Archive for January, 2023

Your Strategic Digital Marketing Plan for 2023

January 9th, 2023 by Heather Maloney

A pragmatic and robust approach to building a strategic marketing plan for 2023 from a digital marketing leader who helps dozens of clients every year with their marketing planning and execution.

Hopefully you have already started thinking about how you will be spending your marketing budget, time and resources, in 2023. If you haven’t nailed it yet, now is the time to get it done, before you get too caught up in the day to day.

This guide is for marketing managers and business owners. It is a roadmap to achieve your business goals in 2023 – using technology to grow. I will discuss the primary questions that you should be asking yourself regarding your marketing budget, your competitive landscape, and other factors that should inform the development of your marketing plan. I will explain how marketing and sales interact, describe how to review your marketing expenses and budget, and provide so overall suggestions for your marketing plans.

Obviously every business, and their competitive landscape, is different. So if you would like our input into your planning process, don’t hesitate to get in touch.


  • The 5 Questions to ask when Building a Strategic Marketing Plan
  • A Review of how Marketing & Sales Interact to Drive Revenue
  • Marketing Expenses and Your Marketing Budget
  • Broad Suggestions for Your 2023 Marketing Activities

The 5 Questions to ask when Building a Strategic Marketing Plan

1. What is your growth target?

It is important to understand the growth your business achieved (if any) last year.

Your business growth will have been the result of many factors (economic, competitive, environmental etc) however, your resourcing of marketing will most likely have been a significant factor.

If you are looking for increased growth this year, then likely you will need to upscale your marketing budget and efforts. You will likely need to find new ways and new markets to penetrate to achieve the growth, unless you are providing to a market segment with pent up demand, or unless you have no competition.

If a similar level of growth is satisfactory for this year, and there is minimal change in your competitive landscape, then your marketing spend from last year might not need too much adjustment. It is still highly recommended to review your strategic marketing plan to ensure that you aren’t missing opportunities or being outplayed by the competition.

2. What marketing tactics drove the most value last year?

We recommend breaking down the value of each marketing tactic you have been employing, and understanding what part of the buyer journey they fit into.

The diagram below shows how various marketing tactics may be used within a buyer journey for a business that sells products both online and offline. The buyer journey for your customers may be very different. The ‘Purchase’ component may be better labelled ‘Sales’ for your business, if your product / service requires considerable sales effort to complete the sale. In this case, the tactics employed around Sales may also be very different from the diagram below.

We recommend identifying the most impactful tactics from 2022, preferably with a good spread across the 5 stages of the buyer journey.

The tactics which are known to have provided you with the biggest uplift in revenue will likely form the bedrock of your 2023 marketing plan. The tactics that had the least impact are candidates for replacement with another opportunity. The stage in your buyer journey which is responsible for the most drop off of potential buyers (or if you have a customer retention problem, or lack customer advocates) should be your next focus, to ensure that in 2023 you address this issue, and do not waste your investment in marketing.

3. How quickly must your growth target be delivered?

Can your growth be achieved over the whole year, or do you need to deliver growth in the very short term? Exponential growth often requires a longer time horizon, whereas opting for short term, rapid results will likely be unsustainable and more costly overall.

The timeframe for delivering growth may be driven by your organisation’s ability to respond to the growth. Do you have enough inventory of products? Do you have enough staff to deliver services? Do you have a big enough support team to provide the appropriate level of service when onboarding new customers to a SaaS product.

Pay-per-click advertising (Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.) is a better short-term investment if you need to see consistent, short term growth. Within a few months, you’ll have a strong understanding of the cost per customer acquisition (CPA) and will be able to adjust spending to achieve growth goals.

Long term, search engine optimisation (SEO) and content marketing will help you to see exponential growth at much lower CPA.

