Where to Focus Your Annual Marketing Spend
It’s never too early to start working on your company’s marketing plan for the upcoming year – just ask the accounting department. For B2B and B2C marketers alike, there are many conversations to be had about the impact your budget will have on your marketing capabilities and strategy.
Use this guide to assess your company’s current marketing practices and discover the marketing methods you may want to introduce in next year’s plan. After all, your 2018 budget is likely an untapped resource for your marketing team and might allow for optimization, integration and innovation. Did we overdo it on the buzzwords? In any case, use this guide to get a jump start on your 2018 marketing budget and determine what tactics you should incorporate to make the year a successful one.
Step 1: Analyze and Benchmark Past Marketing Successes
Marketing is a balancing act and when you’re trying to increase qualified leads, it should never be a guessing game. To develop a truly successful marketing plan, you first have to look back at marketing plans from years past.
Use data from Google Analytics, your email marketing service and your marketing automation system to understand what sources are driving the most leads. Once you have tangible numbers, you can identify which sources contribute the highest percentage of total revenue via leads and conversions.
After you’ve collected year-over-year analytics data from each marketing channel and their corresponding sales metrics, you should ask yourself two simple but important questions:
- What’s working?
- What’s not working?
Unfortunately, each marketing tactic cannot be evaluated in the same way. While print ads offer circulation data, you can’t determine the exact number of readers who flipped through a publication’s pages. On the other hand, display advertising can provide definitive findings as to the size of the audience, the amount of impressions and click data.
Do your best to prioritize marketing tactics based on an unbiased review of their performance each year. When analyzing performance, try to maintain a holistic view of your business. What outside factors are influencing business development besides marketing? The loss of a key employee or the emergence of a new local competitor could be to blame.
Return on marketing investment (ROMI) can be tough to navigate, but with persistent research, you can optimize the channels that are working in your favor and pull back marketing spend on the tactics that aren’t.
Step 2: Determine 2018 Marketing Goals
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the success of your past and current tactical marketing plans, it’s time to determine your 2018 marketing goals. After all, you can’t take a road trip if you don’t know where you’re headed.
Your marketing goals should be strategic objectives that are quantifiable and specific.
Define your goals on multiple levels; start from the top by determining your short and long-term business objectives. With this information, you can understand the amount of revenue you will need to achieve those goals and therefore the number of new leads you will need to generate. This is where the fun starts. Armed with these numbers and your data from step one, you can begin to break down these goals even further, setting success measurements for each marketing channel and tactic.
For tactical goals, be specific in terms of budget and results. How much are you willing to spend on this tactic? How many clicks or new leads do you expect this tactic to generate? Here’s an example:
- Channel: Digital marketing
- Platform: Google AdWords
- Tactic: PPC campaign
- Spend: $3,000/month
- Goal: 500 clicks, 30 conversions
It’s important to establish objectives, but there should be some element of flexibility. Many factors that will impact progress toward your goals are constantly in flux, such as the cost associated with certain keywords and ad groups on Google AdWords.
Keep in mind that circumstances may change throughout the year and budgets may have to be adjusted. If your current structure does not allow for budgetary changes, your goals and expectations should be altered accordingly.
Step 3: Consider Marketing Channel Options
There are multiple marketing channels to choose from when creating your 2018 plan, but most marketers will recommend an integrated approach. If your budget is tight, it may be in your best interest to focus investments on one or two channels. Here are a few channels that every modern marketer should consider:
- Digital Marketing
- Website development: Investing in development can go a long way. Whether you’re starting from scratch to create a new website or you’re improving an existing one, users can always appreciate a site that has top-notch UX and updated features.
- Display advertising & pay-per-click (PPC): Advertising via search engines and partner websites is becoming increasingly commonplace as technology advances. Display advertising is an economical online advertising method, offering the opportunity to display graphic banner ads on website categories of your choosing. PPC, while more costly, is extremely customizable; advertisers can specify bids, ad copy, display time of day, location targeting and more.
- Email marketing: A standard among most companies in 2017, there are still realms to explore in the world of email marketing. Experiment with email workflows to capture leads and incorporate responsive elements to heighten engagement metrics.
- Social media advertising: For marketers who have established a strong social media presence for their company, social media advertising is an excellent tactic to incorporate. LinkedIn is the most beneficial for B2B marketers (especially its new InMail advertising option), while Facebook suits B2C marketers.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): Optimizing your website for search engines is becoming increasingly important. How many times do you Google per day?
- PR & Social Media
Public relations and social media marketing are standard for most B2B and B2C businesses. To take your editorial calendar to the next level, put down the press release and consider adding a new method to the mix.
Content marketing is a tactic that has grown in popularity in the past few years; this avenue allows companies to produce in-depth industry content that draws in a new, more targeted audience.
Content marketing is especially useful in the B2B space because industry content may not be as readily available to interested consumers. This content not only serves as quality editorial copy on-site, but it also has the potential to be leveraged for lead nurturing and demand generation purposes.
- Traditional Marketing Channels
Traditional marketing methods have been a staple in the industry for decades and most are still in use. Direct mail, event marketing, television spots and print advertising are just a few tactics that are still a core focus for many marketers.
But be wary of opting for traditional methods unless you can prove that the tactics will result in strong leads. If not, they may not be worth the significant investment.
Step 4: Prioritize Your Needs
This is the hard part. Marketing on every platform is be the ideal circumstance, but for small to medium sized business (SMBs), this may not be realistic.
To prioritize your marketing needs, start with the most costly endeavors. Choose the tactic that is the most effective at driving leads and go from there.
Once you’ve incorporated the tactics that require the most spend, you can balance the rest of your budget with more cost-effective tactics.
Most B2B and B2C marketers find that working with an agency is helpful in determining the best marketing mix. For most of our clients, the marketing channel priorities that garner the most online success include:
- PPC campaigns
- Content marketing
Ultimately, there’s no magic formula. Your marketing budget should be a mix of different methods, based on the resources you’re working with and the audience you’re trying to reach.
This guide should serve as a starting point for your 2018 marketing planning and help you bring increased exposure for your business in the new year.