On December 6th, 2022, we'll be offering a comprehensive webinar on budgeting strategies for the new year featuring Forrester. Anu Adegbola, an account director of paid media with Marin, and guest speaker Brett Kahnke, a principal analyst with Forrester, will cover how to approach your marketing budget for 2023 while also giving tips on how to adapt your budgets as needed ongoing.
To get you started before the webinar, we've put together a "too long didn't read" guide on Forrester’s approach to budget allocation and what steps you should take when planning a long-term fiscal strategy. To get all of Forrester’s insights and tips, you'll need to download Forrester's report directly (available to Forrester subscribers or for purchase) and attend our webinar event, but this quick overview should help you start moving forward.
Summary of Forrester’s Strategic Budget Allocation Process
In the Forrester report, Kahnke explains how marketing teams are tasked with executing marketing and maximizing results while also dealing with a murky set of objectives. As a part of this process, execution teams must work with business priorities to find the best course of action. The Strategic Budget Allocation Process can be used by the central, regional or country-based field marketing teams or as a second business within an organization. The complete guide by Forrester outlines the benefits of creating a marketing program plan that aligns spending with business, marketing, and campaign objectives. Kahnke also highlights common mistakes that can lead to disconnected or habitual marketing.
The Five Steps of Forrester’s Execution Strategy Phase
Step 1: Review Budget Allocations And Prepare Guidance
Check if team goals align with campaign budget allocations; include campaigns, sub-campaigns, and targeted segments in your analysis.
• Review the top-down and bottom-up budget distribution.
• Define execution guidelines for marketing teams.
• Provide regular feedback on successes and failures, especially in communication with leadership.
Step 2: Layer on Specific Program Allocations and Ensure Totals Stack Up Against Strategic Targets
Step 3: Define Programs You Absolutely Need Within Your Marketing Strategy
Step 4: Identify the Right Tactics for Your Team at this Time, Build the Calendar, and Finalize Allocations
The program manager's primary deliverable in this step is a program calendar. This summarizes the duration of each program and its related tactics in a production schedule and includes the correlating spend for each tactic.
Step 5: Check your Bottom to Top Overview, Get Endorsement, and Share the Plan
It’s important to communicate the priorities of marketing campaigns to other departments within the business. Confirm that your final plan is still aligned to the organizations needs in terms of objective, campaigns, and program allocations.
We look forward to sharing more with you in December and hearing directly from Brett how the execution of this strategy will give you the best marketing plan for 2023 possible.
Innovations in marketing and the popularity of social media have made it easier than ever for businesses to reach their customers effectively. However, this has also led to customers being inundated with marketing material. Competitive benchmarking can help your business rise above the competition and make an impact on potential customers.
What is competitive benchmarking?
All marketers want to drive the best performance of their campaigns, but how do you know if your efforts are paying off? Understanding and analyzing performance in a vacuum can be unproductive—or worse, misleading. Competitive benchmarking analysis is the study of marketing performance as measured against the performance of your closest competitors.
“There are several competitive analysis tools marketers can use to monitor their competitors organically - which track most things available to the public, and there are also tools you can use to track your competitors' paid activity,” Candace Boren, Product Marketing Director at Marin Software explains. “Once you’ve collected metrics for your competitors, you can use that information side-by-side with MarinOne to analyze your performance to see how you are or aren’t stacking up to your competitors.”
Monitor organic competitive intel
Take a look at what content your competitors are producing for their website, blog, and social channels. Press releases and news mentions will also allow you to keep track of the messaging strategies employed by your competition. Vendors such as Crayon, Klue, and Contify can help you keep track of your competitors’ owned content and mentions. You could supplement this research by analyzing competitor SEO performance using vendors like Semrush and Ahrefs.
Monitoring paid competitive intel
In addition to organic intel, you should also keep an eye on paid media and where your competitors are advertising across search, social, display, television, and other channels. The success they experience can be replicated while their failures can be avoided. Some tools that can help you keep track of your competitors’ paid marketing efforts include MediaRadar, The Search Monitor, and Pathmatics.
How analyzing the competition can give you greater insight into your own marketing performance
So you’ve gathered intelligence on when and where your competitors are advertising and distributing organic content. Now what?
The key to competitive benchmarking is to use this data to your advantage! Take a look at which channels your competitors focus on. This may be a good indicator of where to best reach your target audience. Have they moved away from a particular channel? Maybe they haven’t seen strong performance here. And of course, notice if there are channels you’re missing in your campaign strategy—you want to maintain a presence everywhere that your competitors are reaching potential customers.
