advertising and content marketing

New Age Lead Generation with Advertising and Content Marketing

As an agency marketer, it’s our job to bring in more leads for our clients. Business owners understand the concept of marketing, but they may not fully understand how to navigate the waters of the “digital ocean”. To them, marketing may mean a billboard or magazine ad. While that is absolutely true, there are different ways to go about marketing now, especially online.

Let’s walk through two common ways of marketing with digital content and digital advertising to explain how lead generation has shifted course throughout the years.


Marketing is about getting in front of people and making an impression for your brand. It’s about spreading the word about your product or service by exposing potential customers to the brand where they already are. One way of doing that is by advertising. With advertising, placement is key. Sure, people driving down the highway have a great chance of seeing your billboard, but it’s difficult to measure how many people are actually seeing it, let alone whether you’re reaching your core demographic or not.. Measuring traditional advertising methods such as billboards and television commercials is almost always estimated. You can never really know how many people saw your ad and then either ignored or acted on that impression. 

This is where advertising with digital really shines. By advertising digitally, through both display and native methods, you can track who actually viewed the ad and what their next action was after seeing it. Did they click on the ad and browse? Did they buy something? Or did they bounce away from the page entirely? Digital ads have an advantage over traditional ads because they aren’t a wasted spend – at the very least you’re gaining valuable insights about your customer base. In fact, targeted display advertising has grown to a point that it will comprise 59 percent of all digital advertising this year and is expected to grow to 70% by 2019. But digital ads are highly targeted ads that are only displayed if the viewer reaches the criteria you have set for the ad to appear on their internet pageview – which means your demographic sees the ads that are most relevant to them at exactly the right times.

There are several different types of digital ads you can run. (Some are considered more effective than others.) But they still are much easier to understand what sort of reach they achieved versus traditional methods.

Content Marketing

There’s been a huge change in how marketing is carried out since the rise of the internet. While traditional marketing methods are not dead, it would be crazy to say that it shouldn’t at least be supplemented with digital content marketing as well. Why? Because digital content is inexpensive to create, it’s proven to be effective, and it’s 100% trackable from source to sale!

Many business owners don’t fully understand the value of content marketing, let alone know what it is. Content marketing is any sort of information offered to customers and potential customers in either written, audio, or video format. This content is almost always free, but some content of higher quality may require their contact information in exchange for download.

The idea of giving away free information related to a company’s product or service makes sense, right? Of course you would want to inform your leads of all of the benefits you have to offer them! But what business owners may not realize is that content can even be supplied to leads that don’t directly relate to their product or service… but why would you ever want to do that?!

It’s seems like a strange concept, but it makes sense when you think about the [buyer’s journey]. If you are selling software that helps car dealerships keep track of their inventory, but your blog features posts on the hottest cars being revealed in the new year, anyone can realize that it’s not necessary for a potential customer to know that information before purchasing the inventory software. So why waste your time supplying this information?

Here’s the breakdown… your key customer is most likely a dealership owner or controller, or some sort of purchasing manager. But right now, they may not be in the market for a new inventory software, but maybe they are interested in what the hottest cars are to invest in next year. So content isn’t about always selling your product or service – it’s about providing value to your target market, outside the sale. When your leads are searching for relevant information and land on your blog, they will find the free information helpful to them, which builds rapport between you and your potential customers.  And once they’ve already arrived,   the likelihood that they decide to shop around or learn more about your product/service is significantly increased. Even if your lead isn’t ready to buy from you then, they will have you in mind for when they are ready. They just need to find you first!

Both advertising and content marketing is important, and both can be complicated to carry out in their own ways. If you need an expert to walk you through each and every process with digital marketing, you can always ask us for help!

budget for digital marketing

What Percentage of My Revenue Should I Allocate to My Digital Marketing Budget?

Welcome! If you’ve been following our series on building a digital marketing budget, you’ve probably read the previous posts. If not, you may want to back up a bit…

  1. Build a Digital Marketing Budget for Any Small Business

In this post, we’ll be discussing how much your business should be spending on your digital marketing budget. In addition to my experience planning and optimizing digital marketing budgets daily, the insights in this blog come from reliable sources including: a yearly survey of Chief Marketing Officers from many industries and company sizes, a leading research report about digtal marketing trends and online predictions, and other top research firms focusing solely on digital marketing.

General Changes In Total Marketing Budgets

There is no doubt that the ways consumers are engaging with brands and the ways companies are engaging with each other is changing, significantly. In 2017, even as a small or local business, your buying audience expects you to be available and involved on the platforms they are. Which means, if your website isn’t responsive for mobile devices, and if you’re not engaging with your audience online, you’re missing out on valuable market share.

We’ve talked in other posts about the ROI potential of digital marketing. If you’re doing things right, traction often happens swiftly, and conversion naturally follows – even with relatively small budgets. Digital marketing is also ridiculously trackable – meaning you can know exactly what channels are driving traffic and yielding results. Which makes digital marketing a perfect investment for any business.  

