With the New Year quickly at our heels, marketing departments are facing tough questions regarding strategies, the planned marketing media mix and budget allocation for 2018.

2017 was the year of digital transformation.  Whether your strategy centered on this digital transformation or not, for marketing professionals, this topic was the center of all dinner conversations among suppliers, customers and manufacturers.

For brand marketers, SEO, content marketing, customer journey, persona development and personalization were among the keywords tossed around by marketing service providers and marketing thought leaders. For retail marketers, common buzzwords were omni-channel, Amazon, catalog and direct mail marketing, social media, audience segmentation and data driven marketing.

Don’t expect these conversations around digital to fade away.  For 2018, expect the digital landscape to become more sophisticated with AI and machine learning tools to optimize and improve customer targeting capabilities, adding a new layer of complexity to our jobs as marketing professionals.

No matter how large of a corporation or how small, all marketers will face the same challenges with the marketing media mix and budget allocation in 2018, resources and expertise.

Here are 6 Tips when planning your marketing media mix and budget allocation

1. Review your data and campaign performance. It is easy to run into the trap of repeating your promotion and campaign activities year over year because it’s already done.  Marketing leaders will assess the data and modify their objectives and KPIs as they go in order to achieve the highest ROI.

2. Establish clear goals and objectives. If you have multiple sales channels, it is best practice to set goals and objectives specific to each channel that is aligned with the overall strategy.  Setting specific goals for each channel will also bring visibility to any glaring performance issues with your marketing media mix.

For example:  This year, the most surprising research found response rate to direct mail trend higher with Millennials. If you’re targeting Millennials and haven’t considered direct mail or printed catalogs, it may be a great opportunity.

3. Review your current marketing channels and identify gaps. Having a birdseye landscape of your marketing media mix will help you determine whether there are any gaps.  Over the last five years, advancement in marketing tools and digital advertising platforms have made it easier for marketers to become more strategic and efficient.  However, it is easy to get lost in tools and data analytics.

4. Identify key campaign events for the year. There is nothing worse than reacting to each campaign as they approach deadlines.  I have found it helpful to also include key calendar and seasonal events that will directly influence promotions and sales.  To minimize the reactionary day to day activity, a full view of events will not only help your budget planning process, it will also allow you to optimize your budget.

5. Review and align your marketing and product content. Inconsistent product information and marketing content will lead to higher bounce rates on your website and lower ROI overall.  The most successful way to bring print and digital together is by embracing both channels and unifying your message.  Whether it’s branding to product promotions, if your printed message does not reflect your online message, your campaign will suffer.

For Ecommerce Marketers:  Make your job easier by allowing your vendors and brands to easily manage and maintain their digital product catalog to achieve the highest conversion rate.  Brands are usually more than happy to assist in this process to protect their brand equity and standards.

6. Establish clear and measurable calls to action. Launching a beautifully crafted print ad or digital campaign may be exciting but without a compelling call to action or KPI, it will be difficult to report a true ROI.

The most successful way to bring print and digital together is by embracing both channels and unifying your message.  Regardless of the marketing trends, understanding your target audience, what they are interested in and how they are receiving their information will go a long way when planning and optimizing your marketing media mix and budget allocation.

Most important, review your data regularly and be flexible in your plan.

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