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One frequent mistake businesses make is thinking about marketing as an expense, but it’s important to view your marketing budget as an investment in your brand’s growth strategy.
While setting a marketing budget for your ecommerce business is an important first step, it’s even more crucial to achieve a high ROI through effective planning and understanding your position in the market and what your ideal customers look like. Let’s take a look at six ways smart companies are getting the most out of their marketing money.
1. Craft a Well-Planned Marketing Strategy to Fit Company Goals
A great place to start is to know your position in the market and learn how to best reach your target demographic.
For instance, if you’re selling a unique product online, you would need to spend more of your marketing budget on educating consumers on a concept that might be foreign to them. Those in competitive markets might invest more in creating marketing materials that help them differentiate themselves in such a way that capitalizes on a key demographic. As a rule of thumb, most established companies invest anywhere from 1% to 10% of their revenue on marketing.
As far as understanding demographics, know that you need to embrace and become really comfortable with the data. Most modern marketing automation or CRM software integrate with site analytics, and some offer built-in tools to show you details of who’s visiting your site and making purchases. Using this information, you can get a pretty clear picture of your ideal customer and start to market in such a way that appeals to them.
2. Consider the Resources on Staff and Plan Accordingly
Once you’ve set an overall budget based on your strategy, you need to account for the costs associated with putting your plan into action and break down the budget into categories, like technology and production costs.
Part of this is deciding if your business is big enough to warrant hiring an entire in-house marketing staff. When you consider the costs of hiring new employees, training them, and paying for benefits, you might find there are more reasonably priced strategies.
For example, many companies opt for a hybrid approach of having a few in-house marketing leaders who focus on overall organization and specific tasks, while outsourcing the bulk of their needs to marketing agencies or freelancers. Carefully consider what your team is best at to determine what strategy best fits your budget and needs.
3. Invest in an E-Commerce Platform with Built-In Marketing Tools
One of the biggest decisions any e-commerce company needs to make is ensuring they pick a scalable hosting partner for their online stores. However, some platforms go even further with built-in marketing tools that can save you money in the long run.
As one of the top recommended Shopify alternatives, Volusion is a better choice than hosts like iPage or Bluehost for your e-commerce site, as its tools help your site rank better in SEO, help you understand site data, and allow you to manage your social media accounts from a single dashboard.
SEO and social media marketing have become extremely important because of the way modern consumers shop. Many customer journeys begin with a Google search or while browsing Facebook, so it’s important that you devote attention to reaching prospects where they are with a well-rounded digital presence.
4. Get Your Branding Out There with Marketing Materials
E-commerce business owners know that marketing goes beyond the web. Creating and distributing professional marketing materials with your professional logo can go a long way in leaving a lasting impression on customers.
One effective strategy is creating printed marketing materials and distributing them at events and conferences, where freebies and face-to-face interaction can go a long way in turning prospects into lifelong customers.
Companies like Vistaprint and Any Promo can help you create professional business cards and promotional products that make your brand stand out. And, of course, before you order online, you should always search a site like DealCrunch.com for promo codes to make your budget stretch even further. Goodshop also has an extension browser called Gumdrop you can install that displays available promo codes when you’re shopping online.
5. Invest in Creating Engaging Content that Delivers Value
While it costs a little bit more in the short term, using staff or freelance resources to craft content — from how-to blog posts to informative videos — can really pay off in the long run.
Modern consumers have begun to shy away from in-your-face advertising, and your brand can respond by creating content that provides more value by informing and entertaining readers, while sprinkling in branding and marketing messages that can influence consumers to buy. One reason investing in content marketing has become so popular is that it works. In fact, 70% of people prefer learning about brands through high-quality content.
Companies using content marketing are seeing conversion rates nearly six times higher than those who aren’t. Customers also tend to spend more time with content they find valuable, which makes content creation an effective strategy for building customer engagement.
6. Reward Your Faithful Customers with a Loyalty Program
While every company wants new customers, the cost of acquiring new customers tends to be significantly higher than the cost of keeping customers you already have. Attracting a new customer costs five times as much as retaining one, so when you’re planning your marketing strategy, it’s wise to encourage repeat business.
One great way of keeping existing customers happy is by rewarding them with loyalty programs. Starbucks developed its app, in part, to ease the friction of checkout, but layered a robust customer loyalty program within its My Starbucks Rewards application. For every purchase, Starbucks rewards customers with points days and offers other promotions to incentivize caffeine-craving consumers to come back for more.
Make Your Marketing Budget Go Further & Convert More Sales
Marketing is an essential investment for any type of business, and e-commerce is no exception. It’s a competitive industry, and the stakes are high with an expected $4 trillion in online retail sales worldwide by 2020. This makes it exceedingly important for online retailers to differentiate themselves for a bigger piece of the pie.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean spending a higher percentage of your revenue on marketing. Being smart about how you divvy up your budget can make your dollars go further. For instance, if your business doesn't already use a company credit card, consider signing up for one of the best business credit cards to make the most of your budget.
Set your business up for continued growth by coming up with a smart marketing plan that reaches your key demographics — just make sure your resources are aligned to promote a healthy ROI.
About the Author
Lauren Keys is editor-in-chief at DealCrunch.com, an online publication that highlights the retail industry’s movers and shakers, up-and-coming startups, influencers, business solutions, and more. With deep dives into brands and trends, DealCrunch keeps retail executives — from marketing and logistics leads to administrative and business development heads — informed of relevant industry news.