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How to structure your thinking when planning for the future

You can't predict the future. I don't care how smart you are, how prestigious the Univeristy you got your MBA from is, or what your horoscope said. The top economists never saw the 2008 financial crisis coming. The top political commentators didn't think Donald Trump would win the Republican nomination. Even the pollsters couldn't get the result of the 2015 UK general election right, and they were only having to predict what would happen the next day. So given that you aren't going to be able to work out what will happen in future, you shouldn't base your business planning on a single scenario, which we can broadly define as 'business as usual'. Instead, you should plan for multiple scenarios, which will allow you be more responsive to future changes that will impact your business. But how do you know what scenarios to plan…

Digital budgets increase in 2016

Good news for digital marketers where they can make the business case for more investment in digital media and technology! Over half of digital marketing departments will see growing budgets this year. Some 55% of organisations will be either increasing both their digital budget along with the overall spend or shifting existing budget to digital, leaving digital with more to play with. Only 11% are decreasing digital budgets, and less than a third are just keeping it the same. Provided you can prove ROI and justify digital spending, your budget should be fairly safe. The all important analytics will prove crucial here. Make sure to have data to hand to prove things like how much value your customer acquisition strategy is generating when you compare acquisition costs to customer lifetime value. If you're lucky you'll be in the half of digital marketers who see their budget increased…

Why Your Marketing Department Needs a New Marketing Plan and Marketing Budget — and Some Templates to Get You Started

Managing a marketing department often means having to prove that your marketing budget is money well spent. Since the ROI of marketing isn’t always obvious, it can be easy to get caught up in the never-ending cycle of reacting to analytics and reports. Chasing visitors, followers, subscribers, leads and sales can become a game of chasing fleeting metrics instead of thoughtfully executing a plan to accomplish the big-picture goals of your marketing department. [si_guide_block id="66555" title="Download Expert Member resource – Marketing budget spreadsheet template" description="This Smart Insights budgeting spreadsheet template has been created to provide a comprehensive checklist of modern marketing activities you need to budget for including managing digital experiences (mobile and web), content marketing-led campaigns and traditional offline channels."/] This is a problem that can be solved with two vital documents:…

Convincing "the boss" of the need for bigger digital marketing budgets

Those of us who would describe ourselves as ‘digital specialists’ have a vested interest in evangelizing digital; we love it, we believe in it and we want to do more. However, working in real-world organisations, we need to make the business case to convince those who control the budgets that we require to implement our digital plans. In this post I'll give some ideas on making the business case to the company owner, finance or marketing managers. Of course, every boss has a different personality. What works for you? Otherwise change won’t be fast enough and the effectiveness of our marketing activity is likely to decline as consumers or business customers switch to new platforms; we risk “missing the boat”. The reality is that “The Digital Revolution” has not resulted in whole new…

How forecasting as part of marketing planning can help you set more accurate marketing objectives defining future opportunities

Forecasting is a key part of the process for creating marketing plans, both for annual investment and for individual campaigns. Creating more accurate forecasts of the returns from digital marketing is now essential given the growth in investment in digital marketing. Digital accounts for an ever-increasing proportion of spend and the results delivered from marketing activities. It is important then, for the modern marketer, to learn how to use data and analytical tools to generate forecasts with sufficient rigour. In our new guide, we cover techniques for forecasting that can help improve the accuracy the basis of marketing strategies, plans and budget allocation. [si_guide_block id="66150" title="Download Expert Member resource – Marketing Forecasting Techniques guide" description="In this guide we review the techniques which are most relevant to creating forecasts given the impact of digital disruption. This…

Should you just live “in-the-moment” or should you plan ahead using different planning horizons?

At Smart Insights we believe that businesses with a more strategic planning approach to their marketing and digital marketing are more likely to succeed in the long-term, despite the fact that many businesses don’t have a long-term digital or marketing plan. We’re not saying that those with a more ad hoc approach aren’t capable of doing great marketing that can get results, they certainly are. Rather, we’re saying that we’ve seen that they may miss out on core “always-on” digital marketing techniques that need to be prioritised and resourced over ongoing campaign activities which become all consuming and still often get the lion’s share of attention. In our research into how businesses manage online marketing, we were interested to see how marketers plan. We saw that short-term non-strategic planning was most common among businesses who answered. …

The why and how of writing a business case for marketing investment

‘You’ll need a Business Case for that’ are the words that often strike dread to the hearts of those trying to seek investment in digital initiatives from their FD or CMO. The cynical amongst us suspect it’s delivered with the intent to kill off an idea through forcing us to ‘jump through hoops’ and ‘bureaucracy’. But as a marketing or Ecommerce manager, the Business Case is actually your best friend! In this post I'll step you through what I have found in my experience is required for an effective business case which will get support from colleagues. If you're an Expert member of Smart Insights, I've also developed a Word template of a Business case for download.

Why have a Business Case?

Packed with solid preparation, a well-researched, well-considered document showing clear…

Using the Smart Insights RACE marketing funnel to develop a Digital Strategy

As we enter 2015, the latest stats on use of digital media and technology all point to the growing importance of creating a digital strategy. Did you know that During 2015 the number of global Internet users will pass 3 billion (Source: ITU) 80% of Internet users now own a smartphone (Source: Global Web Index survey of 32 major markets) Search remains the main traffic driver for websites (Source: Global Web Index) The need for businesses to compete to reach and engage their audiences as they use digital devices is clear and well-established. Yet we know from our Managing Digital Marketing research for 2014 and 2015 that many businesses don't have a digital strategy - only around half of all businesses are using digital media and technology strategically.

Using the RACE system for Digital Strategy development

To help businesses create or refine their digital strategy, Dan…

Which 'Demandgen' channels and content marketing techniques are most effective for B2B marketers?

Allocating budget and resources to the right channels is always a challenge, even after fully analysing your personas, past campaigns and competitor activity. Properly defining demand generation and then integrating into your strategy is key to developing a future-proof marketing plan. The B2B Demand Generation Report from marketing technology SoftwareAdvice.com explores what companies are investing in to 'fuel their Demandgen'.

Which are the most effective channels for generating high quality leads?

This four quadrant presentation can help prioritise your focus according to your business goals. For generating high quantity and quality leads, Trade Shows, Referral Marketing and in-house email marketing were the best channels. Bear in mind, that this is from a sample of 200 B2B marketing organisations in the United States.

Which content…

7 steps to a better project estimate brief and costing

Whether you use spreadsheets or an automated / integrated marketing project management service platform, the important thing is to get your estimating discipline right from the start. Whether you're developing an estimate for in-house digital projects or for your clients, a lack of accurate estimating will lead to an impact on your profitability and credibility for future projects. By ‘accurate’ I mean estimates that factor in all the resources / roles and time that will be required to meet the project objectives and at rates that the business has set to achieve a desired profit. Underestimating the time required, the numbers of people involved and / or the level of seniority or experience required on a project is sometimes done deliberately (in the belief that only low costs will attract new work). That’s a commercial decision for you to make but my…