Marketing teams are facing a challenging year in 2023. With global economic growth slowing and recession looming, lots of marketing budgets are being cut. So marketers must optimise marketing spend to get the best results with lower budgets.
According to a recent Salesforce report, just 15% of marketers are completely satisfied with the outcomes of their marketing investments. This explains why leveraging tools and technology is their biggest priority right now.
With so many marketing channels available, budgets are being seriously stretched. Here’s how marketing budgets were allocated in 2022:
Tools and technology account for 15% of marketing budgets on average, while advertising accounts for 17%. But if you’re not using your tools (or your ad budget) to their full capacity, you’re effectively wasting your money (and missing out on potential revenue).
According to the same report, 88% of marketers believe they must continually innovate to stay competitive. That means finding new ways to use your marketing budget to create demand, find new prospects, and increase conversions.
In this article, you’ll find 12 strategic changes, new technologies, and quick wins you can implement right now to boost your return on ad spend.
Marketing Spend Optimisation Case Study: Tray.io & Lunio
Removing worthless clicks from your PPC campaigns is a quick way to optimise your digital marketing budget. Bots and fake users won’t convert to customers, so by removing them from your traffic, you’ll reduce ad spend and see an uptick in conversions — just like Tray.io.
Tray.io is a digital platform designed to automate processes across dozens of apps, including Salesforce, Slack, and Hubspot. In May 2022, Tray.io began using Lunio to block fake ad engagements. The data below compares their paid marketing performance from May 2022 to Feb 2023 with the same time period from the year before.
- The red graph shows how many fake users Lunio identified and blocked from Tray.io campaigns month over month since implementation.
- Lunio prevented the loss of $73,677 which was reallocated back into campaigns to drive greater overall conversion volume.
- Click volume fell by 47.76% which contributed to a 40.04% decrease in costs.
- By significantly reducing costs through narrowing their target audience, Tray.io were focusing their budget exclusively on genuine customers. This resulted in a 14.79% increase in average CPC since higher quality traffic is more competitive.
- Despite the lowered volume of clicks and traffic, bounce rate decreased by 9.62%, pages per session increased by 8.47%, and most importantly, conversion rate increased by 14.39% – signalling Lunio helped significantly improve the overall quality of traffic.
The people reaching our website are now much more likely to be the kinds of leads we want, they’re more likely to be valid retargeting audiences, and they’re ultimately more likely to convert to customers. Lunio has delivered a huge lift for us metrics-wise since adoption.
Optimising marketing spend can be as easy as using the right tools. By implementing automated software that’s proven to detect and block fake traffic, you can protect your ad spend and get better results. Book a demo to see how Lunio can protect your PPC campaigns.
12 Ways to Optimise Marketing Spend
Implementing technology is just one way to get more from your marketing budget. Tim Frick, president of Mightybytes digital agency, believes creativity can help, too:
“Be smart about the resources you have at your disposal. By doing that, you should be able to take some time to reevaluate what’s working and what’s not.”
Here are 12 ways to optimise your marketing spend.
1. Decide What Counts as Digital Marketing
When allocating your budget, it’s important to know exactly what you need to pay for. So first and foremost, decide what counts as digital marketing.
Some areas (such as social media and PPC advertising) are clear cut digital marketing channels. But some may be less obvious:
|Definitely digital marketing||Maybe digital marketing|
Customer satisfaction surveys
Here’s why these grey areas might not fall under the digital marketing bracket:
- Email — this may not be used exclusively for marketing purposes; some businesses also use email to provide information about software downtime or policy changes
- Video — video marketing has taken off in a major way, but it can also be used for software demos and internal training
- Website development — your website is a major marketing tool, but other teams may make use of your site, too, such as HR and customer service
- User experience — great UX drives conversions, but it’s also important for product design and customer retention
- Customer satisfaction surveys — customer satisfaction survey results are often used as social proof, but they can also inform product developments and improve customer service.
