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Budgeting Your Marketing Resources: Where to Spend for the Most Impact

Last updated on October 7, 2020
12 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • Understand how various marketing tactics contribute to overall business goals
  • Take a value-driven approach to budgeting
  • Marketing mix scenarios for tour operators

Skill Level

Beginner, Intermediate

Determining your marketing objectives is a delicate balance – between focusing on more than one strategic objective, to adapting to a constantly changing digital landscape – the dollar signs add up and it can be challenging to decide where to spend your resources to have the most impact. When putting together your marketing budget it is critical to understand the reason and purpose of each line item – stop to ask yourself, what goal is this resource or tactic contributing to? Adopting a value-driven approach to budgeting is the first step in deciding where to allocate your funds.

Because FareHarbor supports operators of all sizes and activity types, we cannot recommend one specific marketing budget; however, this article is meant to guide you through scenarios where your marketing dollars can stretch farther and help you achieve your objectives. 

Understanding Marketing Objectives

Your marketing objectives will determine how you should allocate your resources, so let’s look at some examples of businesses with different objectives and how they can prioritize their budget. 

a close up of a logoTour Operator 1: Drive awareness and promote new tour offerings

Tour Operator 1 could be a business with low market share, or perhaps they have a set of new tours they would like to promote. The goal of Tour Operator 1 is to increase brand awareness for their company and offerings. As best said by our friends over at AdRoll, “brand awareness can lead to an increase in lifetime value and a decrease in overall Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC).” While it can decrease customer acquisition costs in the long run, do not be shocked to be weighting a heavier part of your budget to driving awareness, especially if you plan to do so in various locations.

a close up of a logoTour Operator 2: Increase traffic to site and maximize conversions to drive revenue 

Tour Operator 2 may be a business that experiences either low organic traffic to their site, low drop-off rates, or general poor site performance. The goal for Tour Operator 2 is to ensure that their website is best optimized to facilitate the purchase and drive qualified traffic to their site. As you can see by the collection of guides we have dedicated to websites, we are firm believers that your website should be your best salesman. 

a close up of a logoTour Operator 3: Engage with new and existing customers, increase following base on owned media channels 

It’s possible that Tour Operator 3 is a business that sees a steady volume website traffic or is maybe heading into the offseason. Their goal is to keep engagement high with new and existing customers, which could increase their following on various social media platforms. This business knows that engaged and loyal customers are 5x as likely to repurchase, 4x as likely to refer, and 7x as likely to try a new offering, according to studies done by the Temkin Group.

Determining Your Marketing Mix

Now that we have a general understanding of what goals each operator is trying to achieve, we can begin identifying the proper tactics that help them achieve those goals, a.k.a. our value-driven approach. If you haven’t read it already, this section aligns very closely with some of the touchpoints listed in our article on understanding the Customer’s Digital Journey and Choosing the Right PPC Channels for Your Business. 

a close up of a logoTour Operator 1: Facebook and Instagram Ads, Search Engine Marketing, Website Optimization, Social Media Content

At a high level, this business wants to increase their reach and get their brand in front of as many people as possible. Therefore, when trying to generate awareness, the more touchpoints the better. To do so, we recommend focusing your attention (and budget) on tactics that are “top-of-the-funnel” drivers. Because of their daily usage, ads through platforms like Facebook and Instagram can help build awareness, brand consideration, and conversions across several locations, demographics, and devices. The bonus here is that you will have larger real estate to utilize more design and copywriting flexibility. 

For search engine marketing (SEO), website optimization, and social media, the goal is to create synergy among your ads. Ensure that there is consistency in the copy and visuals you include in your ads and make small revisions to the remaining platforms. These tweaks, while they may seem small, reinforce your brand and mitigate any dissonance that could occur from buyers who like to do their research.

Pro tip: You can decrease your costs by including customer insights that can refine your list of targeted users. Access your Google Analytics to see the locations that visit your website the most, general demographics, as well as any additional insights recorded in GA. 

For more information on PPC channels, check out our PPC guide on choosing the right channels for your business.

a close up of a logoTour Operator 2: Paid Search, SEO, and Retargeting Ads

In this circumstance, the focus is on quality over quantity. In terms of the marketing funnel, users who are actively searching indicate a stronger purchase intent, so our tactics are aimed to “intercept” them as they begin to consider or weigh options. While incorporating tips to boost SEO are great, it can still take time for your business to see the impact of increased traffic. That said, we encourage you to consider paid search as a supplementary way to drive traffic to your site. Paid search allows you to hone in on specific keywords relevant to your business and provide you with several different targeting options to maximize your conversions. 

If you are new to Google Ads or paid search, you may be wondering which “match type” to use for keywords. Modified Broad Match is a great option to achieve a balance of reach and targeting.

While adopting SEO and paid search is beneficial to driving traffic to the site, realistically, not everyone who lands on your page will book. Not to fear, there are still ways to stay in front of these potential customers by the way of retargeting ads. Similar to Instagram and Facebook ads, retargeting ads provide you with more real estate for branding (via banners), but the twist here is that it focuses only on those who visited your website or other platforms. If you are already running paid search, you can leverage the Google Display network to start retargeting or research other retargeting platforms providers, like Adroll. The important thing before getting started is making sure you have a retargeting Pixel set up on your website! 

For higher quality of conversions on retargeting, you can select certain conditions or actions that a visitor completed on your website, i.e. looked at your pricing page. 


a close up of a logoTour Operator 3: Email Marketing, Social Media, Review Management 

In this final scenario, we are looking at businesses that mainly want to keep customers, existing or potential, engaged throughout their life cycle. As opposed to the other tour operator scenarios we looked at, companies that fall under this category could be focusing on retention or attracting passive future buyers. 

Email marketing still stands to be one of the most cost-efficient marketing strategies available. Whether you are sending an email to a list of subscribers or through your Dashboard, emails are much more targeted and personalized, leading to a higher impact. As you begin gearing up for your next season, keep customers informed of any new offerings or deals on your promotions. 

For social media, publishing user-generated content (UGC) is a powerful way to keep existing customers engaged while also building up new followers. UGC is essentially the act of leveraging the content that your customers posted about your business to your social channels. While there are several benefits to using UGC, the main benefit is it builds more authentic relationships with your following base. 

Pro tip: Create a unique hashtag for your business that customers can use so that you can easily track any new posts. 

Lastly, it’s no surprise that online reviews can sway a potential customer’s judgment, and that is especially true with tours and activities. With 90% of consumers looking at a review before they visit a business (BrightLocal), review platforms act as both a selling tool and a retention tool. Set a scheduled reminder every week to review the latest submissions and respond promptly. 

Your marketing plan and objectives, like your business, will be unique. While these scenarios and recommendations are a guide to assist your decision making, your final marketing mix year to year or season to season can change and require a combination of multiple tactics listed above. Start by defining your objectives and experimenting with strategies aligned with your goals. For more promotion tips, browse our digital marketing guides

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