Marketers face a challenging 2018 as growth in marketing budgets slows to its lowest rate in 2 years. According to the IPA’s quarterly Bellwether report, 15.2% of marketers surveyed reported budget cuts in the last quarter of 2017. With budget cuts and high expectations, marketers will need to do more with less this year. No longer can small businesses, and even large corporations, throw darts and see what sticks — 2018 must be the year of return on investment (ROI). The rise of shiny object syndrome in marketing leadership has led businesses down frivolous rabbit holes. “The risk is that CMOs are either being too nearsighted to be strategic or too visionary to deliver against marketing’s objectives,” said Ewan McIntyre, a research director at Gartner. “The result is a lack of focus on the metrics that matter to CMOs and the business – how marketing activities deliver return on investment and profitability to the organization.” Concentrating on metrics such as impressions that don’t directly contribute to the bottom line can be risky, especially if businesses don’t have room for trial and error in their marketing budget. To restore confidence and revenue growth, marketers must focus on proven ROI-generating channels. According to recent research from GetResponse, 18% of marketers across all industries said email marketing delivered the highest ROI, closely followed by social media marketing (17%), and search engine optimization (14%). Email marketing dominates the digital kingdom with an amazing 4,400% ROI — that’s an average of $44 for every $1 spent. Although these three channels reportedly drive the highest ROI, that doesn’t mean they’re the right channel for every business. “When it comes to becoming a marketing master, perhaps the most important thing you can do to drive results is to focus your effort on becoming an expert in one marketing channel at a time,” said AJ Agrawal, founder of Alumnify and Verma Group. “There are just too many different strategies available to try to dabble in each and every one; don’t fall victim to spreading yourself too thin, working on overdrive only to wind up limiting your results.“ To meet 2018 marketing objectives, marketers will need to refocus and avoid the temptation to chase every “good idea.” Despite budget cuts, marketers can still still make an impact in 2018 if they focus on mastering the channels driving the metric that really matters — ROI.