If your marketing budget is consistently in the red, try making smaller changes before draconian cuts to staff and resources. Chances are, you’re not using your tools and team members to their potential.
There are many ways to make your marketing team more effective and save money at the same time. Start by addressing issues like making your office more energy efficient or cutting back on breakroom snacks. Small adjustments like these are at least attempts to solve the problem before resorting to layoffs. Here are more ways to get your marketing agency budget back in the black.
Work Smarter with Clients
Your interactions with your clients are a good place to start saving time and money. For one, make sure you and your client are working towards the same goals. Both sides should be tracking and targeting the same metrics. You don’t want to start a quarterly progress meeting discussing different KPIs. Monthly progress reports keep everyone on the same page. Revisit your contract and client pitch deck about goals. Follow up with an email to stakeholders if needed.
Speaking of emails, try increasing your agency’s efficiency by making trivial emails a major no-no. Getting emails that ask tedious questions wastes everyone’s time. In-house communication tools like Slack can reduce the items in your inbox. Try curating those common Q&As in a team source handbook, and share it with clients online. And reinforce the idea to your team that questions start with that resource, not with the client.
Automate Your Marketing
Small tasks eat away at profits. Your marketing budget will suffer death by a thousand cuts if you don’t automate instead of delegate. Use artificial intelligence and chatbots to automate common tasks so your staff can focus on better marketing.
Today, companies are using chatbots to streamline their customer service and social media. Social media chatbots are low-cost, time-saving options to support your social media efforts. While bots can’t replace a real human yet, they can answer basic customer questions, check an order’s status, and suggest new content. And they do all these actions at large volumes and high accuracy compared to humans.
Save money and time by automating your content distribution too. Tools like Infusionsoft, Marketo, and Mailchimp let you design and automate email drip campaigns. And with content distribution tools like Buffer, you can schedule automated distribution of your blog and social media content. These are a few of the many tools to automate your marketing tasks.
Optimize Your Target Audience
The money you pour into acquiring and retaining new customers is wasted if they’re outside your target persona(s). While a few customers outside your market will buy, it likely won’t offset the marketing cost it took to convert them. Take a second look at your target audience and start zeroing in on small, more concentrated segments. Continue to base your new audience on demographic data. But add more nuanced insights like psychometrics, lifestyle, and purchasing behaviors.
These customer insights may not be as concrete as age or geography, but they give your marketing messages a boost. Personal interviews and online surveys of your customer personas is a low-cost, easy way to start understanding your customers on an emotional level. Don’t rely on broad appeals or casting a wide net to catch a few customers. That’s a waste of money. Focus on doing things right the first time, then scale up from there.
Cut Marketing Channels That Aren’t Working
You’re likely running many different channels — PPC, social media, blog, emails, and influencers. But, some channels perform better than others. Cut those that are underperforming or not meeting your short and long-term goals. If you’re not sure, look to your competitors. What channels are they using the most? Those are likely the most profitable.
Or start decreasing channels based on your long and short-term strategies. SEO and content marketing efforts are long games, so you may want to press pause or scale back on them while you put extra resources into paid ads and social media. As leads and sales increase, begin to introduce them back into the bigger strategy.
Trade Subscription Tools for Free Ones
Many marketers like to work with the latest and greatest when it comes to marketing tools. Granted, subscription-based tools usually offer more intuitive interfaces, better customer service, and brand name recognition. But there are plenty of free tools out there that get the job done.
Make a list of your marketing tools. Do a little digging to see if there are free tools that do the same thing. Assign a small team to do a test run and report back to the group with a comparison report. Whether it’s free tools for keyword research or email marketing, you’re likely to find one that can replace those expensive subscriptions. There’s no need to replace every tool either. Start by swapping out one and see how that goes. Then try another.
Move to Remote Teams
Agencies often see moving to remote teams as detrimental to their culture, but remote work offers many benefits for you and your team. For one, you’ll save money not having to lease workspace, heat and cool it, and pay other overhead expenses. Team members will enjoy flexible work hours and control over their workspaces.
And there’s no reason your company culture should suffer if you take the right steps. Use team tools and communications platforms to keep your team connected. Set aside weekly or monthly virtual gatherings for people to chat about things other than work. Use virtual team building activities to help connect members and keep morale high.
Measure Your Changes
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Track all the cost-cutting changes you institute. Unintended consequences will happen, so it’s best to make small steps. For example, try changing correspondence with only one client. Or try remote work for a few members of the team. And do what you do best: A/B test your own agency. What version is working best?
These suggestions are good reminders that being a marketing agency means staying adaptable to client and market demands. High-cost or low-cost, these are qualities you can’t practice enough.