Marketing shouldn’t mean throwing the kitchen sink against the wall to see what sticks. An effective marketing strategy is based on intensive research into your audience and existing marketing efforts. To better understand your customers, your strategies and how to spend your marketing budget, consider conducting a comprehensive marketing analysis of your business.
A marketing analysis is a process that helps you understand the various demographics and segments of your target audience, effective engagement strategies, the customer journey, and ways to improve conversions. Conducting a marketing analysis can help you improve your marketing campaigns, drive a better return on investment for your marketing budget, build brand awareness and customer loyalty, and boost your lead generation.
“Marketing analysis determines the success and failure of marketing campaigns,” said Esther Poulsen, CEO of Raare Solutions. “It is necessary to build customer engagement programs with the expectation of what the results should be, and then conduct a detailed analysis to determine if results were achieved, exceeded or failed.”
To perform an in-depth marketing analysis for your business, you can employ methods like polls, surveys and focus groups. Refer to comments from users on your social media pages and online reviews. Use a SWOT analysis to determine strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business from both a marketing standpoint and a general operations perspective. Tap into your social platforms’ analytics tools to better understand your audience’s behavior on social media.
Additionally, there are lots of tools out there to improve your marketing analysis and the insights it reveals. Here’s a look at some free or low-cost tools available to businesses.
For a marketing analysis to be truly comprehensive, it has to examine every relevant aspect of your marketing efforts. At minimum, you should include these elements in your business’s marketing analysis:
Especially important to marketing campaigns designed to drive new business, examining leads and prospects helps you understand where you source potential new business and how you keep them engaged with your brand. A marketing analysis can identify better ways to nurture these leads, pushing them along your conversion pipeline toward a buying decision.
Conversions refer to any decision you want to influence an audience member to make, whether that is opening an email, clicking on an advertisement, or engaging with your social media accounts. Though converting a lead or prospect into a paying customer is the most common reference, sales are not the only type of conversion a marketing campaign is after. Keep your goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) in mind to identify what conversions are most important to you in a given campaign.
A marketing analysis should also shed light on the needs of your audience, including how your products or services meet those needs and how they do not. The more demographic information you can gather on your audience, the better you can segment your audience and target each segment with the type of content most likely to drive conversions.
“The more a brand knows about the people that are interested and not interested in a product or service, the greater opportunity for conversion,” Poulsen said. “It also ensures that an organization is investing in the right type of customers. Finally, it allows the marketer to talk to the consumer on their terms and how they want.”
Once you understand your audience, you can tailor your brand messaging and various marketing campaigns to drive engagement. A marketing analysis examines your audience’s current engagement with your brand through metrics like your email campaign’s open rate, click-through rate and bounce rate.
Your analysis should also consider how users behave after engaging with your content. For example, when a user clicks on a paid advertisement that brings them to your landing page, what do they do next? When you understand the reasons behind these metrics, you can improve them by optimizing your marketing campaigns to intrigue wider swaths of your audience and encourage further engagement.
Getting the lay of the land through a competitive marketing analysis of your industry is critical so you can tailor your strategy to the market. You should understand not only market growth and other industry trends, but also how you stack up against your competitors. A competitive marketing analysis allows you to understand your company’s position compared to a direct or indirect competitor. “A basic overall industry overview [includes] the size, trends and projected growth,” said Anthony Money, a digital marketing specialist at Qualified Online Traffic. “This is focused more on the industry as a whole and not your business or your customers. Is the industry growing, higher/lower demand, more/fewer competitors, new tech/products/services, etc.?”
When you conduct a marketing analysis, give yourself time to gather sufficient data on each of these points. An abridged marketing analysis often delivers skewed results, or worse, not enough data to draw meaningful conclusions.
“The most common mistake is not allowing enough time to thoroughly collect and analyze your data and findings,” said Kelly J. Waffle, managing director of the Hinge Research Institute. “Many overlook providing adequate time and thereby limit their findings. This limitation so early in the overall process affects every future strategy and decision that is made.”
Writing a marketing analysis is an important part of synthesizing the data you gathered into a reviewable format. The way you write your marketing analysis will determine how useful the results are to refining your marketing strategies. Ideally, a marketing analysis should include a clear description of the data points you researched, the results of your analysis, and ways you can positively influence your KPIs in the future.
“A marketing plan should include a pro forma,” Poulsen said. “In the pro forma, the organization identifies the audience being targeted, timing, amount of marketing campaigns (email, direct mail, digital) and the investment that will be made in the program.”
