Black Friday shopping, holiday emails and building your marketing budget for the new year—these are a few of your favorite things, right?
Maybe not, but it’s time to tackle them anyway.
As you look at your overall budget, you’ve probably built in plans for print advertising, social media and events. These things all build awareness. But have you considered how all these factors will work together to support campaigns that generate leads?
Failing to build long-term campaigns into your marketing plan and set realistic budgets for them is one of the most common marketing mistakes businesses make.
And it can lead to lackluster results and overspending later.
Here’s how to plan for your marketing campaigns in the coming year.
What is the goal of this campaign? Are you trying to raise awareness of a new product or service? Re-engage stale leads?
Determine who your target audience will be and what its demographics are. Where do members spend most of their time online? In person? How will you attract their initial attention and then follow up?
Don’t forget to define how you’ll measure the success of the campaign. What metrics are most important? Which ones does your boss need to see to justify the expense?
Before you can determine how much to spend, you need to answer these critical questions.
A campaign is much more than a single piece of content. Of course, the content itself has to be produced, and it’s almost always a team effort. If your campaign involves a series of content marketing pieces, you need to allow time to plan the concept and strategy, time to arrange and conduct source interviews, time for writing the piece and time for edits, review and approval.
The piece then needs to be professionally designed or produced, which can require several days from a graphic designer or video editor.
Next, there’s the time involved in integrating the piece with your website and optimizing it. That usually means creating calls to action, dedicated landing page and a series of emails, all of which should be tested to ensure the messaging is enticing enough to get readers to click.
Finally, it takes a dedicated effort to promote your content through email, social media outlets and even traditional outbound marketing channels. These efforts often run over several months, sometimes an entire year and beyond. The campaign should be integrated with a marketing automation system that allows you to easily track the response.
All these steps can be overwhelming to someone who doesn’t have a dedicated writer, designer, web developer and social media manager. If you don’t have the time or the resources to do it all (and still keep up with your other responsibilities), consider working with an inbound marketing agency.
A few questions Kuno often hears from its clients:
How much should we budget for a marketing campaign?
Does our budget include the costs of campaigns?
Can we save money by not including campaigns in our budget?
The short answer on what you should budget, of course, is that it depends on the size and scope of the campaign and how much additional paid advertising you decide to build into it. Our service agreements with clients generally do factor in the costs of inbound marketing campaigns; we usually recommend anywhere from one per month to two per year.
Here’s an example of how monthly content costs over a six-month term, including campaigns, might look for a mid-sized SaaS company:
4-8 blogs per month
2-3 pieces of premium content (eBooks, guides, videos or anything requiring some production) per quarter
1 email campaign per month, which includes promoting premium content
Smart content (calls to action that vary depending on the buyer’s journey)
Total budget per month: $8,000 to $12,000
Notice the costs of campaigns are being spread throughout the six-month term, rather than budgeted for separately. This is because we typically factor campaigns into the work we’re already doing. With each piece of premium content, we write blogs to promote it, schedule social media posts around it and make sure we’re sending the appropriate emails. At every stage, we’re giving your buyers the opportunity to contact you if they’re ready or the opportunity to receive more information if they’re not.
Something that isn’t included here is paid advertising. That could be social media advertising through Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, paid TV or radio ads directing traffic to a campaign that’s hosted on your website, print ads or billboards. Don’t forget about press releases if you don’t already have a contract with a distributor, such as PR Newswire or Cision.
Here are some advertising estimates from an actual campaign that’s being proposed over several months:
Retargeting ads for current database-$500-1500/mo.
Some of these costs may not be relevant to your campaign; others may actually need to be higher. If you’re planning a series of press releases over several months, for instance, you’ll need to budget closer to $1,500 or $2,000.
Your campaign isn’t likely to reach its full potential within a week or even a month of when it’s launched. It takes time for people to digest your information, consider it and make decisions. In many cases, it could be an entire committee making the decision. If your typical sales cycle is six months or more, for instance, an effective campaign should reduce it, but it’s probably not going to cut it down to one month.
Think of your campaign in terms of three-month, six-month and 12-month milestones.
Are you increasing the number of qualified leads? Reducing your customer acquisition costs?
So what results are realistic to expect with your campaign?
Here’s a look at actual results from a campaign Kuno Creative ran for three months. We created a piece of content and spent $4,000 per month to distribute it through sponsored emails, in addition to promoting it through the usual campaign channels.
Within the first three months, this campaign generated:
78 marketing qualified leads
23 sales qualified leads
7 new customers
The results continued to accumulate over the entire year. Within 12 months, we had:
247 marketing qualified leads
52 sales qualified leads
11 new customers
Want to know more about setting a solid marketing budget for the coming year? Check out our 30-minute webinar, Creating an Inbound Marketing Budget for 2015.