These investments benefit multiple teams. So marketing managers must consult with other team leaders to spread the costs fairly.
2. Know Where to Find Your Audience
Knowing where your audience spends their time online helps you direct your resources to the right places. There’s no point spending £2,000 on a brilliant Twitter campaign if all your potential customers are over on Instagram.
Make sure you have accurate buyer personas. Buyer personas are avatars that embody your ideal customer: their likes, dislikes, challenges, and ambitions. Find out how to create buyer personas in this video:
When you know who your target audience is, you can find out where they like to lurk online. Use Google Analytics 4 to see where most of your valuable website traffic is coming from. Knowing this helps you redirect your budget to those channels that generate the most interest.
3. Experiment With New Channels
All businesses have their go-to marketing channels. Google is the most widely used PPC platform, closely followed by Facebook. But with TikTok, Snapchat, and Spotify all predicted to become billion-dollar advertising companies soon, there are lots of other places to use PPC.
Diversifying your paid marketing strategy can help you achieve greater growth without increasing your budget. Use your marketing analytics data to decide which new channels to explore. If you’ve seen great results using video on Instagram, you might also see success with TikTok or YouTube Shorts.
Starting with a low initial investment, test your ad campaigns on these new platforms. Use relevant advertising KPIs to validate your results. If your test campaigns are successful, you can gradually increase your spend.
Lunio protects PPC campaigns across all channels. So you can experiment with any paid media platform without worrying about the impact of bots and fake users. As well as protecting your ad spend, this also means you can rely on the results you see. You don’t need to worry about bots skewing your data.
4. Make the Most of Retargeting
97% of first-time site visitors leave your site without buying anything. That’s fair enough; they’re new to your brand and may not be ready to buy just yet. But you can still encourage them to return.
Remarketing is a relatively inexpensive way to boost brand awareness and promote conversions. You can retarget people across lots of different ad networks, including:
- Social media platforms
- Youtube retargeting
- Display ads.
Remarketing is a great way to capitalise on the traffic you’ve already generated through your search and social campaigns. And there are benefits further down the sales funnel, too. John Lincoln, CEO of Ignite Visibility, says:
“By knowing this person came to the page [previously], and then serving them a specific ad that’s associated with that page, I can get them to come back and potentially fill out a lead that they wouldn’t have filled out otherwise.
“Even if they did fill out a lead, and they’re inside of the sales cycle right now, it’s really good to reiterate that messaging to them. They could potentially have a higher close rate down the road, because they know that we’ve been successful and they’re seeing other good things about the company.”
So remarketing is an invaluable tool for marketers looking to get more from their marketing efforts with minimal cost.
5. Focus on Conversion Rate Optimisation
It’s easy to get carried away with measuring key performance indicators when assessing the success of your marketing strategies. Tim Frick says:
“A recession is a great opportunity for an organisation to create a better relationship with its data. You can pretty much measure anything in digital, and many people want to. But just because you can measure something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.”
Concentrate on the KPIs that matter most, such as conversion rate. A higher conversion rate often translates to increased revenue, so conversion rate optimisation should be a priority in your marketing strategy.
These tips will help you optimise your conversion rate:
- Use email and remarketing tactics to reduce abandoned carts
- Make sure your product delivers on your promises
- Optimise landing page user experience
- Ensure your site is secure (and remove any other barriers to conversion)
6. Match Your Landing Pages to Your Ads
When someone clicks your ad, nothing about your landing page should surprise them. Your messaging, tone, and offer should be consistent across both.
This ad by cheapflights.co.uk is a great example of consistent messaging:
And when you click through to the landing page, you taken here:
The URL and business name perfectly match the keyword, which gets them off to a great start. But there are lots of other neat similarities:
- Use of numbers is consistent — “100s of offers” in the ad is expanded to “1000s of airlines and travel agents” in the landing page
- Words like “deals” and “offers” reference their price point, a key factor of the original search
- Sentences are short, direct, and easy to understand in both texts
- The flight search tool is standard issue, making navigation super intuitive.
