10 Things You Should Do Before The Year Is Over

1) Review your analytics (Website, Social Properties, Mailing Lists)

We refer to many of our trackable outlets as our “owned media” (owned vs. earned. vs paid) properties.  We typically like to constantly track data in real time and compare that information with what we’re doing tactically through marketing, promotion and advertising.  A lot of our clients aren’t nearly as nerdy as us and that’s perfectly normal.  

You can garner analytics from many of your current properties which can help paint a picture of your audience and how they are interacting with you on a digital level.  These include but are most certainly not limited to:

  • Your Website
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Your Mailing List

For website analytics we use the industry standard - Google Analytics.  There are hundreds (if not thousands) of great tools but Google Analytics is free and offers almost every piece of information we need to know what people are looking at, where they are coming from and what they are doing from page to page. 

Facebook offers a pretty comprehensive set of tools for page insights that not only allow us to see what our posts and ads are doing - but also allow us to compare our growth against other artists and pages.  YouTube offers a fantastic set of tools to develop a similar picture specific to viewing habits.

Our mailing lists are powered either by Mailchimp or our custom email solution powered by Mandrill (Mailchimp’s transactional email product).  Either way we can track opens, clicks, forwards and a more which helps to present a good view on what subscribers are interested in.

There are dozens of tools to garner insights from Twitter, Instagram and other social properties.  If you are looking for the right tool for a specific outlet shoot me an email to see if I have any suggestions.

It’s important to know what type of questions you want to answer before mining all of the data.  You’ll most likely get a ton of information you hadn’t even thought of but if you are anything like me you’ll become easily distracted by all of the information.  The following are a few examples I use when approaching data diving:

  • What are the top entry points for website visitors that purchase a product from our stores?
  • Which pages on our websites were the best performers in terms of dwell time?
  • What type of posts perform best on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube?
  • Were there any specific email campaigns that caused a lot of unsubscribes?

There are a lot of great questions that you can answer that can really help you refine our overall strategy and individual tactics.  Look for a future “Marketing Monday” for a more robust list of examples.

2) Review The Market Analytics

Your data might be good and well but just as in any business it’s important to know the industry benchmarks.  Thanks to Google, Next Big Sound and hundreds of other resources you can gain a wealth of insight about the industry average of monthly website visits, email open rates and song plays across just about any channel.  You might be surprised (either in a good or bad way) to find out how you stack up against others within the industry.

Aside from popularity it’s important to learn user habits such as the web browser market share, mobile habits and other consumer trends to learn how you can provide a better medium for users to consume your product and engage with your brand.

3) Start a daily reading list for 2016

Information is the lifeblood of our organization.  I prioritize learning and keeping up with trends (in an effort to try and lead them) by instilling the importance of reading and learning to everyone within my organization.  My preferred method of doing this is a somewhat antiquated technology known as RSS.  I’ll spare you the technical details but know this - almost every popular website on the web offers it’s news in the form of an RSS/Atom feed.

Ever since Google retired their Google Reader product a few years back (still scratching my head on that one) I’ve been using Feedly every day.  It’s my newspaper for business and personal interests.  Within Feedly I can simply click the “Add Content” button and type a website address and 9 times out of 10 the website I’m interested in adding to my reading list will be added.  I separate everything into categories in an effort to keep ADD at bay.  If you have used Gmail you can use Feedly.  The amount of information that I can parse in 10 minutes can be equated to visiting dozens of website - which I know none of us have time for.  Before I end my Feedly gush I think that it’s important to point out that they offer apps for iOS (iPhone/iPad), Android, Web Based and even a number of TV platforms like XBMC.

4) Confirm Your Backups

There are an infinite number of reasons why your web server or local desktop/laptop might experience a catastrophic failure.  You may have a strict data retention (backup) policy in place.  If that’s the case take a few minutes to confirm that the compressed backup files are intact and could be relied upon if they were to be needed.

