How To Develop A Digital Marketing Budget

Sometimes it can feel as though you’re throwing darts blindfolded in order to develop a digital marketing budget. Should we spend more? What is our cost threshold? Or maybe you’re just throwing money at a tactic and hoping for the best. Fear not marketer as your friends from Bluefin Strategy are here to help guide you to something a little better than a dartboard.

Develop A Spend Threshold

You sell widgets for $100. Should you spend $100 on your marketing efforts? OK, that was an easy one (hopefully you answered no). Should you spend $75? $25? There is no right answer per se, although ‘typically’ a marketing budget allocation of about 25% is standard. However you shouldn’t just go for standard. First you need to understand how much it costs to create that $100 widget. Keep in mind all resource, sales, and operations costs. What is left over can be sheer profit or allocated to marketing. This allocation is whatever you feel most comfortable with and, as mentioned before, there is no real hard and fast rule to stick to. Just don’t spend more than you take in of course.

Estimate Your Percentages

Now it is time to dig into your web analytics a bit. Do you have a historical Conversion Rate or Click Through Rate? These will vary wildly based on your business model, but here are some averages we have seen:

Conversion Rates

  • Lead Generation~2.5%
  • Ecommerce ~4%
  • Free Signups ~20%
  • Webinar Registration ~30%

Click Through Rates

  • Display Ads ~0.35%
  • Social Media ~0.90%
  • Paid Search ~2%
  • Email ~5%

Sample Digital Marketing Budget

Now it’s time to put all of that together. Enter the numbers you developed above into our handy Digital Marketing Budget Calculator to get your estimated Cost Per Click and Cost Per Impression Thresholds. Once you have those you can do keyword research to see if the CPC’s align with your thresholds or see if your display ad provider falls under your maximum CPM.

Where Will 2019 Take Us?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Business Employment Dynamics only about 50% of small businesses survive after five-years. It’s a shocking statistic and why nearly four-years ago we started Bluefin Strategy. We wanted to help small businesses succeed online and help them grow beyond the five-year mark. However, as we ourselves enter our fifth year it is time to reflect on how we were able to get to that elusive mark and what we’re planning for the future.

Thank You!

First off, there are too many people to thank individually for our success, so as to not leave anyone out we will simply give a large blanket thank you to everyone who has helped us get to this point. To our partners, our clients, and our friends, it has been an amazing ride thus far and we couldn’t have done it without you.

How Did We Get Here?

A small business must pivot from time to time and Bluefin Strategy has been no different. We have matured into an organization with values and one with a clear focus. Starting off we thought we could be everything to everyone and that just isn’t feasible. So this past year we spent a lot of time crafting our goals for the business and ensuring those goals align with our core values. Most importantly we are here today because we have cared for our clients and have always ensured that their best interests have aligned with ours.

Where Are We Going?

The next year is going to be exciting as we will be introducing two new business offerings to help small businesses. First, we will be unleashing a new product to automate website data analysis, saving small businesses time and allowing them to focus on the things that matter. Secondly, we will be introducing more one-on-one digital marketing education and coaching sessions to help small businesses save money and become more agile by optimizing their digital strategy themselves.

Thank you again to everyone who has had a hand in our success thus far. We are so honored to have worked with so many great companies and we are immensely excited to see what the next year holds. Here’s to a prosperous 2019 to us all!

How To Import Google Analytics Data Into Google Sheets

If you’re like us sometimes you just want to play around with your data a bit more than Google Analytics provides. Maybe you want a different type of chart or simply want to combine your data with some other source. While Google Data Studio is a super useful tool for this type of task, there can be a learning curve in order to get the exact type of data you seek. Enter the Google Analytics Add on for Google Sheets.

What can you do with this data?

If there’s data in your GA account you can pull it into Google Sheets with this plugin. Dates, goals, users, sessions; it’s all there for the taking. What we like to do with this plugin is to leverage this data to create better dashboards than what GA provides as the Sheets plugin allows you to schedule this data to be pulled automatically and thus you can send your team a link that they can access at any time to see fresh data in the format you wish. While the Sheets charts have a long way to go in order to be as useful as Excel, there is still plenty of visualization options at your fingertips.

Take a look at Google’s documentation and tutorial to see what is possible. Then, start putting questions on a white board that your Google Analytics data can provide answers to. Once you know what you’re asking from your data you can begin to query the vast Google Analytics API easily using the Dimensions & Metrics Explorer. As you click on different dimensions or metrics others will gray out if no correlations are available. This Add on is a simple way to start seeing your data in a whole new light and providing better visual insight into new opportunities!

How to Leverage Zero Based Budgeting in Digital Marketing

As a myriad of items swirl around the economy these days and idea is beginning to surface in many company boardrooms. Zero Based Budgeting is essentially the review of budgeting line items to ensure viability and efficiency. There’s obviously more to it than that and you can read a great article from McKinsey about the 5th myths of zero-based budgeting to learn more. However, for our intent and purpose we want to leverage this methodology to ensure you’re thinking through your digital marketing expenditures. We’ve written a lot of about budgeting recently and the reasoning is that as we approach the end of the year it is imperative that the budgets you create for 2019 are accurate and viable.

