Michael Maslona has 24 years of experience in the search & performance marketing industry, 19 of which have been within business development. He has headed up sales for leading UK agencies such as Summit, Epiphany (now Jaywing), and Latitude, and partnered with brands including Tesco, Disney, Carphone Warehouse, Rightmove, Silentnight, and The Bank of England. He has extensive digital marketing experience in Search Marketing (SEO & PPC), Paid Social, CRO & UX, Programmatic, and Web Development, and regularly attends industry events to share his knowledge with other business leaders.
As marketers will, unfortunately, know, when the purse strings are tightened, the marketing budget is among the first to be cut. Now more than ever, it is vital that retailers and agencies target those who can, and realistically want, to spend money in such a crisis. Right message, right moments is a very tight line to walk but there are plenty of tips and tricks for marketers who may be feeling overwhelmed with the budgets and scope of work ahead of them.
Given the increasingly competitive nature of digital marketing across most industries, it’s only normal that most clients are becoming more involved in where their marketing budgets are being spent. Previously, there was more freedom to use budgets creatively, whereas now, clients are looking to hold on tighter to those reins and are more risk-averse than in previous years.
So, what impact does this have on the overall campaign and content?
Not only does the cost-of-living impact budget and spending, but it also takes over campaign messaging as consumers increasingly look for reassurance. For example, they want to know whether the companies they’re buying from have a good returns policy, whether or not they can pay via Klarna or Clearpay, or whether there are any upcoming sales or payday offers they can use. Including these key points in the ad copy can make a real difference to the campaign’s performance, differentiating companies from the competition as customers become more savvy and careful with their purchasing.
This savviness is coming across in the amount of time that consumers are spending researching the perfect products – the so-called exploration phase, where they compare prices and quality across brands, industries, and markets. Over the last year, some industries such as luxury jewellery have seen the time taken in the exploration stage doubling in some industries such as luxury jewellery. This has resulted, in some cases, in longer consideration phases as people are still looking to purchase luxury items but in a more considered manner. Consumers are spending this time making sure that they are getting good value deals and that they actually do want the products.
Ultimately, brand messaging needs to have more empathy and to really acknowledge that we’re in a cost-of-living crisis. Brands that take this to heart will reap the rewards and see the most benefit from their marketing budget.
It’s crucial for both brands and agencies to consider how the budget will be most effectively spent, although this is generally best practice, not just in a cost-of-living crisis. Choosing your channels is one of the best places to start.
At Summit, we recommend a full-funnel approach, even when marketing budgets are tight. This might sound counterintuitive, however, with the increasing length of exploration and consideration phases, it is important to be present at every stage of the customer journey. Does this mean that heavily investing in Display, YouTube, and Discovery is the right approach for every retailer? The answer is yes…and no! This is where Google’s automated advertising technology Pmax can add the most value because of its capability to be path-to-purchase aware. This means that it can show the right ad at the right time, helping move users down the funnel towards converting while also working towards a ROAS/CPA target.
In addition, there has also been a more recent trend of pulling PPC and SEO more closely together as brands seek to work more effectively and efficiently to maximise shrinking budgets.
Of course, this closer collaboration between channels is a lot easier if the channels are managed within one agency or in-house team, such as the work Summit does for a number of clients. By bringing all areas of digital marketing under one management team, there is greater oversight, better cohesion, and more efficient campaign management across the board.
When it comes to budget spend, the client’s goal is king, and any marketing strategies and tactics have to work towards this end. For example, if a client is focused on generating more revenue (as most are!), you need to go to the start and work out how to get there.
Essentially, no money is wasteful, but the most agile strategy is to make all of the channels work together. Having an omnichannel view as opposed to individual strands of activity will be the most efficient way to spend budgets. If you’d like to find out more about omnichannel campaign management, we’re always happy to help.