Planning. Because we all have to.

Planning. Not the sexiest of topics, we know. 

No matter how much you love it or hate it, planning ahead is a powerful practice that can set you up for success in the year ahead. Here are a few suggestions on things to revisit as you’re planning your digital marketing for the new year. You likely already know and do many of these things, but just like your marketing efforts we can all use a refresher.

start early

Even at the time of this posting, we’re encouraging you to plan a little late! It’s a great practice to look ahead to the new year’s marketing efforts in the first part of quarter 4. This allows you to have the majority of the calendar year and its results under your belt, with plenty of time to build budgets, marketing plans, review reports, establish new creative, and schedule out what’s to come. We suggest beginning these internal conversations in October, and requesting estimates and new year schedules in November, leaving December to solidify your plan around the holidays.

review or revamp your marketing plan

Start by reviewing this calendar year’s marketing efforts. Ask yourself what performed well and what didn’t. Do you have a particular campaign or creative approach that you know you can move into next year, or conversely, is there one you might need to transition out of rotation due to prolonged use? Do you have any new initiatives or events coming up next year? It’s also useful at this stage to think holistically about any trends you’ve noticed on advertising platforms. Due to programmatic or platform shifts, you may have seen changes in reach, performance, or CPC from prior years that can inform whether those strategies still make sense for you.

Next, determine what your budget will be. If you’re working with the same or similar budget, it may make sense to duplicate last year’s marketing calendar spending similar amounts throughout specific times of the year. For instance, some industries experience seasonal highs and lows that dictate spending during certain periods, or may have annual events with a promotional lead time that needs a dedicated budget. If you have a reduced budget, we’d suggest starting with the strategies you know saw the best performance and retiring those that didn’t perform as well. If your budget is increasing, or you have unclaimed ‘use it or lose it’ funds to spend, ask yourself if there are any new initiatives this funding can support and seek recommendations and estimates from professionals as to the best channels for promotion.

digital clean up

If you’ve been running digital or social campaigns, there are a few areas we suggest you Spring–er–Winter Clean.

Throughout the year, website revisions and additions can shake up your website infrastructure. Double check that overarching campaign UTMs and pixels are in place to record your analytics information at a high level. 

Do you have campaigns that will carry into the new year? If you’re not working with a digital agency who optimizes and manages your creative on an ongoing basis, it’s great to check on creative performance to turn off any ads that might not be doing so hot. Make note of your gaps and where new creative could be supplied.

If you’re not working with a digital provider who’s proactively optimizing search on your behalf throughout the year, now’s a great time to check up on your ad words plans and negative keywords. If you’ve experienced industry changes throughout the year, or expect changes next year, put a plan in place for tweaks you can make to ad copy.

As of the time of this writing, Google is transitioning from Universal Analytics to their updated version GA4. We don’t see OG-GA phasing out immediately, but we are all eventually headed toward GA4. If you haven’t done so already, we’d suggest getting GA4 applied to your site so that it can get acquainted with you and your data.

In addition to setting you up for a fresh start, end of year planning comes with the added bonus of gaining from reflection. By taking stock of where we’ve been, our successes, losses, improvements, and mistakes–we stand to move into the future with greater awareness and gratitude.

Go forth. Go digital.