How To Use Increasing Digital Marketing Budgets

budgetSo, you have more digital-marketing budget this year. Congratulations! You’re probably not alone, at least according to recent history. Just last year (2013), 55% of marketers across the globe increased their digital marketing budgets. Here’s hoping you’re one of the lucky ones.

What to do with this money? The answer depends on your company’s needs, including its current priorities, the industry you’re in, the audience you’re trying to attract, and the size of your budget. However unique your situation, let me help you generalize with some food for thought:

First off, if you’re looking to outperform competitors, you need to be capturing data accurately and using it to cultivate customer relationships (IBM: “From Stretched to Strengthened,” 2013).

How To Use an Expanded Digital Marketing Budget in 2014

Increase your PPC allocation.*

OK, you’re thinking, that’s easy for you to say. You’re right; it is, but I have a solid rationale. I get that your specific situation may call for other priorities to receive funding at the expense of online advertising. Or maybe you’re in a really competitive market and/or you’ve been burned before by mismanagement of ad spend. Still, 72% of PPC marketers plan to increase PPC budgets in 2014 (via WebDAM). Knowing this, can you really afford not to? If you’re not, are your competitors?

And why wouldn’t they be, when Internet advertising will make up nearly 25% of the entire ad market by 2015 (WebDAM). Plus, digital ads offer a way to track user behavior and keep leads in your sight with targeted emails (see notes on marketing automation below).

Do search-engine optimization.

The #1 ranking in Google search draws 33% of the traffic. And first-page results receive on average 92% of all traffic, while traffic falls by 95% for the second page. Enough said.

Pay to get social.

Social marketing budgets will double over the next 5 years. No small wonder because as social marketing and advertising matures, so will the opportunities for clever marketers to generate leads in B2B and B2C categories (including, for example, through sharing existing presentations via premium SlideShare accounts). In fact, 52% of all marketers recently reported finding a customer via Facebook in 2013, and 43% for LinkedIn (WebDAM).

Get good (clean) data and analytics; take action.

What good does all your data do you? Considering that by 2015, when 71% of new business leads will originate from the corporate or brand website (via SiriusDecisions, 2012), can you close them all immediately? No, only 5% of them are ready to buy today. What do you do with the other 95%?

Nurture leads with marketing automation.

By using behavioral and demographic data to respond in a timely manner that isn’t generic, but instead, centered on that specific person’s needs and/or interests, you can cultivate a continuing relationship for the long term. And in prolonged sales cycles, where 4 or more nurturing interactions are required to mature a lead to sales-qualified status (Forrester Research), don’t you want to be communicating efficiently?

Concerned about the costs of such software subscriptions? That’s natural, but the best answer is to recognize that investments in targeted email programs like the kind used in marketing automation have been proven to reduce advertising costs and increase ROI percentages to as high as 3000%.

Still skeptical? Check out our 14-pg. guide, “The Case for Marketing Automation.”

Blog regularly.

B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than those that don’t (WebDAM). Blog posts can also be great organic traffic generators because they tend to get indexed quickly by search engines, and the more popular/influential they are, the more likely they are to rank highly.

Do: Keep your content fresh, relevant and invaluable. Be original. Share your authoritative market knowledge.

Don’t: Force it.  Your shining stars can’t write? Find someone on staff who can edit them or collaborate on a piece. Or hire a professional writer (or rotating team).

For deeper, industry-specific blogging tips:

*Assuming you’re getting a solid return: Not a given for all businesses, especially those who don’t have dedicated professionals guiding the campaigns.

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Photo courtesy of LendingMemo via Flickr.

About Paul Richlovsky

Paul purposefully merges a creative writing and teaching background with his decade-long marketing career. He advises clients on content strategy, editorial direction and PR/distribution. He is a perpetual critical thinker who has written/edited hundreds of blog posts and multiple long-form marketing guides, including those aimed at audiences as varied as healthcare, higher education, financial services, B2C brands and manufacturing. With a BA in English from the College of Wooster, he is also the author of a collection of poetry, "Under the Lunar Neon."He gets really excited about the science of elite performance, usability, brand voice, headlines, digital governance, ballroom dancing, bachata, racquet sports, and romping with his niece and nephews.

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