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Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget:

How to Spend Smart on a Small Marketing Budget

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, digital ad spending hit a record-breaking $88 billion in 2017, overtaking both broadcast and cable television combined. Think about that: digital is now the dominant advertising channel. While that tipping point puts added pressures on marketers for generous budgets capable of breaking through the noise with dynamic far-reaching media plans, relatively small budgets can go a long way when done the smart way.

Are you partnered with a proven digital media expert? Are they adept at strategy and planning, do they have omnichannel chops, and mad data science skills? Have they developed and implemented campaigns analogous to your own needs now?

3 Steps to Maximizing Digital Return

When working with a relatively modest budget, don’t waste dollars on blind assumptions and wild guesses. Leverage learnings from past campaign successes related to your brand, create fresh actionable insights and testable experiments with a pilot campaign, and learn how to only pay for what counts.

Integrate past learnings

  1. Determine which of your posts, emails, landing pages garnered the greatest engagement—these metrics can inform future tactics.
  2. Analyzing your paid search results, past or current, can also serve as a larger brand messaging lab to improve and refine messaging.
  3. If scant or no data or history is available, dedicate time to research. Social listening and an analysis of the competitive marketing landscape can reveal white spaces for you and your brand to shine. Identifying where and why your audience is already online will help get the most value for each digital dollar you spend.
  4. Ask questions and get answers to what keywords and channels are competitors using? Where does my target audience spend time online? Where are they most likely to seek out therapy options and disease information?

 Launch Pilot Campaign

  1. Armed with these preliminary insights and hunches , start experimenting and homing in on tactics by split-testing messaging and/or creative on the most relevant channels. This will likely lead you to the lowest hanging fruit of digital media, search engine marketing and social media opportunities.
  2. For the creation of a Facebook business page, Facebook Ad Manager offers effective ways to test everything from ad creative and content to audiences and ad delivery.
  3. Pharma or healthcare brand? Reputation and fair balance are essential for all branded communications, so unbranded, disease education, and patient stories devoid of treatment mention are proven effective. Make sure your media partner has healthcare compliance expertise before things get problematic on channels enabling user generated content, sharing, and other interactive features!
  4. Installing a Facebook pixel to your website from the onset of creating an ad account, will strengthen all paid social efforts. The technology allows you to create Custom Audiences based on page followers and unique website visitors. In other words, you’ll be able to target and engage Facebook users outside the platform in contextually powerful ways.
  5. Paid search is the perfect playground for classic A/B testing. By tweaking content and targets, you can beta test your own audiences and their real time, natural reactions to ad stimuli. For example: Are patients most responsive to a medication or a therapy? Is there greater patient interest in savings or simplified disease management?
  6. By keeping split-tests time-sensitive and highly-specific (testing one variable each time instead of several), you can learn as you go and fine tune for the larger campaign where you spend the big bucks.

Pay For What Counts

  1. Despite ever-evolving ad tech and the brilliance of programmatic, tracking eyeballs on screens remains problematic. For this reason, I favor bidding for link clicks over impressions across search and social. That means you’ll always pay for actions tied directly to your campaign results, rather than relying on a more passive approach where ROI remains mysterious.
  2. Unlike a consumer who simply sees an ad and doesn’t overtly react to it in a measurable way, a click embodies deeper intent and opens the possibility for retargeting and a better understanding of a user’s path on the intended site. It’s also a metric which can be cross-checked against Google Analytics tracking for greater insight.

Is your digital media partner aware of these best practices? Are you getting the most from your campaigns? By partnering with an expert and strategically planning an informed pilot campaign, you and your team can optimize every step of the way.

In a pay to play world, a small budget can turn a beer run into a champagne flight. Test, spend effectively, and implement past learnings to drive success and continue stretching every dollar. Digital dominion has arrived: Are you ready?

SOURCE: Interactive Advertising Bureau, May 2018

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