Invest in 2024 – How Marketers Can Best Employ EOY Budget

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It’s that time of year. As a marketer closing out 2023, you’re likely in one of two camps:

  1. Your budget was slashed halfway through the year and you’re scrounging value out of every last penny. Hold the line good friend, you’re certainly not the only one.
  2. You have a little nest egg of budget sitting on the sidelines that you need to put to work. As our CCO Nancy Cloutier likes to say, something stashed in the back pocket. 

That “little bit extra” is more common than you might think. Perhaps you set aggressive goals at the beginning of the year and only 75% of those activities made it to market. If so, you’re doing better than most. This business is hard.

We can agree on what you should NOT do … splurge that extra capital on rash “win-now” moves. Fair enough. 

But how should you employ that capital as efficiently as possible… in a short time frame … with an eye on the future? 

I asked a few of our channel experts the following question… I think you’ll sense a theme. 

“Client X reaches out. They have between $50k – $200k sitting on the sidelines to be employed by EOY. How can they best use this capital?”

Paid Media

John Samuelson, Director Performance Media

Diversify Your Channel Mix. Extra Q4 budget gives you the perfect opportunity to expand your reach beyond the standard channels and campaigns you’ve been leveraging. Programmatic and social campaigns can often be employed on accelerated timelines, by targeting accessible third-party audiences and pre-established first-party data segments already in your CRM. Use these campaigns to set-up a series of tests around new messaging angles or creative sets, with the goal of not only driving immediate revenue, but high-impact learnings that will advise your 2024 roadmap. 

Focused on Search Opportunities? We see many clients ignoring Microsoft Ads. Use this additional budget to duplicate campaigns into Microsoft Ads and track the channel vs. channel KPIs + overall site impact. Although the volume will be lower, you may be pleasantly surprised to see the positive return, which you can now add to your forecast for 2024.

SEO

Lincoln Rinehart, Sr. Director SEO

SEO opportunity assessment: Leverage the extra budget to set yourself up for success in 2024. Complete an opportunity assessment (with a partner like Smith) to determine the size of the prize—and the level of effort required to fully tap into that potential. Assess current state against the total opportunity, and what the most impactful changes are. Ground the plan in what can realistically be done quickly, focusing on high-impact, low-effort tactics first.

Set a foundation: Identify incremental changes that can have scalable impact. Make changes to page templates, not just pages; assess SEO-friendliness of site-wide elements, apply broad-stoke changes to improve adherence to SEO best-practices and set a foundation for long-term growth.

Web Experiences

Lindsay Peck, Director CO

A/B testing your website experience is one of the smartest ways to capitalize on your Q4 marketing investment, and set yourself up for success into next year and beyond. Do you have a list of tests that you’ve been wanting to run? Quick win optimizations that you know will move the needle? Q4 is a great time to kick off a proof-of-concept A/B testing program. Start with the low-hanging-fruit, easy-effort tests and a simple quick-to-implement testing tool like PageSense to get you off the ground. Once you have a few wins under your belt, then you can secure additional funding for next year to keep the momentum going. 

PR & Communications

Kristyn Wilson, EVP PR & Communications

Explore Influencer Relationships: Public relations is a relationship business, so use the end of the year to cultivate valuable relationships that will serve you now and in 2024. One approach is to engage in influencer partnerships. Compared to traditional advertising channels, influencer partnerships can be cost-effective. Micro-influencers, in particular, who have smaller but highly engaged audiences, often offer more affordable partnership opportunities while delivering excellent results. Some will even exchange custom content for trade! Work with a partner to uncover influencers who are perfectly suited for your product or business, and build genuine relationships that yield mutually-beneficial exposure. 

Data & Analytics

Hassan El Baytam, Sr. Analytics Strategist

Invest in data visualization: Q4 is a great time to invest in a thorough commerce dashboard to monitor the performance of marketing campaigns during the holiday season – Black Friday, Holiday Shopping, etc. This dashboard will be helpful to closely monitor seasonal campaigns and make quick, data informed decisions to improve ROI. 

Prioritize an analytics strategy and roadmap for 2024. Utilize the new tools and features available in GA4 to improve campaign performance at the audience level. Audience segmentation empowers you to uncover insights and create automated audiences for paid media campaigns. 

Insights

Caitlin Boroden, Head of Customer Insights

Take the guesswork out of 2024 planning and start asking questions – ask your customers questions. There are many ways you can go about collecting customer feedback, we recommend a combination of the following to find the perfect balance between feedback volume and feedback depth.

Customer Survey: Distribute a digital survey to your customers asking for their valuable feedback. Keep the survey short and sweet, with a combination of multiple-choice and long-form feedback fields. Want to further encourage participation? Consider offering a small incentive for their feedback such as a small discount code, a piece of merch, or free shipping on their next order. In a short amount of time, feedback should be rolling in and your customers will get the satisfaction that their thoughts are being heard.

Customer Interviews: One-to-one customer interviews will take feedback to the next level by providing more detail. The live Q&A experience will allow you to collect even more details and further probe on the feedback provided. Going into these conversations with a discussion guide to help ensure the conversation remains on target. Again, an incentive can go a long way. 

Once your data collection is complete, it’s time to analyze the feedback. In the end, you’re going to learn about the good, the bad, ways to improve, and ways to innovate. Take all of this feedback to heart and start incorporating new ideas into next year’s roadmap.

To recap, there are a number of forward-thinking ways to put your budget to work to close out the year. Take a step back, rank your areas of opportunity, and invest in building a stronger foundation for your 2024 campaigns.