It's 2024, you're stuffed full of Holiday meals and treats, you've spoiled your friends and family, and you've (hopefully) caught a few extra Zs.
For e-commerce businesses, Black Friday 2023, the Holidays, and Boxing Week are in the books. Hopefully, it was a resounding success, especially if you followed our comprehensive guide. The earlier you can start, the better equipped you'll be for success. For most digital marketing specialists, January will be a time for reflection, discussion, and planning to set you up for a successful year of execution.
- Discussion & Collaboration
Post-Mortem: SWOTing Your Performance
Creating a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis will help you with your post-mortem on 2023 and the Black Friday period as a whole. Aim to have your takeaways backed by quantitative data and deep dive where able. Here are a few starting questions to explore:
- How did top channels (Paid, Email, Organic, Affiliate, Referral, etc.) perform quarterly, year-over-year
- Did monthly performance follow historical performance trends?
- Was media spend, such as Google Ads cost, efficiently distributed?
- Are brand impressions growing over time?
- What strategies (new campaign types, ad channels, omnichannel) are available to explore?
- Are there emerging market opportunities (product or location)? How are competitors aligned in the market?
- What external factors might impact your business in 2024, such as Chrome's deprecation of 3rd party cookies
With your SWOT done, you'll have the foundation to guide your upcoming discussion and planning to set digital marketing goals for 2024.
Deep Dive: Unearthing Hidden Gems & Missed Opportunities
Work with your team to dive deep into tactics managed during 2023. A SWOT is typically completed after you've reviewed your channel and monthly/quarterly performance. Review your major event post-mortems (you did one after Black Friday 2023, right?), but also your evergreen tactics, as these will receive extended focus in the next year:
- Review campaign, audience targeting/segmentation, keyword, and publisher performance. What worked, what didn't? What can be improved, and what should be stopped?
- Was your Google digital marketing & media spend allocated efficiently?
- Run in-depth creative performance reviews to empower your copywriters & designers to create next-level ads.
As a digital marketing specialist, this is your chance to geek out! Pro-tip: Involve team members to help fuel idea generation and healthy discussion. It won't be your sole deep dive of the year, but it can help impact your upcoming strategy.
Discuss & Collaborate
With the SWOT and deep dive completed, you're ready to have an informed discussion with Management and key stakeholders.
Aligning on Company Objectives
Defining clear and measurable objectives for 2024 with Management and from cross-team collaborators (i.e. Marketing, Creative, Data, Development, etc.) will set your team up for success. A sales growth target will be the primary goal; however, additional objectives may also exist:
- Expanding market share
- Launching new products or services
- Driving better brand recognition
Clear, measurable objectives will be critical drivers for your overall strategy and determine your operating budget for 2024, including your Google digital advertising and Google Ads cost.
Scheduling Key Moments
The Q4 and Black Friday 2023 period was critical for most retailers and will remain so in 2024; however, mapping out the entire year of initiatives will enable you to provide a more robust forecast. Scheduling key moments include:
- Finalizing your promotion calendar
- Timing major events (product launches, website launches, significant events)
- Understanding deadlines for external impacts on the business
Digital marketing specialists with historical monthly trend analyses from your SWOT will be able to challenge the status quo. For example, consider shifting non-Black Friday major promotions to moments where user demand is strongest (evidenced by strong conversion rate and revenue over ad spend [ROAS]).
With company objectives and key moments finalized, it's time to forecast! Predicting future outcomes is difficult, so ensuring you have a strong foundation from reflection and discussion phases will set you up for success. Your forecast should leverage:
- Trends from your historical data
- Company goals
- Market trends
Ideal forecasts will include yearly, quarterly and monthly breakdowns, then project by channel, campaign or funnel/pipeline tactics (more on that in a minute). For critical moments of the year, such as Black Friday 2023, weekly and daily forecasts are helpful as budgets will not be evenly spent throughout the period.
Your forecast should identify the optimal budget deployment for channels and campaigns, the resources required, and potential challenges that can impact the ability to hit the company's overall target.
Pro-tip: Forecasts will be done yearly and updated as the year goes on, creating a forecasting framework (ideally in Excel) that can scale with new initiatives, especially as plans will likely change throughout the year. Having to start from scratch every time becomes a time-consuming process.
Setting Your Annual Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Overall sales will likely be the ultimate indicator of success throughout the year; however, that's not the case for all initiatives. Planning and budgeting for a complete pipeline strategy for awareness, consideration, intent, and retention-based segments will require different measurements for success. Diving into a few examples:
Benchmark your KPIs for overall success and set targets. As the year progresses, it'll allow for a simplified diagnosis of which portion of the pipeline needs greater attention.
Testing & Tactics: Plan Early & Collaborate
Being proactive and setting a yearly testing plan will benefit your time, resources, and budget deployment in 2024. All testing should be SMART goal-based to meet your forecast targets and find efficiencies on your dedicated KPIs. Building your testing calendar at the start of the year provides foundational benefits:
- Showcase your organized improvement efforts to management.
- Allows for supporting departments to plan their time & resources more efficiently.
- As data is gathered, strategies can quickly be refocused to target more impactful improvements.
Never test anything only once, and never stop experimenting! Aim for conclusive data. It will typically only be apparent once run over different periods as consumer behaviour shifts.
Bonus Pro-tip: Withhold 5% of your media budget available for pure exploratory testing. 9/10 tests may fail, but the one that works, you can rapidly expand and scale.
Congratulations! With the above done, it's now time to execute. Stay flexible throughout the year and maintain open communication channels with your colleagues. As you gather data, you can adjust strategies and campaigns to achieve the best results possible. Good luck!
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