Allocating Your Marketing Budget: Do You Give Email the Budget Dollars It Deserves?


For too long now, email and the Internet channels have been given a relatively small piece of the marketing budget pie. Why is it such a challenge for some marketing professionals to read the research reports that continue to document the massive shift from traditional to interactive media? There’s no denying this paradigm shift is happening and will continue to gain momentum with each passing year as the dinosaurs of the pre-Internet era become a smaller and smaller part of the consumer spending landscape.

Every year both during and after the December Holiday spending frenzy, we collectively gasp as the percentage of dollars spent online continues to rise. These numbers seem to multiply two- or three-fold year over year. The message to marketers should be pretty clear: follow the consumer’s research and buying habits.

Marketers should be budgeting more for this important medium as more and more consumers utilize email in their daily lives. Instead, these marketers continue to pump significant dollars into traditional media in the misguided belief these channels will return to the glory days of direct mail, TV, and radio as the broadcast channels of choice, an indelible entry in every “successful” media plan… seemingly old school, wouldn’t you say?

Now please don’t get me wrong – there’s a place in most marketing mixes for many of these media options, but, for example…

Do you pay attention to billboards?

I can’t tell you the last time I took any action based on what I saw plastered on Interstate 70. While there’s merit in saying the past isn’t going away, neither are vintage Camaros and Elvis records. However, isn’t it time we stop focusing on what worked in the past and realistically plan for the future by allocating dollars appropriately?

Email continues to generate some of the most trackable and impressive ROIs (Returns on Investment) based on every metric I’ve seen, yet advertising and marketing teams are pressured to make email communications an under-funded endeavor. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “our budget for email is limited” or “I need to reduce costs around our Internet spend.” Is this pressure on email budgets based on misinformation relative to email’s overall performance or is it an attempt to rationalize a misappropriated media allocation and budget?

To me, it’s counterintuitive that a medium that continues to demonstrate an incredible knack for outperforming other media instruments in its ability to grow sales from your best customers cost-efficiently and -effectively (when applied properly) is so under-valued when it comes to budget allocations. The potential ROI for email campaigns is truly impressive, if done right. I’ve never experienced anything close to this rate of return on any traditional medium. Is it possible the specialists managing companies’ email marketing campaigns aren’t fighting the battle with the traditionalists and legacy players who adopt the “this is the way we’ve always done media, so why change it” crowd? Or are folks trying to prove their worth by earning negotiating kudos that demonstrate to the corporate powers that be that they can find and leverage email products and services at the lowest price?

I continue to see marketing dollars pumped into traditional media at the expense of higher-yielding investments in email. How powerful is email? It’s a question I’m often asked by clients, colleagues, and friends. People are curious and eager to debate whether email plays a serious role in influencing loyalty and purchase decisions.

There are really only four ways to communicate with someone: in-person, in writing, over the phone, or digitally. Email is center of digital communications.

As the world continues to evolve and receipt of digital communications becomes available in many forms outside of the standard Inbox (RSS, text, blogs, etc.), some people forget email is still the heart of these digital communications.

So how powerful is email really?

Using outgoing or marketing email in your marketing strategy may not always be front and center, but I guaranty any digital communication efforts you employ can use email leading practices to help evolve and shape success.

As the shift in consumer purchasing and informational patterns continues to move toward more relevant, meaningful Internet dialogues, the choice is yours and the budget makers in your company. You must either put the emphasis and resources required to build a dominant, meaningful commitment to email communications strategies, technology, and deployment to work for your company, or be left behind sooner than you think.

Those of us who have worked in and around media for the last decade or so know the truth about this medium’s power. It’s time we gather the courage to fight for our fair share of the marketing budget and end any misguided or misinformed efforts to relegate email communications to the back burner.

What does your marketing mix look like… and when was the last time you updated it?

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