4. How has your Competitive Landscape changed?

Answers to the following questions from yourself and your team will likely provide very important insights for your marketing strategic plan:

  • How have your competitors have evolved over the past year?
  • How has the competitive landscape changed over the past year (prices, product / service availability, demand, number of competitors, customer education etc)?
  • How do you expect the competitive landscape to change in the upcoming year?
  • Have you seen signs that your biggest competitor is ramping up their digital marketing efforts?
  • Have they started to gain more traction in organic search ranks?
  • Have any competitors changed their pricing model?
  • What are smaller competitors doing? Are any growing at an alarming rate?
  • What are the newest competitors doing differently to your organisation?

A SWOT analysis will also help you to assess how you compare in your current competitive landscape:

  1. Strengths: which ones can you capitalize on? What value propositions are most meaningful to your ideal customers?
  2. Weaknesses: which should you focus on improving?
  3. Opportunities: what should you test out in 2023?
  4. Threats: what do you need to watch out for?

5. Has your Customer Landscape changed?

What is your customer feedback from the past year telling you? Were customers happy with your products/services or did you receive a spike in complaints? Great customer experience drives repeat and referral business.

Work towards identifying and solving your biggest pain points of your customers. Common areas to focus on are:

  1. Product-centric complaints like lack of durability of your product.
  2. Sales-centric complaints like overpromised results from the sales team.
  3. Customer service-centric complaints like the inability to get answers in a timely manner to support questions.

If you’re struggling to isolate the root cause of complaints, or you just want to understand the current mindset of potential customers, invest in market research to gain additional insights. Some ideas for this:

  1. Review your buyer persona: where do your customers spend time online? Connect with them in those communities and offer them an incentive to schedule a 15-minute call with you.
  2. Analyze competitor reviews on platforms like Amazon, Whirlpool and within Google Reviews. What do their customers love about them? What do their customers hate about them?

If you operating in an untapped market, perhaps requiring consumer education so that there is awareness of your product or service, there may be opportunity to collaborate with your competitors or with related service providers to increase the size of your customer base rapidly.

If you are operating in a highly-saturated market where one customer for your competitor means one less customer for you, then improving the customer experiences to retain existing customers will be vital. Look for weaknesses in competitors which you can attack to gain more market share.

Ensuring that existing customers are advocates for your product / services, and that you understand what drives customers to buy and where they are, are important inputs into your strategic marketing plan.

How Marketing and Sales Interact to Drive Revenue

It is important when creating your 2023 strategic marketing plan to review how your marketing efforts interact with your sales efforts to drive revenue.

The goal of marketing is to educate your target market on their pain points, develop a relationship between your target audience and your brand, and provide leads to sales team so that they can “close the deal”.

These goals are part of a predictable process, illustrated in the buyer journey diagram above:

  1. A potential customer realises that they have a problem or need.
  2. They start researching the problem to learn more about the issue. In the process, they uncover several potential solutions, and evaluate those options, finally deciding on one.
  3. They purchase their chosen solution, and start using it.
  4. Later, they reflect on whether their choice solved their problem.
  5. If it did, they are likely to use that solution again and recommend the same solution to friends.

The length of the buyer journey will depend on many factors or attributes of the product / service – the cost, how often it is typically needed by a customer, how big the need is that inspires the customer to buy, how important it is that the customer makes the right decision, and more.

If your product is very low cost, and you need to sell a lot of it to sustain your business, then you need to automate as much of the buyer journey as possible, and you should consider ways to shorten the journey. Marketing can help you do that. Many organisations that sell online products such as SaaS products, sold at a low subscription price, will never interact with the customer in person. Instead they will attempt to rely solely on their marketing assets (email nurturing programs, online tutorials, getting started templates, online reviews etc.) to close the deal and onboard a new customer.

Where both a sales team and a marketing team are required, which is more often than not, your strategic marketing plan needs to work hand in hand with your sales process. For example, your planned growth will need to be resourced for both the marketing activities as well as the downstream sales activities that needs to manage all the additional leads.

