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A few days ago, two different, but related news stories came across my inbox about marketer’s investment in Snapchat. The first noted that companies are expected to spend about $770 million on advertising with Snapchat in 2017, which is only slightly down from eMarketer’s original projection of $800 million in ad spending on Snapchat for the year. The second story noted that a study by RBC Capital Markets found that marketers are seeing little return on their Snapchat investments and are quickly backing away from Snapchat in favor of Instagram.

How can it be that Snapchat is simultaneously growing its slice of the online marketing pie, while marketers are also losing confidence in that platform? Simply put, it doesn’t make sense and conflicting news like this can leave marketers puzzled about the wisdom of investing in something like Snapchat. And while we could debate the merits of who these companies talked with to reach these conclusions, the rest of us are left with a very simple question:

How do I determine where I should invest my marketing budget?

In this post, I explain a framework you can use to help answer this question for your business. This approach will help you achieve the marketing results you want faster and with less waste.

A Quick Review of Marketing Channels

There is no shortage of marketing channels available to marketers today. Don’t believe me? Check out this infographic from ChiefMartech.com showing just how big the marketing technology industry has become:

2016 Marketing Technology Landscape Infographic

View original/full-size infographic at Chiefmartec.com

Most of these companies emerged to service the various marketing channels out there today. But for discussion purposes, let’s narrow the universe down to a few (but not exhaustive) categories:

  • Organic search. These are the major search engines: Google, Bing and Yahoo (yes, they are still around!). Google alone answers more than 3.5 billion searches per day and many of these are people looking for what you have to offer.
  • Organic social. This includes social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and beyond. Organic social are those posts that you share through these networks that reach your audience naturally (not paid).
  • Paid search. This includes Google AdWords and Bing Ads. This channel is all about paying to get your message in front of the audience when they are searching for what you have to offer.
  • Paid social. Within social media, you can pay to promote your content or message to new or existing fans and followers.
  • Email marketing. This is the stalwart of digital marketing and still one of the strongest performers. Using this channel, you can send content and offers to your prospects once they’ve provided you with their email address.

Looking at this list, it is easy to be overwhelmed with all of the options available. So when you hear something like how much money marketers are investing into Snapchat, it is natural to wonder if you should invest your marketing budget in Snapchat, too. I mean, no one wants to fall behind the times and be on the outdated platforms, right?

But the contradictory news about how marketers are fleeing Snapchat to head to Instagram is troubling. Is Snapchat really all that bad? Probably not. Is Snapchat working for some? Probably. But so is Pinterest. And so is Instagram. And so is YouTube. And the list goes on.

The key question here is not which marketing channel is the best. The real question you should ask is:

Which marketing channel is best for my business?

If Platforms Like Snapchat Aren’t Working, How Do You Determine Where You Should Spend Your Marketing Budget?

This is a question I’ve been asked by clients many times through the years. In short, there is no one-size fits all answer. You have to find the way that works best for your company. To help them find the answer, I use the following questions designed to focus on their marketing needs.

  1. What are your business and marketing goals? This seems like an obvious question to ask, but you’d be surprised at how many companies are not able to provide a simple, concise answer. You must know what you want to do before you head out into the marketplace with content and messaging. Do you want to sell more widgets this year? If so, how many more? Want to increase your market share? If so, by how much? Want to motivate customers to take a specific action? What is that action and when do you want them to complete it? Take the time to discuss and write down your business goals. And, make sure that everyone on the marketing team is aware of those goals so they can create a marketing plan that helps turn those goals into reality.
  2. Do you know your audience? If so, who are they? Where do they go for news, content and the answers to their questions? How old are they? What are their pain points? What problems are they facing that you can help with? In marketing, the answers to these questions form the foundation of personas. Personas are typical descriptions of your ideal customer using the best information you have available. Before you can select a marketing channel, you need to know if your personas use those channels. If they do, great! If they don’t, then skip that channel and find a place where they do spend time.
  3. What options are available to you to reach your personas in a given channel? Advertising? Organic? Something else? You need to be familiar with the specific avenues made available to you in each of these channels so you know if it is a good fit for your needs.
  4. Do you have the content and resources to reach your target audience? Do you have existing content assets (blog posts, white papers, videos, podcasts, etc.)? If so, are they ready for distribution? Also, can you create more content assets? The web is a content thirsty place and you’ll never be able to create enough content, but you need to have some content available in order to connect with your target audience.
  5. Are you prepared to work hard to keep your target audience engaged? It is rare for prospects to become customers on the first click. There is strong evidence that it takes 7 – 13 or more touches with a prospect before they become a sales qualified lead.  To make this happen, you need to create a system that will keep your company, brand or product top of mind after that first point of engagement. Have you setup remarketing for AdWords to feed your RLSA or GDN remarketing ads? How about remarketing for Facebook or Twitter? Did you get the prospect’s email address? If so, are you able to nurture them through a marketing automation campaign? The channel you initially invest in is just the tip of the iceberg. Keeping them engaged as they move through their buying journey is where the real conversion happens.

What’s Next?

Determining which channels to spend your marketing budget on isn’t as easy as following the crowd. Using the questions outlined above, you will develop a firm understanding of your company’s marketing needs. And with this understanding, you’ll be able to head out into the wide array of marketing channels ready to make informed, intelligent decisions about spending your marketing dollars instead of hopping around making investments in the hottest channel at the moment. And that’s what leads you to create a sustainable inbound marketing strategy that will produce results for the long term.

How Dijital Farm Can Help

At Dijital Farm, we know the challenges of selecting the right channels for your digital marketing efforts. We’ve helped our clients answer these questions and more to help them create a custom sustainable inbound marketing strategy. Because at Dijital Farm, we know that you you want digital marketing that works. Learn more about how we drive results. And if you have questions, reach out to us . We’d love to talk about how we can help you with your digital marketing needs.

Jon Parks

Jon Parks

CEO, Founder & Lead Dijital Strategist

As the founder of Dijital Farm, Jon Parks builds sustainable inbound digital marketing strategies for B2B companies. Read Jon’s latest thinking on the Dijital Farm blog and contact us to learn how Dijital Farm can help your business.