How to Perform a 2018 Mid-Year Marketing Assessment with Checklists

How to Perform a 2018 Mid-Year Marketing Assessment with Checklists

How to Perform a 2018 Mid-Year Marketing Assessment with Checklists

We’re about halfway through 2018. How are you doing with your marketing plan? What does your boss, CEO, or sales lead think about your marketing plan and its execution to date? This is a perfect time for a mid-year marketing assessment to examine how campaigns are progressing. It’s also a great time to give yourself a reality check on what you can accomplish in the second half and what you should focus your efforts on in Q3 and Q4.

Don’t be discouraged. Developing marketing plans for an entire year is no easy feat. It takes countless hours, meetings with stakeholders, and budget battles with sales teams, engineering and others.  A mid-year marketing checkup certainly won’t be as daunting, but it’s equally as important. Take time to review your performance in the coming weeks with the resources provided in this post.

And since we hope you can make some time to relax, check out our Ultimate 2018 Summer Playlist on Spotify and rock out your mid-year assessment.

Photo quote about this being a perfect time for a mid-year marketing assessment to examine how campaigns are progressing

Getting Started: Mid-Year Marketing Measurement

A thorough marketing review is a good exercise to go through every quarter or semi-annually. Similar to employee reviews, marketing performance reviews give insight into what’s working really well, what isn’t working and what to prioritize in the months to come.

First, gather your marketing plans, strategy reports, goal sheets and any important information that shares 2018 marketing initiatives: online and offline. These documents may have been developed by your marketing agency or internal stakeholders; make sure you’re looking at all planning documents including vendors or otherwise.

Next, review what was promised for the year: the types of campaigns, budgets, marketing channels, and high-level strategy. Having this information before you start the exercise of gathering data aids in examining the right type of data, from the right sources.

Finally, gather all appropriate access to data and metrics that may include:

  • Website analytics
  • Social media analytics
  • Financial data
  • Third-party platforms

Mid-Year Marketing Performance Questions

We’ve compiled questions marketers can ask themselves as they evaluate performance. Even the most seasoned professionals may find this list useful to help generate thought provoking “why” questions about your marketing performance. In today’s rapidly changing and challenging landscape, evaluating all angles of your marketing performance is recommended.

Use this list of performance questions to evaluate how your key performance indicators (KPIs) are performing this year compared to prior periods, prior years, and pacing toward year-end goals. Ask yourself why your marketing performance was successful or unsuccessful.

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Website Analysis

A brand’s website is the place people often go to learn more about your business, services, products, and employees. Your website is affected by marketing offline, as well as online. Your analytics give valuable insights into how well marketing dollars are being spent. 

  1. How is your website traffic pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  2. How are your website goals or conversions tracking year to date? Compared to last year?
  3. Which sites are sending you the most traffic? Do they align with your goals?
  4. What are the top landing pages year to date, and do they align with your marketing goals?
  5. Are the right website goals or conversion paths being tracked? Are there additional goals to track?
  6. How is the percent of new visitors pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  7. How are bounce rates performing year to date? Compared to last year?
  8. Is the average time before purchasing improving year to date? Compared to last year?
  9. How is cost per visit pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  10. How are sales per channel performing year to date? Compared to last year?
  11. How is time to conversion pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  12. What is your cart abandonment rate? (If you’re eCommerce).
  13. Has your average order value improved year to date? Compared to last year?
  14. If applicable, how have newsletter sign ups performed year to date? Compared to last year?
  15. How are form conversion rates pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  16. How are direct visits pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  17. How are call rates and direct email rates pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  18. How has mobile and tablet traffic performed on your site this year? Compared to last?
  19. For mobile and tablet traffic, how long do visitors stay on site? How many pages do they navigate to on average? Compared to last year?
  20. Where do users click the most on your homepage? Compared to last year?

Paid Traffic Analysis

Aligning goals with paid channels of marketing can drive profits, but misalignment can drive cost up quickly. Having a pulse check on your paid marketing efforts each and every month, or even weekly or biweekly, is best practice. Mid-year analysis likely isn’t the first time you’re evaluating performance so take this time to dive a bit deeper than your usual monthly analysis. 

  1. How is your cost per lead pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  2. How are specific campaign click-through rates pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  3. How is conversion rate pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  4. How are bounce rates from paid traffic trending year to date? Compared to last year?
  5. How is spend vs. revenue for paid traffic pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  6. Has the quality score changed?
  7. What is the amount of wasted spend year to date? Compared to last year?

Search Analysis

Measuring performance in search goes beyond keywords and ranking data. Today, it’s wise to examine all aspects of search as a channel to drive visitors to your site from visits to engagement. How can you improve on these factors in the second half of 2018?

  1. How is organic traffic performing year to date? Compared to last year?
  2. How is organic traffic performing for conversions year to date? Compared to last year?
  3. Which search engines drive the most traffic? Compared to last year?
  4. How have branded keywords vs. non-branded keywords performed year to date? Compared to last year?
  5. What are the highest converting keywords year to date? How does that align with your marketing efforts?
  6. How are impressions, clicks, CTR, and average position pacing in the last 90 days?
  7. Are there any dips or increases noted in impressions/clicks/rank that correlate to an algorithm update?
  8. Which non-branded keywords generate the highest click-through rates? Compared to last year?
  9. Which landing pages receive the most impressions and clicks? Compared to last year?
  10. Which keywords saw the biggest improvement? Which had the biggest drops? How does this compare to your marketing efforts?
  11. Are there site crawl issues such as unavailable pages (404, 500 errors)?
  12. How many pages are indexed year to date? How does this compare to last year?
  13. How long are organic visitors staying on site and how many pages do they navigate to on average?
  14. How is the percent of new visitors pacing this year compared to last?
  15. What pages are ranking for your brand name when conducting a Google search? Are these sites all assets you own, or do you have a reputation management issue rising in the ranks?
  16. How many times did search assist in a conversion? Compared to last year?
  17. How many total keywords is your site ranking for year to date? Compared to last year?

