The holidays are here, and everyone's preoccupied with end-of-year reflections and New Year's Eve plans. But with three weeks left in the year, it's time to admit that 2014 is over and focus on the year to come.
For business owners, this means breaking out your accounting books and building a foolproof, well-funded digital marketing strategy. Online campaigns have limitless potential when it comes to reaching your target market and seeing serious ROI. And solid digital strategies allow you to pay for customer acquisition with a fraction of the profit that customer represents. This provides a relatively risk-free, perpetual engine of growth.
Most companies have come to terms with the fact that digital marketing is a necessary part of their business strategy, but not all have allocated the budget needed to really make their campaigns pop. Staying ahead of the digital marketing curve means you'll profit from inexpensive, effective campaigns that will leave you sitting pretty in 2015.
Here are two key reasons why it's time to allocate funds to developing a solid, proactive online strategy:
1. It's affordable: Advertising on platforms such as Facebook is a bargain. Compared to pay-per-click marketing, you're paying relatively low costs for massive reach. But it won't always be that way. As more companies figure out how to make Facebook and other social media advertising work for them, the costs will rise.
For example, when I started investing in online marketing in 1999, PPC rates were 1 cent per click. Now, they're $1 per click, which can put a huge dent in your marketing budget.
There's likely a two- to three-year window on Facebook's ad affordability and effectiveness. Right now, you have the ability to reach millions of consumers, but they may soon find ways to avoid ads altogether. Go after online opportunities that are cost-effective and achievable and have the potential for major ROI right now.
2. There are low barriers to entry: If you learn something while it's new, it's usually fairly inexpensive to execute. If you sleep on the opportunity, however, you'll find yourself playing catch-up with more aggressive competitors. Early adopters will have already optimized their conversions, which allows them to spend more time creating barriers for their competitors.
Books on digital strategies and professional development conferences on social media are great (and you should definitely invest in them), but there's nothing stopping you from jumping into creating social media ad campaigns and iterating from there. You may waste some money as you learn through live wiring, but that's the price of knowledge. And keep in mind that the price of waiting is much steeper.
Two-Pronged Marketing in 2015
With an increased digital marketing budget, it's crucial that you allocate it smartly so you can reap the full benefits.
You'll need to consider both your customers and your competitors when developing your online strategy. You need to know the best way to deliver content to consumers, along with how to edge out your competition.
My company is betting on video this year because there's been a progression in the online space from text to images. Our customers don't want to read 1,500-word articles; they want content that's easy to consume. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a good video is worth millions.
You need to look at the complete picture when it comes to digital marketing. Don't allocate a flat rate for marketing and let all costs fall under that. Instead, know exactly where to spend, whether that's PPC, social media, or a PR company. Invest in social media advertising first because there's more opportunity there, and carve out 20 percent of your budget for staff development.
Your 2015 marketing plan should emphasize digital media and staying ahead of the curve. Knowing about new technology and opportunities will give you a competitive edge and help you meet consumers where they are. Smart strategies mean big ROI, and that means a happy 2015.