With business trying to work out where they should be spending their marketing budgets, everyone is ready to suggest a channel for them to invest their money.

Here are some suggestions on where to redistribute digital marketing budgets when times are tight…

 With business trying to work out where they should be spending their marketing budgets, everyone is ready to suggest a channel for them to invest their money.

Some debate whether SEO or PPC is the better option, others suggest putting it into affiliates based on a fixed CPA. What people are not necessarily discussing is what not to do.

Different digital marketing channels have their pros and cons, but as things stand, if companies are going to start tightening their belts, consider the following: what shouldn’t you do in a time like this?

Across the board PPC:

If I was going to cut my PPC budget, I’d start by identifying which products are generating the highest conversion rates based on the highest margin and focus on those. I’d protect my brand by ensuring brand related terms feature high in the listings.

I’d strip out everything that is generating high traffic and low conversions. I’d test my ads and keep refining my campaign. In short, I’d invest more heavily in the parts of the business that are driving sales and adjust according to the figures in my analytics.

Online display:

This is a great channel for raising brand awareness and ever expanding options of formats allow you to use this space creatively, but as straight conversion goes, there are more efficient ways to spend your money.

Especially since a potentially large proportion of your budget could go to just generating the creative. (and the more sophisticated the more expensive it could get).

Online display does not generally generate a particularly high click through rate (2-3% is considered by most media owners as successful, again depending on creative, but in other digital channels working in isolation, this would be considered a failure), so where this sort of activity might serve to support other channels, it’s not a pure click to conversion tool.

Mass Market email:

Although this channel can be a low cost option, click through rates can be low and more and more people are regarding email as spam and sending them straight to the junk mail folder.

Incentive based email campaigns with strong creative can work, but keep it targeted to your user group by getting a fix on what people are genuinely interested in and not only by what you’re trying to shift at the time.

Mass mobile marketing:

This channel could easily go the way of email if we don’t recognise it for the highly personal device that it is. In order to use this channel effectively, we need to ensure we’re approaching it from the user’s point of view.

Given the still relatively low number of handsets that are capable of handling graphics heavy adverts compared to the overall number of handsets in the UK and the very limited number of individuals who are willing to accept adverts in this extremely personal device, companies need to tread carefully.

Advertisers would first have to establish trust by being transparent with users about what they are going to receive as well as the frequency of advertising and offer an incentive for people to receive and respond to them. 

Unless companies are prepared to spend the time and money to maximise returns through permission based targeting and incentives for their customers, they may find that they’re spending a lot of resource in something that is going to end up deleted.

This channel has a real chance of success if real targeting to individuals through permission, questionnaires, and relevant incentives is the order of the day.

Social Media advertising:

Invitation only! This arena is where advertisers want to play, but most companies have been unsuccessful. Why? Because social media is about community, a group of people who have similar interests, look out for each other and talk about what is relevant to them.

Simply creating a social media application without advertising the user benefit and engaging with the audience on their turf is not going to work. In fact, it can hurt your brand if you throw a lot of intrusive, irrelevant applications and fan site requests at people without their permission and without finding out what the group of people you’re targeting really want.

Social networks are very personal areas where people let their friends know what’s going on. Charging in uninvited will just annoy people and they’ll switch off, leaving you with an application that took you time, money and resource to create with little to show for it.

Social media can work and it can be a great place to engage with users, but this takes time, commitment, and it is hard to track the real correlation between usage and conversion so if you can’t allocate the level of resource this area deserves, it’s best to stay clear until you can.

So, I ask again, where do I put budgets?

Hold fast to your analytics

Tracking and gathering as much information as possible and really studying the results should form the basis of any marketing spend. Identify which metrics are truly meaningful to your business and apply those figures to the different channels and shift accordingly.

If data analysis is not your strong suit, get an analytics consultancy to review your analytics, ensure everything is being tracked correctly and advise you on how to pull relevant data to get you started. From there take the learnings to create highly targeted campaigns that offer long as well as short term solutions.

Create campaigns that will allow you to optimise your site around your best performing products and services.

This will give you a firm foothold in the search engines in natural results which is still the first port of call for most online users.

Invest in usability testing

Test and change various elements to make the user experience as easy as possible removing any barriers to conversion. In other words, make sure you maximise the value of what you’ve got.

Put your customers are the heart of everything you do

Keep content fresh, offer them incentives, ask their opinion on product developments, get them involved in discussion and take their comments seriously by engaging with them.

At the end of the day, by keeping customers happy and making them brand advocates, they’ll promote the brand for you through word of mouth and will be less likely to drop you when they tighten their belts.

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