“The future is not something we enter. The future is something we create.” ~ Leonard I. Sweet
Most business and marketing leaders know they need to include digital marketing as part of their 2019 business growth plans: things like blogging, email marketing, social media, paid advertising, and website development. They’re often already doing bits and pieces of it, depending on the skills, resources, and budget available to get the work done, but gaps in the strategy can cause a disjointed approach that detracts from the potential return on investment.
The most effective approach is consistent and holistic. Here is an example of an integrated digital marketing plan designed to consistently increase awareness, build a following, generate leads, and help salespeople meet their 2019 goals. I also included an example of how much it would cost and how you can create a realistic budget for your organization. Check it out, and if you have feedback or want to share some of your digital marketing successes, please comment with us below.
|Marketing Activity||Projected Monthly Hours|
Blogging (2 per week)
Strategy, writing, SEO, formatting and design, scheduling and publishing.
Email Marketing (2 per week)
Strategy, writing, SEO, formatting and design, scheduling and publishing, contact and deliverability management.
Social Media (45 minutes / day)
Daily social media posting, between 4-10 posts per day. Includes monitoring and responding (engaging with your audience).
Lead Generation (Release 1 landing page every-other-month, project 75 total hours per content offer.)
Strategy, content offer writing, SEO, formatting and design, landing page, thank you page, automated email response, scheduling and publishing.
Includes website strategy, updates and maintenance, lead conversion, copywriting, design, and more.
Create and manage paid advertising campaigns.
Monthly review of all marketing activities, key performance metrics, and action plans.
|Total Monthly Hours Investment||143|
Creating a Marketing Budget
143 hours is almost a full-time employee. But is that a $25k per year employee or a $100K+ per year employee? These plans take a lot of skill and experience to pull off successfully. You need writing, programming, project management, graphic design, technology skills, and strategic development, which are all high-level-thinking type of jobs.
Keep in mind that even a $100K+ employee usually doesn’t have the skills to do every type of marketing on their own, so you’ll still likely have to outsource parts of the plan. Most agencies charge between $125-$250 per hour. If you were to outsource the majority of the work to a qualified marketing agency, a plan like this would like cost around $250K per year.
Set the Right Level of Investment
Is it worth it to invest that much into digital marketing? I won’t bore you with the ROI equation right now, but when it comes down to it, it’s mathematics. If you spend $250K on marketing, how much do you need to sell to make a profitable return on your investment? Is that realistic? If not, what is realistic?
Without crunching a bunch of numbers, here’s what the Small Business Association recommends, assuming a 10-12% profit margin: business with revenues of less than $5M should allocate 7-8% to their marketing budget. For example, a $3M company would invest approximately $240K in marketing.
Scaling Back If Needed
If you’re a $1.5M company, your investment level might be more around $120K. That means the digital marketing plan and budget example I laid out above would be out of reach. But - there are ways to scale back if you’re a small business and can’t afford to do all that marketing.
You can reduce the number of blogs, emails, social media posts, and content offers you’re putting out. Or, you can hire a specialist to train your internal team on various activities and spread the workload out across many people. Here are two of the best ways to reduce marketing costs and create a better customer experience at the same time, but it requires a culture shift:
- Everybody blogs: Train as many people in your organization to blog as possible. That way, you write about the entire customer experience, become trusted industry thought leaders, and have a steady flow of articles from multiple points of view. Customers and prospects will know where to go when they have questions or need help. And the more people involved, the less each person has to do.
- Everybody gets social: Create an organization-wide social media strategy. Clearly define roles, responsibilities, policies, and expectations. You know what they say: Many hands make light work.
The expectation is not that everyone is going to be an expert blogger or social media guru. You’ll still need a leader to oversee the strategy and operations, manage the projects, coach, teach, train, and maintain value and quality control. But if people within the organization can share their industry knowledge, expertise, and insights, it makes it easier and faster for marketers to keep pushing good content to your target audience.
Spend Enough, But Not More Than You Need
Your digital presence is akin to your physical store. It’s a place where customers will “walk in” and learn about you and see what you have to offer. It’s the first place the majority of your customers will find you. And if you don’t have a physical store, it’s the ONLY place people will find you! That’s why it’s so important to invest in a digital presence that is easy to find, informative, useful, and simple to use.
That said, it can be challenging to know how to invest your digital marketing dollars. There are so many things you could do; it can be overwhelming. Taking a step back to look at what you have done in the past, what’s working, not working, identify opportunities for growth, and clearly defining goals for the future will help you create a realistic digital marketing plan and budget for 2019. Good data and analysis will help ensure you spend money in areas that get the highest return on investment for your organization.