When it comes to allocating your marketing budget, it can be difficult to know where to start. It seems that every week, another marketing guru is touting a new flavor of the week platform as the wave of the future. But, with a finite marketing budget, where should you be investing your marketing dollars, and what is going to provide you with the most substantial return?
1. Outlining Your Budget
According to the Wall Street Journal, the average company will allocate just over 10% of their total budget to their marketing expenses this year. While this is going to differ depending on the type of business you run, and the industry you’re in, 10% is a nice round number to start with.
Once you have a good idea of the type of budget you’re working with, you’ll be better equipped to set goals, implement your marketing plan.
2. Key Places To Spend Your Marketing Budget This Next Year
Once you’ve established what you’re able to allocate towards marketing, it’s time to turn your eyes towards where you should be spending that money.
Let's take a look at the top 3 marketing budget expenditures you should be eyeing this year.
a. Content Marketing and SEO:
The power of content marketing is becoming more and more clear, and it’s certainly an area you’re going to want to invest in moving forward. Regardless of the business, you’re in; content marketing should be one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal.
Also, content marketing has shown the ability to produce a robust ROI with a lower cost than traditional outbound marketing methods. In fact, content marketing is 62% cheaper than outbound marketing but generates as much as three times as many leads.
Finally, one of the greatest strengths of content marketing is its ability to be repurposed. The content you’ve created for one platform is often just as well suited to other platforms. This ties in nicely with our next expenditure, social media.
SEO and content marketing go hand in hand - if you really want your content to go far, you should be optimizing your meta-titles and descriptions as well as a number of other technical ‘on-page’ SEO factors so that you get as many clicks through as possible.
But to do SEO well you’ll need a strong content marketing component. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing and commodity content. Spending time on high-value content items is a top two element of good SEO (that and high-value backlinks.) For this next year, consider how you can make resources beyond the regular blog post - tools and guides that attract backlinks naturally.
b. Social, Video and Influencer Marketing:
If you aren’t paying for social media, you’re leaving money on the table, plain and simple. Increasing your reach on social media platforms by boosting or sponsoring your posts is one of the best ways to get more eyeballs on your products or services, and it’s still relatively cost-effective compared to other means.
Today, one of the best ways to harness the power of social is with video. Analytics firm eMarketer found that Facebook, in particular, is putting up incredibly impressive engagement numbers, with 6.3% of viewers engaging with the content they’re watching.
Even on the organic side of things, the average video posted to Facebook garners 135% more organic reach than photo or text posts according to Social Media Today. So, the video is a great way to get more bang for your buck when it comes to creating content for, and advertising on social media.
Expand your social efforts this next year by making boosting your best content a regular habit, but also finding partnerships for more organic reach. If you're considering working with influencers the average rate is about 10 cents per post engagement - so 1000 likes for $100 according to Instagram influence platform Revfluence. But skews higher for older influencers and lower for teenage influencers.
c. Email and Marketing Automation:
It’s easy to overlook email since it’s not one of the shiny new toys available to marketers these days. But, email marketing can’t be overlooked. According to Salesforce, 73% of high-level marketing professionals count email as a core marketing platform for their business.
Why? Email has stood the test of time as a marketing platform. Other options come and go, but email continues to drive leads and conversions in a way that few other platforms can compete with. Best of all, it’s also one of the most cost-effective ways to market your business. Services like MailChimp are free for small businesses and scale up affordably from there.
Marketing automation is important and goes hand in hand with e-mail marketing because so much of it is done primarily through e-mail. With tools like InfusionSoft allowing you to segment your audiences and ‘follow up’ specifically to what they opted in for - if you're a small business a tool like InfusionSoft can be an excellent addition to your sales process, which bridges the gap between marketing and sales.
Putting together and implementing a great marketing plan is one thing, but what do you do once all the pieces are in place? Being able to track the effectiveness of your marketing and the different platforms you’re using is of paramount importance to successful marketing.
Whether you’re opting for paid tools or using free tools to track your KPIs, the fact is that you’re going to be entirely in the dark if you aren’t using something. Plus, without the key data points that analytics can provide, you’re not going to know what you need to cut out of your marketing plan, and what you should double down on.
Tim Brown is the owner of hookagency. and is a web designer and SEO Specialist out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can check out his recent project “The Marketing Budget Calculator” to plan your marketing budget for this next year and take a look at his blog to learn cutting-edge methods to get the most out of your digital marketing budget.