As an affiliate this may be your busiest time of the year. You’re finalizing holiday promotional efforts, executing on Q4 plans, and let’s face it – sometimes pushing just to keep on top of all the holiday marketing madness. But during all this holiday craziness, you also need to be thinking about planning for next year. Yes, 2018 will be here in just 2 short months.
Of course, you can simply head into the new year just doing what you’ve been doing. But the start of the year is a chance to evaluate what worked over the last 12 months, what didn’t, set new goals, and develop a plan for moving your business to the next level.
Having a yearly plan (or even a five-year plan) sets a clear path for success that can be adjusted as you go along. It also helps you prioritize. That means you can spend time more efficiently and rather than spinning your wheels.
Intensive Review Process
Hopefully, you’ve been looking at all your data throughout the year and making adjustments as needed. If you haven’t been reviewing all of your data and looking at it year-over-year, month-over- month, you need to evaluate those numbers. This will give you a glimpse into the trajectory you’re on, and possible where you need to make changes. It will also provide some insight into setting percentage growth goals for the future.
It’s time to go deep and review all areas of your business – social media, conversions, earnings with each merchant, sponsorships, paid advertising, search, etc. For each of those areas, you’ll want to look at your ROI, and be sure you’re measuring the right things.
Streamlining how you do things is also worth reviewing. Look for ways to improve efficiencies – whether in terms of time or resources needed to perform specific tasks. What can be automated to save time? Are there tasks that can be outsourced? Additionally, think about how adding new functionality or setting goals will impact existing processes.
As you look ahead, you’ll want to contemplate any new technologies that might impact your business. Are there technologies or innovations that would improve your internal processes and run your business? What about ad technologies or marketing tools that make it easier to interact with customers, do retargeting, maximize your social media, etc.? Also look for tech that will improve the customer experience and increase conversions.
The Changing Marketplace
Additionally, it’s a good time to evaluate the overall landscape of your specific market. If you’re focused on apparel, look at data about how the market may have shifted including any changes in consumer shopping behaviors, changing demographics, areas that are underserved, and more. Think about how other factors such as the economic climate, social issues, etc. might change the market or present new opportunities.
How do you stack up? Don’t focus on your rivals. But it doesn’t hurt to see what similar businesses are doing. Look at websites like Similarweb.com to get information about where competitors’ overall traffic, where their traffic is coming from, bounce rates, etc. You can also look at their social media and see who they are engaging and how they are doing it. Have they broken into segments you’re not reaching? This can give you an opportunity to put new plans in place for
Have a Timeline
Come up with a realistic timeline for implementing all the new things you have planned. And set specific times to review those plans once they are place. Have specific goals in mind for what you plan on achieving. Is it to sign up and be productive with a dozen new merchants? Is it to increase conversions by 20%? Whatever you opt to do, measure, review and adjust as you go on a regular basis.
You should think of your plan as a set of guidelines – not an unchangeable set of rules. Keep your marketing plan where you can easily access it throughout the year. Write different marketing timelines on your calendar so that you know when to look again at your plan. Make changes to your plan as unforeseen events occur, and keep going.
A strong yearly business plan doesn’t have to be flawless from the start. It simply needs to be detailed enough to get you smoothly through another 12 months by incorporating your goals and methods for achieving them.