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In light of recent shakeups at tech companies, a possible looming recession and enduring inflation, it’s never been more important for companies to reallocate marketing budgets across a variety of platforms to maximize return on investment. Collectively, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet (Google) and Meta (Facebook/Instagram) have lost more than $3 trillion in market value this year alone, according to Bloomberg.
Frequent mass layoffs and highly volatile technology stock prices have led companies to wonder whether these firms are stable enough to continue advertising with. And even if they are, should channel priorities change?
A few digital media shift highlights of 2022:
- After Elon Musk’s chaotic takeover of Twitter — including his sudden departure as CEO and both introducing and then disposing of subscriptions for Twitter Blue — advertisers have been anxiously pulling paid media spend, fearing brand safety, misinformation and minimal content moderation.
- Tech layoffs were so common that they quickly became trending hashtags, including #TwitterLayoffs and #MetaLayoffs.
- Meta’s valuation plunged this past February and set off Wall Street’s worst drop in nearly a year, with Meta shares falling more than 26%, representing a $230 billion decrease in its market value, according to The New York Times. This plunge comes on the heels of Facebook’s re-brand to Meta, including a pivot from driving brand growth through performance-centric ads to its Metaverse future vision focused on augmented and virtual reality.
So, how can leaders confidently put together 2023 marketing budgets and forecast return on ad spend (ROAS) when the technology firms they’ve been advertising with — and upon which they have become so reliant to drive brand awareness, new leads and revenue — have seemingly become so unstable?
My experience managing digital marketing at B2C companies like Nike, L’Oréal and Meta, and now as vice president of digital media at The Bliss Group (a data-driven marketing communications agency focused on financial services, professional services and healthcare) grants me unique insight into the future of these and other media platforms.
With that in mind, here are tips for optimizing 2023 marketing plans and budgets:
1. What do the metrics show? Re-evaluate your analytics
Performance starts and ends with a weekly assessment of metrics. The ability to determine why numbers are up or down is critical in order to drive sustainable growth. For example, if Twitter is an important channel for your brand engagement strategy, start looking more closely at recent trends. Have your followers been significantly increasing or decreasing, and more quickly than usual? An unexpected increase could indicate bots, while a sudden decrease could indicate that followers are leaving the platform. If you’re seeing a significant decrease, it might impact referral traffic from Twitter to your company’s website, potentially leading to fewer new visits and leads.
Tip: For Twitter, it might be worth pausing ads until the platform stabilizes, and re-allocating that budget portion to another channel like TikTok, Instagram or LinkedIn, depending on where your audience is. And for organic social media, be sure to monitor comments on your corporate Twitter account. If sentiment is trending more negatively than usual, re-consider the type of content you’re promoting and/or how frequently you post. For B2B firms, it might be worth re-focusing on other channels, like LinkedIn.
2. Who are you talking to? Re-assess your audience
The way advertisers identify and target audiences is changing, including increased friction between balancing data privacy best practices and delivering personalized content. To provide a truly one-to-one user journey, marketers need to have a clear understanding of who they’re talking to. The challenge? There has been a heightened global focus on data privacy, with government regulation at the forefront (i.e., GDPR in the EU, Google Chrome’s possible deprecation of third-party cookies and Apple’s iOS changes).
Because of these shifts, it might become more difficult for companies to identify a highly segmented audience, track its behavior and assess paid media metrics. This could impact digital advertising campaigns’ re-targeting, measurement and attribution. (Source: Meta & Deloitte Digital, Q3 2022).
Ensure that your organization clearly understands what audience data is being collected and by whom, what technology tools are housing that data and how you plan to leverage information in marketing communications and reporting. In other words, continue to invest in paid media campaigns, but be sure to prioritize owned media by capturing first-party data on your website, rather than being completely reliant on third-party data through various ad platforms.
Tip: To grow an audience base through owned media, focus on collecting new email addresses on your website (lead generation), then follow up with a strategic lead nurture campaign in which your company sends segmented “Welcome” emails, with personalized content to new users. By honing your website customer relationship management strategy, if third-party cookies were to go away in the future, your company will be prepared, since it has already developed a direct relationship with its audience and captured information in a trustworthy way.
3. What happens after the click? Create a streamlined user experience
More than 80% of smartphone users access email on their devices, but if they are not easily readable on mobile, consumers delete them in three seconds, according to HubSpot. If subscribers open your email, click on the content and land on your website, what messaging do they see? Do they take an action, or do they immediately leave? It’s critical to use responsive design and prioritize the mobile website journey.
Tip: Create a seamless “after the click” experience. Align your company’s email with its website content. Develop concise benefits-oriented copy with a clear image, a consistent user experience that ensures all key messages are “above the fold” (at the top of the mobile landing page) and a clear call-to-action, using buttons that are action-oriented, such as “Download Now”). The simpler the user experience, the higher the engagement.