Again, depending on your business, product and service, other downstream processes and teams will also need to be resourced according to the volume of new customers you want to drive through your business. For example, if your online retail store suddenly doubled the number of orders of product x, do you have inventory, do you have people ready to pick and pack the orders, do you have the shipping channel ready for the extra volume so that your business still meets your guaranteed delivery date? If you suddenly sold twice the number of professional services, do you have the capacity to deliver those services at the same high standard that your customers have come to expect?

When working with our clients on their strategic marketing plan, we ensure consideration is given for the downstream impact of the proposed increase in leads.

Review 2022 Marketing Expenses and ROI

Taking the time to review last year’s marketing expenses will ensure that you understand the cost of each channel / tactic, and return on investment of the leads and sales they deliver. This information is vital input into any decision to choose one marketing channel over another.

When identifying the cost of marketing, it is important to include the cost of the time your team spends on marketing, not just the money you spend on marketing consultants, design of marketing materials, pay-per-click costs and the like.

To determine the cost of your marketing team:

  1. Add up the total staff hours dedicated to marketing, after taking out holidays and time spent on other activities.
  2. Multiply the number of hours by the estimated hourly rate*.

*The hourly rate should be realistic; not just the actual amount paid to the person. The actual costs of a team member is likely double or triple their salary.

To determine the costs of marketing expenses:

  1. Collate all the costs of billboards, paid marketing collateral, pay-per-click costs
  2. Categorise the expenses by advertising channel
  3. Identify the primary goal of each advertising channel i.e. what could be considered a conversion. For example, the goal of a pay-per-click campaign might be selling a product.
  4. Reviewing last years results, identify the count of each of the conversions. Ultimately that will enable you to calculate the cost per conversion, per channel. You also need to understand the estimated / average value per conversion, per channel.

Broad Suggestions for your 2023 Marketing Efforts

Yes, there’s a bit of effort required to properly approach the development of your strategic marketing plan. Reviewing what you did last year shouldn’t stop you from considering new options for broadening your marketing reach. That’s why reviewing both your competitive landscape and customer landscape is very important, and likely to deliver rich insights to help you on your growth trajectory.

However, below are digital marketing suggestions based on what we’ve seen deliver the best ROI for our clients in the recent past.

1. PPC (Search Ads) and SEO for customer acquisition
Time and time again, investing in PPC and SEO yields the best ROI for businesses that we work with.

If you have a fixed marketing budget, replace portions of your PPC budget with additional content marketing and SEO initiatives as you start seeing more traction from organic search.

PPC investments result in linear growth. SEO investments can result in exponential growth.

PPC is a reliable crutch for growing your business as you scale organic traffic visibility. However, if you are not careful investing in PPC can take hefty sums off your bottom line, especially in the case of VC-backed businesses that are pressured to scale their customer base exponentially.

When utilising PPC, it is imperative that you pay close attention to cost per customer acquisition (CPA) and profitability per customer to understand how long PPC will be a smart investment.

PPC and SEO both require a great website, with great content which inspires action, as their destination.

2. Email Marketing for lead nurturing, customer retention and repeat sales

We don’t just recommend email marketing because we built Enudge, we recommend it because we know it works. Email marketing requires that you have permission before you can send any messages, so obviously you can only use it with leads or customers that you have gained through another marketing channel. That said, it is the most cost effective digital marketing channel there is, without exception.

A lead can be easily nurtured with timely explanations to help them understand your product, and remember to buy. A new customer can be educated to ensure they get the most value out of your product or service. A long term customer can be rewarded to additional value, and encouraged to share their experience with others.

SMS is along the same lines, but needs to be used more judiciously.

3. PPC (Display Ads, Social Ads, and Influencer Marketing) if you’re looking for mindshare / brand awareness

Lifestyle-centric content will serve to boost brand awareness. It helps you to become first-to-mind when customers realise that they have a need.

These channels, such as Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, LinkedIn Ads, You Tube, Website Takeovers, and more also help to pre-emptively prescribe your solution to customers before they know they need it. This helps build market share, especially in saturated markets.

