Spend Money to Save Money


Some experts in the marketing space seem to think that you have to spend money to save money. Sounds like a bit of double speak that is used to get companies to say yes to proposals and campaigns that cost more than they might otherwise spend. Sounds like “experts” conning you out of your fought-for marketing budget.

But on closer inspection, some of this actually makes a little sense.

To identify the good spending from the bad spending, we have to approach our marketing budget from both a short term and a long term perspective.

Short Term

In the short term, the money you spend today should have immediate impact on results. Companies that rely on direct response advertising measure the return on every dollar they spend. Did that campaign bring in new sales? How many? And what does that mean for our revenue?

From that perspective, a company should only increase their budget if we can guarantee the same results. Because spending money now that won’t generate new sales is a waste. It hurts the bottom line in the short term.

Long Term

But if we take a longer-term mindset, the advantages of certain kinds of new advertising spend make more sense. Companies that spend money on branding are not concerned as much about the immediate return on that investment. Instead, they know that by spending money in the right ways now, they’ll be able to more effectively generate sales growth later, over time.

There are a lot of different marketing initiatives that fall into this second bucket.

  • Website redesigns

  • Most traditional advertising – billboards, television, radio, print

  • Content marketing

  • Digital branding – banners, videos, etc.

Companies don’t necessarily expect that money spent in these areas will lead immediately to an increase in sales. Rather, over time, they expect that these activities will expose new potential customers to their brand. In this way, they can increase their brand awareness.

When more consumers know who you are, more often they will come to you, instead of the other way around. Brand mentions go up. Brand searches go up. Word of mouth improves.

And over the long term, you experience significant sales growth.

You spend money now so that you don’t have to spend so much money chasing sales later.

3 Ways to Save Money on Paid Search


If yours is like most companies, your business derives a lot of prospective customers and new web visits from paid search – that is, the ads you run on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.

In 2017, companies spent an estimated $35 billion on paid search, which represented nearly 50% of their total digital marketing budgets.

With such a high percentage of our money going to one channel, the inevitable questions surrounding its effectiveness come up. What am I getting for that money? How many new customers are attributed to paid search? What is my ROI?

No company wants to artificially limit the amount of new customers they can reach with their advertising. But the fact is that we don’t have unlimited advertising budgets to work with. And so we have to spread the money around in a way that makes the most sense.

Therefore, if there are ways to save money on paid search without impacting its effectiveness, we should figure out what those are and implement them as soon as possible.

As luck would have it, there are three simple ways to save money on paid search. They are…

1) Mind Your Exclusions

If your goal is to save money without impacting sales, then the first thing you are going to want to do is stop spending money where it isn’t working. This is very easy to do, because of all the tools you have at your disposal. Each of the major search platforms allows you to track where your clicks are coming from, how much you are spending on them, and how many conversions (or sales) they are delivering.

When you find keywords or phrases that are costing you money but not leading to any new business, it is easy to exclude them from your campaigns. And if you are spending money on content campaigns and remarketing, you can find those websites or categories of sites that your ads are showing up on but not driving conversions. And you can exclude them as well, so your ads stop showing up there and costing you money.

When you eliminate keywords and placements in your campaign that are wasting money, you have more money in your budget that you can put toward the keywords and placements that work.

2) Improve Your Conversion Rate

We may view the amount of money you’re spending on paid search and the performance of your site as two completely separate items. But that view is too narrow, ignoring the very real consequences (or should I say benefits) of conversion rate optimization.

While it may not be as simple as exclusions are, taking the steps necessary to improve on-site conversion rate will absolutely save you money on paid search. When a higher percentage of the overall traffic you are driving to the site takes the desired action, each one of those conversions costs you less, thereby driving the same number of sales at a lower total spend.

What you choose to do with the savings is up to you – either spend it on driving even more qualified traffic to this newly optimized site of yours, or pocket it as a cost reduction.

3) Own Your Brand Terms

Brand terms are an area up for some debate. Depending on what advice you listen to or whose article you read, you will hear competing directives.

Some say you should not bother bidding on your brand terms in search because that traffic is likely to find you regardless. After all, they are searching for you directly.

But others say that you should bid on your brand terms for a few reasons, chief among them the fact that your competitors can bid on your brand terms in an attempt to “steal” that traffic. By bidding on your own terms, you make that very real possibility less likely.

