Digital Marketing , Digital Transformation , User Experience , Optimisation

Appius’ guide to unlocking premium digital results with reduced spend

Author: Stuart Lane
September 28, 2023

Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) have endured a difficult few years. The pandemic forced strategies and messaging frameworks to be ripped up. Digital channels evolved from a shiny bolt-on to a core pillar of marketing operations.


And just when things started to stabilise, the cost-of-living crisis hit. Budget cuts are now the norm - with marketing departments bearing the brunt of this. Gartner’s The State of Marketing Budget and Strategy in 2023 report revealed that marketing budgets accounted for 9.1% of company revenue this year - down from 9.5% in 2022. 


But reduced spend doesn’t amount to reduced expectations. Gartner’s research also found that three-quarters of CMOs are being asked to do more with less this year. Consistently delivering premium results has always been a difficult ask - and fewer resources is only confounding the issue. 


So how can marketers maintain dominance in a digital-oriented landscape without unlimited budgets? Extracting maximum value from your existing set-up should be the first point-of-call. Companies don’t need to rip up their entire marketing playbooks; rather, it’s about optimising performance across every campaign. 


Appius has identified four tactics that can help marketers navigate the sweeping budget cuts: 


  • A/B split testing
  • Personalisation
  • User experience (UX) testing
  • Data-driven strategies


A/B split testing


Efficiency is the buzzword of 2023. Marketers’ sights are set firmly on driving conversion rates across every touchpoint. And this is where A/B split testing can be a simple-yet-effective ace in the hole. 


Businesses can leverage A/B testing to experiment with multiple variables across both paid and organic marketing activities. Tweaking website page layouts and product descriptions offers insight into the language and formats that resonate most with your high-value audiences. 


This technique can also be applied to email marketing campaigns. Tailoring copy to different demographics - some preferring straight talking text, others enjoying quirky copy - and trialling sending times can be a stepping stone to getting the most out of your budget. This test-and-learn scenario doesn’t adversely impact your financial resources - but could be the catalyst to improving cut-through and forging relationships with new and returning customers alike. 






Customers’ attitude towards personalisation have evolved; originally perceived as an optional extra, they’re now regarded as a linchpin of modern marketing. McKinsey reports that 71% of customers expect companies to deliver personalised interactions. 


Ignoring customers’ expectations is a surefire way to alienate your business and become the castaway. McKinsey’s research also found that more than three-quarters of customers are frustrated when they see a lack of personalisation in marketing comms. 


But the argument for personalisation extends beyond bending the knee to your audience. This is a powerful asset that can improve your cross-selling and upselling capabilities. Personalisation facilitates granular targeting - identifying where individual consumers are on their sales journey, be it frequent buyer or new contact, is the first step to adapting your outreach accordingly. 


Personalisation also encompasses location-based customisation, ensuring events are visible to high-value targets. Similarly, case studies can be sent to relevant job titles and sectors at no additional cost. 




UX testing


Saying your company is committed to delivering seamless customer experiences (CX) is all well-and-good. But you can only make this a reality when you truly understand what they want. 


UX testing offers an in-depth look at your customers’ preferences, yet stigmas around the practice remain. It’s perceived as an expensive process that involves long waiting times. 


The reality is that there are lightweight ways to conduct UX remotely (and in a budget-friendly way). Third-party software like Lookback can provide accessible participant experiences whilst ensuring companies conduct research at their own scale. And more often than not, only small tweaks are required to get the audience onside - such as more accessible terminology or helpful supporting content like tooltips. A good round of UX testing can save wasted development time and actually accelerates your project success by resolving your internal debates and finding the issues that no-one had thought of.


Premium UX testing doesn’t need to be conducted with thousands of participants. A smaller sample size can still reveal the majority of usability issues: studies show effective qualitative UX testing can be done with as few as five people. And if you have any doubts about this technique’s potential, Forrester reports that investing $1 in UX testing returns $100 - representing an ROI of 9,900%. 




Data-driven strategies


Budget cuts don’t automatically spell marketing disaster. Rather, they’re an incentive to tap into the potential of your pre-collected data. 


Analytics are a friend - not a foe. Leaning on your insights and adopting a data-driven strategy empowers you to rationalise the effort you’re already investing into marketing and balance it against the results and ROI. 


Case-in-point, assess the impact of your content strategy. Irrespective of whether you’re producing long-form reports, snappy social content or organic blog posts - they need to be sustainable long-term. And this is where trawling through metrics such as CTR, daily traffic and dwell time can guide future investments.


Is your company searching for best-in-class strategies that can drive digital performance on a smaller budget? Trying to secure positive results during economic uncertainty? Appius’ experience in the digital landscape can support your marketing team in getting the most out of its resources. Get in touch using our contact form to find out more and discuss our specific examples of r.o.i. from the techniques above. 

About Author
Stuart Lane
Stuart Lane

Managing Director, Head of Experience & Engagement at Appius


Appius have spent over 20 years transforming digital experiences across multiple sectors.