blog post | marketing

What belongs in your marketing budget in 2023

Jarret Fleagle Team Photo
Jarrett FleagleDirector of Business Development

2023 is right around the corner. Are you ready to hit the ground running?

If you’re like most marketers, you’re probably not ready yet. You’re leaving these last few months of the year to plan out your budget. But knowing what should stay and what should go can be a tedious, stressful process.

Luckily, we’ve done the work for you. Below, we share exactly what to focus on — from technology to data to people — to bring the heat in 2023.

The components of a 🔥🔥🔥 2023 marketing budget

There are many different categories to a marketing budget, so we’ll walk you through them one by one.

MarTech

We’re starting with one of the biggest line items on any marketer’s budget: technology.

Consolidation

You’ve probably seen the infographic with 8,000 or more MarTech tools on it. The space continues to grow year after year.

While some of those tools are helpful, many of them probably aren’t bringing you much value. You have to jump into 50 different platforms to get something done.

Luckily, some tools offer a plan with multiple features that accomplish the same thing that having several tools would. Hubspot is a great example. Instead of using one tool for marketing automation, another for your CRM, and another to book meetings, you can get that all in one Hubspot plan.

Another benefit to consolidation is that you’re centralizing your data and creating a single source of truth.

Tip: Look at your credit card statement

At WebMechanix, we pinpoint the recurring fees on our credit card statement and ask ourselves if the corresponding tools serve us. If they don’t, we eliminate or consolidate. Often this exercise saves between $200 – 500 a month.

Part of that is because single-use platforms have been increasing their prices as the larger HubSpots of the world have been creating lower-priced offerings.

Meeting booking tools

In the B2B world, everyone’s obsessed with the demo request. But nobody wants to fill out a demo request form. Prospects know it will take a while for someone to get back to them. Allowing users to book a meeting immediately has the opposite effect. It’s instant gratification.

I would strongly consider Chili Piper, especially if your company is B2B & has a sales team.

Customer insights

Customer insights could be anything related to the user’s voice. It could be spinning up surveys on the fly, heat mapping, or user session recordings.

At WebMechanix, we love Hotjar. It’s inexpensive and robust. It doesn’t require a developer, and you don’t have to be very technical – you just install a snippet of code across the web pages you want to track.

So, for instance, you could deploy a quick survey that asks a site visitor what persona they are. You might get 50 – 100 responses that give you a clear understanding of who is coming to your site. And maybe, the highest percentage of people is a persona you didn’t even know existed.

Another tool is Wynter. That tool is particularly good for testing messaging for B2B-specific audiences like CIOs or CMOs.

CDP

For large organizations, a CDP, or customer data platform, can be a fantastic way to connect your disparate systems. The big idea is that you want to form a central hub where you can pipe data in from your various systems, create a common nomenclature, query the data, and then create specific audiences.

For example, you might create an audience of everyone that has ever entered your pipeline but didn’t buy anything. Then, you can activate that specific audience on platforms like Google, Trade Desk, or LinkedIn and create lookalike audiences as well.

The leader in that market right now is called Segment. If you’re a smaller company, it may be a little overkill, but it’s worth looking into – especially in a world where third-party cookies are going away.

Conversion rate optimization

In a world where traffic’s getting more expensive, it’s getting harder and harder to compete. You need to be squeezing every ounce of action from your users. That’s where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes in.

Google Optimize is a simple CRO tool that comes with Google Suite. You can set up A/B testing in a day. There are also paid tools like Optimizely that can do multivariate testing.

There is a new breed of AI-driven conversion rate optimization tools. I’d suggest those for companies that get 50,000 – 100,000 visitors per month. You can spin up hundreds of variations of a headline, copy, imagery, or site elements and let the tool regulate them based on the data it has, like time of day, browser, device, etc.

For small companies, it’s important to get tactical and find innovative ways to get people to give their email. One way is pop-ups. Pop-ups are a dirty word, but there’s a reason why companies use them. Can they be annoying? Yes. But when done thoughtfully, they can get users to engage with the right content for where they are in the journey.

We had a client with a strong piece of content: “How the World Tests.” It had solid examples from Google and Accenture. But the piece was buried in their resource library. So we made a very tasteful popup to point users to that resource, and it worked wonders. The key was exposing users to extremely helpful content at just the right time.

A NOTE ON MARTECH: Q4 is basically discount season. Reps are trying to hit their quota, so don’t pay retail prices. The end of the year is the best time to negotiate.

Data

In a world where things are becoming increasingly privacy-centric, we must have control over and own our data.

Google Analytics 4

Now is the time to hook up GA4. The deadline is midyear next year, so you need to set up your conversions, events, views, and reporting now to start 2023 on the right foot.

