Planning out your marketing budget can be a daunting task.
And yet every year like clockwork, we’re forced to start strategizing and forecasting our budgets for the next 12 months.
No matter when you start the planning process — whether you’re wrapping up the fiscal year, at the end of the calendar year, or in the first few weeks in January like we are now — planning your monthly digital marketing spend can feel like a crapshoot.
Do you use last year’s budget as a jumping off point? Do you take that number and add on new initiatives you’re hoping to push forward in the next year and forecast how much to spend per month?
There are so many factors that come into play with marketing budgets, especially digital marketing, that it can seem complicated and overwhelming.
A few of these factors will be questions such as: Is it time to update or revamp your website? I so, how much of the budget should you allocate?
If you’re planning to create educational content on the site that will drive traffic, leads, and sales, you’ll need to make sure someone on staff has the time to own that process and dedicate enough time to training.
If you don’t have that person on staff yet, how much of the budget needs to be dedicated to new hires?
I know these stresses first-hand because I have asked these questions myself over the years. As a previous in-house marketing lead at a national nonprofit association in Washington, D.C., I spent six years developing and implementing the organization’s marketing budgets.
I remember spending hours doing research on estimated costs for things like paid media, website content, graphic design, and web development. The research gave me ballpark figures and a general sense for what those projects might cost per month, but most of the time, I felt like I was completely winging it.
If you ever feel like you’re winging it, or guesstimating your digital marketing budget, believe me when I say, you’re not alone.
As a digital sales and marketing coach now at IMPACT, I have worked with a number of clients who’ve experienced the same confusion and frustration when it came time to plan and implement their budgets.
Having been in those shoes myself, I empathize with their struggle and want to help marketing leaders like you avoid the mistakes that come from guesstimating monthly digital marketing budgets as well.
The right digital marketing strategy requires an investment in time, money, and people.
In this article, we’ll break down a monthly budget that includes investments in time, money, and people, with a specific emphasis on the right training, the right people, the right software solutions, and the right website user experience.
But before we dive into these investments, take a minute to think about and write down your answers to these three questions:
What are your desired outcomes?
What is your vision for the next 12, 18, and 24 months in regards to digital marketing?
What does success look like for you, your team, and your organization at these milestones?
Having a better understanding of these three things will help you determine the budget range that is right for you and your organization.
Your budget should depend on your strategy
How did you answer the questions above? What outcomes are you looking to achieve?
These answers will help you establish a strategy that will help you determine what your budget should be.
If you’re looking to drive more traffic, leads, and sales while educating your buyers and becoming the most trusted voice in your industry, They Ask, You Answer just might be the right strategy for you. But how do you know?
They Ask, You Answer is not just a revolutionary approach to digital marketing, it’s rooted in a simple philosophy – create content online (articles and videos) that answers your customer’s questions, calms their concerns, and wins their trust. These principles, when executed effectively, have formed a bedrock foundation for some of the most successful case studies here at IMPACT.
These success stories are prime examples of how the right strategy (in this case, They Ask, You Answer) combined with the right training, the right people, the right software, and the right website experience, can help you achieve the desired outcomes and vision for your organization.
The right training: How much should you spend per month?
$6,500 to $12,500
Which is more valuable to you and your organization – having someone do the fishing for you or being taught how to fish and empowering your team to take ownership of your digital marketing results?
Hiring an agency to do the marketing work for you could cost upwards of $2,000 for a single 2,000-word blog post. And if you’re looking to publish 10-12 articles per month on your website, you’re looking at around $20,000 to $24,000 per month on blog articles alone.
Conversely, if you’re looking to take ownership of your digital marketing success, then monthly training will give your team the knowledge and confidence needed to become internal subject matter experts.
Rather than hiring an agency to do your work, you can empower your team to learn, grow, and become digital marketing rockstars within your organization. We call this digital sales and marketing mastery.
So, how do you get to mastery, and how much does it cost per month?
Digital sales and marketing mastery will cost between $6,500 and $12,500 a month. The range depends on how fast you’re looking to reach your desired outcomes. The faster you want to move, the more comprehensive training and value will be provided each month:
Fast (usually a 24-month program including four subject matter expert training sessions per month): $6,500 a month
Faster (usually an 18-month program including eight subject matter expert training sessions per month): $8,500 a month
Fastest (usually a 12-month program including 12 subject matter expert training sessions per month): $12,500 a month
How quickly do you want to reach mastery and take complete ownership over your digital sales and marketing success? To help you answer that question, we’ll dive into the “Faster” program to provide more context.
Let’s say you’re planning to set measurable goals for increased organic web traffic, shorter sales cycles, and significantly more marketing qualified leads in the next 18 months (among other marketing KPIs).
Your training will consist of eight meetings a month with IMPACT’s subject matter experts, along with coaching calls to help establish and maintain the strategy for your 18-month vision. The subject matter expert trainers will meet with your team weekly to review, refine, and sharpen the saw with content, video, and HubSpot – all dependent upon your specific challenges and needs.
Training your team to take ownership of your digital marketing success over 18-months, will require a monthly budget of $8,500 a month.
Training your team to become subject matter experts will require the right people in the right seats at your organization. That’s where the right people come into play.
The right people: How much should you spend per month?
