Winning The Budget War, Marketers Find New Ways To Succeed

Over the past several years, marketing departments have enjoyed increased budget and headcount in a race to acquire and retain customers. But after three straight years of increases, marketing budgets have stalled.

Whether you attribute that to macro-level upheavals or natural turns in the business cycle, for CMOs the new task is finding ways to do more with less. For some, this might mean difficult choices lie ahead; but it also means that marketing leaders must be on the lookout for new ways to demonstrate ROI.

We find that marketing skills are particularly in demand, accounting for 20% of the fastest-growing skills in Q4 2017. Demand for these skills underscores the significant role the independent workforce plays in marketing leaders’ quest to get more done and points to three key marketing trends to watch in 2018.



Marketers are looking outside agencies for media buys

Despite stagnating budgets, 67% of CMOs say they’re planning to increase their digital advertising spend in 2018. Demand for media buying supports that claim as companies shift their marketing spend away from traditional agencies and towards top-notch freelancers.

A related trend shows more and more marketing departments bringing programmatic buys in-house. The increased availability of self-service attribution tools like Google 360 is helping to drive this trend; but even then, many marketers are opting to bring in freelance experts to develop and execute those campaigns.

Influencer marketing is becoming a mainstream tactic

After years of testing the waters, companies are doubling down on influencer marketing efforts in order to reach crucial customer segments. As marketers shift resources from mass audiences toward targeted groups, influencer marketing is an increasingly appealing option.

One of the strongest signs of growth in this area is the increased use of sponsored posts on Instagram. Worldwide, the volume of these posts nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017. There’s also reason to believe that Facebook’s widely publicized change to its News Feed algorithm will benefit influencers in particular as brands seek out new avenues to reach customers.

Storytelling through video remains the straightest path to customers’ hearts

The efficacy of video isn’t new but its importance is more relevant than ever with video accounting for nearly three-quarters of all Internet traffic. As brands and companies place a greater emphasis on telling stories, video and motion graphics have emerged as fantastic mediums for getting those stories out across a variety of channels and capturing attention quickly. Historically, these types of projects required an agency, but now many CMOs are realizing they can get superior results faster by turning to freelancers.

Budget cuts don’t need to result in productivity and performance taking a hit in your marketing organization. Instead, allow them to act as a forcing function to find creative new ways to get more done. 

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