The 5 Quarter Approach to 2016 Digital Marketing Budgets

Robert Cavilla Content Marketing, Digital Marketing Leave a Comment

Q4 Starts Today, Are You Ready?


Summer officially ended last week and now we find ourselves entering the final quarter of the year. If you haven’t already, this is a great time to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What have you learned from your digital marketing efforts this year?
  2. Are you ready for the holidays?
  3. Do you have enough information to get your 2016 budget approved?

If you don’t have the answers to these questions, it’s not too late.

What have you learned so far in 2015?



Everyone’s marketing season is different, but at this point we are 75% through the year. Unless you are heavily reliant on the upcoming holiday season, most marketers should have enough data to take stock of what worked and what didn’t.

Analytics: Is everything tracking correctly? If not, make this an immediate priority. There is still plenty of time to clean up your analytics and tracking before the end of the year, trust me it will be liberating and put you in position for a more enjoyable 2016. Some things to consider:

  • Have you dealt with the rise in referral spam that has exploded in 2015? If not, clean that up so that your overall statistics more accurately represent real site visits.
  • If you use Google Analytics have you implemented Universal Analytics? One better: have you implemented Google Tag Manager? As an agency we love tag manager, as once it’s set up we can track almost any on-site action – not just URL based goals – and all without having to install more code.
  • Even if you haven’t run any remarketing this year, get the proper code in place to start building your lists. Everyone is doing remarketing and if you haven’t this year, you will in 2016 (or your replacement will).
  • Take the time to do a thorough analysis of your user behavior. Not just where they came from but where they entered, what path they took, what they did, and where they left. Understanding your users will help inform everything from web design to content marketing. You may even be surprised to learn some bigger picture insights about your overall business regardless of digital opportunities.

Search Engine Optimization/Marketing: Maybe the old kid on the block, but people keep searching and SEO and SEM (PPC) continue to generate extraordinary results for marketers.

  • How did your site make it through Google’s Mobilegeddon update? If you didn’t have a mobile site before the April update that’s one thing, but if you still don’t have a mobile friendly web site, shame on you.
  • Do you really know how your SEO is performing? It used to be easy when search engines told you which keywords were driving traffic and conversions but with ‘term not provided’ reporting it gets fuzzy. Go beyond keyword analysis and find out which unique pages/URLs are driving organic traffic. Use paid ads to test what keywords work before investing SEO resources blindly.
  • Is your paid search strategy to set it and forget it? Hopefully you’ve been diligently optimizing throughout the year, but if not make this a priority for the last 3 months. Spend some time not only to improve performance, but also to truly understand your benchmarks for 2016.

Social Media: So do you have this whole social media thing figured out yet? If so,  let us know because we have a job for you. Otherwise, don’t get overwhelmed but set some goals.

  • Do you have a social media governance model? Basically, do you know who is doing what, when, and why? If not, figure that out even if it means changes in staffing responsibilities.
  • Are you just active on Facebook? Focused just on Twitter? Use the end of the year to test as many channels as possible. At least you don’t have to worry about Google Plus any more. Even if you don’t invest heavily in all channels long-term,  you won’t know until you test them.
  • What value have you gotten from your social media efforts? Likes are nice, but are you really engaging with your audience, and is it even the right audience? Look to see if your social media channels are driving brand awareness, leads or sales.
  • 2015 has been the year of social media advertising. The promise of demographic and interest level targeting has finally resulted in real advertising products. Facebook itself has a dizzying array of ad targeting options – check out our video on how to set those below. Take the time to at least understand what options are available (or will be soon) on Facebook, and Twitter, and LinkedIn…and Pinterest…and Instagram…and still others. Good luck.


Are you ready for the holidays? (not just a question for retailers)

The holidays are blah, blah, blah days away. Yup, we all get it. However, if you are a retailer and aren’t ready for the holidays, the 11th hour is fast approaching.

  • Are you running Shopping Ads on Google? If you haven’t set up a product feed yet do it now, even if you don’t activate the ads yet. Its important to get your process in place for updating your feed. Google doesn’t approve the feeds over night, and you’ll inevitably have some errors to fix. If you wait to the last minute, you’re only asking for trouble.
  • Don’t rely just on paid search and social ads over the holidays. Complement your ads with a strong content marketing effort. You’ll be too busy to do it during the holidays, so write your blog and social media posts now and schedule them to post later. If you don’t have a well planned out editorial calendar yet make that a priority.

So maybe you’re not a retailer. That shouldn’t matter. Doesn’t everyone want to close out the year strong? Sure some B2B activity spikes in Q1 when people have new budgets to spend. But there are potential clients out there who still have their own check list of things to accomplish before year end, and budgets to spend by the end of the year to make sure they get them again next year.

  • Finish Q4 with a strong content marketing effort. Even if your buyers can’t buy until Q1 get on their radar now. And the more traffic you drive to blog posts and other content the more you can build your remarketing list for ads when people do have budget.
Is your 2016 marketing budget ready?


show me money

Ah budget season. Every company has a different process, but sometime soon you’ll need a digital marketing budget, and one that has a good chance to be approved. How much research you put in to it can be the difference between coming up with ideas and actually having the resources to execute your ideas. And don’t forget to budget for the unknown. New digital marketing opportunities seem to appear daily. There will be one in 2016 that we’ll all want to do that we don’t even know about yet.

  • Remember the recommendation to clean up your analytics? This is the best way to not only know what worked, but to justify your 2016 budget recommendation with cold hard data. Show it works and you’ll not only look like a rock star but you’ll get more budget.
  • Regardless of budget allocation by channel, do you even know where you want to play? Its not too late to test your options. Run micro-campaigns before the end of the year using free and paid options. Don’t go by Google’s estimated CPCs, its never what you pay in reality. Find out what your CPCs really are before determining your 2016 paid search budget. Make sure LinkedIn is on your list, or check it off your list, but not without testing it.

It’s not too late!

There is still time to do your housekeeping, analyze your 2015 marketing efforts, run some more tests by year-end, and come up with a great 2016 marketing plan and budget.

Still overwhelmed? Give us a call, we can help.

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Robert CavillaThe 5 Quarter Approach to 2016 Digital Marketing Budgets

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