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Is your business making the right digital marketing investments?

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 18 Feb, 2015
Essential Essential topic

and if not, why not?

There is only ever one pot of money for investments in marketing, so it can seem it is spread more thinly each year as you need to engage customers across more digital touchpoints. Worse still, the size of the pot may shrink as budgets are cut.

So, it's a challenging decision as to where to invest wisely. In our Managing Digital Marketing 2015 we did ask about investments in different types of media and developing digital experiences, but we also thought we would turn the question on its head by asking where the frustrations were with investment in time or budget. We asked respondents where they felt there was insufficient investment which highlighted some common frustrations.

Investment digital marketing

You can see that respondents naturally felt there were a number of areas of underinvestment. That's to be expected given the fixed or shrinking size of the pot. But what was interesting to me, was that there was that the top two rated areas of underinvestment weren't related to media or capital expenditure, rather they were around management time.

In our report, we asked a panel of experts to suggest reasons why this is the case.

Jim Sterne, Founder, eMetrics Summit & Digital Analytics Association believes that increasing focus on the customer can help give more focus on measurement and optimisation. He says:

"The only way to deliver relevance is to keep your finger on the pulse of your customers’ behavior and opinion. Track what they do and ask them how they feel... all the time. Bringing these two data streams together is your only hope for delivering the right messages to the right people at the right time, segment by segment".

But he acknowledges that managing these two data streams in tandem is a significant challenge. Focusing too much on one or the other, in terms of budget, tools or report weighting, can blur the results and tarnish your decision-making. He suggests that in larger organisation you need two teams - a quantitative group and the qualitative group, and the wisdom to merge the fruits of their intellectual labors.

Joe Edwards, Consultant and Director, Digital and Social Strategy for MOI recommends moving to a new way of integrating testing rather than 'finding more budget. He explains:

"The term lean / agile marketing seem to be appearing more and more, with 'Measurement, testing and optimisation' underpinning these. I would argue that perhaps it’s not actually about more investment at all, it’s about re-aligning existing budgets and re-setting objectives.

In lean world it’s about minimum viable product, if we start thinking like that in marketing we’d not need more budget for testing, it would just be built-in, we’d reap the rewards of our marketing efforts, enough to build the next program, where more investment would be a natural by-product of the previous activity, perhaps a holy grail ... but if it’s more budget we need then, it’s business case we need to provide, what are your expected outcomes from further investment, can you project or build KPIs around what additional conversions you would hope to achieve."

Perhaps for many organisations, it's simply too early to develop their testing and optimisation capabilities. Daniel Rowles, Digital Marketing Trainer and Consultant at Target Internet believes that for many organisations there are more pressing options before testing is but in place. First a capability review digital plan and investment priorities need to be put in place. His experience is that:

It's surprising how many organisations are still dealing with the basics, but I think this reflects back to need for digital capability auditing and the need for organisational transformation. Without the fundamental building blocks in place that will give the right environment for digital, no progress can be made.

Many marketers are spending their time battling with IT infrastructure issues or getting management buy in, and this prevents the advancement of their digital marketing. 

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Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. 'Dr Dave' is known for his strategic, but practical, data-driven advice. He has trained and consulted with many business of all sizes in most sectors. These include large international B2B and B2C brands including 3M, BP, Barclaycard, Dell, Confused.com, HSBC, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, M&G Investment, Rentokil Initial, O2, Royal Canin (Mars Group) plus many smaller businesses. Dave is editor of the templates, guides and courses in our digital marketing resource library used by our Business members to plan, manage and optimize their marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is also keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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