Preloader Image

How to modernize your marketing budget

By: Kirsten Kippen

In the 10+ years I have been an in-house marketer, I’ve seen a tidal wave of change in how marketers think about their budgets.


Here are two actual scenarios from my early days in marketing

I spent hours by a copy machine, copying scholarship applications for an international nonprofit to send by mail to judges for scoring. We also had a huge direct mail campaign to schools and parents for them to promote our scholarships. We had no mass email platform.

I spent months helping prepare for trade shows, working with a design team to create posters and banners, and again there was substantial time spent with a print shop and copier to produce brochures for sales team to give out.

Even today, both of these experiences are typical of many marketing departments, but personally, I found them demoralizing because we had no way of seeing the fruits of our efforts.

In the case of direct mail, we would send a mailing out into the unknown, and cross our fingers something might come back.

In the case of trade shows, we would send our sales team with our prize collateral out across the country, but often they brought back many of the same brochures unused, or only got one or two quality leads from an event we had spent tens of thousands of dollars on.


The gap between the tool and your team

According to Forbes and their annual CMO Survey, digital marketing spend (including SEO, SEM, marketing automation, social, and content marketing)  is expected to increase by 12.3% within the next year, and this trend is expected to continue. However, marketers are not necessarily feeling direct results from this additional spend.

To me, the reason for this is clear: you need to both increase your digital marketing spend and change your marketing culture to learn new technologies and see ROI.

Here are two examples of how organizations can experiment with this.


Use case #1: Direct mail campaign efforts transformed into a digital membership appeal

Consider these statistics from Nonprofit Source:

  • It can take up to 18-20 touchpoints to reach a customer for the first time

  • Marketing campaigns that used direct mail and one or more digital marketing effort (social, email, etc.) experienced 118% lift in response rate compared to using direct mail only

  • For every 1,000 fundraising emails a nonprofit sends, it will raise an average of $17

Now, I’m not suggesting you abandon your direct mail efforts entirely; indeed there is some data showing that as digital noise increases, people may be more likely to open your mailings than ever before.

However, you will see the most success if you combine direct mail with other channels and track your constituent segments through a CRM. Don’t make the mistake of mailing a recent alum the month after graduation when student loans are through the roof and asking for a large donation. And certainly don’t send a year-end request to someone who has just donated a substantial amount. Due to the speed of email vs. direct mail, it can be much easier to segment and send to the best lists possible through email campaigns.

Our client KVIE has seen great success with Pardot automating membership renewals, a process that used to be incredibly manual. See how they used Pardot for that here. One of the keys to their success was to invest in Pardot strategy assistance with our team, so that they could talk through the journey they wanted to send members and donors on.

When you’re reinvesting funds into digital channels, don’t forget strategy. Unless you have experienced digital marketers on staff, your money will go furthest if you consider partnering with a consultant who has both technical and strategic skills to help your company articulate and build how they will use the new technology.


Use case #2: Trade show campaign funds diverted into a highly-targeted digital play

Tradeshows and big events can be really fun to work on, but they’re also a tremendous amount of work. In my first couple years at Idealist Consulting, I watched our ROI from trade show booths and events very closely. Here’s what I learned, which aligns with what I’ve heard from many other B2B marketers:

  • The opportunities generated from trade show booths was about 5% of our opportunities generated from inbound marketing campaigns

  • We generated almost no opportunities directly from events, but they did help us grow our list and achieve broader brand awareness

  • The amount of internal labor to produce a trade show or event is exponentially higher than supporting digital marketing campaigns

So we made a pivot and began devoting the approximately $25,000 we’d spent on one tradeshow into marketing automation instead. We also hired a full time marketer to oversee our daily use of Pardot.

Many larger companies may have the resources to forego the either/or and consider both hefty tradeshow/event budgets as well as large marketing automation budgets, but if you have to make a call, I would highly recommend shifting toward marketing automation.

Using tools like Engagement Studio, you can take your leads through a measurable journey where you can show direct ROI to your executive team. But the real win is your marketing team’s morale: instead of soul-crushing late-night trips to Poster Garden, they can pursue Pardot certifications that advance their career and benefit your company.


Interested in taking a step toward building out your Pardot strategy?

We’re experienced marketers, just like you. Not only do we consult on Pardot, we also use the tool. We’ve built out our services based on our real experiences growing organizations. If you’re looking for a consultant who understands you, we should talk.

Let’s Talk

Newsletter Earth

Subscribe to our newsletter

Where progressive organizations get inspired

Join thousands just like you to receive a monthly dose of user adoption tips, innovation, and industry trends.