“Competitive benchmarking is important because even if you think your performance is where it needs to be, you don’t want to look at it in a vacuum because there’s always more opportunity to acquire customers who might otherwise go to your competitors. So if you are monitoring their performance to make sure you are in line with it, you're capturing every opportunity that you can see,” Candace explains.
Keeping an eye on your competitors can help you ride the wave of success that they might be experiencing on another platform. For example, TikTok has become important since its rise in popularity in 2019. Analyzing the competition can help you identify the opportunities a new popular social media platform can present to businesses.
The benefits of competitive benchmarking don’t stop there. Modern customers are highly opinionated and fragmented. Effective targeting can help you find and reach customers who are being underserved by your competitors. If a competitor is experiencing success on a platform or with a specific marketing strategy but are unable to meet customer demand, competitive benchmarking would put you in the perfect position to fill that gap in the market.
3 ways to extract maximum value from competitive benchmarking data
Make your competitive benchmarking data work for you by pairing it with effective analysis and improved strategizing using these tips.
Use the RACE Framework to analyze the effectiveness of your marketing activities across all channels
Sometimes, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact area within a wider marketing strategy to adjust for the best results. The RACE Framework gives marketers a simple way to analyze marketing activity and it can be applied to any channel or platform that you wish. RACE is a mnemonic device. It stands for Reach, Act, Convert, and Engage.
These steps represent the journey that marketers must take from the beginning of a customer interaction to its conclusion. Analyzing marketing results at each of these steps can help marketers understand how to capitalize on the opportunities presented to them by competitive benchmarking data.
Improve marketing data utilization with effective and uncomplicated reporting processes
Data is only as valuable as the insights it can provide. These insights also have to reach the right team members to actually be useful. Marketing teams must make sure that decision makers, team leaders, and other relevant stakeholders have access to critical information so they can strategize effectively. It is also important for this data to be presented in an easy-to-understand manner.
Optimize spending on channels and strategies that have a proven track record of encouraging conversions
The average social media user visits over seven social platforms each month. How do you decide how much attention each platform should get from the marketing team and how the marketing budget should be distributed across these channels? Competitive benchmarking data can pinpoint the platforms that seem to generate the most conversions and interactions for businesses with a similar profile to your own. Marketers should use this information to optimize their spending on important platforms while keeping niche platforms in consideration in case they become more important in the future.
"Analytics tools like MarinOne can help you look at your performance and compare it to your competition. And if it's not where you need it to be, budget allocation tools can help you find the right level of investment for your campaigns to get you up to par," Candace explains. "And as you move through your spend period and find you are not performing in one channel and performing really well on another channel, these algorithms will automatically shift your budget allocation for you. You'll be outperforming your competition without having to manage your campaigns manually day in and day out."
Demystify data-driven reporting and marketing strategy with MarinOne
To compare your competitors’ marketing strategies with your own, you need a comprehensive picture of your digital program. MarinOne’s advanced analytics suite pulls all your search, social, ecommerce, display, and app advertising into one view. It’s easy to see at a glance where you are spending and where you are performing, so you can easily compare your performance with the competition.
If you want to take it a step further, MarinOne’s budget allocation tools will shift your budget between campaigns and channels based on how well they’re performing—all while ensuring you hit your budget targets at the end of each month.
Learn more about MarinOne today. Get in touch with one of our experts to learn how MarinOne can help you make the most of insights generated through competitive benchmarking.
The marketing world is constantly changing and developing with new tools and methods. Strategies that are effective today may not work next year, or even next month. What we know for certain is that successful marketing requires looking beyond the top of the funnel for customers who will stick around. Without retention, there is no growth.
That’s why growth marketing is more important than ever. So, what is growth marketing all about? Learn why growth marketing is important, what its core components are, and five different ways to turbocharge your business with it.
Growth marketing defined
Growth marketing is a spin on traditional marketing with additional digital layers such as A/B testing, SEO optimization, data-driven blog posts and email campaigns, and careful attention to each aspect of a user’s experience. Insights inform strategies that are quickly implemented to achieve sustainable and robust growth. Unlike traditional marketing, growth marketing prioritizes small hypotheses, fast experimentation, and rapid iteration over large, long-term campaigns.
