Defending Your Digital Marketing Budget

It’s hard to get marketing results if you don’t have a digital marketing budget. Here are three ways to position your marketing team to get the budget you need.

It’s hard to get marketing results if you don’t have a digital marketing budget. Here are three ways to position your marketing team to get the budget you need.

1. Data Matters

First and foremost, you have to track your activity so you can demonstrate what is working and what is not. Ideally, you’ll do this in ways that make sense to the folks holding the purse strings — more on that below — but at the very least, you need to demonstrate stability and growth even if you can’t tie your activity directly to revenue.

2. Track the Right Metrics

As alluded to above, there are metrics and there are metrics. Likes, follows, friends, subscribers, are all meaningful metrics in their own way, but they aren’t bottom line metrics. We refer to these metrics as process metrics and differentiate between them and the business metrics that will be of interest to those with P&L responsibilities.

In this we’ll include lead generation, lead quality and revenue attributable to your digital marketing efforts. The more top-line difference you can make — and demonstrate — the easier the decision is to continue/increase funding for your initiatives.

Don’t forget the other side of the coin, though: costs. If you can demonstrate that the leads and revenue you generate are costing the firm less than other channels and techniques, you’ll have excellent ammunition, even if yours isn’t the biggest producer of revenue.

3. Create Value With Your Digital Marketing Budget

The overall goal is to create value for your firm. Doing this requires a data-driven approach that, at its best, can stand alone as a significant source of new business for the organization.

That can be a high bar, depending on both your industry and your organization. You can still create lasting value if your initiatives have a strong positive impact on your organization’s sales team. You’re safer if you can produce revenue, but if you can produce demand that the sales team converts, your budget is safe. (And as we noted above, if you can document that the demand you produce converts more consistently than other sources, your case becomes that much stronger.)

If you find yourself lagging behind either of these benchmarks, it may be time to proactively approach the executives responsible for your budget, swallow hard, own up to your shortcomings and seek buy-in on a plan to improve performance.

That’s no easy conversation, but it certainly beats watching your department die a slow death as it is starved of the resources it needs to be anything other than a service bureau, fulfilling requests for marketing communications materials. That’s the point at which you and your team become expendable. Creating value is an imperative for relevance — and survival.

Author: Andrew Schulkind

Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured?

A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms encourage audience engagement through solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either.

His work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components, and he has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events. His writing appears in various online and print publications. 

Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")

4 thoughts on “Defending Your Digital Marketing Budget”

  1. Andrew’s valuable 101 overview of the best ways to get management’s positive budgetary attention focuses on a critical and often difficult issue; how does the unit get sufficient credit for its ‘real value’ marketing contribution?

    We addressed this issue recently by creating a functional model which compared the accounting department’s financial report of the unit’s measurable P&L to a similarly formatted ‘real value’ analysis which demonstrated the enormous savings derived by the unit’s efforts compared conservatively to what the same services would have cost in the outside market.

    And to butter the bread a bit more thickly, we also generated the economics of the unit were it an independent company.

    When management could see how much value they were getting (albeit for other company units at the expense of the digital marketing unity) they agreed in future to judge performance (and resource requests) on the basis of the ‘real value’ numbers rather than historic accounting.

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