22 Tips to Reduce Marketing Waste

Marketing waste, or wastage, is a term often misinterpreted. To clarify, it refers to marketing strategies and processes that are inefficient, costing a business time and money.

It’s now more important than ever to apply lean principles. Not optimizing resources and investment can hold a business back from growth or true profit potential. Therefore, marketing waste can be responsible for slowing business growth and profit.

And this especially needs to be addressed during times of crisis and changing customer needs.

Key benefits of applying a strategy to reduce marketing wastage:

  • a clear strategy, purpose and alignment throughout an organization
  • confident decision making
  • reduced risk when making changes
  • improved productivity
  • budgets working more effectively
  • improved activity and campaign performance by focusing on ROI and ROO
  • deep customer and competitor knowledge

Tips to reduce marketing spend waste

Disinfection, cleaning smartphone.

  1. Data: analyze, cleanse and then segment for better targeting and engagement to improve cost efficiencies. Look at data unification software to save time and cost of cleanup, deduping and standardization. Forrester states that 25% of marketing campaigns have been negatively impacted by poor data management. 37% wasted spend because of poor data quality and 35% due to inaccurate targeting, resulting in 30% loss of customers.
  2. ROI and ROO: look closely at what’s delivering and what isn’t, then prioritize best-performing channels and invest accordingly. Switch channels if necessary, or even remove the least effective channels.
  3. Programmatic advertising: a typical culprit of wasted spend while it does provide low-cost leads to increase reach, these aren’t relevant or targeted enough and therefore not cost-effective. Plus, the risk of misplacements can lead to brand damage at a time when credibility is key.
  4. Investing too much too early: better to wait for clear results to inform decisions before committing to spend
  5. Ads: too many formats and placements in the quest for the Holy Grail of proficiency
  6. Funnel leakage: ineffective customer journeys need testing and experimenting to optimize
  7. Customer: targeting and messaging require a customer-centric strategy to deliver results
  8. Performance marketing: focus on metrics and KPIs that are most appropriate too often acquisition or retention is measured, when Life Time Value can add the most insight and value
  9. PPC Ads: consider your long-tail keyword options and be more specific in your ad copy
  10. Martech: review your unused and abandoned tech to utilize and get value from their investment. Or save on subscriptions by cancelling those that aren’t contributing.
  11. Ads: traditionally poor targeting and low conversion rates, so reduce activity and switch budget to better performing activity
  12. Long-term agreements: these are often not considered and unfortunately they can restrict responsiveness if KPI’s aren’t delivered. Also, they don’t offer the ability to respond to market changes as spend can’t be optimized timeously.

Tips to reduce marketing resource management waste

Waste is often perceived as spend-related, but reducing marketing wastage through resource management is also key:

  1. Automation: a logical one. Tools like Zapier, Salesforce, Magento etc. go a long way to free up resource
  2. The ‘overs’: over-production of content, overly large teams, overly complicated processes each of these reduce efficiency, effectiveness and productivity. They should be reviewed to ensure that content is relevant, teams are productive, and processes, like signoffs are optimized.
  3. Ineffective internal communications: create confusion and therefore time wasted waiting for clarity and direction
  4. Ineffective decision-making: leads to lack of direction and focus. Teams need clarity and decisiveness to improve efficiency, productivity and effectiveness yes, all the Magic Words.
  5. Customer Activity: activities and functionalities that don’t contribute value to the customer experience should be adjusted or removed
  6. Bottlenecks and overcapacity: find the right balance of resources to remove bottlenecks. Or use teams at maximum efficiency by reorganizing to align with achieving business goals.
  7. Loss of talent: unclear direction from leadership results in loss of momentum and morale, leading to increased talent turnover and the need to on-board and train new staff.
  8. Market research: replace traditional marketing research methods with customer-facing processes like Design Sprints giving you user feedback in days, not weeks or months
  9. Content: focus on producing quality, customer-centric content to ensure consistent brand message and values. The right message, at the right place and time is crucial to support business communications and brand for trust, transparency and credibility during a crisis.
  10. Strategy: clear and consistent direction reduces the opportunity for straying from the path to achieving business goals and objectives


The tips and recommendations above are vital, but it’s also crucial to address Ambiguity, which is a leading cause of marketing waste. Ambiguity within an organization leads to inefficient management of team resources, the risk of mistakes and loss of opportunities.


Prioritizing marketing activities is another key strategy to reduce marketing waste. Understanding the ranking of each task on the Effort Impact scale provides crystal-clear transparency on the order of importance that they need to be worked on.

Quantifying improvements

Ongoing measurement of KPIs is a useful way to track the impact of improvements in marketing waste. ROI (Return on Investment), ROO (Return on Objectives), OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), conversion rates, customer LTV (Life Time Value), talent retention, data costs, customer retention, customer acquisition can all be used where relevant.

2020 and challenging times

Male rock climber on challenging route going along ceiling in ca

Marketing budget cuts in 2020 have placed a greater emphasis on how to do more with less. Businesses need to prioritize lean and agile principles to find ways to combat the negative impact of reduced investment and marketing executions.

This is where Agile Marketing principles and practices are crucial to removing waste from the marketing system. A clear strategy, processes that improve productivity, empowered marketers that are aligned within an organization, budgets that work more effectively and reduced risk Agile Marketing automatically combats the negative impact of a crisis and allows for flexibility and adaptability in the face of change.

Key benefits and principles of Agile Marketing and assisting with marketing waste reduction:

  • collaborative culture
  • small, x-functional, self organizing, autonomous teams
  • focused working sprints
  • clear team purpose for alignment with shared vis
    ion and goals
  • alignment also provides a holistic view of the customer experience
  • decisive, informed responses and decisions to reach business OKRs and goals
  • removes context-switching i.e. the mental and time inefficiencies of resources not focusing, setting of WIP (Work In Process) limits is key to this
  • digital platforms using Trello, Asana, Jira, Mira, Mural, Slack etc for team collaboration and communication
  • Agile Marketing activities like daily standups, reviews, retrospectives, planning sprints are time-boxed, effective meetings that produce results and a value-focused way to check progress against goals
  • bottle necks are released
  • faster, confident decision-making based on data, not opinions
  • focus on high-value work and results
  • improved responsive to customer and market needs
  • move to OKR (Objectives and Key Results) so that you have just a few results per objective to define your marketing goals, rather than the traditional, static, long-term annual ways of planning

It’s more important than ever to control marketing waste and make the best possible investments to make your marketing work more effectively – both financially and to your organizational objectives. If you want to find out where Claravine fits in improving this efficiency for many of the top global brands, get started here.

About the Author

Cathy Grimes: Innovation Strategy and Agile Marketing – consultant / facilitator / trainer

Cathy brings innovation and agility to organizations globally, helping them achieve their business goals with her unique, transformative frameworks and processes. She is certified in Agile Marketing, and Leading with Agility. And trained in Design Thinking and Design Sprints. Qualified in wine with an Advanced Level 3 from WSET, wine destinations are her jam, ask her anything!

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