Why growth marketing matters
An average of 4 million businesses are opened every year, and over $297 billion is collectively spent on marketing expenditures. With those figures, it’s more important than ever to make your business stand out. To compete, it's crucial to have a growth marketing strategy. A strategy that is creative and compelling will:
Help improve customer acquisition rates and allow you to expand your loyal user base
Enable you to maximize your marketing activities across many different channels
Provide you with insights into the full customer journey
Core components of a growth marketing strategy
The primary focus of your marketing strategy should be based on metrics like retention rates, acquisition rates, conversion rates, and customer lifetime value. Some of the most frequently used tactics that growth marketers find successful include:
A/B testing can be used in a variety of formats, such as email marketing, landing pages, social media ads, and more, making it one of the primary tactics to be used in a strong growth marketing strategy. By deploying “A” or “B” tests, you can gain a better understanding of which content pieces are performing better. With better insights into how to engage your audience, you can optimize future campaigns and increase your likelihood of boosting conversion rates.
Pro tip: Just because one test proves to be more effective with a particular audience segment doesn’t mean you should stop testing. Concentrate on customized segments and keep testing new content variations to understand which content resonates best.
With cross-channel marketing, your focus should be on building a plan to extend customer reach. It can include push notifications, email marketing, direct mail, in-app messages, and other action-driven initiatives. The key is to know your audience’s preferences. When you incorporate your plan into your growth marketing strategy, zeroing in on communication preferences will help you build your campaigns accordingly.
Pro tip: When you integrate multiple channels into your marketing plan, your audience can remain engaged from anywhere. Use contextual campaigns to help you gain a deeper understanding of your audience’s behavior across different platforms.
As part of your growth marketing strategy, be sure to pay close attention to the three critical life cycle stages: activation, nurture, and reactivation. You need to:
Target your audience with introductory campaigns to build credibility
Nurture them to strengthen relationships through cross-channel marketing efforts
Re-engage them to drive retention and loyalty through post-purchase or win-back campaigns.
Pro tip: Each customer will progress through the life cycle at their own pace. However, proactively accommodating users' changing needs will help you create more need-specific campaigns, setting you up for success.
5 ways to turbocharge your business with growth marketing
Know your clients and competitors
To optimize your campaign, know your clients. Analyzing their data can often shed light on surprising insights such as discovering which leads have a higher likelihood of converting. It can also help you tailor communications to improve retention rates.
While it’s important to analyze your client base, it’s equally important to determine what your competitors are doing. Seeing what works well (or doesn’t work at all) for them can give you insight into new marketing opportunities to test, too.
Pro tip: To see what your competitors are doing well, use an online competitor analysis tool. To learn what media your clients consume or what terms they use when searching for your product, use the Google Keyword Planner and try client and industry surveys.
Optimize your content marketing
When done right, content marketing can create a lasting impact as part of your growth marketing strategy to help you generate new leads. Demonstrate your expertise in your field with articles, videos, and other sources that your potential customers are searching for. By optimizing your content around keywords your audience is looking for, you can boost the chances of them coming to you and staying.
Pro tip: Be sure to plan, test, and analyze which content is working. When you determine which content is attracting the most attention, adjust your campaigns to ensure you improve results.
Maximize your advertising
You’re probably already employing advertising as part of your marketing strategy — be it sponsored content, display advertising, remarketing, pay-per-click, social media ads, and so on. In most scenarios, real-time data is accessible, allowing you to closely monitor your ads’ performance. Dig into the data and follow growth marketing principles by planning, testing, tweaking, and repeating.
Pro tip: By digging into that data, you will be able to identify insights that enable you to improve leading indicators over time. But to truly maximize your growth marketing efforts, don’t lose sight of the big picture. While data is important, stay focused on broad performance metrics (like sales and revenue) over time so you don’t repeat ineffective advertising moves.
Prioritize your website
Optimizing your website is key to generating more leads. It’s important for communicating why prospective customers should choose you. If you haven’t already done so, advance your SEO strategy. Ultimately, your goal should be to funnel your clients to the action you want them to take. Additionally, your site’s aesthetics and user experience should be familiar for your target audience.
Pro tip: Seeking advice on your SEO strategy is wise, since it’s a specialized technical area. You can also consider identifying CRO improvement opportunities by conducting A/B testing, individual user testing, qualitative research from focus groups, and client surveys.
