The new year is quickly approaching, inspiring many of us to take some time to review the past year – our successes, our failures, the happy times, the sad times, things we’d like to do again, things we’d like to do differently – and everything in between.

It’s also a great time to reflect on the year from a business standpoint, especially on your marketing efforts.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably got a lot of reflecting to do in the next couple of weeks. Not to worry, though. I’ve got something that will be tremendously helpful – at least in terms of reflecting on your digital marketing efforts over the past 365 days.

It’s called a SWOT Analysis, and it’s a tool that will help you to organize your thoughts quickly and effectively so you can ring in the new year with an inspired perspective and a refreshed marketing strategy.

What is a SWOT Analysis?

A SWOT analysis is a common matrix used for basic analysis of the internal and external business environment. Typically, it’s a structured study of an organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats used to assess a potential project or business venture. However, a SWOT analysis is also applicable and very helpful when it comes to assessing marketing efforts.

SWOT Analysis copy

So what elements should you consider when you’re analyzing your marketing efforts over the past year in order to determine what your marketing strategy should be moving forward? Here’s a step by step guide to help you successfully analyze your marketing efforts using the SWOT model.

Recognize Your Marketing Strengths

Identify what has been working well for you in terms of digital marketing over the past year.

  • Has your editorial calendar grown substantially?
  • Have you earned valuable backlinks?
  • Have you seen conversions come via the social media accounts you’ve established?
  • Is your content being read and well received by your target audience?
  • Are the pages you optimized generating extra traffic and leads for your organization?

In addition to reviewing what strategies and tactics were successful over the past year and what you’ve done well, consider what strengths your marketing team has to work with moving forward.

  • Do you have a couple of very knowledgeable team members who are brilliant at generating captivating content?
  • Do you have someone who is great at SEO who can help your organization place well in online search results?
  • Do you have a skilled photographer who can capture engaging images to be featured on your website and social media pages?

Try to list 3 to 5 strengths or elements of your marketing efforts that you feel went well over the course of the past year – and that you intend to continue during the coming year.

Identify Your Marketing Weaknesses

As hard as it can be to admit it, even the most successful digital marketing campaigns have weaknesses and room for improvement. After reflecting on your successes and strengths over the past 365 days, consider the weak spots in your marketing efforts.

  • Could your content have been better optimized for the web?
  • Does your website load slowly?
  • Are your social media accounts sometimes neglected?
  • Were there opportunities you could have taken advantage of but didn’t?

In addition to thinking about aspects of your marketing efforts that you feel could be improved upon, also consider the weaknesses and shortcomings of your marketing team.

  • Do you have enough people dedicated to marketing your business or are you short-staffed?
  • Are all your bases covered in terms of digital marketing or are there some things you feel are being neglected?
  • Could your team use additional training in certain areas?

Again, try to come up with 3 to 5 weaknesses in your marketing efforts, ideally things you feel you could potentially improve upon in the coming year.

Embrace Marketing Opportunities

Take a look at the external business environment you’re operating in and identify some new or existing marketing opportunities you could potentially take advantage of. Maybe video ads are gaining popularity and that’s an area you feel your company could use successfully for marketing. Perhaps your competitors are sticking to traditional advertising, leaving lots of room for you to monopolize the digital marketplace with new marketing efforts. Maybe social media outlets have added new features to help businesses attract customers.

Though you should carefully consider external opportunities, also reflect on potential internal opportunities you might be able to take advantage of during the coming year. For instance, if you have enough money left in your budget to hire a new copywriter and really bolster content creation for your organization, that is certainly an opportunity. If this is the year you’re finally going to update your website, that’s a marketing opportunity as well.

In this portion of the SWOT analysis, list 3 to 5 digital marketing opportunities you hope to capitalize on during 2015.

Recognize Potential Threats

The final portion of a SWOT analysis involves considering potential threats to your digital marketing success in the upcoming year. Consider external threats that will likely impact everyone in your market as well as internal issues that might hamper your marketing efforts.

  • Can the marketing content your company generates be easily replicated by your competitors?
  • Do your competitors have more resources or a larger marketing department that will make it difficult for you to compete?
  • Could your organization be targeted by a competitor with a negative marketing campaign?

Try to come up with 3 to 5 potential threats that might impede or interfere with your digital marketing efforts. You’ll want to do your best to anticipate these threats so you’re prepared to handle them in the coming year if necessary!

Time to Make a Resolution!

Time to make a New Years ResolutionOnce you’ve completed your SWOT analysis and have taken some time to reflect on your marketing efforts throughout the past year, it’s time to make a resolution for the new year. In order to do this, review the elements listed in your SWOT analysis and consider how you can transform them into actionable items.

  • What actions will you take in the next 365 days to make the most of your marketing strengths and improve in the areas you listed as weaknesses?
  • How do you plan to take advantage of the new year’s upcoming opportunities and to counter the potential threats to your marketing success that you’re anticipating?

Before the ball drops, spend a little bit of time putting together a tentative digital marketing action plan for the coming year.

Using a SWOT analysis will make the process of reflecting on last year’s marketing efforts straightforward and efficient, leaving you with plenty of time to make your personal resolutions. You’ll ring in the new year feeling confident, prepared and inspired – in terms of marketing and in general!

Feeling Stumped?

Mannix Marketing’s team of digital marketing strategists can help! We’ll work with you to assess your digital marketing needs and devise a successful marketing plan for your business.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you plan – and achieve – your new year’s digital marketing resolutions!

Editor’s note: This content was originally published in 2014 but has been updated as of December 2018.

About Jessica Tracy

Jessica Tracy joined the Mannix Marketing team in 2014 as a Digital Marketing Strategist. She has substantial experience in campaign design, content development, and writing and editing for the web. Jessica is a skilled project coordinator whose attention to detail and organization help clients to effectively and efficiently expand their web presence. An avid learner, Jessica works hard to stay informed about the latest trends in social media, SEO, and online marketing strategies. Jessica brought a diverse skill set with her from her previous position at Cornell University Press and is thrilled to be a member of the talented, passionate team at Mannix. Jessica has a bachelor’s degree in English from St. Lawrence University and a master’s degree in Communications from Ithaca College.