If you’ve been following our series on digital marketing budgets, you’ve probably read the previous posts. If not, you may want to back up a bit…
- Build a Digital Marketing Budget for Any Small Business
- What Percentage of My Revenue Should I Allocate to Digital Marketing?
In this post, we’ll be discussing how best to prioritize your digital marketing budget. First, let’s focus on where to get the most bang for your buck.
Which Marketing Strategies are getting the best results?
In a few surveys by leading digital marketing research firms a couple years ago, companies reported on what marketing activities had generated the best results.
The charts below shed some light on this question:
As you can see from the results; Email Marketing, SEO, and Content Marketing are the dominant channels for ROI – all yielding over 45% “Good” rating respectively. The fact is, this has been true for the better part of a decade (if not longer) and with advancements in marketing technologies and automation being able to bring together, analyze, optimize, and capitalize on your digital marketing tactics, this dominance is not expected to go away.
My digital marketing budget is going to be limited. How do I prioritize it?
For this post, I’m going to assume you have some sort of web presence already. If you’re just getting started, the following guide will apply to you as well, but before you dig too deep into expanding your digital presence, you’ll want to first focus on establishing one. Nevertheless, these steps should help anyone put the pieces together for an effective digital marketing budget.
Let’s get started:
You have to know where you are, to get where you want to go!
If you haven’t taken advantage of our free website analysis, you should do so right away. There are many free website “auditors” out there and while I’m rather partial to ours because it gives you the ability to compare yourself to a competitor (and some other really cool features), all of them measure pretty much the same stuff.
A report like this will tell you where the problem areas are on your website. Specifically problems that might be keeping you from ranking for keywords on search engines and gaining valuable web presence. Even if you don’t understand everything on a report like this, most of them will give you a general “grade” that can give you a sense of where you stand.
Not only is a website audit valuable for surfacing problem areas on your site, it also serves as a benchmark by which to measure your digital marketing tactics moving forward. And because so many of these reporting systems are free, it doesn’t hurt to check often.
Check Your Website Here, Now!
Please note that while many audits are free, they have basic info and will only point you in the direction of the issue. I.E. “25 of your images still need alt tags”. They will not get into specifics about which images, or their locations are without alt tags. If you are looking for a more in-depth analysis, hire a digital marketing agency to put together an in-depth analysis. At Swell, we consider the number of pages that you’d like analyzed and WHAT you’d like analyzed. Our audits start at about $275 for a few pages and go up to about $5000 for 600 Pages.
Analyze your website for User Experience (UX).
Try to get into the head of your potential customer and travel every page of your website starting with the home page. How do you feel when you first arrive? Is the message about who you are and what you do, being communicated clearly? Is the content digestible and well thought out? Is it easy to navigate? Is it obvious what action you want your users to take (call, request a quote, come into your location)? Again, pay attention to how you feel while traveling through it. Would you want to work with or buy from your company based on the website alone?
Visit your competitor’s websites. Look at your contemporaries. What are they doing better or worse?
If your answers aren’t positive to most of these questions, then it may be time to design a new website.
While there are many DIY platforms and other inexpensive methods to build a functional website that might even save you a bit of money at first; they may end up costing you more money in the long run. Having a well-designed, well-coded website is crucial to rising in search engines quickly. It’s also one of the key factors in how Google auctions ad space. So don’t skimp.
I’m not saying you can’t do great things on a shoestring budget, I’m just saying, if you’re going to save costs anywhere, it shouldn’t be in the foundation of your entire digital presence in a digitally dominant marketplace.
Very basic, relatively “cookie-cutter”, but effective websites can be accomplished for a couple thousand dollars. However, depending on your goals – most local and small businesses should plan on investing at least $5000 in their website. Larger small businesses, e-commerce platforms, or those with more complicated functionality often invest no less than $10,000+.
Invest in SEO.
No matter what.
If you’re going to start anywhere, start with search engine optimization (SEO). A well-optimized website is the center of your digital footprint. If you’re just starting to learn, SEO is a series of tactics that earn a website more authority with search engines like Google. Put simply, we’re translating your website in the language that Google understands and then expanding your overall digital footprint by acquiring links back to your website from other related websites.
There are some pretty basic, but essential SEO tasks that you can do yourself with limited knowledge, but beware that best practices SEO is a technical process. Hire a consultant at the very least, and depending on your needs, it would be wise to hire a full-service agency. Even the best SEO can take time to see drastic differences in rankings and authority, so many business owners and marketing departments end up getting overwhelmed on the amount of work and time it takes. But search traffic is the most dominant source of high-quality users you can earn. And since you are truly earning rankings, SEO is a pure investment in the equity of your website.
When we budget SEO strategy at SWELL, we take into account five primary things:
- your goals
- your keywords
- your geography
- where your website optimization currently stands
- & your competitive atmosphere.
We take all these factors into account and discuss the amount of work it’s going to take to accomplish your goals. Consultancy often starts at a few hundred bucks a month and full-service SEO packages start at around $600/month for a small local campaign and up to $4500+/month for highly aggressive commercial SEO. Beware of companies with large up-front costs, contracts, “too low to be good” monthly rates or “too good to be true” promises or guarantees. Be sure to get an exact list of deliverables from your SEO provider, and if they have trouble explaining any one of the items, that’s probably a red flag.
Ok, I’ve built a great website and my SEO is underway. What now?
Consider your budget.
Make a decision on how much your business can afford to budget on digital marketing. Again, there is no cookie-cutter budget for every company, but most companies with an established marketing budget spend about 30% of their TOTAL budget on digital channels. If you’re just starting out or if you have a limited budget, we would recommend that most businesses invest in digital first – it’s relatively inexpensive, ridiculously trackable and almost always yields an ROI.
We’ve broken down some sample monthly digital marketing budgets below. Obviously these are only examples. Every industry, size of company, and internal resources will have different budgetary considerations. We’ve left the categories broad to simplify things but this should give you a great start:
Marketing budgets are changing and companies are putting more into digital channels every year. If you don’t already have a website that will engage your users, start there. After that, prioritize your technical SEO investment. Only then should you start to consider more advanced tactics. Consider your budget and use the above sample budgets to break it down into priority areas.
We love helping companies of all sizes figure out their marketing priorities. Swell offers a free consultation and investment recommendations to help you figure out exactly how you need to prioritize your budget for your audience and market.