With ever-changing developments in technology, digital marketing is always evolving. Knowing where to allocate marketing funds while proving ROI is a challenge for many merchants. When planning a digital marketing budget for the future, it’s important to examine which strategies will create the best return on investment.
A challenge that merchants and business owners face is choosing the right people for the job, allocating the right amount of resources for each area, sticking with the plan over the course of its lifespan, and determining whether or not the strategies were successful.
We’ve cultivated some helpful advice for planning a digital marketing budget with tips on how to start planning, ways to start building a budget, how to measure performance, and when to ask for help.
Analyze and Create a Plan
An ROI focused marketing plan should always center around business goals. Make sure these goals are clear-cut and actionable. Further, It’s important to make sure that everyone is on the same page for determining business goals and objectives. As objectives are defined, start to plan specific approaches for each area. Analyze percentages, statistics, and dollar amounts on previous marketing spend, to help visualize what is needed to achieve those goals. Consider what resources are required for each activity to be successful. Keep in mind that in-house efforts still require an investment of time, research, and other resources that may not be immediately clear.
During the planning phase, be realistic about goals and what can be accomplished to achieve them. Create a timeline and break certain aspects of the initiative into manageable stages. For example, decide what needs to be completed for the next quarter, or by the second month of the fiscal year. Take into account the size of business, and the amount of work that can be accomplished in-house.
ROI is an essential metric used to figure out which campaigns and strategies were most successful. By tracking ROI, it is possible to see which areas of marketing are working and which aren’t. When crafting a plan for the next few months, think about which strategies have been most successful in the past. Analyzing past efforts is an excellent opportunity to learn from past mistakes. Using tools like Google Analytics can be helpful to examine trends over a specified time, whether it’s a month, a quarter, or year over year.
Traffic and conversion rates are measurable but how is branding measured? Companies with healthy traffic and hearty conversions over an extended period can likely conclude that branding is doing well also.
Traffic, conversions, and branding all influence one another, and none of them exist well on their own
There are several additional tests and areas for optimization to measure. For example, analyzing the best time to post on social media. Are there certain times of the day or days of the week where customers are more active on social? eMail is another area to monitor. It’s essential to research industry benchmarks and learn when is the best time and day to send eMails. Analyzing key landing pages and performance is necessary as well. Try split-testing landing pages and product pages. While there are plenty of sources out there that claim to know the best answers for these areas, sometimes it just comes down to what works best for a particular business.
Create a Marketing Budget – A Formula For Success
When planning a budget, think about the current size of the company, and its growth trajectory for the future. Look to create a marketing strategy that can be flexible with the growth of the company. Next, scope out competitors in the industry. Think about what is needed to compete, or stay on top. Establish the top priority for the business at the moment.
Keep the target customer top of mind. Different audiences respond differently to marketing efforts, and there is no “one size fits all” marketing plan that will work for every business. There are, however, specific areas that can better structure a marketing plan to make sense in today’s digital world.
Three main categories drive a marketing plan and budget: branding, traffic, and conversions. In an article from The Good on marketing budget allocation, they describe the three critical factors and how they work together. Stating that “If one fails, they all fail, but branding is where the process begins. The more people know and like about you, the easier the rest of the marketing flow will be.” All three are essential when it comes to creating a plan that will accomplish the end goal.
Branding creates a distinctive style that is apparent throughout all aspects of a digital presence – social media, websites, and advertising. When people mention an industry, well-known brands come to mind first. It’s essential to establish an audience and customer following by providing informative, helpful content, and a deep well of useful resources.
Traffic, both paid and organic, is measurable with Google Analytics but can be difficult to increase. An SEO strategy is vital for attracting a steady stream of organic visitors. While paid traffic requires upfront costs, organic traffic has hidden costs as well. Creating attractive SEO friendly content requires expert care, creativity, and some tech-savvy.
Conversion Rate Optimization
Companies with measurable branding and a steady traffic flow who are unable to turn visitors into conversions are experiencing a problem. It is essential to make the path to purchase or ecommerce shopping experience easy, intuitive, user-friendly, and fast. Customers require exceptional customer service and reliable products that solve problems.
When To Seek Outside Resources
Even for merchants with digital media pros already on the team, remember they’ll have to take time out of their already-busy work days to invest in a new marketing plan or strategy. To see real, measurable success across the board for digital marketing, merely doing SEO or PPC “on the side” isn’t going to cut it.
Analyze the current team to assist with efforts. Are there enough hands on deck to carry out a marketing plan to its full extent? If not, consider outsourcing efforts to the pros. An experienced digital marketing partner can help in both the planning of a strategy, the execution, and will offer different levels of services depending on what’s required.
Also, there are plenty of tools available to help marketing teams with their efforts. Tools like SEMrush allow merchants to perform competitor analysis. SEMrush can show which keywords competitors are using to drive both paid and organic traffic. A competitor analysis is a great way to learn what others in a particular industry are using and then offers ideas to get ahead. Tools can be helpful, but only if utilized to their full potential. In an article from Neil Patel on marketing budget spend, he discussed how he has seen clients spend a small fortune on tools that weren’t being used to their full potential or not used at all. While marketing tools are great, some are costly. It’s important not to throw money at the problem and hope tools work. Many services offer free trial versions or free versions for small businesses that can grow with a team. Be sure to monitor all tools used and remove any that aren’t helpful or productive.
Another plus for outsourcing marketing efforts to a partner is that they will usually have the knowledge, access to and experience with an array of tools to assist clients. A marketing partner and even third-party tools can help spend time and resources more effectively while automating a lot of marketing efforts.
Contact us to learn more about optimizing a marketing budget or on how to create a new marketing strategy for Search Engine Optimization, Pay-per-click, or Conversion Rate Optimization.