How do you measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns? Do you track ROI? A/B test ads to improve performance? Maybe you use a fancy Google Data Studio dashboard to generate slick reports.
There’s still a good chance you are wasting money, and that’s because most businesses measure the impact of marketing after the fact. While knowing the cost per click of your search or social ads is essential, understanding the overall impact of your marketing campaigns can provide deeper insights into your business.
This is where SWOT analysis comes in handy. SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis for marketing campaigns allows you to see the big picture and face challenges head-on.
A SWOT analysis is a framework for analyzing and identifying key challenges affecting your business by considering your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
The goal of SWOT analysis is not just to track metrics or see which ads perform better but rather to get a high-level view of the impact of your marketing so you can improve it.
If you’ve run a Google Ad campaign or boosted a Facebook post, you already understand how to track the impact of your campaigns. A SWOT analysis looks beyond the standard metrics like ROI, CPC, and CAC to uncover the most crucial factors impacting your marketing—whether that is customer satisfaction, competitors squeezing you out of the market, or failure to promote your assets effectively.
That data can be powerful, especially if it’s available when you need it the most. According to Airtable, 46 percent of marketers say lack of timely data holds their team back. A SWOT analysis can help.
A few other benefits of SWOT for marketing include:
- a better understanding of which marketing channels to focus on
- helps you address weaknesses in your ads or marketing assets
- makes it easier to see threats to your campaigns before they impact your bottom line
- enables you to leverage the assets and strengths you already have
- improves long-term goal setting for your marketing
The average business spends around 12 percent of its overall budget on marketing—a SWOT analysis ensures your budget is put to good use.
As much as I like SWOT analysis in marketing, it has some limitations. For starters, if you aren’t honest about your true shortcomings, a SWOT analysis won’t provide useful insights. This type of analysis requires self-reflection and honesty to be useful.
It can also be difficult to analyze very complex factors that could be either a weakness or a strength. For example, running ads on TikTok might have the highest cost and drive higher quality leads, which could be both a strength and a potential weakness.
A few other limitations to keep in mind:
- SWOT analyses can be time-intensive. Make sure you have the personnel and the time to invest before getting started.
- You might generate too many ideas on how to improve your marketing and get overwhelmed.
- It can generate a lot of data but doesn’t tell you how to use that data.
Understanding the limitations of a SWOT analysis can help marketers and business owners better prepare and improve their chances of success. Now that you know its limitations, how do you perform a SWOT analysis?
The first step in performing a SWOT analysis for marketing is determining the scope. Do you want to look at your marketing as a whole or a specific part of your overall marketing strategy? For example, you might want to focus only on your content strategy, SEO, or a specific ad campaign. Defining the parameters of your analysis helps keep you focused.
Keep in mind, there’s no one right way to perform a SWOT analysis, and that’s because every business has a different marketing strategy and faces different threats.
This guide can help you get started, but feel free to skip questions that don’t make sense for your business and add questions that provide a more thorough view of your marketing campaigns.
What do you do well? If you’re looking at a specific campaign, think about what elements of the campaign are really working. For example, does your landing page convert at a higher rate, or are ads with people more likely to earn clicks?
Start by asking these questions and documenting the answers. Adjust the questions as needed to focus on a campaign or your entire marketing strategy.
- What does your company (or your campaign) do better than others in your industry?
- What do your customers love most about your company/product/services?
- What positive attributes do customers associate with your brand?
- What is your unique selling proposition? Is it effective?
- What resources do you have that competitors don’t? This includes people, financial resources, and expertise.
- What campaigns are most successful? Consider not just conversions but also lifetime value and cost per acquisition.
Remember, your answers and the questions you ask might vary depending on whether you are analyzing a specific campaign or your marketing strategy as a whole.
Don’t answer the questions above off the top of your head. Instead, use data to inform your answers. Depending on your business, that might include the following steps:
- Perform a customer satisfaction survey, like a net promoter score, to understand how customers view your business.
- Pull campaign data from separate tools into one dashboard, like Power BI or Google Data Studio to better understand the most effective campaigns.
- Poll your employees to better understand your resources and how your team views your company.
This is often the most challenging part of a SWOT analysis. That’s because you have to be honest with yourself, and it can be hard to admit where campaigns have fallen short.
Start by asking questions. Again, feel free to adjust the wording to fit your campaign or overall strategy.
- What do your customers most dislike about your company or offering?
- What complaints are often mentioned in negative reviews?
- Why do customers churn?
