One of the best ways to grow your business is by investing in a digital marketing budget. Really, it’s become a necessity in today’s digital age no matter if you’re selling products or services.
As more and more consumers move to online purchases and your customers turn away from traditional shopping, your business has to keep up.
Businesses that aren’t considering a digital marketing budget are sure to be left behind as more and more people bury their heads in their cell phones.
Let’s face it, technology isn’t descending.
The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests 7% to 8% of a business’ gross revenue should be spent on marketing, representative of the standard for companies making less than $5 million a year in sales.
How to divide your digital marketing budget
We turned to our tenured team of Thrive Council members to discuss how to divide your 2019 digital marketing budget if it’s set at $10,000 per month between SEO, PPC, content writing, social media advertising, reviews and video. They’re helping businesses every day with these kinds of important decisions.
Start with a clear plan
Thrive Internet Marketing Agency goes through a full discovery session with each of its new clients to help them analyze their current digital marketing focus and compare that with their growth goals.
This process helps to outline a clear, realistic strategy for a business.
“Utilizing a marketing budget effectively is going to take research and a thorough understanding of a company’s goals, products/services, target market and existing digital marketing results,” said Josiah Wiles, Thrive’s sales team director. “Ideally, we would like to identify some areas of low-hanging fruit. For example, if they have an existing social media account that has a large following and consistent engagement, that may be an area we can make an immediate impact by utilizing it to grow a specific product/service.
“We would also want to outline short-term (30/60/90 days) and long-term (one to two years) goals. Once those goals have been identified, we would make recommendations for a more specific strategy for them.”
Joseph Jenkinson, a senior marketing consultant at Thrive, said an initial conversation with a client has to include some specific questions.
Jenkinson said some of his questions to a new client could include:
- What type of product or service are we promoting?
- Are we just starting out or do we already have online sales or leads?
- What are your short- and long-term sales/lead goals?
- What are your revenue goals from online sales?
“Each client will be unique and will have different needs,” Wiles said. “One of the largest factors in success is having clear and realistic expectations. For example, if a startup company is competing nationally with large, established brands, we have to make sure they understand how long something like SEO would take. We would want to help them identify other areas that can have a more immediate impact while outlining a long-term goal to help them be competitive.”
Do you prioritize SEO or PPC with your digital marketing budget?
Once you’ve established clear goals and outlined a specific timeline to accomplish them, you’re now ready to move forward with how to divide your budget.
Your goals and timeline will shape these important decisions.
Thrive sales manager Mike Wice believes that if your business has time to invest in long-term solutions SEO is the best path.
“Search engine optimization has long been the best return on investment in terms of cost per lead and subsequent ROI for those leads,” Wice said. “The investment cost up front is expensive, but it pays for itself quickly once you achieve Top 5 rankings in your key areas.
“If we need some quick visibility and lead generation, PPC is a much faster alternative or supplement to SEO and I would recommend that service.”
Your business will need to use patience to see the return from SEO initiatives, but the ROI is usually worth it once you begin climbing in Google’s organic search rankings.
But the more your business spends the more likely you are to climb the rankings.
“There are growing marketing costs because of new competition entering the market every year and existing competitors in a constant bidding war for the top,” Wice said. “This applies first to PPC, but also to SEO. Your competitor that’s paying more for SEO is almost certainly getting a lot more in the way of optimization. They may be getting more new inbound links than you every month, more content, more technical optimization, and if you can’t pay to keep up, they will outrun you time and time again in the results race.”
How online reviews and social media can grow your business
PPC can offer businesses a quick fix for generating more leads, but it’s not the only avenue you can explore for some instant help.
Generating more online reviews – especially for a service-related business – through a reputation management site such as Rize Reviews can be a great way to get your phone ringing.
“Reviews are almost always the deciding factor when a searcher is choosing between two or more businesses,” Wice said.
“Additionally, good reviews give you some boost in local rankings in the Google map pack, especially for mobile searchers in the area.”
Social media marketing has also become more and more imperative for a business to leverage with the growth of technology and cell phone usage.
That’s especially true if you’re targeting a younger audience.
“If significant branding is required,” Wice said, “a social media campaign will do wonders.”
Amber Ooley, Thrive’s digital marketing manager, said if she were spending $10,000 a month with a digital marketing budget, she’d allocate an equal amount to social media and PPC (Google Ads) and see which one works better. They usually compliment each other well since they target consumers at different stages in the buyer’s journey, however, there are some cases that one just works a lot better than the other.
Ooley also emphasizes that businesses should do their homework and consult with experienced specialists before deciding how to slice up the digital marketing pie.
“I would first ask for any historical data, such as Google Analytics, and take a look at what is driving the most traffic and conversions and also get the client’s take on how they think each channel performed,” Ooley said. “I’d also want to learn more about their goals. Are they just looking to attract new email subscribers or do they need to get their newest line of products out in front of their customers and reach a specific sales goal?”
What’s best for a business: social media or Google Ads?
Businesses have so many choices today on how to spend their advertising dollars. But it’s critical to make the right decisions.
When it comes to advertising on social media channels, such as Facebook, versus using Google Ads to promote your products or services business can actually use both if they want to maximize visibility.
Wice points out that if you’re a landscaping company with great photos of your work, you can more easily showcase that on Facebook and Instagram.
However, as Wiles notes, social media ads and Google Ads, though often lumped together, “are two different animals.”
“They are both valuable but have different purposes,” Wiles said. “Google Ads, in general, are an effective way to generate direct sales. Because it is search-based, the people who are clicking these ads are already looking for what a company offers and have taken the first step in the buyer’s journey. They are much easier to convert because they often already know what they want.
“Social media ads, while often also generating direct sales, typically are aimed at a different audience. Using social media, a company is targeting people based on demographics and interest rather than a direct search for a given product or service. This means that it is often more of a slow development rather than a quick-buying decision.”
Wiles said Thrive often gives its clients one piece of advice in regard to social media advertising: “You can’t always be selling on social media.”
“People are typically not on social media to shop,” Wiles added. “They are there to interact with others that they know, share life updates or watch funny videos. You need to create content that is going to grow and engage your audience so that you can build a following who will be more likely to utilize your company.”
Should businesses also use YouTube advertising now?
Video marketing is also another avenue a business should be using to leverage their brands, products and services.
YouTube has become one of the most powerful and largest search engines in the world, trailing only Google and Google Images.
“The reach you can achieve on YouTube is massive,” Wiles said. “As marketers, we also know that video content is often more engaging than other types of ads. People tend to prefer to watch a short video over reading text or seeing images.”
However, video advertising will often take up much more of your digital marketing budget because of the costs.
“Video marketing works if done well, but it can require a heftier budget when a production team is involved,” Ooley said. “The great thing about video is it can be used across multiple channels to engage customers.”
If a business already has significant video resources in place, such as commercials, those can also create a big impact via YouTube.
Wiles said the biggest change in the digital marketing space in recent years has been the increase in the level of competition. That places even more of an emphasis on finding the right solutions for properly allocating your budget.
“As more and more companies invest heavily in digital marketing, it has become more challenging to be successful as a startup or small business,” Wiles said. “As the digital marketing agency driving their strategy, we have had to become more creative in the ways that we can help a client grow. Luckily, as the competition has increased, so have the tools at our disposal. There is now much more frontline research and useful tools available to us to allow us to help them make good marketing decisions.”
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