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In uncertain economic times, many businesses are looking to cut costs and marketing budgets are often one of the first “expenses” to go. First, we need to challenge that way of thinking.


Marketing done well, is the fuel that powers your business engine. If you want to continue driving forward it doesn’t make sense to cut the fuel line, but rather it is important to review and optimize your marketing strategy, marketing plans, and tactics and make them more focused, effective, and efficient. 


Luckily, there are many ways you can improve your marketing ROI without spending more money and we’ll show you how. But first, we have to answer one simple question: 


Why Do Marketing Budgets Get Cut? 

Marketing is an Investment, Not an Expense

Don’t cut the fuel line to your business engine

The driving reason why marketing budgets get cut is because of ROI, or rather, a perceived lack of ROI. That’s not to say the value isn’t there. Oftentimes, it’s just not readily apparent because you’re not monitoring or tracking your campaigns effectively..


Tell us, have any of the following situations happened to you?


  • Decision makers see marketing as more of an afterthought instead of a core business function
  • The marketing budget was cut because it’s an easy way to immediately balance the books
  • Marketing expenses are hard to justify because there’s so much to monitor and track


With all of these examples, the return on investment is either unclear or unknown. And with some people forecasting a recession in the near future, your marketing ROI is going to be more important than ever.

Branding is about how you package value in your product/service.

How to Improve Your Marketing ROI on a Budget

Here are a few of our favourite ways to improve ROI without breaking the bank. If you need to determine your marketing ROI first, then check out our blog to learn how to calculate your marketing ROI.

Get back to the basics!
Revisit your SMART business goals and marketing goals to ensure they are aligned with your top-line revenue targets and not frivolous initiatives.

1. Revisit Your Goals

Overall, the main goal of marketing is to increase revenue, but you’ll want to get a lot more specific and strategic than that when it comes to measuring your marketing successes.

In fact, the marketing department is one of the most nimble and agile aspects of most businesses, as strategies, objectives, and goals often change on the fly (or in response to real-time metrics, which is often the case in paid advertising campaigns). And marketers are expected to just adapt.

This state of flux makes it easy for marketers to lose track of their goals, especially when things are constantly changing. But many of these issues can be resolved with increased visibility and accountability.

Here are two things you should establish before setting your goals:


  • Executive Alignment: This means is that everyone should be on the same page, from the executive leadership to the employees handling the day-to-day tasks.  
  • Establish Topline Objectives: While related to the first point, this one helps organize your marketing goals as most marketing objectives fall into one of three categories:
    • Sales, 
    • Awareness, or 
    • Perception


Once those are set, we can move on to goal setting, which starts with a quick reminder on SMART goals.

Maybe you remember SMART goals from school. SMART is an acronym that stands for: 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound
  • Source: Unsplash

    When you’re doing your campaign planning and defining your metrics and goals, you should ensure that your goals are SMART goals and check all of those boxes.

    The more specific you can be when it comes to your goals, the better. It’s a lot easier to gain momentum if you’re stacking up a series of small wins (such as getting newsletter subscriptions, application forms filled out, or pageviews on your landing pages) instead of having a large, hard-to-define goal like “increasing brand awareness”.

    Otherwise, it’s going to be very hard to measure ROI and the impact of your marketing efforts.

    SMART Goal Example

    Here’s an example for how to set SMART goals to improve ROI:

    • Specific: Improving ROI is such a broad goal, so let’s get more specific and focus on increasing blog traffic by increasing the post frequency from 2 blogs per week to 3 blogs per week
    • Measurable: Let’s set our goal as a 10% increase in blog traffic 
    • Achievable: When we doubled our posting frequency from 1 blog to 2 blogs per week, we saw an 8% increase in blog traffic so it’s realistic that adding another blog per week could boost traffic by 10%. Plus, we double checked with our content writer and they have the capacity to write 3 blogs per week
    • Relevant: An increase in blog traffic will boost brand awareness and help position us as subject matter experts in the industry, leading to more leads and conversions, thereby improving marketing ROI
    • Time-Bound: By the end of Q2


    SMART Goal: To achieve a 10% increase in blog traffic by the end of Q2 by increasing the post frequency from 2 blogs per week to 3.

    Make sure you are measuring and reviewing the right marketing metrics that support top-line revenue generation

    2. Define Your Metrics

    When defining your metrics, first ask yourself how you’ll define success and then how to measure it. If you did the first step and created your SMART goals, then this will be a lot easier for you.

    Sometimes, the metrics can get overwhelming. Google Analytics alone tracks over 100 metrics and they’re all available at your fingertips. 

