It’s time for everyone’s favorite subject: budget! If you are like many marketers, you have been answering questions over the last few weeks justifying this year’s digital spend.


Whether you have completed next year’s planning or are still in the process, the following five items are worth including in your 2015 digital budget.

1. Refine your mobile user experiences.

First and foremost, if you are a holdout, make 2015 the year you consider updating your public sites using responsive design. Your goal on mobile is to provide a seamless experience that fits within your user’s context, a.k.a. simply and conveniently. Responsive design, when implemented correctly, has emerged as an effective, agile solution for most organizations. It is not the only step but is often an effective first step.

Also, don’t discount native apps yet. You may have heard statistics about the percentage of apps that are opened only once and then deleted. Not only has that percentage decreased (down to 20% as of June), it just means that a lot of useless apps have been created. Native apps can be highly effective when they meet a single need through the device’s native features such as geo-location and offline access.

2. Restore your search rankings by publishing a stream of relevant, useful content.

Google’s Hummingbird update launched in the fall of 2013, so you may not have seen the long-term effects on your site rankings until this year. If your rankings have not yet fully recovered, it may be due to the fact that you have not published enough relevant on-site content. Jay Baer defines content as “marketing that is so helpful that your users would pay for it.” I shared more about content marketing in an earlier post.

How do you know what content is useful to your users? It requires (a) actively listening to your customers, (b) understanding what fundamental needs that your product or service solves for them, and (c) deciding how to meet those needs more conveniently and effortlessly than anyone else. It could mean being more transparent, more available in real-time or providing more in-depth information. Above all, it takes commitment to a steady stream rather than a trickle.

3. Create amazingly personalized experiences with data and automation.

The days of “push and pray” marketing are long gone. We don’t blast out a single message and hope that the most qualified consumers pick it up. In my PR days, we referred to it as the shotgun approach. The rifle approach, on the other hand, refers to tailoring the message to each public, and is almost always more effective.

We have the ability to personalize our messages based on what pages our users click on, which Facebook ads they prefer and how close they are standing to the clearance rack in your store (in real time, of course). Just as Netflix and Amazon serve up recommendations, your emails, websites and social media should take into account the context of when, where and how they are being viewed. The right automation platform will depend on your organization’s size and goals, but popular options include HubSpot, Eloqua and Marketo.

4. Don’t neglect the work horses – email and social media.

Email marketing has experienced a resurgence in the last couple of years, partially because mobile devices make it easier to check messages on the go. It is one of the most accessible ways to provide your stakeholders with timely reminders that you are there for them. Scott Stratten (@Unmarketing) has said he would rather have 100 email addresses than thousands of Facebook “likes” because the reach is much greater.

That doesn’t mean we should ignore the influence of social networks. The novelty of several social networks may be wearing off, but YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn continue to be some of the best discovery platforms available. Your stakeholders notice if you do not have an effective strategy for the social networks that appeal to them, because your competitors do!

5. Commit to try something new.

Consumers are rewarding companies that experiment in digital. They want to see that you are committed to the technologies that make their lives easier. Show them that you are investing time in something new, and they will reward you with their loyalty. Your digital presence (or lack thereof) is one of the greatest influences on your brand.

You know what is best for your organization, but here are some emerging tools that may be worth exploring in 2015:

-Wearable devices
-Customized landing pages

What about you? Is it easier or more difficult than in previous years to plan your digital marketing budget? What are your greatest challenges in planning for 2015?