At the heart of every successful ecommerce business is a carefully crafted marketing budget that enables the brand to engage customers at every stage of the funnel.
Let’s face it: you have limited resources to achieve your objectives.
How you allocate your funds and marketing priorities can make the difference between surviving or thriving in today’s competitive digital landscape.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to optimize your online marketing budget across multiple channels depending on the stage of your business.
1. Identify Your Business Maturity & Marketing Priorities
Every business is unique, which is why it’s important to first identify what stage your business is in before creating a budget.
Budget allocation and digital advertising strategies vary widely by business type, maturity, and stage.
If you’re a start-up, nobody knows who you are yet. You need to generate awareness for your brand through upper funnel campaigns that include Facebook prospecting, YouTube and the Google Display Network.
– Josh Brisco, Senior Manager, Retail Search Operations at CPC Strategy
Newer start-ups benefit most from brand awareness campaigns when demand generation is essential and customer acquisition is cheap, whereas an established retailer should be focusing on how to capture demand efficiently.
There are two major ecommerce business types: brands and resellers.
If you’re a brand, you find yourself in one of three distinct categories:
- Historically wholesale
If you’re a reseller, you’re either a:
- Traditional reseller, or
- Reseller and house brand
Digitally native direct-to-consumer brands that started out online, wholesalers that are building their own direct-to-consumer model, and resellers all feature unique differences to take into consideration when building out their online marketing budget.
Your business maturity is important in evaluating what kinds of marketing campaigns you should be prioritizing.
Brands and resellers that are early on in the growth phase will want to prioritize upper funnel demand generation across multiple channels.
Older, more mature brands and resellers with an established customer base should be devoting more resources to capturing existing demand and placing best practices at the bottom of the funnel to drive conversions.
As you start to gain maturity, your brand will also gain recognition. Once shoppers are more familiar with your brand — that’s when you can shift some of your spend further down to your mid-funnel campaigns.
-Josh Brisco, Senior Manager, Retail Search Operations at CPC Strategy
2. Allocate Your Budget According to Your Funnel Priorities
Once you’ve established what stage your business is in, it’s time to identify exactly where your funds should be allocated to maximize your returns on campaign and ad spend.
It’s important to recognize that every retailer needs to be present throughout the funnel — the difference is in how much emphasis is placed on each stage of the funnel according to your marketing priorities.
Next, we will identify these ideal budgeting priorities according to your ecommerce business maturity.
3. Create an Online Marketing Budget Template
Here are some sample budget templates that we’ve seen success with a wide range of clients. Every business is different — so treat these budgets as guidelines rather than scripture.
Digital brands in the start-up phase
The priority for most start-ups is simply getting the word out; generating awareness and demand for their brand and product offering.
Campaign and ad spend skews heavily toward the top funnel marketing initiatives.
Digital brands in the mature phase
Brands characterized as mature have an established digital presence on one or multiple channels and have an existing customer base.
The early phase of cheap customer acquisition has evolved into prioritizing customer lifetime value and customer retention to drive lower funnel conversions.
Historically wholesale brands
Older, more established wholesale brands making a push into the digital landscape benefit from having established offline channels and brand recognition.
We’ve seen success with allocating a larger portion of budget toward demand capture campaigns with a more balanced ratio between demand generation, fostering, and re-targeting.
Traditional resellers & house brands
Traditional resellers and house brands both benefit from having an established brand presence with physical shelf space and recognizable product offerings that customers frequent in-store and now online.
It’s a different strategy for mature brands that sell in-store or already have established retail channel partnerships. These brands don’t need to spend as much on demand generation because they’ve already invested in their brand recognition and benefit from the branding their channel partners invest.
-Josh Brisco, Senior Manager, Retail Search Operations at CPC Strategy
Both of these businesses vary to a degree, but they share a similar priority in that they need to capture demand rather than creating it. Customers know these businesses and products already; they need to be able to easily find, access and engage with the brand through relevant digital channels.
4. Apply Your Budget to the Right Marketing Channels
Now that you’ve established a budget allocation that fits your business needs, it’s time to apply that budget to the appropriate channels.
The digital marketing landscape is complex; there are many different platforms and understanding each is critical for leveraging their strengths to reach and win over your audience.
Let’s take a look at two example budgets for the young start-up brand and more mature digital brand.
The young start-up brand: Sunshine Apparel
Sunshine apparel is a fictional client that shares the typical traits of an ambitious start-up brand.
In Step #3 we established the reasons behind appropriating a large portion of budget for brand awareness to create demand for Sunshine branded apparel.
We already know that how we want to allocate our budget to maximize our generation in the growth phase of a brand.
But how do we apply this budget to the funnel?
Here is what a full funnel, omnichannel approach to marketing would look like using this start-up budget.
2. As consumers are introduced to Sunshine Apparel’s unique brand and product offering, we begin gathering data to understand which audience groups perform best and then replicate those audiences using Lookalike and Similar Audiences on both Facebook and YouTube.
3. As these audiences become familiar with Sunshine Apparel, they will likely research the brand and products on Google and Bing search, which is why we’ve appropriated budget to ensure that Sunshine Apparel shows at the top of the SERP when these users search for our branded terms.
4. At the bottom we have best practices for driving lower funnel conversions for consumers that show engagement with our brand: retargeting on YouTube and Google Display, remarketing lists of high converting audiences, and Dynamic Product Ads on Facebook.
The mature digital brand: Strong Water Bottle Co.
Strong Water Bottle Co. is no stranger to the digital landscape; this brand has been around for several years and has an established presence on multiple digital channels and a significant customer base.
This brand’s priorities lie further down the funnel rather than at the top — as there’s already demand for this brand’s products. Strong Water Bottle Company is going to benefit most by capturing that demand with effective nurturing, capturing, and re-targeting campaigns that drive repeat purchasers and lower funnel conversions.
Let’s take a look at what this budget provides when we apply it to a digital omnichannel campaign that addresses every part of the funnel.
You’ll notice that Strong Water Bottle Co. uses many of the same ad units, but the budgeting has been rearranged to place marketing resources toward the middle and bottom of the funnel.
Brands with an established digital presence and customer base grow more profitably not from acquiring new customers alone, but through finding ways to engage their existing customers to increase order frequency, lifetime value, and ultimately drive more revenue.
The Final Takeaway
Building a digital marketing budget to grow your business becomes much easier once you’ve identified your marketing priorities.
The priorities for a young, digitally native brand are going to be a lot different than a reseller or wholesale brand that with an established offline model and brand recognition.
After you’ve identified what budget is most appropriate to reach your objectives, it’s time to apply that budget to channels that will target and engage your audience at every stage of the funnel.
With the right resources being applied across multiple channels (Google, Facebook, YouTube, etc.), your business can then create an uninterrupted customer journey that powers your brand to grow profitably.
You’ve got your budget, are you ready to learn how to target each part of the funnel?
Here are some posts to get started.
Full Funnel Guides
Top to Middle Funnel Guides
Middle to Bottom Funnel Guides