For 15 years prior to becoming CEO of Springbox, I was in charge of large marketing and technology budgets at both mid-sized and Fortune 50 companies. During that time I was frequently in the position of having to spend the remaining unallocated or underspent budget at the last minute for fear of losing it to the budgeting process the next year.
The finance departments of so many companies use the prior year actuals to establish the baseline for the next year’s budgets, thus creating an incentive to spend even if you did not have an immediate use. Since it’s October, there is still time to be more thoughtful about how to deploy your overage in a way that maximizes the future benefits for your company. As someone who’s been in your shoes, I’ve found a few great strategies that can help you use your expiring funds to set you up for long-term success:
- Digital Leadership Audit — How well do you know your competitive position? Do you know the areas of your digital footprint? Where you are winning and losing? Have you decoded the formula for success in your industry? How clear is your road map of projects that can take you to the next level in the coming year? Good digital leadership audits start with data and a deep understanding of the digital ecosystem. Digital Leadership Audits from leading digital agencies fall into the $50-$75k price range and can be completed in a 6-8 week time frame.
- Get Right With Google — Many of us who have long been in the digital game joke that at some level we all work for Google. For most sites we see, Google still represents between 30-60% of total traffic and an even higher percentage of net-new traffic. In the last 3 years, a lot has changed with the Google algorithm, but at the same time, Google is giving us even more tools to assess how we rank and opportunities for improvement. They have launched AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and PWA (Progressive Web App) frameworks to help us all take advantage of their platform. What’s more, they gave us tools to test where we stand. The Mobile Friendly Test & Page Speed Test are two good places to start. There are a wide range of solutions here depending on the challenges you encounter with your site. They typically revolve around site performance, mobile optimization and a technology refresh. We are seeing significant SEO leaps with clients that adopt the AMP framework even for only a limited number of pages. This is not an area where you have to eat the whole elephant at once. We have seen $20-$30k quick-hit projects deliver strong overall ROI.
- Complete a Content Audit — Start by understanding what you have now. Taking a snapshot of your current state of content tells you what’s working, what’s not and what you need to create. If knowledge is power, a content audit is the key to that knowledge: audits are critical to understanding and evaluating the performance of content against business goals, user needs, editorial standards and performance factors such as search engine optimization and content use or web analytics. Investing about $2-5K in an audit will pay off with a quantifiable picture of current state content, against which you can benchmark your future success.
- Test a New Channel — If you have been overwhelmed by the growth in the number of marketing channels — you’re not alone. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Linkedin and Twitter have all significantly invested in their targeting and tools to help advertisers reach the right audience. Pick a platform, develop your first targeted campaign and measure the results. Our experience is that test campaigns can be done in the $15-$25k range depending on desired reach.
About the Author:
Tom West is a career Digital Business Leader who has run multiple Top 100 e-commerce sites as president and general manager. Today he acts as digital director for multiple companies and helps many more to reach their full digital potential through his company Springbox.