Managing your marketing portfolio against risk

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Have you ever invested on your own? Maybe opened up a retirement account? Ever notice that most retirement funds come with a management fee? This management fee pays for an analyst to look at the fund and ensure it remains balanced.

For example, suppose your retirement portfolio started out like this:

  • Stocks: 25%
  • Bonds: 25%
  • Commodities: 25%
  • International: 25%

After a few years, your portfolio might look like this:

  • Stocks: 30%
  • Bonds: 20%
  • Commodities: 40%
  • International: 10%

This is portfolio drift. This is what happens when real world conditions change the performance of your investments. Portfolios are subject to drift, where the amount of investments that the portfolio owns differs from its intended targets. A good portfolio manager adjusts what the fund buys and sells to bring it back in line with these targets, or allows it to remain out of balance as a conscious choice.

As a marketer, you have goals and targets. You have performance targets for your marketing program (or you should!). How often do you measure your marketing portfolio’s drift? Rather than just look at your marketing analytics and metrics in snapshots or as discrete numbers, put them together in a portfolio.

Let’s say these were my targets in my web analytics:

  • Organic Search: 40% of site traffic
  • Unpaid Social: 20%
  • Email: 20%
  • Referral traffic: 20%

Now let’s say this was how my marketing portfolio was actually doing:


I’d say I’ve got some drift there! I’m about on target with search and just a little overweight on social media, but I’m falling behind my targets on referral and email.

Why would you want to take this approach? Keeping your portfolio in balance is an important way to contain risk. At a previous company, our portfolio was 85% organic search marketing and 15% everything else. One day, Google changed its algorithm and our #1 site became a #3 site. Overnight, 70% of our revenue evaporated until the algorithm changed again.

Had we kept our portfolio in balance, we might have weathered that storm better.

For those companies that have spent the last couple of years relying on Facebook, the algorithm changes there have created similar boom/bust cycles.

Protect your business from them! Set out a marketing portfolio for yourself and manage your marketing drift. You’ll mitigate risks of being overweight in any one channel of marketing.

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