    But don’t give up hope because you certainly don’t have to be monitoring all of them. There are some metrics that will definitely be more valuable, but determining which metrics are important largely depends on your goals and marketing objectives. 

    Here are some key metrics you should keep an eye on for different types of goals:

    • Awareness: impressions, page views, and screen views
    • Engagement: duration on page, bounce rate, CTR, open rate
    • Conversion: new subscribers, leads, and sign-ups

    While it’s great to track and monitor your metrics, the numbers don’t always tell the full story. For example, if you were running an email marketing campaign, you’ll probably be monitoring engagement metrics such as:

    • Open Rate
    • CTR


    Let’s say you’ve been getting a 70% open rate. While that looks great on paper, if your click-through rate (CTR) hovers around 1%, then it means there’s probably an issue with the content and it’s alignment with your target audience.  

    The most important question in this scenario would be: 

    “Why are so many people opening your emails but not clicking through?”

    This indicates that while your email subject lines may be killing it (giving you a 7/10 open rate), there’s something wrong because nobody is clicking through. You’ll have to find out why that’s happening–maybe the content does not answer the pain points of your target audience, maybe your CTA isn’t clear enough or maybe there are issues in the copy and visual design that turns people off.

    You could even consider running A/B tests in a situation like this to try and pinpoint the culprit. Which leads us to our next point.

    Split Testing: Test your campaigns to ensure you are reaching your audience effectively

    3. Run A/B Tests

    A/B testing is a super effective way to not only improve your ROI but to also fine-tune your campaigns for maximum impact and conversions.


    A/B Testing is also known as ‘split testing’, and it lets you measure the performance of something (such as an email or landing page) against a different version of it. Basically, you’re letting the two different versions battle it out to determine a winner.


    In our experience, you would be surprised to see certain cases and verticals where a more professional design underperformed when compared to what we would consider tackier/gawdy/in-your-face design or simple plain text with no graphics.


    You could easily use A/B Testing to find which CTA is most effective, or see how differences in the copy affect performance, and then use what you learned to drive the strategy of future campaigns.


    So let’s say you wanted to compare 2 versions of a landing page to see which is best. Tools like Hotjar and Crazy Egg make it easy to run tests because they integrate with analytics platforms like Google Optimize, Omniconvert, and Optimizely. 


    If you want to A/B test some copy for your Facebook ads, you can do that with Ad Creatives or Audiences.

    Be adaptable – shifting your strategy to align with marketing trends

    4. Shift Your Marketing Strategy

    You still want to keep your business or brand at the top of your customer’s minds, but it can be difficult to do that with tighter marketing budgets.


    Focus on providing meaningful and relevant content, instead of a hard push for sales. Read the room and the current situation. If everyone is cutting back on their expenses, it might not be the best time to do those huge promos. It can make you look out of touch.

    Expand your social media presence. Utilize a free channel to maximize ROI 

    Maybe your business is only on Facebook or Instagram, and you’ve heard all about how the kids these days are all about TikTok.Or maybe your business is more old school and you mostly rely on word-of-mouth and cold calls.

    Source: Unsplash

    Regardless of how you market your business, social media is an easy (and cheap) way to boost your marketing efforts and reach a new audience. By creating relevant and meaningful content, you can help steer potential customers in the right direction while also positioning your own business as a subject matter expert– it’s a win-win!

    Enlist a dedicated marketing partner 

    Hiring a marketing agency during these times may seem counterintuitive but on the contrary, being backed by a team of professionals ensures that your marketing dollars are being allocated properly to help you drive sales. 


    Also, think of all the time you and your team could save if you had an expert team take over certain aspects of marketing for you. Not only will you be saving time, you’ll also be saving money as you won’t have any training costs because your marketing partner already knows exactly what to do.


    Partnering with the right agency can definitely help improve your marketing efforts and be well worth it, especially when the agency offers custom packages to meet your marketing needs and budget like we do, backed by 20+ years of experience.

    Boost your marketing ROI

    We hope you can use our list of tips and recommendations to not only boost your own marketing ROI, but to also give you a better idea of how to set goals, how to measure success, and how to reach a bigger audience–all while spending less money, of course!

    It helps to have a game plan so you know exactly what you’re measuring and how it factors into ROI so you can justify the marketing costs to your clients and/or bosses.

    If you need help boosting your marketing ROI, reach out to us today, we’d be happy to help!

    At Sayvee, we help brands connect with their target audience in a meaningful way through a series of strategy workshops. If you want to learn more, get in touch to hear how we deliver a Brand Strategy that aligns.

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