Marketing Budget Management: A Comprehensive Guide



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14 min


06 March, 2024

In the world of marketing where trends change all of the time and competition is more fierce than ever, marketing budget management is key.

But it is not just about how much you spend; it’s about where you spend it and why.

It’s very easy to plug money into different areas just because everyone else is doing it without really understanding if it’s beneficial for your business.

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At Canny, we monitor our marketing activity through various tools, such as Ahrefs and Google Analytics for blog posts, and we use the Hubspot dashboard for events and newsletters. This allows us to keep a pulse on what’s working vs what isn’t so that we make changes to our strategy going forward.

Keeping an eye on our marketing activity and our marketing budget has also allowed us to identify what doesn’t work as well for our business.

For example the majority of our leads are generated through our blog content. We have previously tried paid advertising but saw limited success, which empowered us to channel more of our resources into the area that works: organic content.

This supports our point above, that in today’s competitive market, it isn’t just about how much you spend, but how strategically you invest in the right areas.

In this blog we’ll be exploring how to make best use of your marketing budget, alongside some tips and strategies.

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What Is Included in Your Marketing Budget?

Your marketing budget covers anything related to the cost of promoting your business and getting the word out there.

Businesses now have a huge variety of different costs and these need to be accounted for when setting your budget.

This includes:

  • Branding
  • Website setup and maintenance costs
  • PR campaigns
  • Marketing automation tools
  • Travel expenses
  • Video conferencing and webinars
  • Design and development costs
  • Digital advertising (social and search ads)
  • Video production
  • Corporate gifts and samples
  • Sales and marketing collateral
  • Email signature management
  • Agency fees
  • Attendance at trade shows and events
  • Promoting and hosting your own events
  • Content writing and SEO
  • TV and radio advertising

Of course, unless you’re a huge organisation you probably don’t use all of the marketing tactics listed above.

View this as a ‘marketing shopping list’ as your business might not attend trade shows or events for example, as you might get the majority of your leads through PR campaigns and digital advertising.

And that’s fine.

The list above just gives you an idea of the different areas that marketers can invest in which is why understanding your marketing budget, and knowing which of these areas are valuable for your business, is so important.

The Importance of Marketing Budget Templates

Marketing budget templates are a lifesaver when it comes to allocating resources.

They provide a structured view of marketing spend across a variety of channels and allow you to organise, track, and forecast marketing budgets with ease.

Using marketing budget templates also allows for a detailed breakdown of expenses, from digital ad spend and content creation to event marketing and more.

This visibility is key for identifying which marketing efforts deliver the highest return on investment (ROI) and which areas might be crying out for some additional funds.

This ties into what we said above about Canny recognising that PPC just simply wasn’t our bag. Due to the fact we didn’t see much return on our investment, it allowed us to focus even more of our efforts on the areas that perform best.

This is also why marketing budget templates are useful as they help a great deal with planning and can help marketers make more informed, strategic decisions.

Below are a list of online tools that you can use for creating marketing budget templates:

  • Toggl – Toggl is a project management tool that includes budget tracking features. It’s particularly useful for managing marketing campaigns and projects while keeping an eye on your budget.
  • Smartsheet – Smartsheet is a collaborative work management platform that offers budgeting templates. It enables real-time collaboration and allows for tracking expenses and budget changes.
  • HubSpot Marketing Hub – HubSpot Marketing Hub provides tools for managing marketing campaigns and budgets. It helps marketers plan and track expenses, measuring ROI for various marketing efforts.
  • Scoro – Scoro is an all-in-one business management software that includes budgeting features. It’s suitable for marketers who want to integrate budgeting with other aspects of their workflow.
  • Expensify – While primarily an expense tracking tool, Expensify can be useful for tracking marketing expenses and managing budgets.

Key takeaway: Marketing budget templates allow you to maximise the impact of your marketing efforts while minimising waste resources, ultimately driving growth for the business.
illustrations of settings icon and a checklist

Marketing Budget Management: Seven Simple Steps

Planning your marketing budget effectively is critical for the success of your marketing efforts but where do you start?

From understanding your goals and objectives, to weighing up different costs, this can be a lot to get your head around.

Every successful marketing manager needs a comprehensive understanding of their marketing budget.

Without this, it’s all too easy to go off-track as you get drawn into different ideas that might not yield any actual results.

You’ll then have a lot of explaining to do when it comes to presenting the marketing budget to your senior team who will want to know where the money has been spent, and why.

That’s why we’ve put together a detailed seven step process to help you develop a marketing budget, complete with some top tips:

1. Set Business Goals

  • Align marketing objectives with overall business strategy for coherence and synergy.
  • Ensure marketing goals directly contribute to broader business aims, such as market expansion or product launches.
  • Apply SMART criteria for goal refinement, emphasising specificity, measurability, achievability, relevance, and time-bound targets.
  • Transform vague objectives like “increase website traffic” into precise goals, for example, “achieve a 30% rise in website traffic within the next quarter through targeted social media campaigns and SEO optimisation.”

Top Tip: Regularly review and adapt marketing goals to stay responsive to evolving business needs and industry trends.

