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Build Your Case for A Bigger Digital Marketing Budget

Published: June 26, 2013

Author: Ian Lopuch

Do you manage paid digital marketing campaigns? I’m talking about channels like paid search, display advertising, retargeting, and paid like/social media campaigns. These are my favorite types of digital marketing programs because they often involve large budgets.
Large budgets are great; they create instant scale, they offer talented professionals the opportunity for huge P&L responsibility, and they drive great results for your company if managed properly. The only challenge? Budgets are competitive (every department in your company needs budget). Today, I wanted to share some tips for proposing increased digital marketing budgets.

Tip 1: Get Involved in the Budgeting Process Early

Most companies have an annual budgeting and planning process. Often, this will occur in the fourth quarter. As a digital marketing professional, make sure you’re involved in the process. If you’re not involved, you will unlikely get your optimal outcome.  Take the budget process seriously and go above and beyond in your modeling. Don’t forget about digital marketing technology/software, personnel, and agencies as well. It’s not only about media budget!

Tip 2: Preset A Variety of Recommendations and Cases

Budgeting is all about making conscious tradeoffs. It’s really difficult for senior executives and finance teams to weigh pros and cons of various scenarios when you only provide one case. As such, I always recommend going in with high, medium, and low cases. Let your team know which one is your first choice, and why.  It’s all about providing choice.

Tip 3: Implement Strong Cross-Channel Tracking

Digital marketing is not only about last-click conversions. All types of conversions have at least some value. I’m talking about last-click, middle-click, first-click, and view-through conversions. Implement solid cross-channel tracking to fully understand the value of your digital marketing programs. Great data will always help in making the case for increased budget. The numbers don’t lie, and in many cases your campaigns are doing even better than you think! Communicate results with clear numbers.

Tip 4: Run an Efficient Program

With large budget comes great responsibility. Manage your P&L with incredible efficiency. Show your executive leadership team that you are making diligent use of every single dollar you manage. Prove through numbers that your program keeps getting more and more efficient.
At the end of the day, there is only so much budget. Your company will invest the budget where the returns are the greatest, with the least amount of risk. Run your program in a way that is investment-worthy.

Tip 5: Be Flexible and Open-Minded

You never know what will happen. The beauty of paid search is you can dial things up and also dial things down very quickly. Embrace that power. Sometimes your company may need you to cut budgets quickly. Other times, you may need to ramp budgets up. It’s OK to change course, be flexible and open-minded.
That said, always do what’s best for your search marketing accounts as well. Be careful about cutting things too much or you may have a hard time ramping back up again. Communicate those tradeoffs with your management team when making budgeting decisions.

Tip 6: Work Closely With Your Agency

I’m the biggest fan around of SEM agencies. Leverage your agency for help! Budgeting is a huge job. It’s a very important job, but can take up a ton of time. See how your SEM agency can help you scale. It’s a team effort!

Tip 7: Avoid the “Empire” Frame of Mind

Always, always do what’s right for your company. Don’t request budget if you cannot spend it with extreme efficiency and high returns. It’s important to be honest and realistic. You’re not managing digital marketing campaigns to create an empire; you’re managing campaigns to drive solid returns and help grow your company.
If budget would be better spent on another team, be honest and helpful. Leadership extends far beyond the specific programs you manage. Develop your leadership skills and the sky is the limit.

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