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.

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!

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!

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!

Remarketing Without Stalking

I had multiple conversations on my annual tuna fishing trip (Bluefin Strategy… get it?) regarding what it is we do here. Inevitably someone always asks; “Wait, do you create those creepy ads that follow me around the web?” While we don’t create ads here we do advise on the strategies that may drive consumers to convert. Part of that strategy is always trying to get visitors back to your site who may not have converted the first time.

How Remarketing Works

It pretty simple. When a visitor comes to your website and either views a page or takes an action you attach a cookie to their browser. That cookie stays attached to the browser and as that visitor navigates other websites the ad servers see the cookie and serve up your ad to them. Additionally, email remarketing is a slightly less creepy version of this concept, but obviously requires you to have a visitor’s email address on file.

Remarketing Without Stalking Tip #1

Ecommerce sites are the worst at stalking in my opinion because the lazy programmatic ads that they run simply just show you a few products you looked at, inviting you to return to purchase. If they instead made a more personal message pushing the product benefits or promotional aspects I would consider that less ‘creepy’. Even less ‘creepy’ might be simple brand reminders; “Hey, remember us, we’re cool!” Certainly leverage the benefits of programmatic advertising, but do not be the lazy ones simply showing a product feed.

Remarketing Without Stalking Tip #2

Remember email? Ya, that thing everyone said was dead (side note; direct mail is still an amazingly viable marketing medium I might add, and that was declared dead in like 1997). There are some great programs such as MailChimp, HubSpot, Marketo and others that allow for easy remarketing via email.  First step, PLAN! Devise visitor segments, then develop a drip strategy (eg: how many emails will you send and when) with highly targeted messaging. Don’t go crazy, but 3-4 segments with 3-4 email messages is most likely sufficient.

Why is this less creepy? Well, because in order for us to send an email to a person we had to collect their email address so unless you acquired that address through shady means (DON’T do that by the way) that visitor should be expecting some sort of interaction from you. Don’t be pushy in your email, just simply invite them back, start adding in promotions, then if they don’t bite leave them alone.

Everyone should be doing some level of remarketing to visitors who don’t convert. It is super easy and the tools mentioned above make it even easier to automate the process. We have seen clients grow conversions by 10-20% simply by adding some level of remarketing to their digital strategy plan and it’s about time you followed suit!

How to Market on Instagram

If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video is probably worth a hundred thousand. Luckily Instagram has both and provides a great way for you to engage with users and spread your brand message. The founders of Instagram wanted a system whereby a relationship did not need to be established between users in order to view content. You simply follow whomever you wish, similar to Twitter. More importantly nearly 60% of users are under the age of 30, cough, Millennials, cough.

What businesses should post on Instagram

If you have a very visual brand, say a ski resort, you should be posting amazing images of scenery and guests having fun. You want potential customers to envy the view. If you’re a newspaper brand maybe you post images of journalists out on assignment, or showcase your personality with quirky office gags. The goal is to position your brand in an environment where people are seeking out content. For instance, don’t post a picture of a Coke, post a picture of friends enjoying one.

Should You Use Videos on Instagram?

Yes! According to NewsWhip engagement with Instagram videos is up 53% in 2017. Videos offer a more immersive engagement and allow brands a longer message. But similar to the above statement about photos you have to follow the same tactic. Don’t be boring, don’t be stale. Do be exciting and outside the box.

Pass the Hash…tag

Hashtags group images and videos together the same way tweets are grouped in Twitter. Sites such as Tag Blender or Tags for Likes show the most popular tags in addition to providing some recommendations based on your content. But be careful not to use tags that are irrelevant to your post.

Instagram is a great tool for brands to show off their personality. Don’t count on a ton of direct conversions, but Instagram is a born branding machine and if you think outside the box you can remain at top of mind for your target customer year-round.

The Death of Facebook Advertising

OK, so we’re being a bit dramatic with the headline, but reports over the last week or so have not been kind to the beloved social media giant. Take the eMarketer report where they estimate usage to fall 3.4% year-over-year with the 12-17 age group. Or perhaps you saw the BuzzSumo article about Facebook engagement falling 20% year-over-year. Or, just take my own usage patterns and the fact that I rarely logon to Facebook but my 65-year-old mother does daily.

How To Target Customers on Facebook

So is Facebook really dead? Absolutely not. In fact that same eMarketer article points out that despite that 3.4% drop in usage the 12-17 age group still makes up 14.5 million people. As a marketer I feel like I could use 14.5 million customers. While usage and engagement will absolutely fluctuate over time as a marketer you must understand WHERE your customers are and HOW they want to receive messaging. Facebook provides amazing targeting capabilities, but remember that you are competing with baby photos and the latest political gaff.