You may think this means companies are able to spend less and get more ROI. But in fact, companies have been spending more on marketing because of the explosive potential of digital marketing channels. Check out the graph below:

For the last five years, agencies have been asked by how their clients’ marketing spend was expected to change in the upcoming year.

There’s nothing to suggest this trend will change, and 2017 marketing budgets are expected to remain consistent with 2016 levels or increase.

You can download the full report here.

How Should I Allocate My Budget Across Marketing Channels?

The next question to answer is how to allocate marketing budgets across channels – offline and online – and how to spread the online investment across the various online/digital channels.

Another report from Forrester Research shows the estimated allocation of marketing funds offline vs. online as well as across the digital channels.

Here are some relevant conclusions:

  • In 2016, the average company was expected to allocate 30% of their marketing budget to online channels. And this is expected to grow to 35% by 2019
  • Search engine marketing (SEO and paid search – PPC – advertising) will carry the largest share of online spend with online display ads such as banner ads, online video ads, etc. taking the second largest share.
  • Social media related investments will continue to grow, but will only represent about 15% of the total online spend.
  • Mobile marketing has grown to a point that it is a presumed vital and standard across all channels. Because of this, it is no longer tracked.

For Comparison, here are some conclusions from the 2014 report:

  • 29% of marketing budgets were put into digital channels
  • Search engine marketing (SEO & SEM) captured the largest share of online spend at 47% or about 14% of the company’s total marketing budget on average.
  • Online display advertising (banner ads, remarketing & retargeting) captured the next biggest share of the online spend at about 34% of total online spend, or about 10% of the total marketing budget.
  • Social media investments were estimated at 6% of total online spend and less than 2% of the total marketing budget.
  • Mobile specific marketing garnered about 10% of the total digital marketing budget and slightly less than 3% of the total marketing budget.

The chart below shows significant increases in digital marketing investments. There were five primary digital tactics in the report, and each expected to see at least a 42% increase in investment – which is huge!

Conversely, traditional marketing channels are experiencing significant decreases. While these are only averages, and shouldn’t be taken as standard in every market or industry: Print, radio, and television were expected to see a net decrease in total investment.

How you ultimately decide to allocate your marketing budget should be driven by the nature of the business, the competitive atmosphere and how your buying audience behaves through their buying journey.

What Percent of My Revenue Should I Allocate to My Digital Marketing Budget?

The age-old wisdom here is 8-10% into marketing in general. And depending on your resources, competitive atmosphere, and geographic scope, I might agree. But I realize to some, this simply isn’t realistic. But the truth is, I’ve seen well prioritized and hard working 2-5% out-perform a lazy and poorly implemented 8-10% time and time again.

Here are some things to consider when determining whether you need to be in that 8-10% range, or if you could be effective with less:

Will you be Advertising online?

Advertising your business on networks like Google Adwords, Facebook for Business, and others is great. It fosters brand awareness and generates leads. When done right, it almost always provides a return-on-investment that is 100% trackable. There’s just one problem – it can also get pricey.

If you’re a B2B organization, you can be dangerous with smaller advertising budgets (2-5%), because you have a sales team to generate leads.  

On the flip side, If you’re a B2C business, you should consider focusing more priority on consumer ads to generate potential customers.

Are you Maintaining Your Brand or Building One?

Talk to any branding, marketing, or PR expert and they’ll tell you the same thing. Maintaining a brand is less expensive than building one.

If you have an established brand already, a corporate identity you’re proud of, a website that is easy for your customers to use, marketing collateral, and tools in place such as analytics; it will be much easier to put a marketing plan together and thus, choose to invest less in your digital marketing budget. If you still have to create (or recreate) any of the basics, you’ll probably want to allocate a bit more.

Think about How Much Growth You Want to Have.

This is one of the most common struggles for any small business. Why wouldn’t I want to grow a ton? But the fact is, each time you grow, your business needs new resources to manage the growth. This leaves many businesses not ready for growth, adopting resources (employees, equipment, tools….marketing) to react to it. But when that sudden growth take a break, these businesses are left with resources they can’t sustain. Because of that, the pace you grow should be strategic and intentional.

Ask yourself how much you’re looking to grow. If you’re in maintenance or moderate growth mode, you might be able to get away with a 2% marketing budget. On the other side, if you’re projecting a record year, you should plan on investing in marketing to make that happen.

Overall Marketing Budget vs Online Marketing Budget

First of all, the use of “vs” makes it seem as though these two things are different and even at odds. But a good marketing mix should include multiple marketing mediums, including print, media, and yes – digital. Being a digital marketer, I’m understandably biased toward digital. But I have my reasons.

Digital marketing is 100% trackable. From when that customer first sees your ad on Facebook to when they purchase something on your website, we have tools to track each step on their buyer’s journey. Something like a media buy (billboard, magazine ad, radio) can offer you volumes of people who may or may not have seen it, but they can’t tell you how many people went to your website. Or how many of those chose to become a customer.

