Budgeting Smartly for 2023

Your Digital Marketing Budget in 2023?

Most small to mid-sized businesses typically underspend on digital marketing and promotion.

The issue might be that owners continue to view their businesses as “small business” which captures new sales via referral.

Yet the company isn’t a small business any longer and is actually competing head to head with market leaders for visibility, traffic, leads and sales.

The fact is, small companies have to commit funds to content development, professional SEO, and social media engagement especially if you’re wanting to build brand and become a permanent place in the market.

Of course, in the absence of outstanding organic marketing skills, you might think of relying on a little PPC ad spend to make it through 2023.  SMB’s are pouring money into PPC spend, yet appear to be withdrawing in advance of an economic slowdown.

Making your marketing program one of ad text ads and landing pages is bound to create decreasing returns, which means you’ll have to spend more on ads to compensate.  That is a downward spiral that erodes your overall visibility and new lead generation. Ads have a place, but not as your total marketing program.

2022 is gone.  Now a renewed commitment to all organic content marketing might be the right choice for 2023.  Your free organic traffic and visibility can be used to power up your PPC ad results.

Before you make your 2023 digital marketing budget decisions, you might want to review these questions:

  • how is your customer’s views of their needs changing this winter? (surveys/interviews?)
  • what can you do to make them realize they need new software/products/skills to modernize and cut costs for this coming period?
  • do you have the creative talent and brand power to compete better via organic marketing including social media? (review in-house staff skills)
  • how much will improved marketing content and SEO cost? (quotes)
  • do you have the research to know what is the right content for the right audience?
  • are customers using media such as search engines and social media (shift to Linkedin and create direct connections with business owners)
  • do you need to work with a brand consultant? (expertise to kick it up a notch)

What Are Other Companies Spending?

Gartner’s survey of marketing budgets in 2022 showed they grew to 9.5% of overall company revenue.  And according to the Matter 2023 Marketing Outlook Survey, CMOs and senior marketers are planning to raise their expenditures strongly in 2023.

Yet what are the challenges?

More Visibility, Traffic, Better Content

Content quality is an issue for sure, but what’s not said is the need for reach to the market via Google or social channels.

CMI’s survey shows companies are struggling to create content that corresponds to the different stages of buyer’s journey, or which aligns with the sales team. This might just be better communication needed.

Content Marketing Challenges.
Content Marketing Challenges. Screenshot courtesy of b2b-content-marketing-research-trends-statistics report.

Just for context, companies are looking for content producers, marketers, social media specialists etc, yet subject matter experts and content strategists are less sought. Will their content be effective or wasted effort?

Organic Channels Still Need to Be Funded

The key to better performance is to build traffic via a number of channels, i.e., search engine referrals. Although money is moving away from analytics to public relations this, will we be recounting disappointments in 12 months?

Analytics was named the number one disappointment of the year.  It didn’t generate the lead generating insight wanted.

This shift to advertising and away from marketing was mostly due to Facebook and Google limiting free organic visibility. The Google search results and Facebook organic feeds have been shrunk persistently through the years, where they have become the number one threat to small business.  The greed of Facebook and Google won’t abate and businesses have succumbed to the monopoly’s demands.

The organic squeeze is forcing everyone to find alternative sources of visibility and leads — social media advertising is the big winner, thanks mostly to Google’s squeeze.  However, will marketing managers decide instead to double down on content and advanced SEO?  Video is one type of content with big hopes.  Will it be the big winner of 2023?

What is your thought right now on where you’ll be putting your hard earned marketing dollars?

Marketing Spend Still Recovering from Pandemic

Marketing spending still isn’t up to where it was pre-pandemic, but it has rebounded. Gartner’s 2022 survey shows most industries grew their spend. Gartner Research found managers are confident that they can manage their brands and customer experience, along with marketing technology.

However, their use of analytics was a big fail.  It seems analytics didn’t discover their marketing or sales generation problems. IMHO, companies simply aren’t competitive.

Marketing Budget Allocation by Industry.
Marketing Budget Allocation by Industry. Screenshot courtesy of Gartner Research.

Prioritizing the marketing mix is mission critical:

“Marketing is experiencing a historic surge in talent demand in 2022… Prioritizing the proper mix of resources should be a mission critical priority for CMOs in order to attract and retain the capabilities they need to deliver against their CEO’s goals, such as focusing on brand and customers.” — Ewan McIntyre, Chief of Research at Gartner.

Slide Through This Recession or Turn it on While Others Sleep?

When competitors withdraw from market engagement, it gives you a rare opportunity to build strategy and confidence. You can use strategy to carve out a niche that is rarely presented. That in turn, will make you even better in the next 5 years.

Forecasters believe the 2023 downturn won’t be that strong. You could ride this one out, as many companies did in the last recession in 2008.

There’s good reason to be optimistic if your company has a good value proposition and a brand consumers like. And if you can bring in specialist talent, you may be able to dominate any element you choose. It takes some confidence and intent to win. Acquire the right people and success is likely.

