How to save money and extract more value from your marketing budget

Your budget is a roadmap that helps you achieve marketing goals — but when economic challenges hit, you have to do more with less. Here’s how.

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As the U.S. teeters on the edge of a recession and businesses and consumers alike reckon with the impact of rising global inflation rates, it’s no secret that macroeconomic conditions over the past year have been less than favorable.

In fact, according to The Conference Board — a global economic think tank — the most recent survey of CEOs found that 98% were preparing for a U.S. recession.

With this in mind, now is the time for businesses to take precautions. Experienced leaders understand that it’s essential to future-proof their organizations, even when nothing is set in stone — and a great place to start is by assessing your overall budget. For marketing teams specifically, taking stock of what’s working, what’s most valuable, and where you can squeeze more from less should be an always-on practice — but now more than ever, it’s consequential.

Let’s explore how you can assess and adapt your marketing budget, which will allow you to march forward toward sustainable, profitable growth.

Conduct an audit to find your starting line

A marketing audit should be your team’s first order of business when reassessing your budget. It helps you evaluate past programs and performance in order to plan effectively for the future. A strong audit can be broken down into three parts.

  1. Create a year-end or year-to-date marketing report

Your marketing report should cover a healthy stretch of data, around 9 to 12 months. Include all of your campaigns, goals, and strategies, and list which marketing channels you activated on. Your report should also include:

  • Performance data broken down by channel
  • The amount of money you budgeted for and spent on each campaign, channel, or program 

We recommend putting together a specific section on website performance. This should list all of your core website KPIs, as well as anything like heatmaps, speed index, or page load metrics. Make sure you also include the budget and costs associated with website management and upkeep, here as well.

  1. Evaluate which marketing strategies are effective  

Identifying where your budget was well spent makes it easier to create new goals and strategies moving forward. It also lets you see where your budget was most effective and where there’s room for improvement. Track performance on a month-over-month or quarter-over-quarter basis, identify yearly trends, and make note of any outliers or variables that may have impacted performance at a specific point in time.

Evaluate daily marketing activities, as well, including site traffic, content engagement, open rates for emails and text, and click-through rates. 

  1. Design or update your marketing plan 

Your new or refreshed plan should have goals, actions, and measurable KPIs for your marketing organization — as well as a fixed budget to stay within. 

You’ll want to incorporate successful strategies from the prior year, and before tossing out things that didn’t work, consider if you can refine anything to drive success. Additionally, use an audit as an opportunity to investigate your highest-performing areas and determine how you can make changes to maximize the ROI on each dollar you spend. Ask yourself how you can use data to create a more efficient budget for your website and other marketing channels, and consider shaving down spend without compromising growth using clever strategies, like tapping into your social commerce or repurposing content in fresh ways and formats.

Make the most of your marketing resources and budget

Finding meaningful cost-saving measures and generating greater impact from the people and resources you have today presents a real opportunity for innovators looking to set their teams up for success for the long-term.

Taking steps that help tap into the full potential of your team and tools can optimize both value and output. Here are some tips you can use to get started.

Maximize the impact of your website

The website sits at the core of marketing operations. It’s where users learn about your business, where you present your brand identity and value prop, and serves as a homebase for connecting with your target audience. The website also serves as the vehicle from which you can analyze user behavior — what messaging resonates, what content they are interested in, where they bounced, and more — to fine tune your marketing strategy. Here are a few strategies, tests, and tweaks teams can implement today when it comes to maximizing the impact of your website and overall web presence.

Fix performance issues

The user experience is key to generating more traffic to your site. Check uptime, backlinks, load time, and page views to find the source of any errors. Commit to a plan to fix any issues that can’t be resolved immediately, and ensure that all your tools and choices use your time, money, and resources in the most effective way.

Revitalize your SEO strategy

If you haven’t updated your SEO strategy in a while, make it a priority. Familiarize yourself with the latest SEO guidance and then assess your site, create value-driven content with keywords in mind, and use advanced SEO practices and research tools.

Start testing and optimizing

Testing and optimization lets you draw better insights from your customer behavior. The information and value you pull from testing can improve the customer experience. Carly Pallis, VP of Marketing at Pavilion, shared that testing that produces both positive and negative results can improve your knowledge and understanding of customers and their experience. She explains, “I always recommend that you set aside at least 10% of your budget for testing throughout the year.” Doing so, she noted, allows you to dissect what went right or wrong and document new learnings. 

