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Have you ever wondered how much you should spend on your digital advertising campaigns? Is $500 enough? Will $1000 be twice as good? What if we throw a hail mary and dump our entire yearly budget into a two-week contest?
These are all fair questions and the unfair thing is that there is no correct answer. As a self-proclaimed digital marketing connoisseur, I work in an environment where that question is asked repeatedly: how much do we need to spend to be successful? It’s a frustrating question. I’ll explain why first and then I’ll actually try and answer the questions above.
The reason it’s so frustrating, or the reason my short-fused mentality interprets it as frustrating, is because there are so many variables that can determine what is “enough”. These are the factors I contemplate:

  • How much does the client say they have in their budget for marketing?
  • What platforms will we be marketing on?
  • What is the amount of risk the client is willing to take?
  • What content do we have available?
  • How many audiences do we have available?
  • How much do people understand and desire about this client’s product or service?
  • What are the technical limitations that will impede our campaign?
  • How competitive is the industry?
  • How competitive is the location?
  • How demanding are our goals?
  • How much time do we have?

This is a shortened list of what feverishly runs through my head when I’m asked how much we need to spend to be successful.
The truth is, even if I have the answers to all these questions, the answer I come up with is moot. Why? Because the amount I suggest will always be the same. “I’m not sure how much we need to spend to be successful. Not yet. However, the more resources we are able to put into discovery, the faster we will get an answer to that question.”
OK, that isn’t really helpful, is it? I’m kind of not providing you with anything more than a drawn-out story at this point. Let me try to leave you with something tangible enough to use.
First, assess your comfort level of risk. There is no silver bullet, so at the very least you have to be happy with learning that your digital marketing attempt wasn’t successful. It might not be for you! But it’s not very common to find immediate success, so if you don’t want to scare yourself from utilizing modern advertising platforms, start slow.
Second, understand your customer’s journey. When you take a step back to imagine how a first-time visitor is viewing your online content, someone who does not know either who you are or what you are offering, you can get some insight into how your business presents itself. Like it or not, outdated features and slow websites, abandoned social media profiles, and a limited amount of content and ability to connect with your listening audience are not only going to hurt how you look online but also send negative feedback to the powers that be, like Google and Facebook, that your stuff isn’t worth sharing.
Third, take the holistic approach. Your content on YouTube can increase your SEO on Google. And your quality posts on Facebook can help improve the ability of your Instagram ads. Everything is taking signals from how well your website performs. It’s very overwhelming at times, but making sure your tools and platforms are connected correctly and communicating efficiently will help you get the most out of your budget by providing you with a clear understanding of the data you are collecting.
And finally, how much you should spend? Without knowing anything about you, here are some rough ideas:
If you are a small business, spend $500-1000 over 2-4 weeks. Before you do that, make sure you install your Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, LinkedIn Tracker, and whatever other trackers you might need. Verify they are working for 1-2 weeks before starting your campaign. If you have the ability, set up goals so you can communicate to the platforms what it is that you want people to do. After 2-4 weeks, if everything is tracking correctly, you will have the ability to see if your campaign is successful and can start to determine how much ROI you are getting from your advertisements.
If you are a medium-sized business, same as above but spend $2000.
If you are a large business, you should have a pretty big marketing budget. I would honestly suggest spending 80% or more on various digital marketing efforts.
Remember, all this is after you make sure you have the content you need to produce the goals you are wanting to achieve. When you know the amount of risk you are willing to take, when you have the content you need to succeed, and when your customer journey is clear and efficient, you are ready to launch your campaign! Happy sailin’!
Alexander Johnson, Director of Campaigns, Agency Media