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Cost Controlling for International Online Marketing Projects—Which Expenses to Consider?

International Online Marketing, Marketing Controlling


Before starting any online marketing project or campaign, it’s necessary to conduct a thorough cost estimation. This includes both the expected costs (monetary) as well as the effort (time/expertise) needed to achieve the greatest possible results. This ensures that a customer is always getting the best value for their investment, as well as to reach an optimal outcome given budgetary and time limitations.

What follows is an overview of different cost centers and considerations when putting together an international online marketing project here at effective GmbH.

Project Planning

In the first meeting with a customer, our project managers work to understand the various objectives within the planned scope of the campaign. Based on the requirements and KPIs of the campaign, a further analysis is performed. This information then becomes the basis for internal team meetings to determine which strategy is the best to achieve customer goals within any budgetary and time constraints. A set strategy or roadmap for international projects helps to mitigate the negative effects of a misallocation of resources by having a concrete plan and budget timeline from the outset. This planning period is also used internally to determine which business units (Marketing Systems & Services, Technology, Design, Institute of Intercultural Competence, etc.) will need to be involved in the project or campaign. Obtaining feedback and cost estimates from all necessary units involved in the project helps to ensure that the project itself is delivered on time and within the allotted budget.

In addition, each customer is assigned a fixed account manager across all global activities and projects, who acts as a single point of contact for on-going and future marketing campaigns and initiatives. This results in optimal customer care and efficient communication. Furthermore, having a dedicated account manager breeds familiarity and know-how between the customer and effective GmbH, allowing for a deeper understanding of products, industry players, and objectives. This symbiotic relationship helps to increase efficiency as well as ensure campaign success.

For this reason, it is essential that built into every project is a certain number of hours for the communication between the account manager and customer. The account manager is also responsible for the controlling and monitoring of all global marketing campaigns, as well as making sure that they meet customer objectives. This includes briefing all internal country managers and business units at effective GmbH, any agency or media partners, as well as submitting detailed reporting to the customer. Regular quality checks of all related project operations are also included under the account manager’s duties.

Channels and Distribution

Another important aspect when estimating project or campaign costs is to consider which channels and media types should be used in each country or market. Transactional costs across borders, additional currency fees, and changes in legislation can be extremely costly, hindering long term campaign performance due to time lags and high upfront costs. For example, publishing a press release in India might only cost 10 EUR on the surface, but in reality it requires a bank transfer, which might be upwards of 30 EUR. These situations need to be taken into strict consideration when planning global marketing campaigns, so that an accurate cost estimates can be prepared.

In addition to these one-time setup and startup costs, it is also important to include running costs associated with campaigns that are recurring on a monthly basis. Each campaign that is up and running needs to be monitored and optimized on a regular basis to ensure that targets are being met. Unnoticed or uncorrected changes can have a disastrous effects on the overall effectiveness of a campaign. This component of monitoring and controlling is performed by the account manager, in conjunction with another more strategy-oriented person. Together, this one-two punch ensures that global campaigns are kept on-track and satisfy requirements.

The final cost component consists of software and licensing fees that go along with using tools and services for online marketing projects. These tools are often necessary for accurate and detailed controlling of campaign performance, as well as for competitor analysis and to justify KPIs. It’s best to minimize the number of tools used in order to keep a unified rubric of metrics across countries.

Controlling & Analysis

We use these data points from all global campaigns in order to compile two definitive reports over the course of a yearly contract. The first, the 100 Day Audit, is used to assess the basic direction of the campaign in terms of goal attainment. The second, the 300 Day Audit, judges the success of the campaign based on the pre-defined KPIs. These two reports also need to be considered when calculating project costs, as they can be time and data-intensive to produce.