How to Make an Awesome Digital Marketing Budget

So you’ve decided digital marketing is worth its salt. Where do you go now? Where do you start?

Beyond ensuring that your brand is rock-solid for the foreseeable future, figuring out an effective budget is something any good agency will be able to help you with. It all comes down to some simple statistics and mathematics, so let’s take a look at quick look at how we determine a budget leading into a work arrangement.

Marketing Budget

Forbes magazine suggests that you consider the age of your business, but more importantly, that you consider how effectively your business has established brand awareness and a profitable customer base. The recommendation is that well-established companies (five years or more) dedicate between six and 12 percent of gross revenue to marketing, while newer companies (five years or less) dedicate between 12 and 20 percent of gross revenue to marketing.[i]

Digital Marketing Budget

It is suggested that at least 30% go to digital marketing from the marketing budget.[ii] When the fruits of digital marketing are realized and businesses see their cost per acquisition (CPA) dropping and their return on investment (ROI) skyrocketing, they usually respond by allowing their digital budget to occupy a greater portion of their overall marketing budget.

When determining where to allocate the digital marketing funds, it really comes down to the strategy that is in place. Depending on the campaign creative direction and the strategy, there will often be more emphasis on one channel than another, supporting the need to apply a larger portion of the digital marketing budget towards that channel. Some websites and online calculators[iii] will give you benchmark budgets that look something like this:

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – 14%
  • Display Advertising – 10%
  • Social Media Marketing (SMM) – 2%

The problem with these template budgets is that they fail to account for the strategic/creative direction of any campaign’s plans.

Budget-Kill Ratios

When setting a budget, we will often consider fail-safe actions to determine at what point we’re going to kill a particular tool/channel based on its performance. If there is a channel that simply isn’t performing for your campaign after every attempt to make it work, why would you bother throwing any more money at it? Perhaps it can be revisited in a future campaign from a “lessons learned” perspective, but in order to maximize return on investment, it is often best to have some budget-kill ratios in place. For example, if we’re running some social media ads and find that we’ve spent over 75% of our Facebook ad budget but have accomplished less than 10% of our goal, this would certainly be a scenario where we would look at ending the Facebook ad campaign and diverting the remaining funds to a channel that is performing better.

Let’s run through an example of a digital marketing budget.  Assume that your well-established business made gross revenues of $1,277,408 last year. After a stagnant year with minimal growth, your organization wants to make a major push to gain more market share.  In this scenario, we would be looking at an aggressive marketing budget in the 10–12% of gross revenue range. Let’s split the difference and use 11% for the purpose of this example.

Gross revenue  $  1,277,408.00
Marketing budget – 11%  $      140,514.88


For the sake of brevity, we won’t include a campaign creative direction or strategy, we’ll just use the digital marketing budget template we presented previously:

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – 14%  $        19,672.08
Display Advertising – 10%  $        14,051.49
Social Media Marketing (SMM) – 2%  $          2,810.30


Monthly figures would be as follows:

SEM  $    1,639.34
Display  $    1,170.96
SMM  $        234.19


Now you have the knowledge to determine what your digital marketing budget should look like before you meet with a digital marketing agency. Next you need a great strategy to employ your new digital marketing budget to develop an effective creative direction for your digital marketing campaign.





North Bay Chamber of Commerce Young Professional of the Month

Born and raised in North Bay, Thomas Brown graduated from St. Joseph-Scollard Hall Catholic Secondary School before moving to Toronto to complete Seneca College’s Bachelor of Technology in Software Development. Thomas has since moved back and owns a home in downtown North Bay with his wife, Jennifer. In his leisure time, Thomas enjoys reading, playing guitar, fishing, and spending time with his dog Mara.

Thomas founded CurveFront Digital Marketing in 2013 and has been self-employed full time since taking the leap into entrepreneurship. CurveFront Digital Marketing provides expert guidance to businesses wishing to maximize their marketing return-on-investment, by helping to develop, launch, monitor, and optimize effective digital campaigns.

Thomas recently completed an expansion to CurveFront through The Business Centre’s Starter Company Program. He also recently sat on the Innovations In Ontario’s North Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy Day Roundtable with the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Research and Innovation, Daiene Vernile.

Thomas is currently volunteering for the North Bay Symphony Orchestra through the United Way Young Leaders on Board Program. He will also be joining the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Committee where he hopes to proactively represent the young professionals of North Bay and area.

Thomas would like to thank the great team at The Business Centre, The North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce, and our local business community for fostering a business environment where new start-ups can thrive.

See the original post here.

