5 Ways to Be Smarter with Your Marketing Budget in 2018

By: Brandon Chesnutt

With more than 60 companies in the Identity client portfolio representing a wide variety of industries, we have the unique opportunity to look “under the hood” of several diverse marketing and communications programs. At the end of the year, we like to take a step back and view these programs through a more holistic lens. Where are clients looking to invest marketing dollars? Which programs are no longer producing results? What problems have yet to be solved? Which marketing conversation topics are driving and influence change?

As we turn the corner into 2018, we wanted to share some of the pain points we’re hearing from clients, and the painkillers we’re prescribing to treat the issue. While marketing communications is never truly a one-size-fits-all effort, these ideas might help spark some valuable discussions inside your company as you think about your 2018 marketing budget.

1. Email Marketing

The problem: Sales cycles are long, and feel like they’re getting longer. In between emails and phone calls, we do not have a formalized process for staying in front of leads.

The solution: Email marketing often serves as the backbone of client nurture and follow-up programs. Regular, segmented email communications represent one of the most effective, and measurable, methods for staying in front of the audiences that matter to your company. You would also be shocked by the number of businesses who have yet to develop some form of regular email communications.

If you thought email marketing was dead, you may be surprised to learn that it’s actually one of the most effective (and measurable) communication channels available today. This “traditional” marketing method may be old school, but there’s a reason why 82% of B2B and B2C companies continue to use email as a way to connect with target audiences today.

While social media and paid search are critical components of a well-rounded digital marketing program, it’s worth noting that email marketing has higher conversion rates than these two tactics combined. With an average ROI of 4300%, email has been statistically proven to generate the most bang for your content marketing buck.

With the right approach and a strong message, email allows companies to reach users at scale, and can be an effective way to gain the attention of prospective customers and activate and reward brand loyalists.

2. eBooks and content offers

The problem: Our website contact form is collecting dust. We’re regularly blogging and posting on social media, but we have no idea if the people visiting our website are actually prospective customers.

The solution: Compiling content into gated eBooks and offers provides an incentive for website visitors to provide you with their contact information. They may not be ready to work with you now, but offering them something compelling, educational and valuable might just tip them over the edge, leading to the creation of a new contact.

Looking for a way to grow your email list with qualified prospects? How about creating the right carrot offer that leads to more contact forms being filled out? Developing eBooks and other content offers can be an effective way to attract target audiences, assert your thought leadership and begin building credibility with valuable decision makers.

eBooks are an effective mechanism for pulling target audiences deeper into the sales funnel. By requiring users to fill out a form and provide their contact information in order to access highly valuable information, you’ll be able to successfully convert website visitors into leads that you can nurture as part of a larger email marketing initiative.

The important thing to remember is that not every piece of content deserves to be behind a gate. Blog posts and case studies might not have enough “meat on the bone” in order to be considered a highly valuable piece of content. However, a custom report on a growing industry trend or an eBook that interviews several subject-matter experts is worth the effort… and an email entry form.

3. In-person events

The problem: Our marketing and public relations efforts are feeling relatively flat. We need to add some energy, and a memorable touch point, to how we communicate with our customers, prospects and other key audiences.

The solution: An experiential event creates a unique, branded opportunity for your company to shake hands, demo products and services, or simply build better, stronger relationships.

Creating unique moments and memorable touch points — whether it’s a special happy hour at your office, or exclusive event at a trade show — can be a great way to gain valuable face-time with key contacts, engage target audiences and leave a lasting impression that people will talk about and remember. No matter the size and scale of the event, spend time thinking about the experience you want to create and what your end goal is. Giving people a behind-the-scenes tour of a new space or the ability to meet one-on-one with key personnel are great ways to spark meaningful interactions.

4. LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Premium Accounts

The problem: Our sales team members are active on social media, but are at a loss on how to mine the information available within their professional networks. 

The solution: LinkedIn Premium Accounts open new doors for sales leaders and teams, granting them access to CRM “lite” features and a comprehensive suite of tools.

LinkedIn is the world’s largest social network for career-minded individuals and the preferred professional network of virtually every Identity client in the B2B space. While a free account only provides so many features, a premium LinkedIn account offers subscribers a suite of robust tools that can help with business development initiatives, recruiting efforts and more. If you’re a serious LinkedIn user, investing a couple hundred dollars in this may be something worth looking into.

LinkedIn also offers Sales Navigator Team accounts. If you have multiple individuals in charge of managing relationships, this product offers unlimited seats, Salesforce integration, 30 InMails per user seat and much, much more.

Bonus reading material: Why LinkedIn should be part of your employee handbook.

5. Websites

The problem: We’re not happy with our website and we have no idea if it’s helping, or hurting, our business.

The solution: Websites are like smart phones. After a few years, it’s time to upgrade in order to keep pace with changes in technology and best practices in user experience design.

Yes. We’re still going to have this conversation. I’m looking at you, person who hasn’t updated their website since 2008.

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, it’s more important than ever to keep your website updated and optimized to meet the needs of search engines and consumers alike. It feels like just yesterday that we unveiled our latest website design (it was two years ago), and we are already hard at work making changes that meet today’s design trends and search engine optimization requirements.

If it’s been awhile since you updated your website, you may want to consider performing an audit to determine what enhancements are needed to take your owned channels and primary marketing hub to the next level.