4. Social media for enhancing your brand

Social media is a powerful tool for businesses that are looking to improve their brand perception or connect with their customers on a deeper level.

Social media is expensive when considering the time that needs to be invested in it, but it can be very powerful to quickly foster brand awareness.

If you are daunted by the prospect of building your strategic marketing plan, where here to help. We would also relish the opportunity to help you execute your plan and achieve the growth you desire. Let’s talk!

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Website and Application Maintenance – why is it so important?

January 3rd, 2023 by Pavithra Kameswaran

After a website or web application is built and launched, you can be tempted to think that all is done, and that it will keep running forever in the same manner it did on the first day.

But this is not the case at all.

When we buy a house, we set it up the way we want, we organize and refurbish certain aspects of the house, and most of these activities are done once-and-for-all.  But there are certain activities which require ongoing maintenance, such as pest control, clearing gutters, maintaining the gardens, re-painting the walls and ceilings when needed, repairing and fixing damage and addressing wear and tear as time goes on. These, as we all know, are not once off tasks, but regular activities which need to be carried out to retain the value of overall liveability of the property.  The consequences of neglecting such activities can cost in the long run, and sometimes can have serious negative effects.

website maintenance and application maintenance

The same holds true for websites and web applications. They can last a very long time, provided they are maintained well and in a timely manner. There are numerous maintenance activities which need to be performed on every website to ensure that data remains secure, and the functionality, and indeed the whole website, keeps working.

Why we absolutely need to maintain sites?

Security is perhaps the most important reason to carry out regular maintenance. There are ever new methods to hack into websites being identified.  Performing regular activities to check for malicious code, suspicious activities and update software component versions to the latest are necessary to deal with security vulnerabilities.

All commonly used software is kept up to date by the software Vendor or relevant development community; many of the updates being solely for the purpose of improving security and removing vulnerabilities.  For example, the latest PHP versions 8+ includes changes to tighten up the software, restricting certain types of code and less secure implementations methods which were overlooked in previous versions. It is imperative that your website uses the latest versions to stay up-to-date and secure.  Once a more secure version has been released, websites using earlier versions are more vulnerable to attack.  You can read more here about upgrading to PHP 8.

A tell-tale sign of malicious software being present is a sudden increase, or spike, in bandwidth usage.  The increased bandwidth usage will likely cause issues with the performance of your website (see below), may increase the cost of your webhosting, or even bring your website down.  Although traffic increase can mean your site has suddenly become much more popular, it is important that the cause is confirmed.  You will not likely be aware of your website’s bandwidth usage if you aren’t performing regular maintenance.

Compatibility of Software Components is another important reason to keep your website maintained.  Most websites and web applications integrate with other websites and software, and make use of third-party plugins and software libraries. When security updates of one component of your website is completed, that component may become incompatible with another.  Regular maintenance will ensure that you are aware of components that will no longer be supported, giving you time to replace them with compatible alternatives.

New Browsers.  This is less a problem in recent years, but at times new versions of web browsers will break the design or functionality of your website.  If the technology of your website is being maintained, it can be adjusted during the regular maintenance to ensure that it still functions correctly.

Efficient Performance. With time, web applications tend to take up more and more disk space.  This will in part be due to data being gathered by the website, such as the contents of submitted web forms, but new content and images will also contribute to the size.  If not enough disk space is available, it can cause your website to perform poorly.  If your web application is in the cloud, this will also lead to excess cost of processing time, load balancing and elasticity, resources required for the growing data, etc.  In addition, the lack of disk space may prevent regular backups from completing successfully, prevent updates from installing, interfere with normal functioning of your website, or stop emails generated from your website from sending.  In a worst case scenario, your website or web application will stop running. Regular monitoring of disk space will avoid all these potential issues.

Older versions of plugins or software libraries, may also cause performance issues for your website.  A website with a poor load speed will negatively impact your search engine ranks, as Google likes to promote websites with great user experience in their search results. Regularly checking for performance issues will ensure that such issues can be resolved in a timely manner.

