The new financial year is not far away, and by now you should have (or will nearly have) your 2019/2020 digital budget allocated or at least front of mind. But you should also be taking steps to ensure that you optimise this digital budget based on what you want to achieve.
Create an annual marketing plan
Fundamentally, marketing’s role within a business is to promote and support the objectives and goals of the broader business. At the end of the financial year, you are going to have to be able to demonstrate how the marketing efforts have achieved this.
Creating a marketing plan now will go a long way in ensuring that in 12 months’ time you will be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of your efforts, and how they have contributed to the achievement of the business objectives and goals. It also ensures that everyone on board has aligned focuses throughout the year.
First, you need a view as comprehensive as possible on the business goals for the next 12 months. It is not enough to know that your business wants to “increase sales”. The goals need to be defined and measurable, so you can determine whether the goal has been achieved. An actual goal might be to “increase online sales by 20% in the six weeks leading into Christmas”.
With this knowledge, you can plan how marketing will support the achievement of the goals. For example, if a goal is to increase pre-Christmas sales, you may concentrate your marketing efforts on having a Christmas landing page built and live by the start of November, which will be optimised to rank in search results and to generate sales. Knowing the goal, you may also manage your Google Ads budget throughout September/October and increase it and adjust your campaigns for November/December.
With a plan in place, you will be optimising your time and digital budget throughout the year, and not wasting resources on things that won’t contribute to the goals of the business.
Focus on the channels that are working for you
In an ideal world, our businesses would have a presence and be active on every social media channel, be running Google Ads, writing regular blog posts and optimising content for SEO, running email campaigns, etc. But the reality for most businesses is that our resources restrict our ability to give each channel the time and money they each deserve and/or need to be performing at their best.
With your business and marketing goals in place, analyse what channels are contributing to the achievement of your goals. If your goal is to increase pre-Christmas goals, you would look at your analytics to see which of your customer acquisition channels have been converting best. If you have historical data, does this change in the lead up to Christmas?
To get the most out of your budget, you want to be focusing your time and money on the channels that will give you the best results. We all want to be active on social media, but if social media is only contributing a small proportion to your sales, do you want to be spending a disproportionate amount of time and money on those channels?
Know your business and customers
We look at customer acquisition as a three-step process:
You need to understand what type of business you are, and where your target customers are in the process. For example, if you are Coca Cola, people already know who you are, and interest will already be there. In this case, you can focus on conversion a lot sooner in the process.
On the other hand, if you are Bob’s IT Services, you are at the very beginning of the process – you need to make people aware of you, then develop an interest in your services before you can even think about converting them.
If you plan your marketing to convert when your customers aren’t even aware of you, you are not optimising your time and money. To optimise your digital budget, focus on where your customers are at and concentrate your efforts on moving them through the Awareness-Interest-Conversion process.
Plan your development
It is important to update a website regularly for a variety of reasons, including security, algorithm updates, to optimise content, and general maintenance.
Work with your web development agency to plan out when and why these will be done throughout the year to get the most out of your digital budget. There is nothing more costly than last minute reactive changes.
To plan when development should occur throughout the year, you need to identify when you need your website performing at its best. From there, you can plan back to determine when to do the development work.
But how far back should you be doing the development work? Weeks..? Months..?
As a rule, the more important the time you need the website performing is (measured by the increase in traffic and revenue the time is responsible for), the more time you should allow for development.
Using our example of Christmas sales, if that period represents a significant growth in traffic and a significant proportion of annual revenue, planning might begin in June and implementation in September. Whereas you would allow a shorter development time frame for planning and implementation for a smaller peak (e.g. Mother’s Day).
For more information or help with optimising your digital budget this new financial year, we’d be happy to help.