The trackability of digital marketing can provide you with powerful insights that can help you make intelligent business decisions. For this reason, it also tends to be easier to see ROI. Also, for this reason, if you’re one of those businesses who isn’t sure where to start, we would recommend you start with digital.


You may be saying: this is all well and good, but how do I figure out what areas to focus on? Digital marketing is pretty technical – can I do any of this myself? What should I hire professionals for? Well, in the next article in our series on digital marketing budgets, we’ll be exploring the answers to these questions and more. It will be our most in-depth guide yet and I promise, it will help you get specific about your goals and digital marketing tactics to achieve them.

Still feeling overwhelmed? Is reading a guide not your thing? We completely get it. If you’re ready to move forward with your digital marketing budget, but having trouble taking the first step, let’s chat. We can walk you through the process together, and even make custom recommendations for your business – no obligation whatsoever.


new marketing trends in 2017

7 Marketing Trends to look out for in 2017

One of the fun (and sometimes the more frustrating) parts about the marketing industry is how quickly trends turn over. With the advancement of digital communication, there is always something to be learned about and adjusted with your marketing campaign. With the beginning of the new year, let’s take a look at some of the latest digital marketing trends 2017 will have to offer.

Interactive Content

While written content remains a vital part of a healthy marketing campaign, interactive content seems to be climbing the charts in popularity. Examples of interactive content can range from online quizzes, infographics with personalized results, or interactive maps as the user toggles the mouse. While some of these projects may sound a bit overwhelming to create, there are plenty of programs available now with drag and drop type functions for creation. Programs like Ceros or SnapApp can assist you and your marketing team in creating engaging content for your online visitors.  

Social Ambassadors

Using celebrities and professional athletes to endorse a product or service is nothing new in the marketing industry, however, with the rise of social media as a form of communication, many people are now utilizing social media as a platform to share in their expertise. Those that stand out from the rest in what would be considered expert-level knowledge will have a high number of followers of their social profiles and would be considered “influencers”. Because of the interest that these self-made social celebrities create online, some companies are now sending their related products to them to be reviewed or even create partnership with by making them social ambassadors for their products.

Take makeup artist Jaclyn Hill for example. She has grown quite a following of nearly 4 million followers on Instagram. Makeup and beauty companies now send her new products to review and promote online for her followers to see.


instagram social ambassador jaclyn hill promotes makeup brands


Live Stream Video

With the social media updates of Facebook Live and Instagram Live, live video streaming is now becoming increasingly popular as a means of promotion and the online community in general. Live product reviews and live broadcast of events will only become more prevalent this year.

Native Advertising

Let’s face it, people are wising up and clicking less and less on paid display advertisements online. There is even a term now called “banner blindness” that refers to the habitual reaction of the average online reader who avoids looking at any banner advertisement online. People (your target audience) now naturally avoids looking at your display ads. This is why the solution to this marketing tactic has been to disguise or dress the ad as actual content that the viewer is engaging with. Native advertising occurs when the ad resembles non-sponsored content that follows the same form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. Consider advertisements disguised as Instagram posts while the user scrolls through their Instagram feed.

Marketing Automation

Any company with a larger sized contact list of prospects and customers will want to consider investing in a marketing automation platform in 2017. Not only do marketing automation systems have excellent email marketing capabilities, but they have the ability to track contact’s behavior on your website and through the email correspondence. Track what pages have been viewed online and for how long, see what links were clicked from the email or advertisements, segment your contacts into lists for comparing data and streamlining communication. There are a lot of great marketing automation software options to consider like Hubspot, Salesforce’s Pardot, and Sharpspring. All platforms will have their different strengths and weaknesses, so be sure to do your research for what your team needs to find the best fit.

Sharpspring email automation

Email Automation by Sharpspring

Visitor ID through Sharpspring automation software

Lead and Visitor ID tracking by Sharpspring


Mission Marketing (B-Corp)

One particularly popular method of business that is increasing is mission or purpose driven marketing. This method taken on by B-corporations that partner with charities and nonprofits or are large enough to have their own charitable program creates a very positive brand for companies. More consumers are choosing B-corporations when making their buying decisions, knowing that their purchase will go towards a good cause. Two successful companies that hold this model are TOMS shoes and Warby Parker. Both using the buy a pair/supply a pair to someone in need model of business.

Social Media Purchasing

Although it’s is geared toward retail companies, social media purchasing has increased sales for e-commerce sites in 2016. Not only do social media sites hold excellent marketing capabilities for advertisement of retail, they now have the option to purchase the item from the social site it is featured on. With “buy” buttons on both Facebook and Pinterest, the ability for browsers to purchase an item they want right from the social display, fast-tracking the shopping experience.

You know what they say, “new year, marketing strategy”. Yeah?