From content and design to website and social media management to public relations and live events, a marketing strategy has many moving parts. It includes dozens of tasks, tools, and expenses, which is why it can be difficult to monitor the money it takes to execute. But when you use a marketing budget template, it’s easy to keep an eye on your plans and finances.
A marketing budget template that outlines every expense in your marketing department offers a variety of benefits for your business.
- It helps you align your investments to your marketing plan. You can allocate funds to the projects that support your top priorities each month, quarter, and year.
- It helps you reflect and improve. When you closely track your marketing financials and compare to your performance, you can see trends of what is working and what is not. These insights can help you improve your marketing and create better results.
- It helps you stay on track with your budget and objectives. A defined budget helps you avoid overspending or wasting resources on the wrong things. When each dollar is accounted for, you can effectively monitor your spending and create accurate projections for the future.
So stop guessing about how much money you should and actually do spend on your marketing strategies. Download our free marketing budget template to start projecting and tracking your expenses.
The rest of this post will review ideas for how to prepare a marketing budget and fill it with the most accurate information.
Types of Marketing Budgets
The categories and details included in your marketing budget template will depend on the size of your budget and the goals of your marketing department. Here are a few different types of budgets you might track marketing expenses for:
- Annual marketing overview
- Branding budget
- Paid advertising budget
- Public relations budget
- Website development/redesign budget
- Website management budget
- SEO budget
- Content marketing budget
- Social media marketing budget
- Event budget
- Miscellaneous budget
Note that as you go through each section and type of budget, you’ll see line items that can work in more than one category. These items aren’t set in stone. Group line items in the sections that make the most sense for your business, and remove the expenses for tasks your business doesn’t use.
Annual Marketing Overview
An annual marketing budget template tracks the spending of your entire marketing department for the year. It includes line items for each marketing area as well as any special or one-off projects. This report is an essential marketing budget template for small businesses and large, enterprise businesses alike, as it gives an overview of every marketing expense.
Within the annual marketing budget, you may break down sections and create more specific budgets for individual marketing categories, or you can group items in broader buckets. It’s really a matter of your personal preference and the diversity of expenses you need to plan for.
The branding section of your marketing budget includes the costs that help you create and establish your brand. These expenses are tied to marketing objectives that develop your brand identity, logos, and positioning in your industry and share it with your audience and customers.
Paid Advertising Budget
Your paid advertising budget includes any expenses related to paid promotion on search, social, display, or traditional ads. These expenses should also include the costs associated with creating and launching the ads. This portion of expenses may include creative costs, tools, or fees to agencies for the management or execution of your ad campaigns, in addition to the actual amount spent on the ads.
- Digital Ads
- Paid Search (PPC)
- Display Ads
- Retargeting Ads
- Social Media Ads
- Traditional Ads
- Direct Mail
Public Relations Budget
In your marketing budget template, include a section for public relations if your brand is engaging in both in-person and media outreach. This section of the marketing budget will list any expenses with growing your brand visibility, getting more publicity, guest blogging outreach, and securing other partnerships.
- Press Releases
- Sponsored Content
- Guest Posting
- Attending Events
- Per Diems
- Agency Fees
Website Development/Redesign Budget
If your marketing strategies include launching a new website or doing ongoing work on your existing site, add a section for this in your budget. Include the costs it will take to both plan your website updates as well as execute the work.
- User Experience (UX)
- Content Strategy
- SEO Strategy
Website Management Budget
When you have an established website, you also need to include a section for it in your marketing budget template. In this area, track the amount of money it takes to keep your site up and running even if you aren’t making any significant changes to the UX or design.
- Domain Registration
- Web Hosting
Whether you have a brand new website or an existing site, your annual budget should include a section for SEO budget items
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. If you’re just learning how to start SEO, this budget will likely be higher than if you have an established site with strong rankings. Include costs for all the types of SEO, and the SEO tools, you use.
- Keyword Research
- On-Page SEO
- Off-Site SEO
- Local SEO
Content Marketing Budget
The content marketing section of your budget will track the content you create for each stage of your purchase funnel. Track expenses as they relate to the copy creation as well as the design and production of the content. Also use this section to track the cost of sponsoring posts, working with influencers, and leveraging guest blogging opportunities.
- Content Production
- Blog Posts
- Landing Pages
- Case Studies
- Downloads (Guides, Checklists, etc.)
- Sponsored Posts
- Influencer promotions
Social Media Marketing Budget
The next section of your budget relates to social media marketing. This budget is tied to the costs associated with content development and promotion of marketing resources, plus any costs of your influencer marketing strategy and sponsored posts.