Advertising is just the tail end of marketing, the capturing of low hanging fruit in the basket.  But that fruit is gone.  Advertising doesn’t build trust, significance and preference — your content marketing, website and SEO campaigns to that.   Right now, pricey advertising spend is being reviewed along with its companion — web analytics.

Yet what are the alternatives?

Your Key Lead Channels:

  • pay per click campaigns on Google, Facebook, and Linkedin (expensive)
  • Google organic content campaigns (challenging requiring expertise)
  • organic social media postings (creative engagement required)
  • online sponsorships (expensive and questionable reach)
  • email campaigns (essential, but need a steady flow of new prospect subscribers)
  • direct visits, repeat sales from current customers (need to convey continuous value)

You Can’t do it all with Pay Per Click Ads

If you have only PPC ads to power your presence, it will be very difficult to get the relevance and quality across to them. They’re going to want to find and experience your site different ways for different reasons over a lengthy period of time. That’s all part of their shopping experience.

And this is why marketers must develop all round campaigns in multiple channels. Your full marketing presence is your relationship with consumers. It’s where your full brand meets all the diverse prospects, influencers and current customers.

However, just to state right now, some channels are more important and deserve priority. If you’re a firm that doesn’t have a leading brand and value proposition, PPC ads by themselves may not work. You need more frequent access to prospects to attract them away from market leaders.

Big companies with great brands (e.g., Tesla, Apple, Google) may not need to advertise. They can rely on their brand power and free organic referal traffic of all kinds. But you don’t have that brand power.

Your ability to influence leads is highly dependent on the brand value you’ve built. Your brand value will also influence performance on Google rankings which your SEO consultant will be able to leverage.

Chances are your PPC campaigns are generating leads, but they’re expensive and converting those leads isn’t easy. In 2023, you’ll see your sales conversion numbers drop, along with total sales revenue.

email works well still, yet new subscribers must be created via PPC campaigns and Google organic traffic.

Free Organic Traffic

It is hard to beat free traffic and leads. They’re a great business value. You need more!

Free doesn’t mean worthless or zero budget, and that you can abuse the opportunity (spammers) or pretend that you don’t need value or a great brand.  SEO is powerful channel to present your value proposition.

If you haven’t conducted a digital marketing audit, its essential that you do.  The fact that marketers are shunning analytics solutions indicates their tools aren’t figuring out what’s needed. It also shows a need for professional judgement and insight about what the market wants.  Analytics doesn’t sell a brand — it only tells you what your audience thinks.

Traffic Volume and Reach Getting Squeezed

The revenue potential of search traffic is well documented. The challenge is that Google is squeezing more companies and content from their index. Organic traffic is declining, and Google is monetizing more traffic on their site(s) for higher ad revenues. This chart shows how money is moving from free organic into the paid channels.

With costs rising, marketers need to access more channels to achieve results. And content and search engine optimization are the most affordable and most effective when done right. Ads create great reach for sure, but visitors still need high quality content which they will come across repeatedly via organic search.

In B2B, sales don’t happen right away. The visitor needs to return and continue their long path to purchase. Most of them don’t search to clicks ads — they search to find genuine content that matches their immediate pain points.

Search engines are a core part of customers path to purchase. They provide persistent presence to prospects.
So the picture we’re drawing is that while PPC campaigns are vital, they need the continuous support of search engine visibility, social media visibility, and some email messaging to finally win a new customer.

SEO helps you get the right messages out at the right time during the customer’s purchase journey. Timing is important and SEO has that ability to present fresh material, with the right features and benefits, to keep your product/service top of mind.

Search Traffic Still Has Massive Potential

Here’s 7 Reasons why you should be committing more to Advanced SEO and content generation:

  1. search volume is massive and people search eagerly for your type of products (active demand)
  2. search traffic offers a variety of prospective customers at various stages of their buying cycle (opportunities)
  3. organic search traffic helps to create social shares for visibility on Facebook, Twitter (events, content, ideas)
    you need expert level strategy and production to establish a powerful presence (quality, significant content)
  4. you need more expert focus on identifying top performing content (high quality analytics solutions)
    expert level sales funnel solutions help you optimize the customer experience (in between their visits from Google)
  5. create longer lasting, sustainable, content matched to what your visitors are looking for
  6. allow you to capture specific customer niches (e.g., keywords on specific topics)
  7. allows you to capture traffic from lower volume, long tail, and less expensive keywords (some that you can rank for)

You’ve got tough competition out there, but a strong organic search engine optimization effort can help you build a continuous advantage in brand visibility, trust building, and leads. Expert SEO focused on building brand value to create loyal customers, not one-time purchases.

If building a sustainable business is your goal, then professional SEO services have to be a key supporting effort.

Begin with your review of these SEO service packages, and then contact me about your challenge. I always enjoy speaking with clients about how I can help. Call me now at 416-998-6246.

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