  • Choose your messaging wisely : Brand reinforcement & passive voice may be better as opposed to the “Buy Now” message.
  • Be visual : There’s a reason Instagram is getting more popular as the younger generation is incredibly visual and seems to prefer scanning over reading, so what imagery can your brand leverage?
  • Please don’t get political : First off you might get blocked, but secondly no matter the issue there are always opposing views and they spread like wildfire via social media channels.
  • Target & Specify : The targeting capabilities are nearly endless on Facebook so use them to your advantage and craft messaging and imagery that speaks to that consumer

So How Do I Target Millennials?

Remember that the baby boomers and generation X seemed impossible to target at first. Take a moment to map out your target audiences and jot down their wants and needs. Remember that “Millennials” is a very vague term and within that population there are several sub-segments. Then evaluate where they spend their time and craft messaging specific to those wants and needs for the particular channel.

Facebook is not dead, but how the audience uses it has changed a lot over the years and thus your marketing needs to change right along with it!

Don’t Bother Me, I’m At Work

Targeting can be so granular these days. A lot of marketers we talk to use “targeting” as a sort of new buzzword to show how cutting edge they are. Big data didn’t help that conversation because now you’re almost forced into some level of hyper-targeting. The problem is that being too specific can really backfire on your marketing efforts.

I Know Where You Live

As a previous customer of yours you may have my home address and thus can target me in some very specific ways. Lets say you live in Arvada, CO with a zip code of 80001. If I target the Denver DMA I will reach you, but what if I want to hype up a new store opening in your city? Maybe I target all customers in the city of Arvada. Or even more granular, maybe I target by zip code. This is all possible of course, but what if you are a restaurant hyping your lunch specials?

But Are You Home?

In the above example I might send that customer a message about our great lunch special, but alas, they aren’t home. Instead they are at work, in an office out in downtown Denver and absolutely not willing to drive home for a simple lunch special. Thus my efforts would be wasted because even though that message may reach that customer it is absolutely not the right time nor is it the right message.

What Am I To Do?

When you strategize your marketing plan you must consider these things. Instead of using a zipcode database maybe you use geo-targeting by text or mobile display ads? Or, maybe you push a breakfast or dinner special instead? If you don’t think through when and how your message will be received you are risking A) wasted efforts/money and B) making your customer mad and unsubscribing. So target wisely and remember that just because you CAN doesn’t always mean you SHOULD.

Getting Twitter Engagement

Ever followed someone Live-Tweeting at a conference? Worse, ever followed someone Live-Tweeting and actually been at the same conference? Twitter is a great vehicle to push out content, but the biggest mistake we see people making is simply re-hashing of previously available content. The Re-Tweet feature is a great way to let your followers know you think something is important, but always make sure to add your own little spin on the why! Recently our thoughts on Twitter engagement were confirmed when we added our own spin to a Live-Tweet. Instead of simply pushing out verbatim what speakers were saying our own Brandon Hess decided to doodle away and cover the main themes of each presentation in a creative way. We both weren’t sure if people would think it was stupid or not, but hey, why not. It was something different, something creative, and something more interesting than the simple Live-Tweet. Apparently this resonated with our Twitter audience because we were able to increase our Tweet Impressions by 30,000% (seriously, those 0’s are real) because several different influencers found this more interesting than the myriad of other mundane tweets coming out of MozCon. So let this be a reminder to stand out in the crowd, don’t just do what everyone else is doing, be weird, be noticed, get exposure!

Developing Audience Personas

I’m a fan of paddle boarding while my buddy can barely stand up on one. We are both the same age, males, similar household income & educations levels. If you were a travel site and showed a picture of paddle boarders you’d certainly peak my interest, but what about his? Understanding your audience is more important than ever but all too often the step of developing personas for your audience goes undone. Here a few quick things you can do without going too in-depth.

  • Write down a list of all the different types of customers who engage with you
  • Highlight the ones that drive the largest value to your business
  • Jot down the needs & wants of those audiences, not just of your company, but in life
  • Write a positioning sentence for each audience that you feel they’d be receptive to
  • Review the differences between them all

This short exercise can provide so much insight into how you ‘should’ be marketing to your audiences. The next step is to understand how to reach your audiences with the messaging you develop and you’ll be surprised at how this might differ across personas as well. Take the time to do some targeting and your strategy will thank you (and so will your CEO).