How to Apply Zero-Based Budgeting to Digital Marketing

What is your goal? We ask that a lot, I know. But it is a fundamental question that often is never fully fleshed out. Zero-Based Budgeting forces organizations to think through their goals and revenue targets so that each dollar that goes out is accounted for. It all starts with the organization understanding and agreeing on specific targets, then each department is forced to be accountable to those targets. So to begin, ensure that you understand the revenue goals set by the executive leadership. Secondly, work backwards from your revenue goals (ensuring margin is calculated) by estimating conversion rates and click through rates to determine your overall cost threshold. Lastly, track to these goals by evaluating your return on ad spend on a week-to-week basis. If you’re not on target then evaluate which tactics are throwing things off course. Is it Pay Per Click Advertising? Perhaps it’s particular keywords driving up your cost? Knowing your revenue targets and budgeting to them is job number one as marketers and can ensure that you become a leading voice in the zero-based budgeting game!

Digital Strategists & Zero-Based Budgeting

As any digital strategist worth their salt will tell you, we’ve been doing this for years. The ability to track costs and follow that through to conversion is the cornerstone to any digital marketing plan. More importantly, digital marketers have always had a clear understanding of the full conversion funnel and ensuring that each step along the way is tracked. This gives us a unique opportunity to become leaders within a zero-based budgeting organization and ensure the entire organization accounts for each and every dollar that goes out the door!

What Do You Stand For

At a recent breakfast event several of us got to talking about how many businesses focus on tactics versus actually thinking through their business goals. Additionally, it came up that many businesses do not really stand for anything other than making money. Hey, don’t get me wrong, making money is great. However the truly successful businesses focus on their values and don’t often stray from their mission. After all, if you don’t stand for something you stand for nothing.

Start With Goals & Work Backwards

We have always started engagements by asking an organization defining their business goals, but so many businesses come to us wanting to implement a specific tactic or two. Our process starts by sitting down and helping our partners really think through A) What do we stand for as a business B) What are our goals as an organization (e.g Why are we here?) and C) How does our unique position in the market help solve the pain points people are suffering from? Then (and only then) can you decide what tactics to use to target your audience. Take the time to go through this process and I assure you success will follow!

How to Calculate Cost Per Acquisition

Are you willing to buy a $10 bill for $50? Probably not. But if so please email me. Unfortunately many businesses do this transaction every single day by not understanding their true Cost Per Acquisition. It is a very simple task to undertake and ensures that your paid media strategy maintains profitability.

How to Calculate Revenue per Lead

You may have to do some ballparking here, but basically you have to look at your customer base. How much revenue on average does a customer bring to your business? Let’s say that number is $1,000. Next, what is our business margin, meaning; how much can we afford to spend and still stay profitable. Let’s say that number is $250 (eg: a 25% margin). Now, on average how many leads turn into clients? (Leads being calls, form fill outs, etc) Let’s say we average about 75%. The math is pretty simple from here: (Revenue Per Client * Margin) * Lead Conversion = Cost Threshold (for our example; $187.50)

How to Calculate Cost Per Acquisition

Now that we have a Cost Threshold we can work backwards to understand how much we can spend to acquire new leads. We need to review the analytics a bit here to determine our website’s Conversion Rate. Then we can do the math to determine how much we can spend per Conversion; Cost Threshold / Conversion Rate  = Cost per Acquisition (for our example $18.75)

Tis The Season of Change

As summer begins to draw to a close and it starts getting “not so hot” outside we have begun to do a bit of reflecting. If you’re an avid reader of our blog, which most of your are I’m sure, you’ll note several articles noting the digital agency business as a whole. It’s all about tactics this, theory that, cool new buzzword there. It’s hard for any marketing department to keep up. This is why we are making a change!

Changing the Digital Agency Landscape

The tough thing about purchasing digital strategy services is that you often don’t get a tangible item in return. Even worse, how many times has the agency set the success metrics for you when it comes to the tactics they are handling? These things bother us and we have decided to change the way we operate. So starting in the very near future you will see our website morph from being ‘all about tactics’ to being focused on strategy and processes. You’ll clearly see our values as a company, our vision, and our process we implement for every engagement. Our goal is to be a trusted advisor, a part of your team, an expert at your disposal. We are there to guide you through the rough waters and help you come out on the other side with a bounty of fish!

So stay tuned and see how Bluefin Strategy will be changing the digital marketing agency relationship for good!

The Digital Agency Relationship

Not long ago I wanted to rock six-pack abs for beach season. Like many people do I got a gym membership and hired a personal trainer. My trainer gave me a list of things to do, including exercises, what to eat, when to eat, and even had the audacity to tell me I couldn’t drink alcohol. When beach season rolled around I simply rocked my dad-bod, cancelled my gym membership and broke up with my trainer.