Ultimately, your landing page must deliver on what’s promised in your ad. If you overpromise and/or underdeliver, you’ll waste money on clicks that don’t convert.
Having strong consistency between ads and landing pages also boosts your Google Ads Quality Score, which improves your ad rank and boosts conversions.
7. Run a Brand Campaign
There’s a reason why 93% of agencies run branded PPC campaigns. In fact, there are three:
- Brand campaigns usually have a great return on ad spend
- Compete with competitors who are bidding on your brand name
- Take up more of the SERP with links to your website.
So if you’re not already, it’s worth allocating some of your PPC budget to a brand campaign in shopping or search.
Avoid running brand campaigns on Performance Max. Branded search terms can give PMax an inflated view of your campaign success, as people searching for your brand usually have higher conversion rates than others.
PMax relies on good data input for generating good results, so don’t skew your data by giving it a false impression of its own success.
8. Refine Your Keyword Strategy
Getting your keyword strategy right is one of the most important marketing tactics for optimising spend. There are several ways to refine your keyword strategy, including:
- Using long-tail keywords to organise ad groups and optimise landing pages — long-tail keywords tend to have a lower CPC, so you can spend less while reaching highly relevant audiences
- Seek high volume keywords with low competition — use Google’s Keyword Planner to find niche keywords that competitors aren’t bidding on
- Use purchase intent to measure keyword value — searches including words like “cost”, “buy” or “pricing” show intent to buy, so may be worth a higher bid.
It takes time to implement a good keyword strategy. But choosing your keywords carefully gives you more control over your PPC spend.
9. Introduce Negative Keywords
It’s not just the keywords you target that can affect your ad spend. It’s also the search terms your ad is inadvertently showing for.
Add irrelevant terms to your negative keyword list to ensure your ads are only served to valuable users. Here are some tips for setting up negative keyword lists:
- Look for terms that get clicks but no conversions — these terms may indicate that your landing page isn’t relevant to this keyword (or that lots of bots are clicking your ads)
- Use the Search Terms report — comb this report for irrelevant search terms your ad has previously been shown for
- Add negative keywords in bulk — save time by adding several negative keywords at once.
10. Optimise for Mobile
Almost 60% of web traffic now comes from a mobile device, so your website must be fit for mobile users. This includes:
- Having a responsive design that loads quickly
- Keeping landing pages free from clutter
- Making mobile conversions just as easy as desktop conversions
Your mobile user experience should be seamless. Not only is this great for SEO, it also promotes conversions. If your UX is better than your competitors’, people are more likely to shop with you than them.
11. Set Strategic Bids for Each Device
Analyse your campaign traffic to see whether the majority of your valuable ad clicks come from desktop, tablet, or mobile devices. You can then adjust your bids based on this.
For example, if you get more valuable clicks from mobile devices, adjust your bid percentage so more of your budget is used on mobile.
Valuable clicks (i.e. clicks that convert into customers) should be the driver here. A click fraud solution like Lunio helps you improve the quality of your site traffic.
12. Use Location Ad Targeting
Targeting the wrong audience can quickly drain your ad spend. Location targeting can help you avoid this.
If you only deliver to certain locations, make sure your ads aren’t being served to people in other areas. If you want to drive foot traffic to a physical store, use location targeting to only display your ads to people within driving distance.
If you haven’t used location targeting before, here’s a quick guide to getting set up:
Test Campaigns for Better, Cheaper Advertising
If you really want to know how effective your advertising strategy is, put it to the test. Try out variations in messaging, tone, design, and platform to see if you can improve performance. Google Ads specialist Miles McNair says:
Test, test, test. Don’t copy blindly what someone is telling you to do because it’s working for them. Run your own experiments to find what works for your business.
To optimise your marketing spend, implement A/B testing as part of your PPC strategy. By experimenting with ad copy, landing page formats, and keywords, you can improve your campaigns and get the most bang for your buck.