Justifying a share of shrinking marketing budgets is a scary reality that digital marketers must face. In this opinion piece, Adam Laurie the co-founder and managing director of Digital360, a Melbourne-based, data-driven marketing company, looks into five ways to avoid the cut.
A recent analysis by Salesforce, which surveyed nearly 4,000 marketing leaders, found that in Australia ‘budget constraints’ was the top marketing challenge (25 per cent) facing the community.
As marketers, we’re often coming up against the old adage, ‘sales people make money and marketing people spend money.’ In the current business landscape, strong client relationships have never been more important – you need to make your business a critical part of your clients’ business.
By adding more value to clients, you can prove your services are an indispensable element of their ongoing performance. Here are five ways to avoid the cut when companies start tightening their belts:
Close the gap between your clients’ marketing and sales
As a marketer, you may be doing your job – bringing in qualified leads – but there may be sales issues on the client’s end. If a sales person cannot close deals, then your hard work as a marketer yields no return for the client. It is not enough just to draw a line in the sand when it comes to accountability. Help the client identify the weak points in their sales force, internal processes and their products.
Combine the power of business data with marketing data
The best way to show the value of your work is to report using metrics that are tied to business objectives – specifically sales and costs. Comparisons can be valuable. For instance, an increase in organic website traffic could be framed in terms of an equivalent amount in AdWords budget. Even better would be tracking digital activity along the customer journey. Assigning a desired action at each stage clarifies what data should be used when measuring outcomes.
Become a partner, not just an agency
Always have the client involved in your process, so that you’re not just treated as an agency to them. This develops a mutual business partnership and builds a good relationship based on a track record of delivery. It’s also essential to gain a deep understanding of their business, stakeholders and market. Essentially, show leadership and mentorship in the world of digital. When clients need education on a topic, they come to you and trust your judgement.
Develop an integrated, ROI-focussed strategy
Getting the most out of digital cannot just be in the execution. There needs to be a strategy that links together a range of digital services, from social media to SEO to email marketing, as well as a method of reporting that shows how these activities achieve ROI. This also helps clients stay focused on long-term marketing objectives (such as ‘how can I increase average sales yields in twelve months?’) over short term cost-cutting.
Be proactive about new market opportunities for clients
Smaller businesses do not have time to keep up with the emerging technology trends, the latest danger to their business or the last update to Google or Facebook’s algorithm. But these things directly affect their business. As an agency, especially in the digital space, it’s your responsibility to be your client’s eyes and ears. Offering advisory and strategy services can help your clients make informed choices, so they are prepared in times of continuous change.