Making the most of reduced budgets

Making the most of reduced budgets

Please note this article was published in 2017. For up-to-date information on the coronavirus outbreak and how it's affecting marketers, check the Exchange homepage for the latest content.

How can marketers achieve great results from a low spend? Here, two marketers explain how testing, measurement, and strategic thinking can work to deliver results on reduced means


Philip Storey, founder and CEO, Enchant Agency
Enchant is an agency specialising in email marketing, paid social advertising and CRM

“First things first, you have to get a perspective of what's going on right now with your business and your market. Perspective will help decision-making. For example, there’s no point looking to invest in technology if the time isn’t right for you. It may surprise you, but when budgets get cut or someone comes into a new role with a lower budget, they tend to skip analysis and go straight with their instinct or what worked before. It's critical to use a simple system to measure your current channel performance, agencies and technology stacks – you probably have way more tech than you need, or, at least, you could save significant spend from moving or consolidation.

“Next, you're going to need to start to think more like a growth hacker than a traditional marketer. Adopting this mentality is important – it will become the culture of how you lead your team and how you all seek wins and gains. The first thing I like to do here is map out the customer lifecycle, identifying all of the gaps or areas where there are lucrative opportunities for you to create growth and revenue.

“Your next port of call should be automation. Automation is particularly effective in paid social and email marketing, where you can quickly increase conversions based on behaviour. Strategies such as cart abandonment emails are your top priority. If you already have similar campaigns in place, extend them to a series of emails and start to build out automated product browse and category browse email campaigns. Just be sure not to come across as pushy or desperate – and align the content approach for these to your customer needs.

“Finally, testing and experiments are critical to marketing with a small budget. Try to learn at least one significant insight about one of your marketing campaigns every week. Record and log all of your experiments and make sure that you share the results with all other channels. For example, what worked well in PPC could inform an improvement to an email marketing subject line.”

Shelby Haslam, head of strategy, Mobas Group
Mobas is a strategic design, PR, social and digital marketing agency

“The smaller the budget, the more strategic you have to be. You can’t take a scattergun approach and hope that things will work. If you understand exactly what it is you want to achieve from the start, you can ensure that you squeeze every penny to make sure you get the best ROI possible.

“The crucial thing is to find focus, and to do that you need to look at your audience and find out where the low-hanging fruit is. Where can you do something that is quite small and contained, but where you might get a really good response? Define the audience and understand what motivates them – it’s important not to skimp on this.

“You also need to look at your tactics. For example, ask yourself whether digital will be cheaper, or you might get more standout by sending communications through the post. You need to settle upon the most cost-effective tactical method and not, for example, simply do digital because that’s what everyone else does. Taking a different approach might be more effective.

“It’s easy to fall into the trap of only thinking tactically about what you could do, rather than about what you really want to achieve. So always take a step back – don’t decide on an email campaign just because you have an email database.

“Then, work out what the call to action for the audience is going to be and never lose sight of it. Do you want them to visit the website, or pick up the phone? Think about how you want people to react and how you’re going to track them. If you have any past experience and measurement of similar campaigns, benchmark against them and set targets. If you haven’t, make sure you evaluate the effectiveness of the new activity so you can benchmark against it in future.

“Finally, you need to be really smart with your communication. When a budget has been cut there can be no fluffiness. Your communication needs to stop people in their tracks. If you get this message right, ultimately it’s what will give you return on investment.

“There are times, however, when you have to be clear – internally and with clients – that a budget is not sufficient to what you are trying to achieve. Propose thinking about achieving the goals in another way. Could PR be a better solution? Remember all the tools you have available in the marketing toolkit, and if your standard technique doesn’t fit the budget, try something else.”

Getting more bang for your marketing buck doesn’t always mean spending big. Discover four ways to make your spend work harder.

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