Making it happen and measuring your performance
To conclude our ‘Small Business Guide to Marketing Planning’ series, we look at the final two stages of the SOSTAC marketing planning process – Action and Control. Action is the who does what and when of the Tactics (examined in Part 4 of this series). Control is how you measure your performance. How successfully have you achieved what you set out to do in your objectives?
Action – Who does what and when
The ‘Action’ element of the SOSTAC is essentially the details of your tactics. It involves thinking about the specifics and practicalities of implementing your plans. You need to think about:
- Tasks: What actually needs to be done? Think about all the tasks that need to be implemented in order for you to roll out your plans. For example, if you were planning a series of traffic driving promotions in order to grow your prospects database, then what development needs to take place on your website first in order for you to data-capture the new names coming in? You need to think about all the tasks that your plans entail.
- Resources: Who is going to be responsible for what? Will you need to outsource or bring in any external agencies?
- Timescale: What timescale are you working to? What are achievable and realistic deadlines for your tasks?
- Budget: Make sure you are aware of all the potential costs – website development, promotions, design and so on.
There is no use having a wonderful strategy and great tactics if you haven’t looked at how and when you are going to get your plans underway. You need to think about your available resources and consider what is a realistic timeframe. Outlining exactly who will be responsible for what and setting agreed deadlines will help ensure your plans are rolled out successfully and within the timeframe dictated by your objectives.
Creating a schedule is the best way to ensure everybody is clear about who is responsible for what and what the agreed timeframes are. Remember, if a task falls behind schedule it is likely to have a knock-on effect on all your other deadlines.
You can easily put together a perfectly adequate schedule on excel – just remember that it is a working document and should be kept updated, referred to and amended accordingly as your plan progresses. Outline each task, who is responsible and what the deadline is. Circulate your schedule to everyone involved (this includes external resources if you are outsourcing) as it will ensure there is no confusion about who is taking responsibility for what. And, even if you are a one-man-band and planning on doing it all yourself, creating a schedule is still important as it provides a useful and detailed action plan for you to work to.
Control: How do you measure your performance?
It is really important to be able to ascertain whether you achieved what you set out to in your objectives. And, if you haven’t achieved specific targets then it is essential you understand why. Otherwise, you risk repeating unsuccessful tactics over and over again wasting valuable time and money. It is only through measurement and analysis that you can understand how to improve on your performance.
So, first you need to decide upon how you intend to measure your performance. What KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) do you intend to use? Of course this will depend on what your objectives were, but could include analysing RoI, number of new leads, conversion rates, traffic sources, new visitors to your site, page impressions and so on. Think about what are the most suitable metrics and measurements to enable you to assess the success of what you have undertaken.
As an e-commerce site it is inevitable that some of the measurements you will be using will be web analytics. This is why it is important to get to grips with some of the common metrics – they can tell you an awful lot about your business!
“Web analytics is essentially about monitoring how visitors are using different pages and features on your website” (EConsultancy, Web Analytics: A Beginner’s Guide)
Web analytics are useful metrics to help you better understand your performance – in terms of both your website and response to specific campaigns. There are many useful metrics but if you are just starting out then the ones listed below are probably the ones to familiarise yourself with first.
- Traffic source: This tells you where your traffic is coming from – through direct traffic (existing customers, offline campaigns), search engines, referring sites or campaigns (email, banner ads, social media campaigns and so on)
- Visits: Basically how many visitors are coming to your site. You can find out the percentage of new and repeat visitors.
- Page views: Number of page views can be an indication of how engaged your visitors are by telling you an average of how many pages they visited. You can also find out the average duration of visits.
- Bounce rates: This is often used to measure the quality of traffic coming to your website. It tells you who visited only one page of your site and then left immediately. Take a look at Avinash Kaushik’s article on just how useful bounce rate can be.
If you are just starting with web analytics then there are a lots of helpful free resources available. We like:
- Beginners Guide to Web Data Analysis by analytics guru Avinash Kaushik
- Econsultancy, Web Analytics a Beginners Guide
- Google Analytics Help Centre : Will help get you set up with Google Analytics.
Of course don’t forget there are other more qualitative ways to measure your performance. Customer feedback can be invaluable. Monitoring customer satisfaction through taking note of customers views and opinions can tell you a lot about how your performance through the eyes of your customers.
ShopIntegrator’s Small Business Guide to Marketing Planning
This is the final part of our Small Business Guide to Marketing Planning. Hopefully we’ve been able to show you that by using a simple marketing planning framework like SOSTAC, you can create a useful and relevant working document. We really believe that investing time and effort into putting together a marketing plan for the year ahead will pay dividends in the long run by helping give your business clear direction and focused objectives in order to move your online business forward.
- Part 1 : Introduction to Marketing Planning and the SOSTAC framework
- Part 2 : Situational Analysis: Where are you now?
- Part 3: Setting Objectives and formulating Strategy: Where do you want to be and how do you get there?
- Part 4: Tactics: How exactly do you get there?
3D desktop calendar image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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