If you’re looking to stretch ad dollars in a lean economy, this guide will highlight ways to boost your ROAS without breaking the marketing budget.
Make the most of your marketing budget with data analysis, performance marketing, and other efficiency-minded techniques
When the economy slows down, marketing efficiency gains newfound importance. Suddenly, every outbound dollar is under more pressure to bring in more revenue. And although it can be tempting to curtail marketing efforts in unstable conditions, research shows that keeping the marketing machine moving can position your business for newfound success. So the question becomes: How do you stretch ad dollars to their maximum potential? These strategies will help you identify what works for your business and double down without overextending.
Strategies to Stretch Ad Dollars
Lean Into the Downturn
In periods of economic instability, many companies feel the need to pull back. Belt-tightening is seen as the safe thing to do, and marketing budget is often the first thing to get the axe. While retreating may suit some companies, don’t assume it will suit yours. After all, instability affects your competitors, too. And when they cut back on advertising presence, more inventory becomes available for you.
Experts recommend that companies avoid cutting their marketing budgets during recessions. Instead, they suggest companies reallocate their budget to better reflect the new market conditions. That can mean adjustments to form and content. Shifting from 30-second video ads to 15-second ones, for example, can help maintain frequency while opening up budget for other channels. It can also mean using messaging that reflects the challenges consumers face while incorporating humor, emotion, and a sincere attempt to offer help.
This strategy functions as an investment, trading current profits for future market share. A Bain & Company analysis found these companies were most successful when they used test-and-learn experiments on digital channels and closely monitored their return on investment (ROI) from advertising, promotions, and other marketing.
Engage Performance Marketing Channels
Many mainstream marketing channels provide very little in the form of feedback. Linear television, for example, has no way to directly attribute a sale to an ad spot and can only guess at the number of people who saw the ad. This makes it hard to attribute revenue to marketing channels, campaigns, or creative. When you can’t measure your results, it’s hard to figure out what works and double down on it.
Performance marketing channels, on the other hand, ensure your ad dollars go as far as possible. For example, connected TV (CTV) marketing platforms such as tvScientific use programmatic advertising to achieve granular audience targeting, putting your ads in front of the consumers most likely to convert. They can then attribute each conversion to the specific campaign and creative used to give you a clearer picture of efficacy, which lets you build out return on ad spend (ROAS) models that help you refine your marketing strategy. These capabilities are part of why CTV is gaining popularity among marketers. To learn more about how CTV improves marketing efficiency, read our free ebook: How CTV Advertising Powers the Performance TV Revolution.
Dig Into Data and Refine Your Targeting
Audience data is a treasure trove of information about who uses your product and who is most likely to buy it in the future. The better you understand your target audience, the better you’ll understand where to find them. That makes it easier to find placements that feature high target audience density, which in turn can stretch ad dollars by making each one you spend more likely to generate a conversion.
Understanding your audience means harvesting demographic data as well as interests. Where do your customers live? How old are they? What do they do for work and what do they do for fun? Your website and your social media channels can help you find this information, and the right advertising partner can make the process even easier. You can then refine your criteria for identifying top customers by setting behavior goals such as minimum time spent on your site to flag the most interested customers. By advertising to those customers, you follow the path of least resistance from ad to conversion.
Customer data can also help you build out segments of your audience. By sorting customers according to shared characteristics, you’ll start to notice patterns in how they interact with your product. You can use these trends to create buyer personas that serve as shorthand references for the different customers you serve. By adding these guardrails to your campaign, you ensure that each marketing effort you deploy serves at least one buyer persona in a specific, considered way. Plus, you can continue changing, refining, and adding to your collection of buyer personas over time to fuel the effect.
Lean into Retargeting Campaigns
Top-of-funnel marketing efforts are always valuable, but they’re also the furthest marketing step from revenue generation. As new customer acquisition costs have risen almost 50% in the past five years, generating demand can be a long-term play that you may not have the runway to make.
Instead, consider focusing on prospects who have already demonstrated interest in your business. Maybe they’ve clicked on an ad, visited your site, opened an email from you, or even bought something in the past. But for whatever reason, they've fallen short of converting. Retargeting campaigns flag these customers and tailor future ad efforts to their specific sensibilities. By tinkering with timing and creative, marketers can win over prospects while spending less than a typical, start-from-zero ad campaign. That makes retargeting more cost-efficient than acquiring an entirely new customer, leading to lower cost per acquisition (CPA) and boosting each campaign’s ROAS.
Leverage Brand Equity
Customers want to know that the businesses they patronize are offering a quality product or service, and their best gauge for that is hearing it from someone they trust. That’s why word of mouth is such a trusted resource among consumers. Unfortunately, most businesses can’t rely on personal recommendations simply because they can’t control them. Even if you sell a great product, there’s no way to make your customers recommend it to their friends.
But that doesn’t mean businesses are helpless. The two closest things they have to the social proof of a recommendation are earned media and customer reviews. Earned media, such as an appearance in a news story or on an influencer’s page, draws a connection between your brand and one that consumers trust. Pulling quotes or clips from those appearances and placing them in your marketing materials can show customers your brand is reputable and deserves their attention.
The same is true for customer reviews. If enough people have given your product 5-star reviews, that can approximate personal recommendations. Don’t be afraid to flaunt your good press — it’s free, and it works.
Consider Marketing Automation Tools
As your marketing efforts grow, the number of tools and processes the marketing team has to handle can outpace its capacity. Luckily, there’s no reason to keep every marketing process manual. By automating repetitive administrative tasks, you can free your marketing team up for more productive work. That can stretch ad dollars by upping production without an equivalent growth in the marketing budget.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software can take customer data collection off your team’s plate by automatically scraping your site and socials for data and centralizing it, which facilitates faster audience research. It can then integrate with email and social marketing by identifying what materials each customer needs to see in order to convert and prompting those channels to surface it. That makes nurturing your mid-funnel leads that much easier and more efficient.
Invest in Emerging Platforms
Traditional marketing channels benefit from having sizable and firmly established audiences. They have a history of connecting brands with large numbers of potential customers. But they also have several shortcomings. More reach typically means less targeting, which can cut into marketing efficiency. It also means a higher price tag, and it often comes with fewer levers to adjust mid-campaign.
Much of the disruption at work in the marketing space comes from emerging platforms that have traded scope for efficiency. Rather than cast as wide a net as possible, they zero in on those customers most likely to make a purchase. For example, CTV ads tend to garner fewer impressions but proportionally more conversions. Newer channels also tend to correlate with younger, more diverse audiences, which makes them a valuable part of any marketing portfolio.
Performance Marketing and Automation with tvScientific
If you're looking to get the most from your marketing budget, CTV offers an unparalleled mix of performance pricing, reach, and targeting. Using tvScientific's self-managed platform, you can dig into your audience, pull out segments, and market to precise portions with tailor-made creative. Our proprietary tech then automatically measures the results and optimizes your targeting, leading to high-performance marketing that works at any spend level. By reaching the customers most likely to convert, you'll watch the ROAS on each campaign rise without breaking the bank. Request a demo today to learn more.