Classic Budgeting Mistakes
As marketing continues to change, marketing budgets need to account for this evolution. As an agency that specializes in digital advertising, organic search, onsite optimization, and analytics, we tend to get pulled in when performance has dropped and companies are looking for guidance on how to turn things around.To prevent yourself from encountering a situation like this, I would recommend setting aside budget for these three areas:
Fix the Leaks First
Here are a few digital questions I recommend asking yourself in the initial planning phase for any marketing plan or budget. How is the customer onsite experience? Have you done an in-depth analytic audit to understand if you are seeing any leakage in your buying funnel? Are customers or prospective customers moving through your site and engaging with your brand, products or services the way you envisioned? How is your organic search performance? Do you see any new competitors in the mix? Have you added any new products, entered new markets, or have new customers that need to be considered for search engine optimization? Has all that new content been added to your site? Those are just a few questions to start with…
As tempting as it is to just launch new campaigns, it’s often more cost effective to allocate a portion of your budget to an audit of your current organic and on-site performance. This way, you can fix issues that exist so that the campaign is as efficient as possible.
Once the base of the funnel is fixed up, you can then start planning around all the customers that you are going to bring in!
Measure what Matters
Any strong marketing plan should have clearly defined goals and a measurement framework. This way, once the marketing efforts are up and running, there is a clear understanding of what the targets are, and what is going to be measured to determine success.
Let’s talk about goals a bit as it relates to the online world. Let’s say you have clear sales targets, some of which might come from online, and some through other sources such as a call center etc. By auditing and evaluating those online conversion points and leveraging your knowledge of customer behaviour you’ll be able to determine how they move through your site prior to converting. This type of goal audit will allow you to determine which actions on the website are most valuable and likely to benefit your business. You’ll then be able to set up this relative weighting of goals in your Analytics tool accordingly. These goals are what your media can be optimized against vs. generic measures like visits, or pages viewed, clicks and so forth. This type of weighted goal setting and optimization strategy consistently drives higher value customers as well as media efficiencies.
Make sure you set aside budget for proper goal evaluation and setup otherwise your online media investment will be wasted. It all comes down to knowing what success looks like and optimizing to those goals!
Once those audits, goals and plans have been put in place …next comes set up, launch, and execution.
Don’t forget to set aside budget to allow for ongoing measurement and optimization. In the traditional world of print, TV, radio, and so forth it is definitely a more static type of investment; however the beauty of the digital world is its ability to be nimble. With this in mind, always set aside budget for monthly optimization opportunities so you can move your online investment around to immediately capitalize on what’s performing. Keep in mind this means investing in both proper tracking setup as well as testing plans. Doing this will allow you to hit your objectives faster and more efficiently. The savings from that can then be applied to additional testing opportunities such as creative adjustments (i.e. a new call to action or limited time offer), extension into new markets, or even layering in new digital channels.
No matter how strong that plan is just remember results can always be better! So make sure you set dollars aside for this ongoing optimization opportunity.
Will We Have Enough?
The most important thing to take away from this is that the customer experience and results, from the first awareness phase through to the buying phase, can always be better! In order to capitalize on that opportunity, ensure what you are investing to plan, create and/or produce doesn’t far outweigh what you set aside for proper goal setting, ongoing testing, reporting and optimization.