Quarter one of the New Year has ended and we’re just getting into spring. This transition makes me think of reorganizing my closet. When I start this task every year I use it as a time to take an inventory of my last two seasons, deciding if I want to keep items for next year. This, in a way, is my fashion and style inventory, but when it comes to marketing, we need to do an inventory too.
In business we need to have the most accurate understanding of what our resources companies have available. This will make it easier for business owners like you and me to make smart, strategic decisions about our operations.
What Is an Online Marketing Inventory?
I often refer to online as digital and a digital marketing inventory examines the online assets you use to connect with your customers. Included in this list are all your domain names, social media profiles, and email marketing. You need all of these assets to be populated with information that is both accurate and current.
We’re all very busy people. Maintaining the details of your online presence is one of those tasks that has a tendency to be overlooked.
This is a concern for two reasons:
- First: Any outdated or inaccurate contact information that’s out there to be found can frustrate potential customers who are trying to do business with you. Your customers are not going to spend the time investigating. If they find out they can’t easily contact you, they’ll move on to an alternate vendor without a second thought.
- Second: Your online assets are tools that are supposed to be performing for you to raise brand awareness, encourage customer attention, build relationships, and ultimately generate sales. These tools have to be configured properly for success. If they’re not, you’re wasting some – maybe quite a bit – of the investment you’re making in your marketing. That’s an expensive decision to make in a tight economy.
How To Start Your Online Marketing Inventory
It’s a good idea to take an annual (bi-annual or quarterly would be even better) look at your domain names, social media profiles, and email marketing programs. Here’s what you want to know:
Make a complete list of all the domain names your company controls and ask yourself these questions:
- Are they all still relevant to your operation?
- What are these domain names connected or forwarding to?
- Does the domain name bring your customers where you want them to go?
All of your domain names should be on a single registry. Moving domain names is a simple process, so if you’ve got domain names registered all over the place with several companies, make this the year you get that mess cleaned up.
Social Media Profiles
Make a complete list of all social media profiles associated with your company. Include:
- Your company’s Facebook Page
- Twitter account
- Google Plus
Don’t forget about the social media hotspots of yesteryear. Does your organization have a MySpace account that was started and never used?
Examine each account to make sure it’s in the state you’d like it to be in. Social media sites can get hacked and overrun with spam. If that’s the case, get the profile cleaned up, or delete it. If you decide to maintain a dormant account in order to keep control of the name, make sure all of the information on the account is correct and that you have information there pointing people toward the tools you want them to use to connect with you.
The visual branding on all of your social media profiles should reflect your current messaging. Review images and brand logos on your profiles to make sure they’re timely. This will help you meet your messaging goals.
A Digital Marketing Inventory is a prime opportunity to remind your team of internal social media policies. Urge people to add private email addresses to their social media profiles. If you’ve had some turnover, review the social media pages of your former employees to make sure their employment status with your organization is accurate.
At least once a year, your email marketing lists need cleaning, though quarterly clean-up is my recommendation.
Pruning and analyzing non-performing addresses from your contacts can help ensure that your messaging is actually reaching interested parties. Your email marketing list can reveal opportunities to strengthen relationships with your customers.
Cross check any unsubscribes against your in-house contact information: If a valuable contact has switched employers, for example, they may no longer be receiving your information, yet still want it. Review these opportunities. Reaching out for new contact information can reestablish a relationship and open a door to future sales.
The Digital Marketing Inventory period is a good time to assess the value of your email marketing campaign. Look at your campaigns over the previous year:
- Which messages had the best click through rates?
- What messaging worked, and why?
For some industries, the specific timing of when messages are sent is highly relevant. Answering these questions will allow you to make better choices moving forward.
Digital Marketing Inventory: Phase Two
By looking at your domain names, social media profiles, and email marketing, you’ve completed your first quarter Digital Marketing Inventory. This is a huge accomplishment, and a great start to putting you on track for your best promotional year ever. You’ve taken an important first step.
It’s important to remember, however, that it’s only a first step. If you have more digital marketing tools in your arsenal, be sure to take the time to inventory all of those as well. When you’re considering items like online advertising campaigns, guest blog appearances, and the like, the goal should be to identify all efforts: ensure accuracy, relevancy and timeliness, and assess performance.
Then you’ll be able to determine what choices you need to make with these tools moving forward.
In a year, it’ll be time to go through the entire process again. Like the shampoo bottle tells us:“Rinse, lather, and repeat.”
It’s important to acknowledge the repetitive nature of effective digital marketing. The more attention you pay to what it is you’re doing, the better job you’re going to do – and that’s great news for your business.