Budget remains the biggest headache for digital marketers

01 Feb 2017

  • Leadership
  • Digital Marketing

Access to budget is the single biggest impediment to accelerating the digital transformation of marketing, according to the CMOs who participated in a recent ADMA Think Tank.

That was also the headline finding of a piece of research ADMA conducted with one of its partners earlier this year.

Participants in the Think Tank discussion, who were typically senior marketing and analytics professionals discussed their frustrations around the budgeting approval process. But they also identified positive changes which are helping to accelerate their transformation efforts.

The budgeting conundrum is partly a matter of competing priorities but it’s also about the ability of the CMO to understand and describe ROI.

However, the good news is that companies are starting to build innovative new approaches. Thankfully the days of boiling the ocean for management on a 100-page business plan are fast receding. The reality in the agile world of digital marketing is that such acceleration in approvals is essential.

Take the example of the ANZ Bank. Outgoing COO, Alistair Currie, told Which-50.com earlier this year that the bank is getting much better at breaking down larger projects into smaller consumable chunks.

Just as importantly, the bank believes, it is getting better at picking winners and losers early.

There are still problems of course. Some marketers point to innovation fatigue among senior managers.

Are we there yet?

Participants in the ADMA Think Tank said that often there is an initial burst of excitement which locks in interest from the CEO and other executives but that can fade over time.

It is not even about the amounts of money being spent, say CMOs. A company might happily sign off on a million-dollar television advertising budget without scrutiny but respond suspiciously to a request for $100,000 dollars for a mobile app development.

Paying for the Red Carpet

Marketers identified some more prosaic concerns. As they assume more control over customer experience, they need to start making choices between investment in physical customer experiences such as buying new carpet in a hotel lobby or a digital experience such as a website refresh.

Marketers are used to letting other people see their work in a very physical way through the big advertising campaigns. When the money is spent on software in the cloud the results are not as visible, and many are still struggling with this adjustment.

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