Note that in this marketing budget template, costs for social media ads are not included. They are line items in the paid advertising section. You can work to make this template your own and move sections as they make sense for your business. For example, if you post ads with a variety of providers both online and off, you may want to track those expenses together in the ads section. But if you focus almost solely on social media marketing, you may want to move it into this section.
- Content Development
- Sponsored Posts
- Agency Fees
If your brand is hosting one or more events for the year, use this section of your marketing budget template to track these expenses. Track both the costs of putting on the event as well as what you will need to spend to get employees to the event and provide accommodations while they are there.
- Hall Rental
- Speaker Fees
- Speaker Travel
- Speaker Accommodation
- Staff Travel
- Staff Accommodation
There are often expenses your brand will incur that don’t fit naturally into any of the categories of the marketing budget template. You may also have expenses that are unique to your brand, industry, or company values. When that happens, include these special items in a miscellaneous category. A few of the items that may pop up in this section include the following:
- Agency Fees
- Any Special Projects
Use a Variety of Timelines to Track Your Marketing Budget
When you build out your marketing budget template, list each of your individual expenses by line. This information helps you see exactly how much you are spending on each item.
To get a better look at the expenses for each task and tool, break up the sections to show how much you spent based on time frames. Most marketing budgets track the total expenses as they relate to:
Track Both Your Planned Budget and Actual Marketing Expenses
Your marketing budget shouldn’t only track the estimated amount of money you plan to spend. It should also track the actual money that you spend.
By comparing the estimated amount you plan to spend to the actual amount you spend, you can guide future plans. You can create better estimates of costs, as well as know how much you must cut future budgets due to overspending in the past.
How to Prepare a Marketing Budget
Unfortunately, there is no exact formula for determining how much your business should spend on marketing. Setting your marketing budget will depend on many factors. But there are some formulas and considerations you can use to find the best budget for your business.
Consider your revenue. The amount of money your business brings in helps you start to shape your annual marketing budget. Calculate your business’ gross revenue.
Your gross revenue is the money your brand receives before deducting any expenses. You can use this number to help you determine a responsible marketing budget, and you can also create estimated revenue for upcoming years based on what you know about previous years.
Consider the age of your business. If you have a new business that doesn’t have any customers, you will need to spend more on marketing than if you had an established company with a loyal client base. It is often recommended that:
- New companies (1-5 years in business) spend about 12-20% of gross revenue on marketing.
- Established companies (5+ years in business) spend about 6-12% of gross revenue on marketing.
Consider your fixed marketing expenses. To fill in a marketing budget template, you can’t just think about the money you want to spend. You need to think about the money you must spend.
These line items include the expenses you need to run your marketing department. It may include recurring costs such as website maintenance fees, hosting costs, tool subscriptions, and contractor retainers. As you decide what to spend, start with these fixed costs to get an idea of what is left for other items.
Consider your customer acquisition cost. A customer acquisition cost (CAC) is the amount of money it takes for your business to get a new customer. To find a CAC, divide your annual marketing costs by the numbers of new customers in that time period.
Knowing your CAC helps you decide how much you need to spend on marketing, as it offers insight into the how much you need to spend to bring in a certain number of customers. For example, if your CAC is $100 and your brand wants 10 new customers in the next month, you could estimate that you need to spend about $1,000 ($100 x 10 customers).
Consider your customer lifetime value. Customer lifetime value (CLV) is the amount of money your brand brings in from one customer over their lifetime of doing business with you. This number is especially important for new businesses that are in the customer acquisition phase. Knowing how much value a customer adds to your business helps you see how much you can spend to bring in that customer and still profit
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For example, if your average CLV is $3,000, and your business makes $2,000 in gross profit from that $3,000, it may be worth it to spend $1,000 on marketing to acquire that customer.
While none of these numbers will give you the exact amount you should spend on your marketing budget, the insights from each of these elements will help you find the best number for your unique business.
Download Your Complete Marketing Budget Template
Now that you know what goes into creating an annual marketing budget, how to break down your line items to include each of your expenses, and how to determine the right amount to spend on your efforts, get started now.
This marketing budget template includes a sheet for your overall marketing budget along with other individual sheets for tracking more detailed marketing categories and departments.
For even more help with creating your marketing plans, sign up for a free trial of Alexa’s Advanced Plan. This suite of tools helps you gain insights about your industry, learn about your customers, and research your competitors so that you can get a better idea of how to create more powerful marketing plans.