing times, or more qualified leads doesn’t work within the lead time it takes for an organic campaign to succeed. Many marketers don’t consider the benefit of incorporating paid search into your marketing budget, especially at the beginning of a campaign. I often recommend paid search to clients that want to improve their organic rankings, but also need leads in the meantime. A well run paid search campaign can bring in qualified leads while the organic campaign has time to grow and succeed, so there is no downtime in drawing in qualified customers to a campaign, and the insight gained from a paid search campaign can improve an organic campaign as well.

Align Your Timeframe with Expectations

Everyone loves to see immediate results, whether that be after one week of going to the gym or implementing a new marketing strategy. It’s easy to get bored after a few months of sticking with the same strategy. This isn’t good for business. SEO marketing strategy is a long-run game. Consider how long your strategy has been in play before making drastic changes in relation to the goals you’ve set. If you have a quarterly goal of hitting a 3% conversion rate, is it realistic to consider re-evaluating your strategy after four weeks?  If you do decide to make changes to your strategy, no matter the extent, remember you’ll need to add another few months of tracking to your timeline to see any differences in results. There’s no definite timeline as to when you should or shouldn’t change your marketing strategy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the necessary calls. Indeed, it’s that harnessing of metrics and judgement that makes marketing exciting in the first place.

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