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With a projected $120 billion-spend on U.S. digital marketing by 2021, there’s no question it should be part of your 2018 overall marketing budget. With a new fiscal year looming, what non-negotiables should you include?

Basic components

Forbes reports, “Investment in paid search, display advertising, social media advertising, online video advertising and email marketing will pace to 46% of all advertising in five years.”

With that framework in mind, here are some areas of focus to attend to:

Website updates

With mobile use increasing, your site simply must be mobile-friendly. After all, it’s your brand’s home base online. All digital marketing starts there, so be sure it’s current and optimized for easy viewing on any device.

Another goal is to become a master of micro-moments – which answer consumer needs perfectly when they search. To do that, you have to have a solid understanding of what consumers expect. We’ll talk more about that in a moment.

Finally, be sure your overall brand persona is in line with your social branding, so consumers know exactly what you’re all about wherever they encounter you.

Display ads versus native

Though native ads are more useful within the context of creating a seamless, personalized user experience, banner ads are far from dead judging by their success in 2016. The split between these options is dependent on your brand’s specific needs and results.

Email

Email marketing is headed in a direction that resembles “product management,” with an assist from machine learning and data science, according to MediaPost. As it becomes more tied to the overall customer experience, the ability to integrate data more readily with other data streams is only a matter of time.

Social media

In addition to being a conduit for consumer engagement, social media is a vast resource for consumer and competitor insights. The data gleaned from social analytics isn’t limited to the social realm, or your marketing department. In truth, social data can power overall brand strategy across several business units – and should.

SEO

Quality backlinks, quick-loading mobile pages, and optimizing for voice search are just a few considerations for brands moving into 2018. Don’t neglect this area or your visibility may suffer.

Video, video, video

Video must be part of your content strategy (more on that below). Why? Ad spend on video is up 114% since 2014 because of the accessibility video provides, especially for smaller businesses without the budget for TV ads.

Consider these YouTube stats:

  • People of all ages watch YouTube: 18- to 24-year-olds, 11%; 25- to 34-year-olds, 23%;  35- to 44-year-olds, 26%; 45- to 54-year-olds, 16%; 55- to 64-year-olds, 8%, 65+,  3%; unknown age, 14%. (Source: Fortunelords)
  • YouTube mobile reaches more users in the 18- to 34-year-old and 18- to 49-year-old demographics than any cable network in the U.S. This is also true for YouTube overall. (Source: YouTube)
  • 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. (Source: Google)

That’s to say nothing of the 8 billion videos watched on Facebook daily. Video has to be part of your digital marketing mix.

Content marketing

Redline Digital recommends investing 40% of your budget on improving owned content, and another 25% on boosting it. In other words – content is hugely important.

But are these numbers relevant to your specific brand? And what kinds of content work best? And which other areas are most important to your budget?

Use social analytics to determine allocation of funds

The answers to all the above questions is individual, and can be determined by applying the last critical element of your digital marketing budget: social media monitoring tools.

The best versions of this software tell you everything you need to know:

  • What your audience is thinking and feeling
  • Which content they find relevant and engaging
  • Which channels they frequent
  • What competitors are up to – and how consumers feel about all of it
  • Where there are gaps in your customer service strategy
  • Whether your brand logo is being misappropriated
  • Whether a potential crisis is brewing on social media

Combining social listening and sentiment analysis tells you exactly where to focus your efforts in a number of areas. For instance, with regard to content, do you need to hire writers to improve your offerings, or can you take advantage of user generated content (UGC)?

Are there influencers you can activate to save resources on the brand awareness front? Social listening tools let you identify the most passionate, active members of your audience.

What about active campaigns? Monitoring them in real-time means you can adjust anything that isn’t working to extract the maximum benefit from the life of every campaign. That’s a huge improvement over looking at ROI after the fact and trying to do better next time.

After all, you want to ensure conversions.

Expect the unexpected

As you create a budget for the coming year, remember to leave room for surprises. Advances in technology, trends, and consumer preferences will always inspire changes you can’t imagine now.

Keeping up with social data in real-time is the only way to roll with those punches when they come – or to even be ahead of them.

Social analytics tools are the best way to look back at historical data as well as stay on top of emerging trends. Understand both and you’ll spend wisely, whatever your budget.

Want to see real-time analytics in action? Reach out for a customized demo!

Image from Reynermedia

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