Additionally, a marketing analysis should include specific KPIs to measure the success or failure of certain strategies. For example, if you run an email marketing campaign with the goal to increase engagement, your KPIs could be the open rate, click-through rate and bounce rate. Similarly, if you are reviewing a content marketing campaign, your KPIs might include rankings on page one of Google, user time on page and click-through rates on embedded calls to action.
Set benchmark goals for each KPI and then track them during your various marketing campaigns. A marketing analysis will reveal how effective these campaigns were in achieving your goals. Remember, not every goal needs to tie directly to sales — sometimes brand awareness and engagement are victories that drive a prospect closer to becoming a customer.
“This will help to determine if the campaign was successful or did not deliver on the projected expectations,” Poulsen said. “Marketing analysis needs to not only report on the results, but [on] why it worked or did not work.”
The biggest benefit of a marketing analysis is that it shows you how to spend your marketing budget in a more targeted, effective manner. You’ll gain a better understanding of where your audience is active and what type of messaging resonates with them. By establishing this information through a comprehensive analysis of your audience — as well as any shortcomings of your current marketing efforts — you’ll understand how to improve your marketing ROI.
“It has been said that a big portion of marketing is wasted due to not understanding how well it performs and why,” Poulsen said. “The more analysis and insights obtained, the better the opportunity for future funding of marketing vision, and higher return on investment.”
A marketing analysis should help you optimize your future marketing efforts by understanding what works and what doesn’t in your current marketing campaigns. It can provide the following insights for your business.
Every facet of a marketing analysis ties back into return on investment. For every dollar you spend on marketing, how many sales are you driving? Though not every marketing activity is directly tied to sales, it should all relate to bringing new leads into your conversion funnel and pushing existing leads closer to a purchasing decision.
“It is essential to determine the ROI of a campaign,” Poulsen said. “The most important ROI to a company is conversion. This is determined by people that participated in a campaign by a pull list, receiving or responding to a message over a channel (direct mail, email, social, digital, media), and determining if the strategy is resulting in an expected conversion or outcome, whether they be leads, sales or other criteria.”
Your knowledge of your audience — the channels they are most active on, their likes and dislikes, and their pain points — should drive your marketing efforts. A marketing analysis can help you better understand your audience and the demographics of its various segments, allowing you to target customers with more effective brand messaging on the right channels.
“In simple words, you want to describe who your ideal client is,” said Money. “What is his/her demographic? What are their interests, their wants, hopes, needs [and] dreams? Where are they (geographically and online through groups, websites, etc.)? This is how we are able to strategically target them.”
Your marketing analysis should also identify potential members of your audience you haven’t previously considered. These could be people who need products or services tangentially related to the ones you already offer, or who need your existing products and services for a use case you hadn’t thought to market. This could provide an opportunity for upselling and cross-selling your products or services. In addition to identifying new markets, a marketing analysis should determine the potential growth rate of the market.
As part of your marketing analysis, audit your website and content to identify areas you could optimize for search engines. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of ensuring the content of your website and social media platforms encourages search engines to crawl your pages and rank them highly in search results. Ideally, your website will appear on page one of the Google results when your audience searches for keywords and phrases associated with your brand, products and services.
A marketing analysis should include a review of your paid advertisement campaigns, such as pay-per-click ads. You should not only look for new ways to expand your reach with paid ads, but also focus on what you are currently doing and how effective it has been. This can reveal opportunities to optimize your paid advertisement spend by tailoring ads to your target audience’s interests, boosting engagement and conversions.
“The marketing analysis should be tied to the overall strategic behavior of your organization,” said Waffle. “Also, if you are in an emerging market, you may have to conduct a marketing analysis once a year. If you are in a mature market, you may conduct your marketing analysis every two to three years.”
Depending on your business’s circumstances, you might want to run a marketing analysis on an impromptu basis, especially if you are considering expanding your offerings.
“If you are rolling out new products or services, you will want to refresh your marketing analysis,” Waffle said. “If you are trying to reach a new market or audience, you will want to conduct a new marketing analysis.”
If you’ve never conducted a marketing analysis before, now is the time. A comprehensive and thorough marketing analysis can help you spend your marketing budget in a way that will engage more of your audience and boost conversions. Whether you are launching a new marketing campaign, releasing a new product, testing new features or trying to optimize your marketing efforts, a marketing analysis is a must if you want to increase your ROI.
Mike Berner contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.