There are some paid alternatives to GA4, such as Mixpanel. It’s user-friendly and may have some features that Google doesn’t – worth a look.

Intent data

Intent data highlights prospects showing signals of intent to buy your product or service. Some vendors, like Bombora, focus on search intent. Others like G2 rely on their own data to serve up intent-related metrics.

Before you engage with one of these tools, think hard about what signs of intent you need to buy. For example, if you’re a conversation intelligence software, you want to engage with people actively shopping for that product. So if people are looking for conversation AI software on G2, that’s probably an excellent indicator for you. If you buy that audience data, you can run ads against it or even give that list to your SDRs.

Test other audiences

Third-party audience marketplaces can help you find and reach new audiences. One of those marketplaces is called Deep Sync Labs. Within their marketplace, you can browse different categories similar to Facebook interest targeting. Then you can activate that data on Facebook, LinkedIn, Trade Desk, or DV360.

And the data is fairly inexpensive to test — it works like a CPM rider. So if you’re paying $10 or $20 CPMs on Facebook, Deep Sync Labs bolts on anywhere from 20 cents to $3, depending on how sought after that individual audience segment is.

Content

Content is a huge investment area – particularly user-generated content, short-form content, and other native social content.

User-generated content

User-generated content, or UGC, depends on building relationships with creators. They create ads that don’t look like ads. You don’t want people to know it’s an ad and immediately swipe away.

UGC ads are selfie-style. They usually have captions; sometimes, they have emojis. At some point, the camera flips around to show you an app or physical product. These ads are fun, engaging, and believable, and you can produce them for cheap.

There are also creator marketplaces where you can pay micro or macroinfluencers to work with you. They can post their ad to their feed or story, but you can also run it as an ad. Influencer ads work because they already have a built-in, trusted audience of 10 to 100k followers.

NOTE ON UGC: While UGC or influencer marketing is thought of as a B2C-only strategy, I do think it’s coming soon to a B2B theater near us.

Shorts!

All social media platforms are pushing short-form content with their algorithms. TikTok led the way, but now we have YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels.

My best tip is to take your long-form content, identify the best snippets, and chop them out. Eventually, you’ll build a library of short-form, native social content that you can distribute across all your platforms.

Native social content

Native social content only works on platforms with organic reach. So maybe your company’s Facebook page isn’t the right place since it’s so saturated. But LinkedIn is still great for B2B. And we’ve seen native social content take off on TikTok, especially for B2C, but also for B2B companies who are heavily recruiting.

New traffic channels

We’ve found some new places to run ads that attract ideal customers and entice them to do what you want them to do.

Connected TV

Connected TV, or CTV, is a significant new traffic channel. Typically, with TV ad spots, you must make a specific buy on a specific channel. But now, you can buy selective inventory across any number of channels.

Google is a good example. They just launched CTV on the Display Video 360 platform. That play was geared more toward enterprise advertisers, but it’s a sign that Google might roll out this strategy more broadly. There are other players in the CTV space, too, like MNTN (Ryan Reynolds’s company) and tvScientific.

TikTok Ads

If you’re not using TikTok, you really should. We understand the hesitancy, but just try it out and see what happens. We’ve found it’s an excellent arbitrage opportunity.

Email newsletters

When we say “email newsletters,” we mean buying media in well-read email newsletters. This tactic is becoming especially popular in the B2B space. And it’s worth trying if there is a niche audience you want to tap into. It’s a very similar concept to influencer marketing.

Cold email

As spam filters improve, it’s getting harder to send cold emails. But it’s possible to make an impression if you’re smart about who you’re targeting and how you’re personalizing your outreach.

Start by thinking about who is in your network. Did you work for a company before that could be a prospect for you now? That’s low-hanging fruit. If you personalize your outreach to those connections, you’re likely to get a response.

We just had an example of where this worked well. We sent out a bunch of cold emails, and someone finally booked a meeting. Chris, our CEO, knew this person from working at a different agency. So then, I did a quick LinkedIn Sales Navigator search to find other people who used to work at that agency. That gave us 119 new people to enroll in one of our successful campaigns.

Another variation of this strategy is finding and targeting customers you used to work with. Maybe they don’t work at the same company anymore, but they might still fit your ICP. And they’ve experienced working with you, so they’ll probably take you up on a call.

Digital experience

The experiences we give users can make them bored or engaged. We want them engaged so that they want to stay on our website and give us the data we need to qualify and move them through the funnel. There are several ways we can do that.

Interactive guides

One approach is to use interactive experiences, such as guides or other content. For instance, rather than saying, “hey, fill out this form and download an ebook,” you can create an interactive experience where the user can move through your website and engage with certain elements. And you can fire specific events based on what they’re doing.

