Are You Spending Enough on Online Marketing?

November 3, 2011

Although the level of marketing spend doesn’t usually correlate to marketing effectiveness, it is useful to know how others in your industry or other companies of similar size are spending their money on marketing.

Forrester Research has recently released a study, “Benchmark Your Interactive┬áMarketing┬áMaturity“, that aims to give you some metrics to figure out whether you are putting your money on the right marketing tactics.

Five Benchmarks

According to Forrester, you should take a look at the following:

  1. Annual interactive marketing budget: this involves branching out from the pure email marketing tactic and looking at mobile, tablets, and the like.
  2. Share of advertising budget dedicated to interactive marketing: shift the money from the typical print and TV ads and invest in online channels.
  3. Percent of interactive budget earmarked for emerging media: invest in new technologies and start trying out channels before your competition does.
  4. Size of interactive marketing teams: unless you have people dedicated to interactive marketing, not much will get accomplished.
  5. Number of agencies leveraged for interactive support: it is difficult to find an agency that can do it all, so typically you will have to use a couple or more.

Comparing Your Numbers

Sure, knowing the benchmark metrics help a little but what are the numbers? If you’re a small company then the report won’t be of much help because it breaks down the survey respondents into those with less than $1 billion in revenues, $1 billion to $9.9 billion, and those of $10 billion and more. In other words, is a good benchmark for the big guys.

So if the survey finding that the median of annual interactive marketing budgets is $7.19 million leaves you thinking “if I only had 10% of that!” don’t despair. It is still interesting to see the percentage of allocation for each type of interactive initiative and then compare to how your own company is doing. If nothing else, serves to start a conversation about where the marketing money should be spent.

Using the Benchmarks

There are many ways in which you can analyze and use the report:

  • Look at company size and compare with your own budget. Bigger companies will allocate more resources, and depending on what you sell the online venue might require a bigger piece of the pie versus those that need to rely mostly on traditional channels to reach their audiences.
  • Your business goals should determine priorities. The purchasing process your buyers follow, your overall business objectives and competitive positioning should be taken into account when comparing what others are doing.
  • New is good, but be careful. Sure, interactive marketing and new shiny toys are great, but beware of untested tools and tactics. In other words, test, test, and test some more before jumping in.
  • Get the right skill set. Which means, hire the right people with the right skills to manage the programs you plan on investing in.
  • Use agencies wisely. Big and smaller companies need to really assess the role agencies play in their overall marketing strategy and what types of agencies are appropriate.

Measure Yourself (Free!)

Luckily, Forrester has created a free online tool based on their study results that allows you to plug in your numbers to get a high-level comparison based on benchmark data.

It’s worth trying out: Forrester Benchmarking Tool


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