Why Digital Agency Relationships Fail

My rock hard abs are your conversions. An elusive goal that seems far-fetched, but you know one day you can achieve it. The problem is that it requires work and we just aren’t good at that. Just like the personal trainer, an agency will give you a set of recommendations and strategies around achieving your goal. That is expected by both parties, but where the expectations differ is who is responsible for implementing them?

Is It Your Responsibility or Theirs?

The answer is that it depends. Many agencies out there do a great job at implementation, others are great at developing strategies, and some claim to do both well. However, rarely is it the case that a client can simply be hands off and things just get done. I would also argue that even if it were to work that you’d be implementing your digital strategy in a vacuum with no cohesion with the rest of your team.

How to Make Sure Your Agency Relationship Rocks

Set expectations up front. Who will handle tactical implementation? How many meetings will there be? How many of those meetings will be on-site? Most importantly, set clearly defined goals at the time of contract negotiations. We’ve always shied away from defining goals in our contracts, but now we welcome them in every proposal. It doesn’t mean payment is null and void, it simply means that we are both on the same page as to where we are trying to go. Sometimes we’ll miss the mark, and that’s ok, but at least everyone has a clear understanding of who is doing what, where we’re going, and what happens when we get there.

Until then, I’m off to the gym… then maybe the wine store.

What Are Google Analytics Content Groupings

Not long ago I was doing some analysis on an Ecommerce website in order to determine how visitors navigated through to checkout. The hardest part of this effort was pulling the all pages report out of Google Analytics and conducting some Excel wizardry to filter out just the Product Pages vs. the Product Category Pages. It was time consuming and incredibly monotonous.

Another client was confident about the fact that their Photo Gallery was a top viewed page because it was constantly in the top ten on Google Analytics’ all pages report. They made the usability decision to feature this page front and center on nearly every page on the website. What they overlooked was the fact that they had hundreds of Events Pages and Business Detail Pages that were getting small numbers individually, but in aggregate were the top page types viewed on the site.

What Are Content Groupings?

Google Analytics’ Content Groupings are a way to group similar pages into buckets in order to see user behavior at a more aggregate level. In our Ecommerce example above it allowed us to group all of the Product Pages together in order to see how visitors navigated after seeing any product page. In our second example we were able to determine that the most desirable content was not Photos, but instead Events and Businesses.

How to Set Up Content Groupings

It is super simple to create content groupings. Head on over to your Google Analytics Admin and select the appropriate View. Then select Content Groupings and start creating up to five different content grouping sets. Note that you have three ways to target different content groups:

  1. Tracking Code
  2. Extraction
  3. Rule Definitions

More information on these groups can be found here, but I find that Rule Definitions are pretty robust and fairly easy to implement. Just target pages using Include and Exclude filters the same way that you do when you create Advanced Segments.

You do need to consider the different groupings you may wish to create and also note that groupings don’t talk to each other, so you’ll need to define all pages in each content grouping you create. Below are a few different types of groups we have created fro clients:

  • Products Grouping that identifies Downloadable vs. Hard Copy products
  • Site Sections Grouping that shows us how visitors navigate between Main section pages vs. Sub section pages
  • Listing Pages vs. Detail Pages to see how visitors interact with the main Listing Pages and flow through to the particular Detail Pages

We could list several more, but it really depends on your website. Ask yourself, do you have a lot of a particular type of page (eg: maybe Blog Articles) that individually are very difficult to report on but in aggregate it would make your life easier? If you have any questions about how you might set up content gropings send us an email and lets chat about it!

Digital Strategy Independence Day

On July 4th, 1776 delegates from the 13 original colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, signifying the birth of American independence. This important date in history allows us to reflect on how the United States of America came to be, but also reminds us of the value of freedom.

Freedom of Cost Data

Any data, whether it be cost, impression, click or otherwise, should be available to you at any time. There are several agencies out there that conduct paid media efforts for their clients but hide vital information such as Return on Ad Spend at a keyword or creative level. This is wrong in our opinion as transparency is what makes us all better partners. The only reason to hide cost data at a granular level is to mask the margin an agency is making on your spend. Request your cost data by keyword, by creative, or by location of ad so that you can review (along with your agency) where optimizations can occur. If your agency won’t release this information then it is time to declare your independence!

Freedom of Segmentation

Not all site visitors are the same as they all have different needs and wants. They will also navigate differently and expect to be spoken to in different ways. By sitting down and thinking through these segments you can then figure out a way to track them more effectively on your website, whether it be through event tracking or custom dimensions, and start learning how different groups interact with your brand differently. Advanced segments in Google Analytics are a great way to track audiences differently so that you can pinpoint different areas where optimization can occur. If you or your agency partner is unable to track visitors separately, then it is time to declare your independence!

You should have full control over your data and all of your marketing accounts. Don’t let your agency partners hide crucial data behind a wall. It is time to declare your data independence and work with true partners that value data transparency with the goal of optimizing your digital marketing strategy!