As companies are winding down their fiscal year by blasting out deals and trying to drive consumers to shop with them, there is this strange thing going on behind the scenes in email marketing departments: 2012 budgeting.
As someone who has gone through quite a few budgeting exercises in his career, I can safely say that I have survived most of them with little bloodshed. There were some years where the email budget was not increased due to “other priorities”, but there were other years where I simply did not do the best job I could at convincing others of the importance of getting more money to do what I wanted to do.
Here are a few simple, yet often overlooked ways for my email marketing brethren to get more budget for 2012:
Back up everything you want to do with realistic numbers. CMO’s and executive types love numbers. If you want to implement a lifecycle strategy which you know will bring in big ROI numbers, look beyond the average ROI for that strategy and focus on the opportunity costs for not doing the program. Take into consideration what it will cost you to implement such a program internally. Be conservative in your numbers and calculate the true cost and reward for that particular thing you want to do. In some cases, the real ROI for that program might not be as high as you think. It may be better to aim for realistic expectations rather than pie in the sky numbers for executives that might hold you hostage to them. In addition, this will also help with future budgeting increases because you didn’t shoot for the moon.
Don’t follow the herd. It seems that you cannot turn around in this industry without hearing about list acquisition strategies and the need for organizations to grow their lists exponentially. Instead, use data, your list lifecycle habits, and ROI to try and invest money into making your existing list a better performing list throughout the year. I once calculated that the costs to nurture, retain and revive my lists were drastically lower and the return so much higher than I had thought, especially when considering the costs of acquiring high quality leads. Putting these down into your push for more money could be a real dealmaker to some executives.
Have a realistic expectation of what you are trying to achieve. Instead of saying things like “we need more headcount because we are sending a lot of email”, justify that headcount increase as a means to show your strategic vision for the program. For example, an additional headcount will allow you to grow the program strategically to become “best of breed” rather than to just offload the tactical work. Then expand on what it will take to be “best of breed”, i.e., being able to dedicate resources to deeper analysis, segmentation, dynamic content, or instituting lifecycle programs.
Line item outsourcing. If your company has never used agencies in the past or if you think you are too small to outsource, think about what an investment into an agency partnership can mean for your program. It’s as if you are buying minds to think and create things for your program that you a. Do not have the time to do or b. You can’t get time with others in your organization to assist you in “taking it to the next level. Sometimes getting a fresh mind into your program even for a limited engagement might help spark the creative juices and get you to look like a big hero in the ROI department.
Make sure your numbers are evenly matched. If you are being asked to grow the program XX amount in 2012, make sure that the budget to grow it by that much matches or exceeds what it took for you to grow it in the past. Times are changing people and even though email marketing has great ROI, it does take a pretty good investment to keep the train on the track as well as to innovate past your competitors.