The Importance of Regularly Re-Evaluating and Evolving your Digital Marketing Strategy
(And Why Energy Circle Decided to Change One of Our Most Successful Marketing Vehicles)
We know what you’re thinking: “Hold on! Is it Friday?” If you’re like us, and you determine what day of the week it is by looking for the regular end-of-the-week Energy Circle newsletter, your schedule might be rocked today. But fear not! You haven’t been asleep for three days — we are indeed switching up our schedule (among other pieces of our own digital marketing strategy.) That is because it is critically important to regularly evaluate, analyze and evolve your marketing strategies and plans to ensure your content and messaging is timely, relevant and serving your business objectives.
But how do you know if your marketing strategy needs a refresher? What does “success” look like, and how can we tell if the content and messaging we’re putting out to our customers is timely, relevant and working to serve our bottom line? Even if your strategy seems to be “working”, is there still room for improvement in a constantly evolving digital landscape?
Evaluation comes before evolution.
Don’t get us wrong. We’re not advocating change for change’s sake. Like with anything strategic, first we must evaluate and analyze the data.
At Energy Circle, we’ve been publishing weekly blog posts and our EC Insights Newsletter to our devoted following every Friday for several years now. But, is it “working?” Or, more to the point, “working as well as it could?” Sure. Our newsletter has over 10,000 subscribers, is a repeat source of new clients and beloved (according to feedback) by many readers. In other words: a very important part of EC’s marketing and not something to mess with.
But we’ve decided to test a shift. How did we come to this conclusion? By monitoring the data for an extended period of time to ensure we are able to accurately distinguish anomalies and temporary fluctuations from lasting trends, and by regularly comparing our performance metrics to industry benchmarks and competitive data.
According to Mailchimp’s Industry Benchmarks, Energy Circle’s weekly newsletter open and click-through rates average just slightly below the industry wide average for the Marketing & Advertising industry. This is to be expected, considering our audience is notably more specific than the greater “marketing and advertising industry” audience as a whole.
Data from an Extended Timeframe
Furthermore, the blog posts featured in our weekly newsletters overwhelmingly receive the most clicks, and visitors to the Energy Circle blog have consistently spiked on Fridays for the past 12 months in a row. (The major peaks in the chart below almost all occur on a Friday).
(Google Analytics Data for energycircle.com showing Users on the Energy Circle site that came from “Source = Email” during October 2017 - October 2018)
Email marketing and the Energy Circle blog are just a couple of cogs in our content marketing train that have been rolling along on the same track, and getting where they need to go, for some time. So why mess with it?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it… right? Not exactly.
The digital landscape is changing rapidly, especially when it comes to content marketing. A marketing strategy that was designed 12, 6 or sometimes even just 3 months ago, needs to be regularly reviewed in the context of that changing landscape. Even a strategy that has been apparently working for a while is vulnerable to external forces beyond our control.
Some of those external factors to consider are:
Increased Competition: According to Google Search Insights, there are somewhere around 30 trillion unique pages of content on the internet across billions of websites, and that number grows every day. In fact, sources like HostingFacts.com and MaketingProfs.com report that between 2 and 3 million new blog posts are published every day. That’s a lot of competition for users’ attention...especially when we only have about 8 seconds to get our message across.
Over Saturation: If a topic is trending, you can bet that a good portion of those 2 to 3 million new blog posts are going to talk about it. That means peak saturation happens quickly. If you don’t pivot your strategy ahead of trends, your users might be tired of your message before it even gets to them.
Changes in User Behavior: The way users engage with our marketing content is how we determine its effectiveness. We are also — at least to some degree — dependent on those users to help increase the organic reach of the content we publish. But one of the major contributors to the amplification of organic reach, use of social media, is declining significantly. Buzz Sumo reports that in 2017 social sharing was down 50% from 2015, and referral traffic is steadily dropping as well.
This means we need to reconsider if and how much we rely on social media platforms to distribute content, and extend the reach of our marketing to new and broader audiences.
Following trends in user behavior and evolving your marketing strategy to anticipate how those trends will affect the performance of your marketing plan must happen on a regular basis. Failure to pivot with changing trends in user behavior could result in reduced reach and fewer conversions.
What does this all have to do with the Energy Circle newsletter?
We looked at the extended data, we compared performance to industry benchmarks, we considered competition and user behavior trends, and then we looked at our marketing strategy as a whole. What we determined was, we’re due for shift.
Users’ attention spans are declining as competition and content is increasing. Furthermore, we are marketing in the HVAC, Home Performance and Solar Energy industries which are heavily intertwined with and affected by incredibly popular and ubiquitous topics like political legislation and climate change. Because of that, we must anticipate when those external forces we mentioned earlier will come into play and be ready to meet our target audience with fresh, relevant messaging in new and unexpected ways.
Of course, we’re not going to stop there! Now we must begin the cycle of evaluation and evolution again. A digital marketing strategy must be constantly tested and optimized based on informed hypotheses and backed by data. Ahhhh .... a digital marketer’s job is never done!