It's official — there are just a few short weeks in 2016 and 2017 is going to be a big year for your company.
But in order to keep your marketing budget from shrinking next year, you need to make sure to spend all left-overs.
However, since more and more CMOs and marketing directors will have to proof a return-on-investment to show that they spend theor budget wisely, blowing it on a random paid search campaign is just a waste of money.
So what to do? Simple! You invest it in something that will give you a head-start for 2017!
Depending on how much money you have to spend and what your goals are for 2017, there are many things you can do — for example, you could optimize your existing blog posts for lead generation and search engine optimization (~$1,000), you could design an infographic (~$750) or test new call to actions for your website (~$50/CTA). For more ideas check out this blog post by HubSpot for even more possible end of year action items.
However, what you you do if you have a little more money to spend and you are running out of time?
We sat down and came up with five bigger-ticket items that are not only creative ways to spend the money but do so wisely. Our must-have criteria were: they must show a significant return on investment, help you be more efficient in 2016 and must be executable on a short notice!
1) Align Your Marketing & Sales Team
Estimated Cost: $7,500
The sales process has changed because the buying process has changed significantly in the past ten years. Today, a buyer takes 74% of their buyer's journey before ever talking to a salesperson; Forrester found in a B2B study. Google confirmed the same was true for B2C. Even in the store, 82% of the shoppers user their smart phones to help them make product decisions, according to a Google/Ipsos Study.
With most companies adopting Inbound Marketing as their primary way to generate leads, a tight alignment between sales and marketing is becoming vital to the success of the company. According to "The State of Inbound Marketing Report 2015" by HubSpot, companies who have a formal service level agreement between their sales and marketing teams have a 47% greater return on investment compared to last year while only 3% saw a decline. Also, the companies with a formal SLA received higher budgets and were hiring larger sales teams as a result.
One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is a company-wide marketing-sales workshop to bring everyone on board with inbound marketing. After this one-day seminar, sales and marketing will not only understand why they need to work together, but also how this will be accomplished. Everyone knows their roles and responsibilities and where to get support if needed.
2) HubSpot Intensive Training Day
Estimated Cost: $5,000 - $7,500
The second way to wisely invest the rest of your marketing budget is to host a HubSpot Intensive Training Day for all marketing and sales employees. This is especially useful for companies who have invested in HubSpot in the past six months but have not seen a return on their investment because they cannot figure out how to put this rocket ship to work.
Many companies are excited about the possibilities that come with all the opportunities that come with HubSpot, such as automated workflows that nurture the generated leads or the campaign-wide analytics to see which campaigns have been performing well and which have not. But sometimes after you bought it and you got past the initial set up, the daily grind calls and the internal adoption and usage sort of tapers off as marketing personnel struggle to find time to get through the training.
Well, this is your short-cut.
Host an internal intensive training day and pack all the education that would take months to get through, in one day — and start 2016 with a supercharged marketing rocket ship and a crew that know how to use it!
3) Buyer Persona Workshop
Estimated Cost: $5,000
Is your sales team unhappy with the quality of leads they are receiving from you? Or is your website generating a lot of traffic, but not nearly as many leads as it should?
Then it's time for a buyer persona workshop! Whenever the lead quality is off or you are just not getting enough submissions from your website, a thorough buyer persona workshop will help you identify your ideal customers, their characteristics and pain points, their objections and price points as well as their preferred way to communicate.
This will help you hone your messaging, better target your website content and find blog post topics and lead magnets (premium content that is gated behind a landing page) that exactly match with what they are looking for.
4) Jump-Start Your Website Redesign With A Launch Pad Website
Estimated Cost: $5,000 - $20,000
There is a revolution happening in the web design world. It's called, "Growth-Driven Design" and your traditional web design company might not like it very much!
The concept itself is nothing new: it applies the principles of lean software development to the web design process. You don't overhaul your website every three years anymore but improve it incrementally with frequent small updates that are strategically planned and based on user testing and feedback.
You start with what is called a launch pad website that will cover most of what you need right now. This is the basis from which your web design team will make constant improvements on.
There are several differences to your traditional web design process, but I want to point out two here:
- User Driven. In the traditional model, your website for the next three years is the best-educated guess of what your web developer thought was trendy or would perform best. But most of the time, there was little or no user testing done at all. With Growth-Driven Design, your launchpad website is developed based on first user testing and interviews and then improved based on the user's needs and the website's performance.
- Smoothing out the camel humps. With the traditional model, businesses would spend a significant chunk of money and 3-6 months developing this website that would sit around, just to repeat the cycle again in three years. With GDD, you continuously invest a smaller amount over time.
A launchpad website can be up and running within 30-45 days.
5) 30-Day Inbound Marketing Strategy Assessment and Game Plan
Estimated Cost: $5,000
If you have not yet embraced inbound marketing, or it is on your list, but you don't know how to get started, here is a little motivation for you:
- HubSpot, State of Inbound Marketing Report, 2015
This approach is a great fit for companies with an in-house marketing team that is not well versed in inbound marketing and have on boarded with HubSpot or are about to.
One of the most important things to know is that inbound marketing needs a solid strategy behind it. Without it, you are just producing a bunch of random blog posts and landing pages that do not re-enforce each other but simply co-exit. But creating a strategy takes time and often, marketers find it hard to step out of their daily grind long enough to take a step back and view their organization from an outside-in perspective.
And because creating an inbound marketing strategy while doing your everyday marketing activities that you already have is near impossible, we created a 30-day strategy assessment and game plan option for our customers — this is so important, we make this a mandatory requirement for each of our retainer customers.
Even if you leave your marketing in-house, this option has several key benefits for you: you can leverage an experienced agency's experience and you buy your team time to train on HubSpot while we do the heavy lifting analyzing your business, buyer personas, competitors, etc.
At the end of the month, your marketing team will walk away with an actionable detailed game plan for content, strategy and social media that will get them over the initial hump.
What ways are you going to spend the rest of your 2016 budget?