Geo-fencing – Location-triggered mobile advertising

Imagine for a second that you’re the proprietor of a well-established local produce store. You’ve noticed your revenues dropping as your loyal customers are trying out the new big brand grocery store that just opened up in town. How do you compete? Wouldn’t it be nice to send an offer directly to your customers at the very moment they decide to try out the competitor’s store? Absolutely! This is not such a far-flung possibility with a tactic gaining popularity in digital marketing known as geo-fencing.

What is geo-fencing?

Wikipedia describes geo-fencing as “a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area.” To put it very simply, imagine drawing an enclosed shape on a map and being able to fire different events based on the type of action an individual takes while within that shape. With geo-fencing, in the case described above, we could draw a perimeter around the new grocery store and its parking lot and fire an event to send a very enticing loyalty offer for your own store, right at the moment when a customer enters that perimeter with his/her mobile device.

Geo-fence shapes

Geo-fence events can be triggered when an individual performs a trigger event within a specified radius of a given coordinate or within a coordinate-defined polygonal shape.


There are three main actions taken by an individual that will trigger a geo-fence system event:

  1. Enter – Triggers an event when an individual enters a geo-fence.
  2. Exit – Triggers an event when an individual leaves a geo-fence.
  3. Dwell – Triggers an event when an individual spends a variable amount of time within a geo-fence.

One lesser-known tactic is to use a time-release event after an individual has exited a geo-fence. For example, when a customer leaves your store, a system event is triggered to time the customer’s absence from the store. After a variable amount of time, let’s say 30 days (for the purposes of this example only), the system can fire an event to serve a “we miss you” offer.

Thanks to our connection to our mobile devices, this sort of advertising is very much a real-world possibility. Geo-fencing has many practical applications useful far beyond simply advertising, but isn’t it exciting to know we can reach our customers in those micro-moments when they need us most?

Geo-fencing is just one of many tools we employ in our digital marketing strategies at CurveFront. Stay tuned for more blogs clarifying digital marketing tools, channels, terminology, strategies, and more! Remember to share this article on your social media feeds, so your friends can learn about the flexibility digital marketing can offer. Thanks for reading!


The Scary Side of Do-it-Yourself Websites

As professionals, we’re poignantly aware of the fine balance between cost, time, and quality. For every progression in one of these categories, a concession is made in the others. The key to any successful project is determining which of the three is finite and then maximize the remainders optimally. In most scenarios, budget is finite, so it becomes the key factor upon which we determine what quality we can target and how much time we can use to accomplish that quality.

Given those facts, the DIYer has to make similar considerations. If we’re short of a budget for our project, then how much time do we have to commit to it? Further to that, given our current knowledge and experience with web technology, what realistic level of quality can be achieved given our time constraints? In the example of a DIY website project, it might seem reasonable to believe that you have the time to build the website, but there are many considerations that must be made to determine whether this new website will even serve its purpose as a marketing tool by the end of the project.

Most importantly, what is the goal of the website? Is it simply a space to publish thoughts or is the intention to have an online storefront for your business? Are you running a digital campaign to improve your online reach or visibility? How will the website meet the functional requirements of this campaign? What technological considerations must be made?

There is a vast body of knowledge required to be an effective web developer; some of the hot topics these days are responsive design, search engine optimization, accessibility, conversion rate optimization, etc. Each of these technological considerations greatly affects the effectiveness of your website as a marketing tool.

This discussion begs further discussion around the digital marketing strategy, namely user profiling and market research. What’s the point of a marketing tool if it is not serving the needs of your direct target market(s)?

  1. Who will be the users of the website?
  2. Will they be on desktop-only, mobile-only, or both?
  3. Will the users potentially have accessibility needs that need to be addressed by the website?
  4. What is the conversion goal?
  5. What do you want users to do on your website to get them further along the purchase life cycle or deeper into your marketing funnel?
  6. Will your new website be returned for relevant searches?
  7. What are the relevant searches?
  8. How do you target those keywords and continually optimize?
  9. Will you have traffic and usage data from your new website?
  10. What does this data mean?
  11. How do these data points translate into whether we are getting closer to or farther away from achieving our marketing goals?

These are just technological considerations, and this is a short list of considerations. For every question, you should have a strategy for how you’re going to address these considerations. Otherwise, you are potentially relegating a part of (or a whole) target demographic of your business.

Beyond these technological considerations, there is the issue of design. A stat that most web developers love to throw around is this:

“94% of site visitors state that bad design is the main reason they mistrust a website.”

