As we head toward the end of another year, now is the time that many businesses start making important decisions on what they plan to do in the upcoming year. For digital marketers, this is no exception. As in many business fields, the world of online marketing saw some significant changes in 2015: Google placing even more emphasis on the need to have a mobile-friendly website and the increased adoption of content marketing, just to name two. Whatever 2016 brings, it’s important for marketing departments to budget ahead of time.
So, where to begin? Any budgeting process needs to start with an honest evaluation of what your company’s goals are for the upcoming year. Are you trying to expand your capabilities and bring in more experts? Is your sales team demanding a higher volume of quality leads? Have you decided to go all-in on content marketing and now need to figure out a way to start producing great content? Your answers to questions like these will be useful in formulating a budget and deciding exactly which areas you need to be putting resources and money toward-- but what those areas? An effective marketing department has expertise across a wide range of skills. Let’s take a look at five areas you should definitely contribute significant resources to in the upcoming year:
1. Making sure you have a responsive web design
If you’re like most people, you probably spend a lot of time on your mobile phone. If fact, mobile usage has now overtaken desktop usage in terms of accessing the internet. But, what does this mean for your marketing plan? Basically, if your company website is not optimized for mobile devices, chances are you’re losing a significant amount of website visitors and, subsequently, potential customers. Studies show that mobile users are likely to quickly leave a website if it does not have a satisfactory user experience on their device.
If you needed more convincing as to why your website needs to be mobile optimized, look no further than Google. Back in April, Google announced a change in the algorithm used to calculate search engine rankings. The change to take into account the mobile responsiveness of websites when calculating their rankings. As a result, websites that were not mobile-ready saw their rankings suffer. If you’ve been putting off getting your website mobile-friendly, you should definitely consider putting a responsive website design near the top of your budget needs-- so you can have a website that looks great across all devices.
2. Optimizing your AdWords campaigns
AdWords is the king of online advertising. While other platforms are obviously available, the sheer volume of searches on Google means businesses really need to be running AdWords campaigns in order to be competitive. Unfortunately, it also means getting ads seen only becomes more expensive as the competition increases. This means you need to invest in the experts who are capable of optimizing Adwords campaigns specifically targeted to bring in quality leads to your company. Every dollar you spend needs to be targeting towards specific keywords that have been carefully researched in order to get the most out of your campaigns.
3. Tracking your website’s analytics
While there are free analytics tools available to track data related to your website to monitor it’s performance, you need someone with the knowledge to analyze it. If you’re looking to increase traffic to your website next year or lower the bounce rate, you need the expert advice to analyze the data and recommend changes to your site. You need a website that keeps visitors engaged and on the site. A great website keeps people coming back and hopefully, along with the rest of your marketing efforts, leads to more quality leads for your business.
4. Producing great content
By now you’ve probably heard: producing great content is really important. Creating fresh, useful, and engaging content is how you position your business as a thought leader in your field. It helps educate your target audience about what they should be looking for and shows them that you have the expertise to meet their goals. Whether it’s a blog, a downloadable eguide, or a video, you need to be creating great content at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Think of it as a way to develop a relationship with future customers even before anyone from your sales team reaches out to them.
If you haven’t started budgeting for the creation of great content yet, don’t worry! It’s never too late to get started. Finding writers who are capable of understanding how to write for specific markets and really hone in on the pain points of those potential customers, can be hard, but if you’re really planning on taking your marketing efforts to the next level in the upcoming year, content creation is an area you need to put money toward.
5. Getting engaged with your target audience on social media
Having great content is one thing, but it’s pretty useless if you’re not getting it out in front of the right audience. That’s why budgeting for social media is a huge component for any marketing plan. Social media channels give you easy access to enormous audiences and target markets that would have previously been difficult to tap into. For instance, Pinterest recently announced they have reached 100 million monthly users! We spend so much of our time on social media that any business not putting significant budget resources towards it is really missing out.
Budgeting for a dedicated social media coordinator means you have someone consistently engaging with your audience, building relationships with industry experts, and promoting all your great content. Each social network is slightly different, but with careful planning, you can craft your engagement efforts for each: LinkedIn, for instance, caters to a more professional, business-oriented crowd, while with Pinterest you can go after more visually-oriented personas. However you choose to do it, dedicating resources to social media marketing gives your company and brand a voice and a presence to simply let more people know you’re out there.
Getting your marketing budget right by making sure you have these five areas taken care of can set your business up for a great year. By taking care of this strategizing now, you’ll have a starting point from which to base your analysis as the year goes on-- a galvanizing plan to kick your marketing up a gear! By making sure the appropriate funds are set aside for these five things, you can be confident you’ll be in a great position to bring in high quality leads in the next year.
Are you planning your marketing budget for the upcoming year? What areas are you focusing on? Let us know in the comments below.