Make sure your customer service team is motivated
For growth marketing to be sustainable and successful, focus on the customer experience. Having quality service will help you build loyalty and turn consumers into brand advocates. Your products alone will not keep customers happy — they must be coupled with high-quality customer service. Make sure that all brand interactions leave your customers feeling satisfied and valued. If your customer service team isn’t motivated to give each person the "white glove" treatment, your customers probably won’t be coming back…which can make the colossal effort of attracting new users feel like a waste. As we said at the beginning of this article, growth marketing is nothing without a great retention strategy.
Pro tip: To create a good customer service experience, collect customer feedback through surveys and ask for suggestions on how to improve.
Scale Growth Efforts with MarinOne
With growth marketing comes countless tools, channels, platforms, and tactics. One thing is clear: growth marketing requires work, but the return makes it very worthwhile
MarinOne has the tools you need to be a successful growth marketer and can help you focus on both testing and optimizing to boost engagement and provide a better customer experience.
PI LIVE London 2022 is done, and we're excited for many other events Marin will be attending over the coming weeks, including Amazon Unboxed in New York this week. But before we close this chapter, we wanted to highlight some of PI Live’s best moments and share what we learned.
Marin sponsored the Pyramid Stage, one of two areas where keynote presentations were shared. And we even had our own Anu Adegbola give a 30 minute session on budgeting strategies for 2023. She is an experienced and accomplished public speaker who shared great insights on budget planning.
Day One Speaking Session Highlights
Speaker Tina Judic, co-founder and Chairman of Tomorrow Group, talked about the importance of AI integration in advertising at the Rakuten Advertising Main Stage and also on the Marin Software Pyramid Stage. Shay Okelola, the Account Director for Neo Media World, described how programmatic has changed the advertising game. Both welcomed all attendees and exhibitors and outlined the schedule for day one.
Budgeting Strategies for 2023
Marin’s Anu Adegbola took the Pyramid Stage to share the best tactics for approaching a budget for the new year, as well as roadblocks that may affect how funds are allocated amongst marketing channels in 2023. Some of the key concepts Anu mentioned include:
The 70-20-10 Methodology:
70% of your marketing initiatives should be proven and tested methods that are almost certainly going to support your business objectives
20% of your marketing initiatives should be new methods or ideas that are somewhat untested for your business, but have had success in the market at large for other competitors
10% of your marketing initiatives should be what you'd call "wild bets," or tactics that are completely out of the box, creative, and untested. This is the best way to find new niche audiences for your products or services.
Industry disruptors that will affect budgeting in the new year:
Making way for new channel experiments - TikTok, Quora, Reddit and more all have new advertising campaign types that are relatively untested. Start with spending just 5% per month of the total possible allocation for a new channel and tie that spending to tangible deliverables. As you have data to optimize from, you can continuing scaling 5% month over month continuously.
Covid-19 has changed consumer behavior for the long haul. One of the lasting effects Covid-19 has had is consumers have dramatically changed their behavior in terms of needs, timing, and what factors influence their purchase decisions. Buyers are still making purchases; but getting into the psyche of how, when, or where your target audience is likely to convert is more complex than it has ever been.
The recession is here. Economists across Europe and the US project significant economic downturn in 2023, and many economists say we are already in the midst of a recession that could take several years from which to recover. Price point will be a very high priority for consumers in this next year and beyond.
When in doubt…remember you're just frying chips
Mark Ritson published an article this past week in MarketingWeek that really beautifully summarized what all budget allocation techniques boil down to. He describes in the article how back in the '90s famous chef Heston Blumenthal became obsessed with making the perfect chip. After hundreds of tests, Blumenthal found the best method for making delicious chips every time was simple. Boil the potatoes for 15 minutes, freeze, fry, freeze again, fry again. Perfect chips. Every time. Regardless of oil temp or seasoning or what have you…these fries always came out pretty great.
Planning your marketing budgets also should be simple. Here are the "brass tax" points Mark Ritson outlines that will make your budgeting strategy pretty great every time. Regardless of the market, the campaign, or the channel.
Brand-to-Brand Partnerships: The Ultimate Convergence of Brand and Performance
A panel of branding experts from various sectors shared their thoughts on brand-to-brand partnerships at the event. With trackable ROI and consumer trust, this partnership can be a fruitful collaboration for new startup businesses.
Some of the most compelling learnings from this session included:
When you partner with someone you can use their content extensively across your different channels to drive ROI.
Tech has progressed significantly in terms of carrying out successful brand-to-brand partnerships. Still, there's always that human element that brands can't use a computer for.
