How to allocate your budget like a marketing investor
Marketing campaigns can be a divisive subject. Do you view them as an expense, a strain on the budget — or a worthy investment in the growth of your brand and business?
I have certainly always been an advocate of the latter. With some easily implemented changes in your thinking, I’m sure you can come to see it that way, too.
Let me take you through how to make positive impacts on the ROI of your campaigns — by getting in the headspace of the marketing investor.
What can marketers learn from financial traders?
The first time I met Siam Kidd, founder of The Realistic Trader - "the best trading education community in the UK" - he was at a stand opposite ours at an internet marketing expo. A large crowd had gathered to hear him speak articulately and intelligently on financial investing and trading. I’ve been following him ever since. If you’re looking to become your own investment manager, I strongly advise you to do the same.
To quote Siam from his website:
"Trading and investing are not all about Lambos, private jets and trading from a beach in paradise. This is unethical marketing nonsense."
Real trading is about learning. Learning how the markets operate. Learning when to make your move. Learning how to profit from this understanding — consistently. As Siam says:
"Become a master of managing risk and it will fundamentally improve every other aspect of your life."
Throughout my 15 years in digital, from putting up my very first AdWords campaign when I was still wet behind the ears, to founding and running successful agency Push, who today are managing over £50 million in advertising spend, I have learned that success stems from treating marketing as an investment, not a budgeted cost.
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The evolution of online advertising
Back in the days of old (2004), there was really only one option for paid online advertising: Google AdWords. Unsurprisingly, then, an entire industry rapidly built up around this one focal point. With the benefit of hindsight, it was relatively straightforward compared to the myriad of factors that warrant consideration in today’s paid online advertising. There was little competition and only a single, solitary type of ad that could be run.
From marketing geek to marketing investor
One of the core values our agency is speed. When Google releases a beta, all shiny and new, we get straight to testing it. If it works, we take no time at all in rolling it out across our advertisers. We soon realised, though, that adding in new stuff early led to a reduction in CPA and effectively diversifying our portfolio of marketing investment.
The unpredictability of market conditions means it doesn’t even always matter how good an optimiser you are. Take the example below. This was one of our customers, whose cost per lead on Google was increasing over time. As more and more users begin investing in Google, the cost per lead rises because of CPC inflation increasing over time. In amongst all of this, choice for consumers is also growing.
By moving the advertising budget to both display and native within Google, the average cost per lead would be lower than if you just stayed in Search. In this case, the cost per lead is £15 less. On 400 leads a month, this proved to be a significant saving of £6,000 a month. This would never have been realised had we not diversified into new channels.
If we take this concept one step further, what we see today is the need to invest cross-channel. Just as an investor switches between crypto, shares, property, gold, at different times it’s right to invest in different asset classes.
Marketing as an investment opportunity
What are an internet marketer’s primary assets nowadays?
As you can see, there are many factors to consider, which warrant a wider knowledge base than that of a lot of marketers. There is an increasing need for continual learning and upskilling, as well as bringing in specialists from every area, either to train staff or to initiate and implement changes themselves.
Just because using a particular platform worked last year, there’s no guarantee it will do the same this time around. The best investment traders don’t let their emotions steer their course of action. They make decisions based on stats.
What separates the best investors from the pack? Their ability to know when to move on when they hit a stop loss.
But what does this mean when it comes to the realm of online advertising?
Think like a marketing investor
If your cost per sale or lead falls below either break-even or predetermined profit targets, you need to extricate yourself from that particular channel. Even if it worked before, you have to let it go and find something new.
I have witnessed entire businesses decline because they were static and didn’t evolve, either because of apathy or a genuine belief that they would be okay without moving their marketing investment around. Every business needs an investment strategy for online platforms and an ability to traverse rapidly and effectively the tides of market change.
So how to truly think like a marketing investor?
- Be savvy across all relevant online media. Hedge your investments on different platforms and the products within each. Be fluid; be ready and willing to move your budget if you need to.
- Track accurately. You need to be 100% correct in your tracking through both the platform and the CRM in order to be able to make decisions with value.
- Collaborate. Join up your creative strategy by setting a journey across multiple platforms.
- Great internal infrastructure. You need systems in place that allow you to quickly and effortlessly amend budget across platforms, either by using scripts or by utilising third-party platforms.
- Be visual. Graphs, charts and infographics are a fantastic way to view performance across all platforms. Tools such as Swydo are ideal for this.
Reporting, tracking and attribution are crucial if you are using marketing channels as an investment opportunity. Sure, AI can help, but a truly brilliant marketer will be the one analysing both the economy and the data and utilising AI to aid with the small stuff, helping them transition seamlessly between advertising networks. This isn’t to say that AI will replace the marketer, only that it can be used to support the marketer in executing their strategies and investments.
Right now at Push we are building our own advertising investment platform in order to solve these exact issues. We look forward to sharing our experiences.
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