Defining your digital marketing budget: time for change

marketing-budgetWhile many are still trying to get their heads around social media and social business, the digital business challenges already go much further and involve all departments and functions in and around the enterprise. Your digital marketing budget will have to follow the path towards customer-centric integration and company-wide enablement.

Soon all business will have a digital business component until the moment we won’t even speak about digital anymore. It’s pretty clear that digital and social technologies have now entered all layers of the enterprise and its’ ecosystem. Ignoring that is ignoring the future, the present and even the past of the connected, digital society.

The customer journey is increasingly digital and connected with great customer experiences as the fastest way to success in marketing, we know that. Employees also want digital tools and devices (the famous BYOD and consumerization phenomenon) and the integrated nature of the different technologies (and their impact) happening around us, requires us to work, think and even budget differently. This is not new but it still remains underestimated, especially in the ways we organize our businesses.

The changing role of CMOs and the impact on the digital marketing budget

From a marketing perspective the consequences are known. A connected or integrated marketing approach and a single customer view to manage the overall (digital) customer experience are a must. Today’s CMO can’t afford to stand aside and not deeply understand social and digital technologies and how they are used by customers and prospects anymore. He will be a key player in managing the overall (digital) customer experience, even if we keep inventing new roles in an effort to deny that reality for now. Do you really need a Chief Digital Officer, for instance, a role that clearly is on the rise? Think about it, realizing the shifts in the role of the CMO and the growing omnipresence of ‘digital’ everywhere you can imagine. What if it’s a temporary role, even if some businesses get good results employing one (depending on scope, culture, etc.).

The digital and social technology skillset is not just one to be acquired by the winning CMO of tomorrow. In fact, everyone involved in marketing, communications, PR, sales, and more, will need to be ‘digital-savvy’ and ‘social-savvy’. On top of that, marketers will need to have a high degree of analytical and data skills. Like it or not: 1) marketing becomes more and more data-driven (yes, Big Data) and 2) the pressure on delivering results in a measurable way will not decrease anytime soon.

A business that does not invest in training, knowledge transfer and skills acquisition regarding digital, analytics and social, across customer-facing roles and marketing – including the CMO – will be beaten by competitors having done these exercises. And, yes, in many firms it still starts with the basic understanding of channels and methods we have been using in digital and social for quite some years now, even if in the end it’s never ever about those channels.

Just as the CIO can’t ignore the business and marketing reality anymore, the CMO and marketing teams can’t ignore the digital reality anymore.

Beyond the siloed approach in defining digital marketing budgets

You also probably have allocated your digital marketing budgets and overall marketing budgets for 2014 in traditional silos such as email marketing, (online) advertising, social media marketing, events, PR, etc.

It might pretty well be the last time. Because chance is high that you are investing too much in each of them as the integrated and connected view, with content (marketing) as the glue, is absent, often leading to investing several times in similar and overlapping efforts.

When you allocate your digital marketing budgets, look at them beyond these traditional silos and start having that customer experience, data-driven and content-oriented approach revolving around the behavior of your customers, the connected buyer’s journey and the customer life cycle in the broadest sense. You’ll notice that there are many of these traditional budget silos where you can save quite a bit by realizing connected programs and investing in skills.

Collaboration and integration is the name of the game. Not for the sake of it but because you have no choice. Digital, analytical and customer-centric skills are the ways towards fame. Or towards having a job next year.

No budgets for training your teams and C-level execs regarding digital in the broad sense? Ask yourself how customer-adaptive you will be able to be without them. The days of experimentation and hesitation are over.

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