How automation can stretch your marketing budget

According to Deloitte’s annual CMO Survey, marketing budgets have dropped from 12.6% in 2020 to 11.7% in 2021, and I shudder to think what the value is going to turn out to be when 2022 is inevitably published. A similar report by Gartner is even less favourable, showing budgets dropping from 11% in 2020 to 6.4% in 2021.

This tells us a few important things – nobody really knows for sure, and Deloitte and Gartner have surprisingly different audiences for their surveys. In either case, the trends aren’t good, especially for a boutique Customer Experience Advisory like ours trying to make its mark on the industry. And as for you, assuming you have the privilege of working in B2C Marketing, you can bet your bottom (or even top) dollar that your 2023 marketing budgets are going to be even less than they are today.

Of course, I could sit here and spout sympathetic soundbites about how the worst thing a B2C organisation can do in times of economic hardship is to batten down the hatches, slash their spending on marketing and also on CX, its newer, shinier cousin. I could say that. I could talk about how a B2C organisation of my acquaintance that will remain nameless did an experiment in cutting out their below the line marketing some years ago. I could explain how the results were borderline catastrophic in terms of how their fickle customers didn’t organically and magically turn up on their eCommerce website to maintain sales targets without being prompted to do so with timely personalised messaging content. A very painful lesson, I’m sure you’ll agree.

However right I am however, that isn’t going to stop those marketing budgets from being slashed, because unsurprisingly, the enterprise level CFOs of the world aren’t listening to me, and if I’m honest, I probably prefer it that way, because I can be much more free with what I say.

Doing the same with less

Now that we have that out of the way, what’s going to happen next? What will 2023 look like for you? A lot of sales pitches I see nowadays unimaginatively talk about doing more with less. Yes, we get it, there’s a recession on the way, a cost-of-living crisis already here, skyrocketing energy costs and economic instability everywhere caused by populist megalomaniacs and driven by anti-democratic market forces even I don’t dare look too closely at. Forget about doing more with less, it just sounds like a pipe dream an SI would try to force upon you, while espousing cliches like “data is the new oil”.

What I’d like to propose you focus on, is doing the same with less. Once you are doing that, maybe, just maybe it’s worth thinking about ‘more’, but if you don’t focus on doing the here and now better, you are at risk of reaching for the next branch before you have a firm grip on the current one, and we all know how that ends, provided you’ve ever climbed a tree of course.

Automate everything

How then, do you do the same with less, assuming I’ve got your attention, and you haven’t wandered off to feed a needy pet (or plant in my case). The answer in a word is Automation. That’s right, the A-word. Automate everything. Early in my career I was taught by one of my first mentors, that if you have to do a task more than three times, you must automate it.

Automate your data feeds. Automate your audience selection. Automate your subject lines. Automate your image curation. Automate your campaign scheduling. You name it, bleep bloop.

Automation, like the terminators of the silver screen, doesn’t tire, doesn’t slow down and doesn’t make silly mistakes at 4pm on a Friday that result in your entire base receiving a message saying “Dear ${Customer.Firstname}”.

And best of all, automation doesn’t take a job at one of your better funded competitors for more money.

If only there was some kind of subset of the Marketing Industry that focused on automation.

If only there was some specialist boutique agency that specialised in this utopian concept we like to call ‘Marketing Automation’, the fine art of maximising potential and reducing costs.

If it was me, I’d give them a call.

By: Timothy Biddiscombe Managing Director (EMEA)