Q1 is often viewed as wasted time or the ‘lost quarter’ for many marketers. But imagine starting the year with your inbound and outbound marketing campaigns generating responses, your marketing automation platform nurturing and lead scoring those responses and your campaign dashboards in Salesforce showing how many marketing qualified leads you are already delivering. In this article we’ll be looking at some top tips on how you could make this a reality.
You may have already started developing your marketing plan for next year. There are likely two facts you can be sure of:
- The Sales target will have increased for next year (ever heard of one decreasing?!!!)
- Marketing will probably get the same budget as this year (possibly less)
Even though you’ve tried to get ahead of the game by starting your planning now in early Q4, it’s also likely that:
- The sales target will continue to change until at least February next year.
- Your product roadmap is only just being worked on now.
- You won’t get your marketing budget or headcount approved until early March.
Despite all the above, marketing will be expected to continue to fill the funnel and deliver marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to sales during Q1.
Ok, that’s the bad news.
Now for the good.
Allow me to introduce Quarter 5.
For the grammar fanatics amongst you, yes, it’s an oxymoron. But let me tell you why it’s going to change the way you develop your marketing plans and some top tips.
Even after the Christmas break, you’re probably still in the depths of submitting various marketing budget submissions and working with sales on agreeing which markets to address as priority for the upcoming year. But whilst working on your marketing plans, wouldn’t it be great to know that Q1 is already building pipeline?
If you think of Q1 2022 as just another quarter in 2021, you’ll end the ‘stop start’ behaviour that you find yourself in every year. Honestly, it’s that simple!
At this point I imagine you’re thinking ‘But I can’t spend last year’s budget in this year, not possible…’
So how do you do it? Here’s a helpful list of actions for your marketing team to work on in Q4:
- New Content - create enough new content in various formats, such as video, infographics, podcasts, webinars – that can see you through into the New Year and beyond.
- Existing Content – Always (I mean always) keep on top of your existing content, you’d be surprised how long you could use it for. Keep it refreshed, updated with the latest statistics and references. But most importantly, make sure that it’s fully optimised for search (SEO) and that any new relevant keywords are included.
- Prepare your social media calendar – get those posts written and prepared ready to go out. As you’ve got your content (1 and 2 above) there’s no excuse.
- Outbound email marketing – Again, this is an area that requires an investment in time and not necessarily budget. Look at how you can optimise your emails and landing pages to align to your content. Have your CTAs been working? Is now a good time to do some A/B testing?
- Nurture emails – as point 4 above, review your nurture tracks. Do you need to look at your lead scoring? What content has worked well?
- Digital Marketing – make sure that you’ve got the skills in your marketing team to understand how to optimise your website for search (regardless of the time of year) Getting this right will set you up for success. Ignore it and your targets (leads, ROI etc) will be much harder to achieve.
- Paid Programs - An area that may prove challenging are paid media programs such as content syndication and pay per click (PPC), as it’s likely you will need to raise a new purchase order to the vendor at the start of the year. However, it’s always important to keep on top of the lead quality that your campaigns have delivered throughout the year (we’ll be covering lead quality in another article soon). Believe it or not, your vendor wants to know if you’re not entirely satisfied with what’s been delivered, so make sure you’re addressing it with them before the year end. You may find that you are given a ‘credit’ to use, so won’t require a new PO for additional programs. Remember, your vendors want your ongoing business, so it’s in their favour to have these honest conversations.
So, whilst you’re starting to develop your 2022 marketing plan and budget – remember not to forget Q5!
And if you need any help with developing your marketing strategy and plan, creating content or campaign execution please get in touch with us at The Marketing Bee – we’re the experts in how B2B technology marketing should be.