“10 Web Design Statistics.” WebIntel by Ironpaper., 6 Mar. 2014. Web. 14 Sept. 2015. <>

Technology is a very minor obstacle indeed when contrasted with design. Technology is minor in the sense that it can be learned given time and commitment. Design, on the other hand, is something a little more ethereal in the sense that good design can follow principles, but ultimately great design is a product of creativity and innate talent. So what is your awareness of good design principles? How is your design going to avoid ostracizing up to 94% of your visitors? Further to generally good design, there is some overlap with technology, particularly in the case of conversion rate optimization. How much do you know about the subtle psychological and visual cues you can give to users to grease the wheels towards them completing a conversion goal?

After you have committed to doing the website the DIY way, and you hit a roadblock (and you will hit a roadblock – even the best web developers hit roadblocks from time to time), then what is your plan? Commit more time? Hire someone? Give up? Giving up is not usually an option, especially in the case of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are the types that refuse to acknowledge the existence or meaning of the word “quit.”

There three major fronts upon which our considerations are based:

  1. Marketing – First and foremost, a website is a marketing tool, so how do we optimize the marketing potential? Marketing is the deeper consideration with every other consideration we’ll make.
  2. Technology – What technology needs to be leveraged to accomplish our marketing goals?
  3. Creativity – Good strong sales copy and great design are paramount when trying to align to a greater marketing goal.

This article is not intended to scare you away from DIY websites so much as it is to educate you on the true breadth and depth of a website project when undertaken by professionals. Professionals are very often considered solely on cost, but remember our balancing equation from the beginning of this article: with quality comes time and with time comes cost. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, “How much does my time cost?” “What could I make with the same time commitment targeted towards running my own business?” As we know from experience, everyone’s time is best spent doing what they’re best at, and if that is running your business (which hopefully it is if you’re in business for yourself), then that is where your time should be spent.

Before we start a website project at CurveFront, we perform a comprehensive requirements analysis/fact-finding investigation to make sure we know and understand the marketing goals. Then we can translate those goals into technological and creative considerations that must be made before we even quote on a project. Our goal is for our customers to successfully access their customers through digital channels. Before undertaking any website project, we want to know what it will take to produce a valuable marketing tool for our customers.

If you’re interested in discussing your digital marketing goals, we’d love to hear from you! Head over to our contact page to drop us a line, and we’ll get back to you on the double.

This article was written in response to Richard Darell’s article available at

5 Key Takeaways from Google AdWords’ “Micro-Moments” Livestream

Google AdWords hosted a quick live stream event today discussing the new battleground for brands. The event was hosted by Google AdWords employee Matt Lawson. Lawson brought many great points to our attention so we thought we’d do you all a solid by providing you with the five key takeaways from the live stream.

1. People desire more immediacy in addressing their needs than ever
People increasingly rely on their mobile devices and relevant search results to address momentary needs. Matt Lawson from Google AdWords used the example of a woman who broke her milk frother while making a cappuccino who turned to her mobile device, searched for a new milk frother, and made a purchase in the moment for the first relevant result she found. This behaviour of solving our needs with such immediacy has become what Google describes as the new battleground for brands.

2. People are maximizing their life experiences through “Micro-Moments”
People want to know how to live their lives to the fullest and having fingertip access to any answer you desire is helping people achieve this. Marketers need to be aware of these everyday needs and seek to offer creative ways to fulfill these every day “Micro-Moments”.

3. Mobile conversion rates grew 29%
Through data collected from websites across the web using Google Analytics, Google has found that mobile conversion rates grew a staggering 29% in this year. This brings back the example of the milk frother and how people want their needs fulfilled immediately. Our portal to having our needs fulfilled with such immediacy is our mobile devices and I suspect we’ll continue to see mobile conversion rates grow at incredible rates.

4. Google continues to set the bar as a resource to solve peoples’ needs
Google has many technologies that are designed to serve people’s micro-moment needs. From rich snippets to click-to-call ads, Google continues to push the threshold of what search can offer. By embracing these tools sooner than later you can be sure your brand will be well on its way to serving people’s growing immediate needs and shortening the conversion path for your sales. With these great tools everybody wins!

5. Marketers need to evaluate how they are serving people’s immediate needs
Matt Lawson offered a great list of action items that markets can incorporate into their strategies today:
1. Identify micro-moments that matter to your business
2. Deliver on people’s needs in the moment
3. Measure all moments that matter
As marketers, we want to measure everything but it’s important to find the creative metrics which tell the true story of user behaviour. Build personas for your customers, determine their needs and thoughts, and get creative with how you solve those needs and thoughts. This knowledge will certainly help us at CurveFront as we’re developing our next digital marketing campaigns and we hope that this information provides value to all who read it.