Use a web structure that gives your marketing team more autonomy and flexibility

Empowering the marketing team to make changes to your website can go a long way in slimming down your budget and boosting your bottom line. As you test, learn, and optimize, making changes and updates is a natural next step, and the ability to do so quickly will allow you to save time and reach customers at optimal moments in the customer journey. Tools like Webflow empower marketers to build, manage, and own websites and web experiences without relying on developers, enabling them to move faster and react to changing business and market conditions.

Tips and strategies from best-in-class organizations

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Repurpose valuable content to drive greater reach

Effective and relevant content has a central purpose: to empower and inform your audience. Content should leave a lasting impression — which is why any content you create should be tailored to your audience’s needs, be fresh or meaningful, and suit the channel where it’s being distributed. And when strapped for headcount or resources, you can still drive impact through content. 

Finding creative ways to leverage existing, high-quality content can bolster your content strategy. The goal of repurposing content is to expand its reach by using portions of it in new formats or simply reinforcing your message in fresh ways. Some great examples of repurposing include turning a blog post into a video or transforming a report into a microsite. 

Repurposing content can save you both time and money, help drive more people to your site organically, and help you maximize the impact of high-quality content your team has already produced.

Leverage organic channels to generate traffic

Leaning into your organic channels has the potential to generate traffic while cutting costs from paid avenues. While it won’t replace the need for paid efforts, a powerful organic strategy can help reduce your dependency on paid campaigns. 

Strengthen your organic strategy by:

  • Gaining a better understanding of your audience. 
  • Identifying the channels your audience prefers.
  • Defining your unique value proposition through site content and messaging.
  • Creating net new content that further establishes your expertise.

During times of economic volatility, organic channels are exponentially critical. Wilian Iralzabal,  founder of Zabal Media, a Webflow Enterprise Partner, saw how the pandemic shined a bright light on the power of organic marketing. He explained, “Marketing budgets decreased, but teams still had the demand to amplify websites.” For Iralzabal, content like eBooks and blogs became more important than ever to the customer experience. “Now, it really mattered what a brand said because it had a direct correlation to the performance of their site,” he explained. 

Implement time-saving automations

Free up time by leveraging automations. Look at any repetitive tasks you have and see if there is a way to automate them without creating a less desirable customer experience. This can include anything from posting content to creating triggers based on user behaviors and actions, like sending them an offer after they sign up for emails or a survey after purchase. 

Identifying key touchpoints and using them as opportunities to connect with your audience — even if they’re automated — can help customers feel seen, increasing their brand awareness, affinity, and loyalty.

Lean on internal expertise

Your team and internal stakeholders are often sources of immense knowledge. Take advantage of this when looking for fresh ideas and inspiration when operating with a lean team. 

Brainstorms and group working sessions foster creativity in your marketing department and can lead to unique and inventive approaches that solve unexpected challenges — and bringing in fresh POVs increases the likelihood of identifying fresh solutions. 

Map out plans for the short-term and long-term

Now that you have some actions you can take, divide them into short-term and long-term plans. 

Short-term. This is what you decide you need to get done now to cut down costs without compromising growth. Plan for the short-term by:

  • Documenting what you’d like to get done in a quarter, and then decide which objectives are imperative to drive business growth. Deprioritize anything that isn’t likely to generate measurable business value at the current point in time. 
  • Measuring the impact vs effort required for short-term campaigns. When you are strapped for resources, implementing strategies and building campaigns that require less effort to yield beneficial outcomes is a surefire strategy for generating value. 

Long-term. This is what’s best suited as a long-haul strategy and will sustain your business over time. When looking at your longer-term marketing plans: 

  • Look at the parts of your marketing that are crucial but require time and a massive rollout, like developing your brand image and solidifying your positioning. 
  • Consistently set aside resources for areas that will drive gradual and steady long-term growth, like your website, content, SEO, and social media.

Remember: everything — both short and long-term — should ultimately map into your organization’s larger business growth goals. Regularly iterate on and refine your plans and revisit how you execute your goals to maximize success.

Start your next year off right

During times of economic instability, marketing teams often feel the impact early. However, it’s these very teams that are often tasked with driving growth and improving a company's bottom line. That’s why savvy leaders looking to establish solid footing must be proactive, creatively work with what they have, and maximize productivity and efficiency — because doing so is the best path to future-proofing in the face of new challenges.

Get in touch with a Webflow Enterprise representative to learn how to make the most of your marketing programs.

Published

December 13, 2022

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