Social Media Analysis

Having a presence on social media can be effective for many brands. Users online today expect to engage with most companies using social media networks. Engagement, sentiment and reach are common indicators of success on social. Use these questions to help you determine your own performance.

  1. How effective has social media been to drive referral traffic to your site year to date? Compared to last year?
  2. What social media channels drive the most traffic year to date? Compared to last year?
  3. What social media channels have the highest engagement year to date? Compared to last year?
  4. How have social interactions/engagement such as follows, fans, retweets, shares, comments and likes improved year to date? Compared to last year?
  5. How has social influence such as Net promoter score (if available), positive sentiment, share of voice, and number of brand evangelists improved year to date? Compared to last year?
  6. How have leads, conversions, and sales improved year to date compared to last year?
  7. How is reach (post reach, potential reach, etc.) improving year to date? Compared to last year?
  8. If applicable, how are video views pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  9. How long do users from social stay on page? How many pages do they navigate to? Compared to last year?
  10. How many times did social media assist in conversions? Compared to last year?
  11. How many times have influencers shared about your brand or your content year to date? Compared to last year?

Content Marketing Analysis 

Use website metrics to aid in understanding how your content marketing efforts are pacing this year. Understanding consumption metrics, lead-generation metrics, sharing metrics, and sales metrics are best practice when it comes to content marketing.

  1. What are your most visited content pages? Compared to last year?
  2. How long do visitors to your most trafficked pages stay? What is the bounce rate?
  3. How many pages do visitors to your most trafficked pages navigate to on average per session?
  4. What is the cost per visitor for your most visited content pages? Compared to last year?
  5. What are the percent of new visitors that your content is bringing in year to date? Compared to last year?
  6. What content drives the most conversions year to date? Compared to last year?
  7. What content drives the most marketing qualified leads? Sales qualified leads? Compared to last year?
  8. What content drives the highest close rates? Compared to last year?
  9. How much money has content marketing efforts saved for your customer service teams? For sales teams? Compared to last year?
  10. How has the quality of leads performed year to date? Compared to last year?
  11. Where are visitors geographically located, that go to your most trafficked pages? Compared to last year?
  12. How much engagement does your content receive (social shares, comments, etc.)?
  13. How much referral traffic is driven from your offsite content efforts back to your site? Compared to last year?
  14. How much of your online content drives traffic to your site? Compared to last year?
  15. Has content helped improve average time to close for new customers this year? Compared to last year?
  16. If applicable, how many downloads have your content marketing efforts received? Compared to last year?

Email Analysis

Effective email marketing campaigns help business achieve their highest marketing goals time after time. With the right strategies, brands stand to win big when it comes to email. Without the right strategy, however, it’s easy to see how quickly campaigns can go south. Use these questions to tell you whether or not your current campaigns are set to succeed this year.

  1. How are total conversions and/or sales from email marketing pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  2. What is the click rate or open rate of your email campaigns year to date? Compared to last year?
  3. How is your unique open rate trending year to date? Compared to last year?
  4. What is the unsubscribe rate year to date? Compared to last year?
  5. How is bounce rate pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  6. How has site traffic from email marketing campaigns performed year to date? Compared to last year?
  7. Has your spam complain rate increased?
  8. How has the delivery rate performed year to date? Compared to last year?
  9. What is your email list growth rate year to date? Compared to last year?
  10. What percent of new visitors come to the site from email? Compared to last year?
  11. How long do visitors from email stay on page? How many pages do they navigate to? Compared to last year?
  12. How many times did email assist in a conversion? Compared to last year?
  13. Were you prepared for GDPR? What has been the fallout since GDPR went into effect at the end of May?

Sales Analysis

Marketing and sales departments often work together to set sales and marketing goals for the year. At the mid-year point check in with sales and start examining how you’re pacing for the year. 

  1. How are sales goals or sales margin targets pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  2. How is lead to close ratio pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  3. How accurate are sales forecasts year to date? Compared to last year?
  4. How has revenue performed by product or service year to date? Compared to last year?
  5. How have sales qualified leads performed year to date? Compared to last year?
  6. How have marketing qualified leads performed year to date? Compared to last year?
  7. How are win rates pacing year to date? Compared to last year?
  8. Have sales cycles been shortened or lengthened?
  9. How is customer retention rate pacing year to date compared to last year?
  10. How has seasonality impacted sales year to date compared to last year?
  11. How has customer lifetime value improved year to date? Compared to last year?
  12. How has your annual contract value paced this year? Compared to last year?

Key Takeaways from Performance Evaluation

The biggest takeaways gathered from a performance evaluation often come down to:

Are your efforts effective? Do you need to shift dollars and resources to other marketing initiatives based on performance?  What initiatives should be spiked? 

You still have six months to either stay the course or turn things around. Work with your teams to improve the things that need to be improved. Research new ways to market your company, products, or services. Use time to innovate and improve. Hire a consultant or freelancer to help you out now, proactively over the summer months, so you can head into the fall hitting on all cylinders. Don’t make the mistake that some marketers do by avoiding a mid-year check-in. Take our list of questions and get started today!

Additional Resources

Act-On eBook: 6-Step Marketing Plan

About

Nathan is a senior content strategist. copywriter, podcaster and video guy at Act-On Software; past director of SearchFest, owner of Content Hack, and co-founder of Trailhead Beer in PDX.