By Julia Bye
As the year draws to a close, marketers face a crucial task: allocating their remaining marketing budget to drive the best return on investment (ROI). Whether you're an experienced marketer or just starting out, we've got you covered. In this article, I'll walk you through a strategic approach to allocating (or reallocating) your year-end marketing budget effectively.
Let's dive in and make those marketing dollars count!
Assessing Your Current Strategy
Before you can allocate your year-end marketing budget, you need to take stock of your current strategy and performance. What’s working well? What could be going better?
Evaluate the Year So Far
At this point, you should have three quarters of data to review and learn from. Depending on your marketing maturity, you may also be able to compare campaign performance year over year. Either way, look at what your team has done so far and analyze the performance of your marketing campaigns and channels throughout the year. Which tactics have delivered the best results? Now may be a great time to consider sending out a survey for customer feedback.
For the campaigns that have performed really well, is there a way to make them even better? If some tactics aren’t meeting expectations, does it make sense for your team to continue allocating time, resources, and budget toward those efforts? Are there market trends you’re seeing in the data?
Set Clear Goals Based on What You Have Learned
Your company likely has both long-term goals five years out and yearly goals that are important to evaluate. Along with those, I recommend setting quarterly goals for your marketing efforts. This way, you avoid a “set it and forget it” mentality and are frequently evaluating what’s going well and how you are tracking toward the longer-term goals.
When looking at Q4, what do you need to do as a final push at the end of your fiscal year? Define specific, measurable, and achievable goals for the year’s final quarter. Ensure these goals align with your overall business goals, and then prioritize those that contribute directly to revenue growth.
Budget Allocation Strategies
With a clear understanding of your current position, it's time to allocate your budget strategically with these steps:
1. Prioritize High-Impact Channels
Focus your marketing budget on channels that have historically provided the best ROI. Also consider investing more in digital advertising (hello, quick wins!), email marketing, and content marketing
2. Embrace Seasonal Opportunities
End-of-year can be a boom for some businesses. For others, it can mean a slowdown with time to spare. Either way, it is important to embrace whatever opportunities Q4 brings and use them to your benefit. Consider the following:
- Leverage holiday and year-end promotions to boost sales.
- Align your messaging and creative with the festive season.
- Run targeted campaigns on platforms such as Google Ads and Facebook.
- Delight your customers with something infused with holiday spirit. (My favorite way to spread cheer is through a funny company video wishing clients happy holidays—show off those great personalities!)
3. Test and Optimize
I frequently tell clients we work with that it is important to not put all of our hypothetical marketing eggs in one basket—we need to diversify efforts to see what resonates with our ideal customers. You should definitely continue to do tried-and-true tactics that you know work for your company, but you should also allocate a portion of your marketing budget to testing new strategies.
For instance, AI is the big buzzword right now. How can your team use AI to improve marketing efficiencies and see even better results? AI can be used for so many things, from content development to image creation and beyond. If you aren’t using AI today, I challenge you to try it out in some facet of your job.
Also, monitor and adjust the campaigns you have running for maximum efficiency. Don’t get so crazy that you make changes daily (because that isn’t enough time), but if your campaign has had enough run time, tweak what isn’t performing well. You should also consider A/B testing to refine your messaging and creative.
Measuring and Adjusting
It's essential to monitor your campaigns closely and make adjustments as needed. This involves tracking the performance of our campaigns in real time. You should pay close attention to a range of critical metrics, including click-through rates, conversion rates, and cost per acquisition. These metrics offer valuable insights into the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and help gauge how well you’re achieving your objectives. To get a comprehensive view of your campaigns, create custom dashboard views that show you exactly the metrics you want to be tracking.
One key principle in campaign performance management is the ability to adjust in real time. Waiting until the end of the quarter to make changes can result in missed opportunities and less effective campaigns. Instead, be agile and responsive. If a campaign isn't performing as expected, act promptly. This might involve reallocating budget from underperforming campaigns to those that are delivering better results. Being flexible and willing to pivot when necessary is a fundamental aspect of ensuring you make the most of your marketing budget and resources at year-end.
Scaling success can also significantly impact your campaign performance. When you identify a particular campaign or channel that is consistently delivering exceptional results, consider allocating more budget to it. Scaling successful strategies can lead to exponential ROI. By investing more resources in what's already working, you not only maximize the impact of your marketing efforts but also ensure that you’re capitalizing on your strengths.
Finish Strong, Marketers!
As the end of the year approaches, the effective allocation of your marketing budget becomes paramount. By evaluating your current strategy, prioritizing high-impact channels, and continuously measuring and adjusting, you can maximize your ROI and finish the year strong. Remember, flexibility and data-driven decision-making are your allies in achieving marketing success. Here's to a profitable year-end!
About the author
Julia Bye is a Minneapolis-based Director, Client Strategy for SmartBug Media. With a background in agency marketing, she specializes in lead generation, lead nurturing, sales enablement, and content-based tactics that focus on her client's sales and marketing goals. Read more articles by Julia Bye.