[Note: this article was first published on LinkedIn Pulse.]
It's that time of year again - budgeting season - and defining your digital marketing budget and strategy for next year is as critical as it’s ever been. Keep in mind the following tips, and you'll get yourself in a position to run a successful operation in 2015.
1) Ask for a huge digital marketing budget, and don't use last year's budget as a measuring stick. Instead, use competitor and industry-specific benchmarks available from sources like eMarketer and Gartner to make your case. The environment is fertile to make a bold request, as it's difficult for a senior executive to say "I don't think we should be investing heavily in digital marketing right now".
2) Make sure your digital ecosystem fundamentals are well-funded. Before plowing into hot growth areas like social media or video, audit your operation to ensure core elements are being adequately addressed, including: the website (responsive and optimized for conversions), search marketing (which accounted for 39% of online advertising during the first half of 2014 according to the IAB), and email (which David Carr of The New York Times recently reported as a Death Greatly Exaggerated).
3) Employ marketing automation judiciously. Yes, there's a revolution underway to free CMOs from the grip of CIOs, highlighted by the $50 billion that's been invested into marketing technology in recent years. And that means about $15 billion has been spent packaging and promoting these shiny new objects. Before committing to one, make sure to read “So Much Marketing Technology, No One to Use It” by Todd Unger, Chief Digital Officer of Daily Racing Form. While he describes some tools as “miraculous” and priced “very reasonably," he also warns, "it isn't just about the monthly fee - it’s about adding another person to run the new tool, and that’s expensive”.
Navigating the budgeting process successfully requires an approach that combines hard data, compelling storytelling, and skillful politicking - just like any sales process. This year, take advantage of a favorable climate and make your case to get the funds necessary to support a comprehensive digital marketing plan that will catapult your digital marketing performance in 2015.
Tim Bourgeois is a digital strategist and partner at East Coast Catalyst, a Boston-based firm that help companies employ digital strategies for growth and competitive advantage. Contact him at tbourgeois(at)eastcoastcatalyst.com or 617-314-6400.