Regardless of whose side you take in that argument, the fact is that by eliminating the need to bid on your brand terms will save you money. So my advice to you is to monitor those terms closely, make sure the organic results on the first page of Google are what you want them to be, and keep an eye on where your competition is showing up. If you can avoid spending extra money on those terms without losing out on any of the traffic, go for it.

Are You Leaving Money on the Table?

money on the table.jpeg

Earlier this week we wrote about scale. Specifically, we wrote about scaling those marketing programs that you know are working.

Too often, marketers leave money on the table. And they don’t even know that they’re doing this.

Why? Because they aren’t scaling. They aren’t even trying. And there are a few reasons for that.

1. Next Big Thing Syndrome

Whether this says something about the type of people who wind up in the marketing field or the way technology has hurt our collective attention span, there is a tendency in many marketing departments to spend far too much time chasing the latest and greatest solution.

You might think that this is a good thing, that we should be moving forward and staying on the cutting edge. Unfortunately, most companies don’t have the budget or the bandwidth to operate this way. And what happens too often is that we sacrifice those programs and channels that are proven and reliable, ignoring opportunities to grow.

Before moving onto the next big thing, make sure you’re getting as much as you can out of your existing campaigns.

2. Budget Mismanagement

A common issue in companies of all sizes occurs during the budgeting process. When we put together the marketing budget for the upcoming month, quarter, or year, we do it backwards. We start with at the top, picking a number of dollars to spend, and then work our way down to individual campaigns and programs to determine what percentage of our money we should spend where.

The proper way to build a marketing budget is to start at the bottom and build up. Create line items for each channel or program that ensure you are maximizing those opportunities before moving on to the next one and adding them all up. If you are limited by budget, the things that get cut should be the ones that don’t have the ROI or the scale to support your business.

To avoid leaving money on the table, get smarter about how you budget.

3. Lack of C-suite Buy In

It’s not the CEO’s or CFO’s responsibility to make sure your marketing is optimized. It’s the marketing department’s job to convince them that what you’re doing is working. If you are able to do that effectively, there will be no hesitation to spending the money.

What often happens when there is opportunity to double-down on efficient marketing programs is that marketing stands there with their hands out, but those in control of the finances say no. It’s not because they don’t want to grow. It’s because we didn’t do our job to sell them on the potential of our plans.

To get C-suite buy in for those marketing programs that are working best, it is important to learn how to develop detailed plans and presentations. You want to show them exactly what value you can provide the business if they invest in your ideas.

4. Poor Execution

The last, and, unfortunately, most common reason marketers leave money on the table is simple lack of execution. In this case, the marketing team gets the buy-in they need, correctly measure ROI and chooses to invest in the right areas. But they go about growing their budgets in the wrong way.

To effectively scale, it is important to recognize what has succeeded to this point. Simply spending more money isn’t enough. You have to spend it in the right way. This means identifying the specific reasons for success – whether it’s the proper targeting, the right creative, or offers.

If all you end up doing is spending more to get the same results, you will have failed in your efforts to grow the business. So learn how to execute at scale if you want to succeed.

How Much Does Online Marketing Cost?

A) Online marketing is free

B) Online marketing is too expensive

Both answers above are acceptable based on the question asked in the title. And to those of you who think you will know how I will answer that question here, don’t laugh necessarily. The idea for this post came from a question that I got the other day from an acquaintance attempting to open a small business this year.

This person has no marketing experience or training. And so it’s not surprising that this question was on their mind.

Of course, the problem with the question is that there is no real answer other than, “it depends”.

It depends on:

  1. What type of marketing or advertising you are interested in
  2. What your budget is
  3. How much you can afford to spend per sale
  4. What sites you want to advertise on

And a number of other factors. And based on how you answer each question, we can come up with follow up questions to help work our way towards an appropriate “cost”.

Because online marketing encompasses such a vast number of different activities. Everything from social media marketing, which can in essence be free, to search marketing and display, falls into the category of online marketing. I would argue that website optimization and email marketing are also version of online marketing, both with much different costs than forms of online advertising in general.

You can get started in the world of online marketing for free. And that surprises most people who might ask this question. For a great list of free or low cost marketing ideas, I encourage you to check out this blog series I published a short time ago on the site: Low-cost Online Marketing Ideas.