Contactpoint Regular Website Maintenance

Depending on the website or web application, we will tailor our regular maintenance activities, however we regularly perform the following activities:

  • Checking the source code to ensure there are no malicious files such as files that we as the development team have not uploaded, inspect the ‘last updated’ files to look for any suspicious code additions, etc.
  • Taking and maintaining regular backups of sites and applications. The importance of backups goes without saying.
  • Checking for spikes in bandwidth consumed, diskspace, and so on. If we, in advance, know of a certain time when traffic to the application would be high (example: a sale period in a shopping site), we can schedule for an increase in bandwidth for that particular period. If sudden spikes are noticed, it is important to check the application for a security attack and take necessary actions. Regular checking of the disk space that the application occupies in the server and optimizing the database tables to clear off unwanted data at regular intervals helps optimise disk space consumption.
  • Regular updates of software – this includes updating core software such as PHP, .Net, Vue.JS or Node.JS (depending on the code base of the website or application), WordPress core and WordPress plugins (in WordPress sites), MySQL or other Database software, Javascript/JQuery used for frontend components, any CSS framework software such Bootstrap, other third-party plugins used for editors, chatbots, social media feeds and so on.
  • Testing after updates – a very important part of maintenance, particularly after a major software upgrade.  Impacts can be found in the least likely places.  Testing will likely include sending/receiving emails, form submissions, purchasing from ecommerce websites, other activities that include third-party applications, file uploads, working of menus, animations if any etc.
  • Performance testing – while testing the site functionality and checking the design after upgrades is of utmost importance, we also need to test the load speed of the site after each upgrade, and improve performance where necessary.  We maintain and compare results of performance tests before and after maintenance, allowing us to quickly identify and address any problematic upgrades.
  • Deployment of the upgraded application, where the site / application has multiple environments.
  • Update technical documentation describing the website / application so that our information about the site is accurate, which helps future maintenance to be performed more efficiently.
  • Update code repository.  Using source control software allows us to inspect changes made on a particular date, and potentially rollback changes.
  • Prepare report of the activities undertaken.

As a developer at Contactpoint, being up-to-date with current releases and changelogs of software commonly used in our client’s sites, applications and SaaS products is a very important part of my role. We are constantly researching security and compatibility issues of new software versions, which helps us to maintain client websites in the most efficient way possible, with the least amount of impact to live websites and applications.

Performing maintenance of websites and web applications is not always straightforward and can present numerous challenges, and at times complex decisions to be made on how to proceed in order to avoid vulnerable software without impacting on functionality or design.  The following are situations I have had to deal with recently:

  1. rectifications and changes required to accommodate updates – this involves modifying code to correct broken features after an update, or sourcing and replacing with a different feature or another design, depending on the competing factors of budget, time and effort.
  2. resolutions required as a result of security hacks – identifying and removing malicious code, investigating the cause of the hack, blocking particular IP address or range of IP addresses, removing plugin(s) or software code implementation that allowed the hack and replacing with more secure code, updating vulnerable plugins or replacing with alternatives.
  3. optimization solutions in case of performance issues – the right solution is often not immediately apparent.  For example, a performance analyser such as PageSpeed Insights could report that we need to defer Javascript code in the site since it gets loaded preemptively, thereby reducing performance. But following that recommendation will not always deliver performance improvements. Sometimes a section of the page will be broken by deferring Javascript. In such situations, other measures need to be taken in order to optimise without issues.

I cannot stress enough the importance of technology maintenance, and performing this regularly.  Attempting to upgrade long outdated software will be much more problematic than updating with small changes on a regular basis.

Technology maintenance, like maintenance of your house, is an ongoing activity requiring investment.  A relatively minor investment can go a long way in keeping your application working smoothly and delivering the results you expect.

If your website is not being regularly maintained at the moment, we are happy to help — please get in touch!

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