How to set a digital marketing budget, part one

How to allocate your digital marketing budget
Photo Credit: kevin dooley via Compfight cc

From food and beverage to tourism and travel, every industry has undergone massive change in the way it reaches customers. 

“Switch your marketing budget to digital” say the experts (myself included). Why? The benefits are obvious:

  • Better targeting – better use of money to reach the right people.
  • More measurable – you can learn more from digital marketing, while traditional media is often just a one-way conversation with your audience
  • Incredibly diverse – while traditional media is the tip of the iceberg, digital marketing is the bottom. There’s a huge amount that comes under the heading “digital” marketing. 

Sometimes, however, these three advantages of digital marketing become a disadvantage, because we are using new technology with traditional mindsets.

  • Better targeting sometimes means we don’t see our own messages, because we’re not in the target audience. Nothing’s wrong, but we don’t feel like the marketing is working, because we can’t see it. 
  • More measurability can overwhelm and confuse when there are so many possible things to measure. It’s easy to measure the wrong thing. 
  • Incredible diversity means its hard to know where to apply your budget, whether that’s dollars paid in advertising, consultancy or staff time. 

How to fix it? 

Here are a few guiding principles: 

  • Test and measure. Print and TV advertising schedules have to be planned months in advance. Not so with digital. Think of each campaign as an experiment to learn more about what works, and review the results often. Use the OODA loop
  • Measure what matters. “Unique browsers” don’t actually mean much, nor does number of twitter followers. What’s the business goal you’re after? Measure something close to that. (More on this later)
  • Get in your customers shoes. I don’t mean take a survey, just check out some of your typical customers. What do they share? What do they like? What’s on their Facebook profile? It’s not stalking, it’s anthropology!

There’s more to come. But meanwhile, what’s your advice for someone setting a digital marketing budget for the first time? Please comment. 


2 thoughts on “How to set a digital marketing budget, part one

  • Ingrid Grenar

    Hi Simon,

    My advice would definitely be that you don’t need to do everything. There are so many opportunities within digital marketing that it’s easy to get carried away and the find yourself doing lots of things in an average way, rather than a few things really well.

    For social media it’s much better to find out where your audience/customers are, then build up your profiles. Social media can be overwhelming, and time consuming, so make sure you hone in, and focusing on, the channels that suit your business needs.

    Take your time, research, test, refine and evolve.

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