$6,600 to $8,500
I’ll admit, this one is a little harder to break down per month. Employee salaries are more nuanced with costs for benefits, paid leave, etc. In order to give you a clear picture for your budget, we’ll also take a look at total annual salaries for the right people at your organization.
Who exactly should you be hiring to take ownership of your digital marketing success?
The average starting annual salary for a content manager can range from $40,000 to $50,000 a year. Broken down per month, that salary equates to roughly $3,300 to $4,200 of your monthly digital marketing budget.
This person might not write every single blog article that’s published on your website, but they will be responsible for creating and managing your editorial calendar to ensure that quality content is regularly published and optimized, to the tune of at least three articles a week.
90% of customers say video helps them make a buying decision (Source: Forbes)
82% of all consumer internet traffic will be video by 2022 (Source: Cisco)
64% of customers are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video about it (Source: Forbes)
80% of customers remember a video they watched in the last month (Source: HubSpot)
Whether we like it or have accepted it yet, we’re all media companies. The stats and trends prove that people consume video more than ever before, and it’s the most effective sales-enabling content we can create.
So, what does a videographer do?
It’s not simply someone who points, shoots, and edits your videos, albeit, those are obviously important skills. More importantly, you’re bringing someone on staff who will own the video process from A to Z — from strategy to execution, and eventually hitting publish on your website and YouTube pages.
They’ll also be responsible for interviewing and getting the most out of your subject matter experts — making your team look good and feel confident on camera — and creating a strong, consistent process for publishing sales-enabling videos that help drive the needle for increased revenue.
The average starting salary of an in-house videographer is nearly identical to that of a content manager, between $40,000 to $52,000 a year. If we break that salary down for the monthly digital marketing budget, we’re looking at roughly $3,300 to $4,300 a month to have someone own this critically important process on your staff.
The right software solutions: How much should you spend per month?
FREE to $4,200
In order to have a data-driven understanding of your work and buyers, you’ll need to invest in a marketing automation software like HubSpot.
This will let you track your content ROI and much more.
Imagine for a second that you’ve invested all this time and money into creating and publishing content (with articles and videos) on your website, but you have no way of tracking if it’s helping you generate leads, and more importantly, money.
Marketing automation software gives you the power to track and analyze how the content is performing for your company’s marketing and sales.
“With the ability to create content, publish it to your website and social media, email it to your audience, and see how and when your prospects engage with it in their buyer’s journey all in one place, HubSpot makes using They Ask, You Answer more cohesive and easy to manage.”
- Chris Marr, Digital Sales & Marketing Coach at IMPACT
The cost of marketing automation software will vary greatly depending on the platform and your needs.
At IMPACT, we primarily work with and recommend HubSpot. HubSpot pricing will vary depending on the size of your company, the number of contacts, and the specific features you’ll require. The good news, however, is you can get started for free!
The right website user experience: How much should you spend per month?
$5,000 to $10,500
The truth is, your website might be awesome, and you don’t need any overhauls or significant updates. If that’s the case, well done, you likely don’t need to budget for website updates right now, but you likely will soon.
Static websites are a thing of the past. Most websites need to be in a constant state of fine-tuning and refining – not just in terms of content, but in overall user experience.
Think about all the things that are constantly evolving within your organization. Products and services change, improve, and need updating. Even your team members, office locations, and brand identity will expand and mature over time, not to mention technology and how consumers browse online.
That’s why growth-driven design is an effective, iterative process that allows your team to use a “soft launch” model with consistent, monthly tweaks and improvements.
Instead of an agency creating and launching the site, handing you over the keys and saying “it’s all yours!” IMPACT partners with your team to create, build, launch, test, and continue to refine your site as the data dictates.
“Growth-driven design minimizes the risk to the client. Rather than paying handsomely for a website you’re not sure works as it should, you get a website that is optimized for your needs.”
- John Becker, Revenue & Features Editor at IMPACT
The monthly budget for a growth-driven design is very similar to the training and coaching mastery we discussed above, and it all depends on how fast you want to move. So if you need to get your site up and live fast, let’s say, before you have a new product or service launch, you have three options to choose from:
Fast: $5,000 a month
Faster: $7,500 a month
Fastest: $10,500 a month
So, how much should I budget?
$13,100 to $23,300
Now that we’ve broken these four categories down individually, it’s time to do something that I generally avoid as much as possible...math.
Given the speed at which most companies want to move in order to see ROI for their digital marketing efforts, here are three total pricing tiers you’ll likely find yourself in at IMPACT:
Fast Total: $13,100 a month
(Website will be an additional $5,000 a month if necessary)
Faster Total: $16,500 a month
(Website will be an additional $7,500 a month if necessary)
Fastest Total: $23,300 a month
(Website will be an additional $10,500 a month if necessary)
You could certainly spend less than $13,000 and most likely a heck of a lot more than $23,000 on your digital marketing efforts each month, but I hope this breakdown with tier options will give you a better idea of what is possible with your monthly digital marketing budget, and how much you should be spending to reach your desired outcomes.
Even though your monthly costs could be more or less than what we have broken down in this article, I hope this gives you more confidence when planning and executing your monthly digital marketing budgets. No more guesstimating what you think you might spend each month.
How fast do you want to move and do you have a way to track your ROI?
Answer these questions first and then decide which monthly budget option is best for you.
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