- If you sell products, why don’t customers come back?
- What could your campaigns do more effectively?
- What are the biggest challenges in your current marketing funnel?
- Where in your funnel do you lose the most customers?
- Where do your competitors win? (This could be specific strategies or platforms they are doing well with.)
- What resources are you lacking?
Nearly 40 percent of marketers report having no documented marketing strategy at all, and that can hold you back. Looking at your weaknesses is the first step toward creating or improving your marketing strategy.
As you look for strengths (through customer and employee surveys, for example), also keep an eye out for weaknesses. Other places to locate weaknesses might include:
- Customer reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, etc.
- In support tickets. If you constantly get complaints about the same topic, that may need to be addressed.
- In a competitive analysis.
- Exit interview data, for customers or employees.
- Analyze your exit pages in Google Analytics. Why are customers leaving those pages?
- Assess time-on-page. Do customers spend less time on crucial pages in your marketing funnel?
3. Find Opportunities
This is my favorite part of SWOT—looking for areas to grow and build on your past successes. Where can you make changes and see the biggest impact? This step will help you figure it out. Begin by asking these questions:
- How can you improve your marketing funnel or UX?
- What kind of marketing messaging resonates with your customers? Can you leverage that on more platforms?
- Who are your most vocal brand advocates? How can you use them more effectively?
- Are your budget, tools, and human resources being utilized to their full potential?
- Which marketing channels exceeded expectations, and why?
By now, you should’ve come across a few opportunities already. While reading customer reviews, looking at support tickets, and digging into GA data, you’ve likely already noted a few areas where you could improve.
Take a step back and try to look at the data with an open mind. What areas, platforms, or strategies are most likely to drive the best results? Make a list. You can also look at:
- competitive analysis data
- industry trends and news reports
- marketing blogs
- emerging markets
Sometimes the best way to see new opportunities is to introduce a fresh perspective. If you’d like help considering your options, reach out to my team. We’re happy to offer our thoughts and help you build an effective strategy.
Over the years, I’ve noticed one thing the most successful brands have in common: the ability to see threats coming and adjust before they become a major issue.
For example, many websites were devastated when Google rolled out its Panda update, which targeted thin and spammy content. Those who saw it coming had already made changes and weren’t nearly as impacted. That should be your goal—to see threats on the horizon and take action.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- Economic trends: What economic trends can or might impact your industry? For example, rising costs, increases in gas prices, a move to remote work, and so forth.
- Marketing trends: How are marketing trends changing? For example, Google is getting rid of third-party cookies—how will that impact your marketing campaigns?
- Technology trends: What technological changes are coming? Automation is gaining popularity, but could that go wrong?
- Relationships: What relationships do you rely on, such as brand ambassadors, vendors, manufacturers, and contractors? How would your business recover if those relationships ended? Can you work to mitigate the impact now?
- Intuition: What is everyone else doing that just feels wrong to you for some reason? Try to get to the bottom of why it feels off to you and whether that may become a threat in the future.
- Audience: Think about your target audience—are they aging out of your market? Is the market shrinking or shifting?
The reports and surveys you’ve already done may have highlighted threats. Look back over those results and look for threats you might not have noticed. Other places to look for threats include:
- Technology blogs or publications.
- Competitive analysis reports. What changes are your competitors making and why?
- Newsletters and blogs of industry experts. What are they worried about?
- Have a brainstorming session with your team. Write down all of the possible threats you can come up with, no matter how unlikely. You can review it later to determine whether action needs to be taken.
How can a SWOT analysis help my marketing ROI?
It provides a high-level view of your marketing campaigns so you can better prepare for the shifting marketing landscape.
What does SWOT stand for?
Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
How often should I perform a SWOT for marketing?
Ideally, you should perform a SWOT analysis every 6 to 12 months or whenever you notice changes in your campaign ROI.
Can I use SWOT for marketing at my small business?
Yes, SWOT can be used to analyze the effectiveness of marketing for any sized business. It’s particularly helpful for small businesses to find ways to stand out from their competitors.
Once you’ve performed your SWOT analysis for marketing, it’s time to put that information to work.
How can you improve your current strengths? What steps can you take to reduce the impact of your weaknesses? What changes can you make to take advantage of the marketing opportunities you uncovered? Finally, how can you prepare for the threats you face?
Whether you use SWOT to analyze your overall marketing strategy or focus on specific campaigns like your content marketing, this approach provides the information you need to launch more effective marketing campaigns.
Have you performed a SWOT analysis before? What is holding you back?