Budget cuts are a common theme during a recession. They are easy to implement and seem logical: in order to maintain or increase a company's profitability, one can either increase revenue or reduce cost. When sales have plunged, cost cutting is inevitable. Of all things, marketing is an easy target since it can be cut anytime without any short-term negative impact.
Well, according to the report by The Economist titled "Advertising on the Edge", it's not entirely true. The report covered four main reasons why savvy advertisers think twice before implementing any marketing budget cut:
- Marketing is part of the solution, not the problem
- Short term benefit, long term risk. This point was highly elaborated with detailed case studies over a couple of years
- Brand protection: Cutting budgets can do serious damage to a brand
- Unique opportunity to gain market share, brand awareness
According to a survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, due to the above reasons, 79 percent of the respondents indicated that more marketing dollars will be shifted online, where accountability is easier to measure.
How can a company shift more budget online?
Is it is much easier said than done. There are dozens of questions that need to be answered:
- What are the forms of online marketing activities that are available in my region/country of operation?
- How does each initiative actually work?
- Can these initiatives reach my target audience?
- Can my existing agency of record/vendor execute these online initiatives?
- How can I create meaningful objectives with a specific time frame that seem reasonable since we have never done anything like this before?
- Which one in the marketing department has the expertise to manage this project? Do I need to prepare for additional training? Hire new people?
- After identifying areas of interest, how can I decide how much budget should go into a particular project? What kind of realistic return can I expect? Within how long?
The list could go on and on...
To help new advertisers get started, below are the four key areas to consider:
- What are the fastest ways to waste money online?
- Different digital media options
- Tips on how to choose a search engine marketing agency
- Holistic approach to web analytics and competitive analysis
1. What are the fastest ways to waste money on digital media?
The answer is simple: the company's website/micro sites. It seems so basic, but many advertisers often pay too much attention on marketing campaign but forget that their own sites are just as important.
- A slow-loading site is a real killer. An example could be an MNC which has an office in Singapore. It carries a wide range of products, one of which are laptops. However, when visitors go to the site promoting the laptop, they have to wait for at least 2 minutes before the pages are fully loaded! It appears so bizarre in this day and age, but that particular incident happened just less than a year ago. It took the company more than 3 months just to make their site load faster. Imagine how much money was wasted because frustrated visitors bounced off an extremely slow site!
- Singapore enjoys a relatively high internet connection speed compared to other countries in the region. However, there are sites completely made of flash that can only be viewed after 20 seconds!
- Dead/incorrect links are occasionally present.
- The "apply now" button does not work properly or there isn't even one. Many banks, for example, have the "apply now" button buried deep below layers of information.
- Promotional information is way below the fold, which simply means that interested visitors have to scroll all the way down the page to know what's in it for them.
- Incorrect/out of date promotional information on websites is not that uncommon.
- Micro site/dedicated landing page without any page titles are often seen as well. This will cause a negative user experience and at the same time confuse the search engine about the content of the pages (negative search engine optimization practice)
The above are just to name a few. There are many other areas advertisers should be aware of before embarking on any marketing initiatives.
In the second part of this guide, I will elaborate further on the various digital media options available to marketers, so stay tuned!