That gives you a chance to track what they’re doing and connect with them on compelling content they are interested in. You’ve already made a lasting impression by the time you hit those people with a retargeting ad.

Multi-step forms and quiz funnels

We’ve used multi-step forms and quiz funnels over the years to great effect. The idea is to break up lengthy forms into multiple steps. You start with a highly relevant question empathetic to a prospect’s situation.

For example, say you sell windows. Why is your buyer looking for a new window? Maybe it’s broken, maybe it’s drafty, maybe it’s cracked.

Ask the prospect a series of questions like this to categorize and qualify them based on their situation. The prospect feels they are being cared for and when they hit your CRM, they’re already appropriately classified. You can also pass that information back to Facebook and Google.

Social polls

Running poll ads on Facebook and Instagram pre-segments your top-of-funnel audience. You can ask them, “Do you believe X is true? Yes or No.” Their answer will strongly indicate interest in your product or service, and you can enroll the people you want to keep talking to in a retargeting campaign.

People and talent

People and talent is a huge category and decider of your marketing plan’s success, with many options to consider.

Here are a few roles we recommend prioritizing in your marketing budget in 2023.

Video editor

Video is becoming a massive vehicle for content right now. Hiring a video editor can help you create shorts from your content. But you want someone that knows how to edit for each platform and is quick. Getting content out the door quickly is essential to stay fresh.

Social seller

Say you’re a B2B company. Most companies hire an SDR to send cold emails or make cold calls. But a social seller will engage on LinkedIn. They write posts that build your brand and attract the right people. They also engage with other influencers’ posts to promote brand awareness.

Keep in mind that social selling isn’t about managing your company’s LinkedIn page. A social seller is a salesperson and LinkedIn ninja who can grab the attention of high-end clientele.

Copywriter

Content is a dime a dozen. You can go on Upwork or a thousand other sites and hire somebody to write blog articles for you.

An outstanding copywriter changes the headline on your homepage and doubles your website conversion rate overnight. They understand how to persuade and speak to an audience through the written word. Devin Reed, who originally built Gong’s content marketing platform, and Eden Bedani with Green Light Copy are great examples. Their work will always be valuable — in any economy.

Data analyst / BI

Most of us collect a lot of data. But we don’t spend enough time digging through it. Hiring an analyst will save you time and give you instant insights. Remember, gifts are waiting for you in the data.

Cross-training / upskilling

One of the best places to look for talent is your existing talent pool. Give junior employees opportunities to cross-train and get better at skills the company needs.

You should teach your content writers a bit of SEO. You can teach your social media manager about video editing. You can get your SDRs a course on social selling and then tell them to spend 50% of their time on LinkedIn. Eventually, these employees might find that they’re really good at a particular new skill.

We’ve embraced cross-training and upskilling at WebMechanix. I myself knew how to write when I came to WebMechanix, but that was about it. And now I’m Head of Marketing for the whole company. To hear more about how we do this, listen to Chris’s podcast episode with Christian Campagnuolo, the CMO of Revature.

What to cut from your 2023 marketing budget

Now for the fun part — slashing your costs.

Third-party cookie lists

Third-party cookies are going away. Instead of buying more lists, you need to build your first-party data strategy. Find ways to get folks to opt into your email lists and then market to them freely, knowing they’ve given consent. From there, you can track their behavior and further cater your messaging to their interests.

“Cannibalistic” brand search

You might be wasting a lot of money on paid search. Many companies get the number one SEO slot and still run an ad on that same keyword. Use a tool like BrandAi that allows you to restrict ads where there are no competitors.

Low quality lead sources

At the end of the year, I suggest reviewing your lead sources. Which leads entered your pipeline? Which ones closed? Cut out the junk and put your money behind what’s driving the bulk of your high-quality leads.

Lazy agencies!

Time for some real talk. The number one thing I hear when I talk to prospects is that their agency just gives them vague reports. Or, the agencies do things for their clients without explaining why.

In short, these agencies don’t own their strategy. They don’t ask about and solve business problems. You need a team to set, lead, and execute your strategy. Agencies should help you scale. And they should be great to work with. It might be time to rethink your relationship if there’s a weird disconnect and separation.

The end of the year is a good time to have a candid conversation with your agency. If you feel there’s an area where they’re slacking, bring it up. The agency might also have some feedback for you. An open dialogue is expected at this time of year and is usually fruitful.

Start cooking with gas in 2023

Want to work with an agency that will light your marketing on fire? Book a call with someone at WebMechanix. We’ll walk through your business goals and give personalized recommendations for where to go next.

Want more marketing advice and insights? Sign up for our next Growth Clinic. We host them every Wednesday at 12pm ET. And check out our past episodes on YouTube.

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