A Marketing Budget Example that Covers All Bases and Ensures ROI

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February 13, 2018
Adam Marquardt Adam Marquardt

Updated July 2020

As you put together your overall marketing strategy, a couple of crucial questions might arise. Namely, what are you going to spend money on? And why?

The answers can seem fuzzy, especially when you want measurable (and great) results...but that’s where a marketing budget example comes in. Here, we’ll share some essential considerations up-front, along with a sample budget that makes sure all the important aspects are covered, enabling you to report achieved goals and higher returns.

Tip #1 - Get Your Priorities Straight

That is, all of your business priorities.

You’ll want to take a look at your entire financial picture, including basic operating costs and overhead, personnel, equipment, and other aspects before you embark on creating a marketing budget.

By assessing all finances and what they say about the current “health” of your company, you’ll know roughly what amount of the whole you can put towards marketing. A good rule of thumb for small-to-medium businesses is to set aside about 5% - 10% of revenues for marketing activities.

Tip #2 - Understand Your Marketing Objectives

While this is different for every business, you have to know what your company needs…
  • Is it important to close more sales, in order to see a direct increase in profits?
  • Is your sales and conversion machine relatively solid, but you simply need more leads?
  • Or, is greater brand awareness in order, so that your audience knows you exist and you have something to offer?

Of course, the ultimate objective for most companies is to increase sales. However, it's important not to put the cart before the horse. If people don't know who you are, your focus should be on introducing your company to them and showing them why they should buy from you and not your competitor. By taking stock of where your company is realistically and considering the above-mentioned broad objectives, you’ll know where to spend more money and where to hold back.

Tip #3 - Ensure You Have The Resources To Follow Through

The word “resources” here doesn’t just refer to dollars and cents. Think about how much time each marketing method will take, as well as the personnel — for example, content creators, graphic designers, independent consultants or web developers — needed to make your campaigns successful.

Especially important to consider these days is whether you have the capacity and experience to maintain a robust digital presence. Whether you have someone full-time on your team to manage your digital ventures or you hire a dedicated marketing agency, it's vital to ensure this is an avenue you're committed to exploring.

Depending on who’s already on your team and what your campaigns demand, you’ll have to make room in your budget to cover both time and human resources slated for marketing.

A Marketing Budget Example

After a thoughtful assessment of all of the above, you’re ready to allocate funds to specific marketing tasks. Let’s say you have $500,000 to spend on all marketing activities for a given quarter. Here’s a breakdown that a medium-sized B2B company might employ as an itemized marketing budget.

(Note that this is only a sample breakdown — your final marketing budget must be shaped by your company’s needs, and your mileage will absolutely vary. Your numbers should never stay static, but should be refined by testing.)

Inbound Content Marketing: 20 - 25% ($100 - 125K)

Because content is a must for any business with a digital presence — and it’s the best way to attract new leads and move them through a defined buyer's journey — it makes sense to invest in content marketing in its various forms, be it blogging, videos, infographics, white papers, case studies, podcasts, or other types of collateral.

Email Marketing: 5 - 10% ($25 - 50K)

Email is simply one of the most effective channels for retaining and nurturing leads. Instead of losing web visitors who consume your content, you can keep offering value and staying on their radar until they’re ready to take the next step...and the next, all the way to the point of sale.

The best part? Email marketing can be relatively inexpensive to set up and maintain, and can yield an appreciable ROI for years.

SEM PPC, Display, and Social Media Ads - 20 - 25% ($100 - 125K)

SEM, or search engine marketing, involves both SEO in general and buying pay-per-click (PPC) ads on search engines, such as Google Ads. Those ads can be very effective with the right copy and the use of buyer keywords. Display ads appear as “banners” on various relevant websites. Social media ads, such as those offered by Facebook and LinkedIn, can yield an extremely high ROI with the right targeting and creative.

It makes sense to promote content with 50% - 100% of the budget it takes to create it, and an optimized mix of digital ads fits the “promotion” bill perfectly. In the beginning, you might test things out with a smaller investment and adjust over time, based on results.

PR, Off-Page SEO, and Influencer Marketing - 20 - 25% ($100 - 125K)

This includes the range of activities for building a greater brand presence, including getting your brand into media outlets, sourcing high-profile guest blogging opportunities, and scoring partnerships with niche influencers. Budgeting for these endeavors can greatly increase the popular awareness of your company.

Website - 10 - 15% ($50 - 75K)

A website is your digital storefront — and besides being designed well, it must convert visitors. In order to help this happen, you’ll want to invest in fresh, SEO-compliant content and design, as well as an optimized flow that leads users seamlessly into your sales funnel. Continual conversion rate optimization (CRO) is always important as you gain traffic over time.

Traditional - 10 - 15% ($50 - 75K)

This covers all of the age-old “offline” methods of advertising, which still do work — namely, events, print ads in magazines, TV commercials, radio spots, and billboards. While most modern brands will likely see more immediate returns from targeted digital marketing, a modest (yet definite) investment in traditional methods will only help solidify and sustain those gains.

Your marketing budget is going to be your (and your team’s) unique brainchild, borne of your company’s specific needs, market research, and prospects for the future. But if you’re looking for somewhere to start, check out the ideas above — they just might lead you to the marketing success you’ve been longing for.