If you are unsure about your backup status then it’s imperative that you develop a plan.  Ensure that you backup your website, email lists, contacts, local hard drive and any important items stored in the cloud.  Even Amazon which hosts millions of customers and has 99.999999999% data retention still experiences problems.

Here is a quick snapshot of our backup system:

Web Servers - Are backed up nightly automatically where we store complete snapshots of the database and file systems in the cloud.  Monthly snapshots are downloaded locally and stored on site with most databases being saved incrementally in reaction to major promotional events.  We keep 7 days worth of retention and 6 month snapshots immediately accessible in the cloud.

Desktops & Laptops - We use a program called Arq which is installed on each Mac to constantly backup in real-time to the cloud (Amazon S3 & RackSpace).  Our working directories are manually backed up to an internal server array powered by drobo on our internal network.

Google Docs & Contacts - Monthly contact exports and document backups are manually downloaded and saved locally.

Gmail - We practically live in gmail which hosts our enterprise @aristoworks.com email accounts.  I use a desktop mail program like Thunderbird to download the mail weekly and then store it on our hard drive array.  If you do this make sure you select the “leave a copy on the server” option.

5) Freshen Up Your Look

Now is a great time to plan for the new year and take some time to change things up.  It goes without saying that it’s important to keep your branding consistent across all mediums and optimize the design collateral specifically for each property.

6) Set Benchmarks and Goals for 2016

Utilize your experiences from 2015 to plan for an even bigger and better 2016.  Constructive goals include those things that you can effectively reach within a realistic budget and timeframe.  I love BHAG’s (Big-Hairy-Audacious-Goals) but those are more of a half-court shot at the buzzer and serve as direction mechanism rather than reality.  For an up and coming artist we might develop the following list of goals for the next 3 months:

  • Increase Facebook engagement by 200%
  • Increase Website store conversions by 30%
  • Generate 300,000 impressions of “Song XYZ"
  • Post a new cover video every week for 12 weeks.

Make a calendar reminder at the end of every month to remind you of your goals and estimate how far you should be at that point in the quarter towards meeting your goal.

You get the picture...

7) Upgrade Your Software

Since the advent of the Apple app store and similar platforms on iPhone, iPad and Android it’s easy to automatically upgrade or upgrade regularly.  There are other tools that may require updating.  This time of year it’s a good idea to go through your most trustworthy tools and make sure you are getting the most out of them.

  • Wordpress - Core + Plugins
  • Server OS - Up until recently we had a few servers with 7+ year old Linux distro's
  • OS - I’ve put off upgrading my Mac OS X for some time but an upgrade is imminent
  • Photo Editors, Audio and Video Tools & Much More

8) Renew Domains

Log into your domain registrar and look at your domain portfolio.  If you’ve been sitting on domains for a while and have no plans to use them - let someone else have those by removing the auto-renew feature or auctioning them off (fairly easy to do).  While you are there make sure that your domains are renewed and that all of the WhoIS info is up to date.

9) Identify and Reward Your Most Engaged Customers / Fans

You probably know your super fans or people that have been a champion for your brand.  It can be great social Karma and even better PR to surprise those people with a small gift, a mention or something like a personal call or note from an artist to show their appreciation.  It’s important to recognize that the social sphere is like a pyramid with a few tastemakers being on top but those people being responsible for potentially millions of impressions.  These can include people that run a fan forum or someone always quick to share or engage with content.

Update: 12/8/2015

Taylor (and her people) know what's up...

If you need help identifying those super fans there are plenty of tools that can be had for free, cheap or built custom - all of which can provide some serious value.

10) Share Your Findings With Your Team

Quite often those of us in the digital marketing realm can experience isolation from others.  Despite working with dozens of industry professionals within radio, television, PR, management, label staff and others on a specific project it’s quite often that someone is left out of the loop.  Take this time to compile a concise overview containing the high’s and low’s of the year and share insights that may help them put their contributions into perspective and may potentially bring new ideas and opportunities forward. 


You are subscribed!

If you want to receive our weekly "Marketing Monday" newsletter please provide your email address below.