Smaller brands are really useful for smaller niche audiences. For those clients with specific needs, why not get a partnership from the niche provider?
AT YOUR OWN RISK! 30 Mins Inside the Mind of an Integrated Creative
Jo Arscott, an award-winning Creative Director, shared her approach to storytelling. She made a compelling argument that sometimes shifting your focus away from data and research can actually lead to surprising new business opportunities.
According to Jo, the human imagination is what makes technology such a great asset for creativity. In her experience, digital data both helps and hurts at once - it’s good because it fuels creative ideas but also bad because of exposure and privacy concerns.
State of the Industry: 2022 Affiliate and Partner Marketing Trends
Have you ever wondered how advertisers feel about affiliate marketing? The IAB released a report with insights into the current state of affiliate marketing and presented the results during PI LIVE. Some of the main points that I took away from this talk was:
Over the next year, affiliate marketers expect that editorial content will be their biggest source of revenue. Influencers are also very popular and came in second in the poll.
Publisher diversity is a huge concern CMOs are currently facing when looking at continued investment in affiliate marketing.
IAB saw a correlation between the worsening cost of living crisis and the importance of affiliate marketing, as reflected in survey responses. This suggests that as consumers must tighten their belts financially, buyers will be depending upon recommendations through marketing means they trust to make the best purchase decisions.
Day Two Speaking Session Highlights
Tapx CEO, Luke Judge and the founder of PlanIt, Steve Cox, hosted a successful second day at the conference. All participants and exhibitors were welcomed and the program of the second day was outlined.
Influencers, Live Shopping & Social Commerce: Affiliate is the Ultimate Conversion Tactic
Influencer marketing in social shopping has a lot of potential. To make the strategy work, you will have to plan everything beforehand and track each campaign individually.
Don’t automatically go for influencers that have millions of followers. Often there are smaller accounts that share niche common interests with your brand because these influencers are more likely to drive better results.
Humans are not like technology - they can be unpredictable. That’s particularly why you need to make sure contracts with influencers are spelled out and that the influencer is given enough freedom to do their thing.
Fireside Chat with Boohoo: The Value of Unlocking the App for Affiliates
Most affiliate campaigns drive traffic to mobile websites rather than apps, even though the app experience is much better for the user and converts at a higher rate. The content remains significantly lower on mobile sites. Some of the things we learned during this session included:
Apps can produce different outputs for different businesses. Boohoo could make an app that's basically the same as their website with a more intuitive conversion process, whereas fintech brands may develop apps to address the need of their customers.
Cracking the code to tracking is paramount when coming up with an app for your company. If you are great at explaining how seamless and accurate you app’s tracking really is to your affiliates, they will be happy clients and won’t stop promoting your company.
If you're a business looking for some guidance, it can't hurt to use a tech company that offers training and advice when developing your app.
Lessons from 2008: What’s Next for the Recession-Era Affiliate Marketing Industry
This panel with professionals brimming with knowledge provides insights for current economic climate. After attending this session, it is clear that:
Facing a decline in sales, luxury brands should consider paying more attention to more accessible products. As an example, consumers may look for a lipstick instead of the Chanel bag, so it's important to promote your products that are at a lower price point rather than the higher value items.
Even during a recession, you should not cut your expenditure on marketing. Those who keep investing during testing times are those that remain strong and achieve lifelong brand value.
Ensuring you're active on review sites is an excellent way to show your trustworthiness to potential customers. The key is to be sure you have a system in place that lets legitimate reviews through, while filtering out fake ones.
The Learnings Shared Were Compelling, but Networking Opportunities Were the Real Highlight
It was clear the event producers put a lot of effort into selecting an engaging agenda with keynotes, fireside chats and panels on two stages. As always, networking was one of the best parts of the day! On day one, DJ Viv May provided music during lunch. In the evening, there was a cocktail happy hour post-show on the terrace.
On the second day, as the crowd relaxed and got to know one another better, it was great to see that the event brought out so many meaningful marketing conversations. Between the Networking Village, impact.com's Prosecco Lounge, and Webgains' Sports Bar, there were plenty of places to share ideas, exchange contact information, and plant the seeds for potential partnerships.
At Marin, we're enjoying the opportunity to re-engage with our clients and partners on a personal level. Reach out to join us at one of the other events we'll be attending in the near future. Our team of expert marketing consultants would be happy to host you for a dinner and discuss your marketing strategy for new coming year.