Mark Nicholson is the Marketing VP for Match Financial personal loans, credit and debt solutions.
Over the years, I’ve worked as a marketer in various verticals. After a stint of McJobs that followed high school, I eventually settled into a career in communications within finance news, transitioned later to marketing and eventually found myself in marketing communications for personal finance.
No matter the industry, one of the main challenges I’ve faced is the allocation of the marketing budget in order to get the most out of our spend — in fact, it’s a common challenge for most marketers.
Working in the financial sector, for a company that offers personal loans, credit and debt solutions, I’ve realized there are several personal money management lessons that can be applied to marketing.
Make Your Money Work For You
Saving money is just smart, but where you put it can make a world of difference. The same can be said for your marketing dollars. You can go with the safe play or try for better returns.
The safe play in personal finance would be to put your money in a savings account, where your returns are usually low. With a little risk comes the possibility of rewards. Rather than just saving, look to be investing in your future, and the same holds true with your marketing.
Develop your go-to standards to drive those top-of-the-funnel leads and prospects, while also finding new opportunities that deliver more bang for your buck. For example, paid search might be a standard, but as you develop other channels that are less costly to perform, it can offset your spend and allow you to shift your budget while reducing your cost per acquisition.
Show Me The Money
You want returns from your investments, and the key to effectively putting your money to work is being able to gauge what it’s doing for you, double down on any wins and cut your losses. Spending where you find value and a positive return on investment (ROI) would be at the heart of most campaigns because sales equal growth. Monitoring and measuring make for smart plays.
When you get granular and determine associated costs within your funnel, such as cost per lead (CPL) or cost per acquisition (CPA), the control of your marketing spend can change. It allows you to see what’s working, or not, and that can help you scale.
Allow yourself to collect a reasonable amount of data, such as impressions and clicks, before making decisions. Opinions will vary, as would markets and demand, but a few thousand impressions would be a good sample to start. For lower-demand topics, that might mean waiting a week before making changes, where other verticals you might only need a day or two.
Keep in mind, you should only make a single change at a time; otherwise, it becomes difficult to gauge what might have moved the needle in either direction.
In a study conducted by Stanford Business School, it was observed how a lemonade stand experiment staffed by children demonstrated a valuable lesson. Researchers observed how signage that was money related had less response, and less of an intent to buy, while messaging that focused on benefits or experiences and tried to establish a personal connection with the product tended to do better.
It’s worth noting that when it comes to business-to-business (B2B), this line of thinking doesn’t apply as much because messaging on how to save time and money is often identified with the most. But when it comes to marketing to consumers, suggesting benefits or creating a connection is the way to go.
You have bills to pay, and before you spend on extravagances, your budget needs you to take care of these first. Your marketing budget plays a similar role: You need to cover the essentials for growth and acquisition before anything else. These essentials often include ad spend for customer acquisition to keep feeding your funnel with leads.
When you’ve taken care of your priorities, then you are able to explore other “investments,” or opportunities to expand your portfolio and its returns.
There is something to be said for diversifying your investment with varying levels of risk that can also be applied to how your marketing is allocated. When it comes to investing, you have probably heard the saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” This all-in approach can be a big risk because everything has to work for the investment to pay off. But there are no guarantees, and no matter how much of a sure thing you think that you are looking at, diversification is always wise.
The same can be said with your marketing, advertising and customer acquisition strategies. Place your bets on the tried, tested and true, while also experimenting modestly with alternative channels or methods to develop success with your marketing. Much like compound interest, reinvesting in marketing that works can deliver exponentially greater results.
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