Managing ROI On A Shrinking Budget

Now that we know we’re in a recession, the pressure is on to create the best marketing results with limited and, possibly, shrinking resources. In 2009, prioritizing expenses will remain top of mind, and marketers are going to increasingly need to demonstrate they can manage, if not increase, return on investment (ROI).

Budget decisions may be out of your hands. If this is the case, you may have to do more with even fewer resources and you’ll be under greater pressure to maximize your time and justify your decisions to senior management. Online marketing campaigns — including email and Web campaigns — can become flagship strategies when budgets are cut. These low-cost, high-impact channels pull a lot of weight in any marketing plan because they enable marketers to capture and report results in real time and make adjustments on the fly.

Work Smart

If you’re optimizing online marketing, you are likely using key tools at your disposal. For example, you’re supporting SEO with Google ads and supporting Google ads with blogs, and supporting blogs with third-party distribution of white papers. When budgets are tight, it’s even more important to understand how well each tool is pulling its weight, prove the results and reallocate resources with accuracy and on short notice.

With executive pressure, you may be tempted to use your gut, rather than facts, to make decisions. It takes a bit of time to determine, for example, the ROI for Google AdWords versus the email campaign versus the banner ad. You may have to ask your department’s paid-search expert to pull up the reporting dashboard to show metrics and analytics. You might depend on the Web guru to tell you how many people visited which pages and from which sources. Then you’ll need to learn how many emails were deployed, and how many subscribers opened and clicked through.

Assuming you can access all of that data quickly, you’ll need to make sense of it. However, analyzing data from several sources can be very challenging and time consuming. You may be tempted to take a shortcut, say, by finding one key takeaway and then using your instinct to make a decision. Tossing a coin works sometimes but this approach is not fact-based and fails often.

Integrated Vs. Gut Approach

With an integrated online marketing approach and platform, the time-consuming chore of gathering information and comparing apples-to-oranges data is already done. And by accessing all of your important metrics in one place, it takes some of the guesswork out of determining which campaigns have generated the highest ROI, and why. You not only save time, but also have greater confidence that your decisions are based on sound data and appropriate analysis. Also, you can back up your gut instincts with facts about where to best utilize your marketing spend.

By ensuring that online marketing campaigns really do lead to greater results and revenue, budget-conscious executives can truly view the marketing department as a mission-critical resource rather than a burden and target for possible layoffs.

Source: by Erick Mott, MediaPost Marketing Daily Columnist