Don’t Waste Your Money: How To Spend Your Marketing Budget

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Digital Marketing
Time to read: 8 min

66% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority. (HubSpot, 2016) If you are not on that bandwagon, you should be. Don’t know how to get started? We’re here to help you decide how much to spend on digital marketing, where to spend it, and why.

Why is Digital Marketing So Important?

Right now, digital marketing is growing and is not predicted to stop. Business owners are seeing a high return on investment (ROI) with an almost infinite ability to reach anyone in the world. That is probably why:

marketing budget

How Much Should I Spend On Digital Marketing?

You should allocate about 30-35% of your total marketing budget to your digital marketing budget. Notice that this is not an exact amount because every business is unique.

Use the percentage as a guide and then also look at:

  • How much of your company's business is conducted online?
  • What can you get for 30-35% of your budget?
  • What resources do you have to implement your digital marketing strategy?
  • What are your expectations for your digital marketing efforts?
  • Is this budget sustainable in the long run?

If it does not seem like 30-35% of your marketing budget would suffice, then slowly increase your budget. But keep track of how much you are spending for every aspect of your digital marketing strategy. Then after a while, see if putting more towards your marketing budget is actually helping by keeping a monthly tracker of marketing data. It should include details of how much you spent and what analytics went up or down. There is nothing worse than seeing $15,000 spent on AdWords that do not even get conversions.

When I Decide On A Budget, Where Should I Allocate The Money?

This is a great question and again it doesn’t have one straight answer.

You should allocate your money based on:

  • What resources you already have access to
  • What product/service you are selling
  • What others in your industry are doing (or not doing)

For example, maybe you have an employee that is a photographer and they will take professional photos for you. But you do not have someone that is an experienced blogger. You should allocate your money towards blogging and save money by using your employee for photos.

Some Guidelines For Where To Put Your Budget

Note: These percentages are estimated values of money, not of efforts or importance. For example, social media only is allotted 10% of the budget but should be one of the top resources being used. It is not allotted a lot of money because most of it is free.

Email Marketing- 10%

Email marketing is still the number one digital marketing effort to get conversions. You can get MailChimp for free if you have less than 2000 subscribers. For small businesses, that means you won’t even need to pay to have the message deployed. After 2000, the packages start at $10 per month. One thing to keep in mind is that you do have to create the email that you want to send out. So you will need an experienced marketer to help write click-worthy headlines, promotional content, and formatting.

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Video Marketing- 20%

Video marketing today is like social media marketing was in 2015, if you aren’t doing video marketing, you are behind the curve. This does take more resources than writing a social media post for example. But once you make the video, you can post it for free on YouTube or Facebook. Then, you can choose to do paid promotions from there. The facts are out there:

video marketing

Don’t leave this statistic in the dark. If you can produce helpful videos before your competitors, you will be the one to get the customers.

Content Creation- 20%

A blog or press release has the potential to go viral organically. Meaning that after your article is posted, every view that goes to that page is coming to your site for free. Don’t think that this will happen with every article posted though. There are many variables that go into creating a great article. That is why oftentimes business owners hire an agency for this service.

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AdWords or Pay-Per-Click- 20%

AdWords can make or break a business depending on how optimized the ads are. We have seen clients throw thousands of dollars a day toward an ad, just to get 2 or 3 conversions. On the other hand, we have seen clients get 3X the amount back on their AdWords investment. It is all in the experience you have creating a campaign. The great part of AdWords is that you can see results quickly.

If you are interested in putting some of your budget towards AdWords, it would be smart to hire an experienced agency to run your campaign. Ask them to walk through their creation process and strategy so that you know they are qualified. They should also be able to give you a report at the end of each month that shows what you got back from your investment.

adwords logo

Branding- 10%

One thing that business owners often forget is branding. In order for customers to be loyal to your brand, they need to know who you are. Every video, social media post, and page on your website should give off the same persona. If you are unsure if your branding is up to par, check out this page about rebranding. You should look at rebranding your company before you do large marketing pushes. Then revisit your branding strategy every couple of years.

User Experience & Mobile- 10%

Everyone is on their phones these days, so your website should be optimized for mobile and user-friendly.

Analyze your website and ask these questions:

  • How much do they have to click or scroll to get the information they need?
  • Can they skim through your content?
  • Is the text big enough for them to see and click on a phone?
  • Is there a CTA that tells them what to do next?
  • Does your website walk them through the buying cycle?
  • What is the page speed?

Social Media Marketing- 10%

Social media marketing is an art. Anybody can post on social media profiles and say they have a campaign. But there should be much more to it than that. You should treat your brand as it’s own person. It should have a personality, reply to comments, interact with other people’s posts, and so on. Check out how to choose which social media platforms are best for your business here.

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Areas Where You Should Limit Your Marketing Budget


You can research everything you need on the internet for free. We are not saying that you shouldn’t conduct research. You should be doing it every single day. But only spend money on informative conferences or exclusive information.


For product photos or photos that will be in front of customers constantly, it would be ok to spend money on a professional photographer. But for blogs or social media posts, you can take the photos yourself. New cell phone technology lets you take high-quality photos for free. You should use this ability often because users love pictures.


Google Analytics and other tools will give you a lot of the information you need for free. If you find you need more information than that, dive into how much that information is worth to you. Then, if you decide to buy it, make sure you put that information to use. If not, cancel your subscription.

Some great free tools are:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Webmaster Tools
  • Analytics on social media platforms
  • Ahrefs


If you are thinking about investing in a tool, check if there are free options that you can use first. If there aren’t, always look for a free trial to make sure it will actually help you. Then, if you decide to buy the tool, watch a tutorial so that you utilize all the resources it offers.

Using Your Budget But Not Getting A Return?

If you feel that you are spending too much on digital marketing and not getting any return, it might be time to get help. The key to being successful in digital marketing is doing it correctly. You can throw all the money in the world at AdWords, but if you have a bad quality score, other companies can still beat you. Same with content creation. You can have twenty subpar blogs or five that kick butt.

Most digital marketing agencies will give you a free audit of your current efforts and tell you where you could improve. If you feel like their audit had some great information in it, consider hiring them. Also, take note that digital marketing doesn’t always show immediate results. Sometimes content can take up to a year to get your business attention. But remember that it has infinite power to reach potential customers for free.

What Now?

Now that you have made a budget, you should plan out your strategy for the year with money allocated to each marketing tactic. Then, you should keep monthly statistics to see where you can improve.


As we mentioned throughout this entire article, you can throw all the money in the world at your marketing strategy and still fail. You need to find a digital marketing mix that gives you the most bang for your buck. If you feel that your company does not currently have very many resources that would add to your marketing efforts, you should look into hiring an agency

Written by Madison Ferry

Madison Ferry

As a digital marketing specialist, I strive to help businesses succeed online. I excel at social media marketing, content creation, and growing brands. Feel free to reach out!

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