2. Understand Your Sales Cycle

  • Outline each stage of your sales cycle, delving into specifics like the typical duration from the first contact to finalising a sale. This will direct your marketing strategies, indicating optimal times to intensify or reduce spending.
  • Use historical sales data to find patterns or trends, such as peak buying periods or common drop-off points in the process.
  • Customising your marketing tactics based on these findings facilitates a seamless progression of prospects through the sales funnel.
  • For instance, if there’s a notable drop-off at a certain stage, consider implementing targeted measures to overcome challenges here. This might involve optimising communication strategies or refining the value proposition to capture engagement.

Top Tip: Monitor and adapt your sales cycle understanding and respond to market shifts and evolving customer behaviours. Regular updates ensure your strategies remain effective and aligned with the dynamic nature of sales cycles.
Organic brand growth strategy

3. Identify Your Budget

  • The first step will often involve gaining approval for marketing expenses. Ensure these are validated by the CEO or CFO, solidifying the allocated marketing budget. Emphasise the importance of each cost in achieving the goals.
  • Next is establishing clear spending guidelines. In cases where founders or CEOs closely manage expenses, develop clear guidelines for every purchase. Aim for transparency to provide context for expenses, building an understanding of how each aligns with the goals.
  • If possible, create an annual budget that covers the entire year, preferably segmented into quarters or months. This approach offers a clearer roadmap for spending, facilitating effective long-term financial control.

Top Tip: Communicate the progress of marketing initiatives to key stakeholders, such as the CEO or CFO. Providing clear insights into how each expenditure contributes to overarching goals as this helps build trust and justifies the marketing budget.

4. Decide on Marketing Strategies

  • Develop a mix of marketing strategies that cover both digital and offline channels. Tailor your approach based on your audience to ensure a well-rounded strategy.
  • Monitor and evaluate the performance of various marketing approaches. Use A/B testing for online ads, email campaigns, and landing pages to identify the most effective strategies.
  • Experiment within your marketing team. Explore different approaches and test new ideas to keep strategies responsive to evolving market trends.
  • Ensure your chosen strategies align with the preferences and behaviours of your target audience and adjust your strategies accordingly.
  • Use insights gained from performance monitoring and experimentation to optimise your marketing strategies.

Top Tip: Regularly analyse the data generated by various marketing strategies to gain insights into what works best then double down on that.

5. Research Strategy Prices

  • Reach out to different service providers to gather quotes for each marketing strategy under consideration.
  • Use tools to estimate ad spend across diverse platforms. Platforms like Google Ads, Facebook Ads Manager, or other industry-specific tools can provide insights into costs associated with specific advertising channels. When assessing the return on investment (ROI), factor in both direct revenue increases and indirect benefits like enhanced brand awareness and customer loyalty.
  • Use tools such as Google Analytics to track conversions from different marketing channels. This approach helps attribute specific outcomes to various strategies.
  • Implement Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to track and attribute sales to specific marketing activities, giving you an understanding of how marketing efforts contribute to revenue generation.

Top Tip: Align your budget estimates with expected outcomes by closely tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) for each marketing strategy. Regularly reassess these KPIs to ensure your investments generate optimal returns.

6. Download a Marketing Budget Template

  • Choose a marketing budget template that covers all essential elements, including expenses, revenue projections, and allocation across various marketing channels.
  • Tailor the template to suit your business’s unique needs and goals. Incorporate categories and sections that align with your specific marketing strategies.
  • Break down the budget into detailed line items, including costs for advertising, content creation, events, and other relevant categories.
  • Set clear timeframes within the template, whether on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. This ensures a structured approach to budgeting and allows for effective tracking and comparison over time.
  • Include sections for tracking actual expenses alongside projected figures. This facilitates ongoing evaluation and adjustments, helping to keep the budget aligned with evolving business needs and market dynamics.

Top Tip: Update your marketing budget template with actual spending and results. This not only ensures accuracy but also provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of your budget allocations.
Revenue brand growth strategy

7. Use the Data to Make Informed Decisions

  • Assess performance metrics derived from your marketing expenses. Identify which strategies or campaigns are yielding positive results and contributing to your business objectives.
  • Review your marketing expenses to identify any allocations that are not delivering the expected returns. Use the insights gained from expense analysis to strategically allocate resources. If certain strategies have proven successful, consider doubling down on them. Likewise, if there’s room for increased spending, target high-impact projects or initiatives in the final quarter.
  • Prioritise and invest resources in campaigns or strategies that have demonstrated effectiveness. This approach maximises the impact of your marketing budget and ensures a focused and targeted use of funds.
  • Use the data to inform future budget planning. Identify patterns, trends, and successful approaches that can guide decision-making for future planning.

Top Tip: Look at how you’ve spent your budget so far and ask whether each action helped bring you closer to achieving them. If not, you probably need to reconsider how you’ve been spending.

Marketing Budget Management: Common Mistakes and Best Practices

Effectively managing your marketing budget is key for achieving your goals and maximising your return on investment.

Unfortunately, many marketers make mistakes that can hinder their success, which can land you in trouble when it comes to justifying your spending to your boss!

Below we’re taking a look at some common pitfalls and how you can avoid them.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. We’ll also be exploring a list of best practices which you should keep in mind when managing your marketing budget going forward.

Marketing budget management mistakes

First up is some marketing budget mistakes. By familiarising yourself with these common pitfalls you can go into planning your marketing budget with your eyes wide open.

Lack of granularity

This is a big error when it comes to budget allocation as it’s easy to only provide a vague overview of how much you ‘think’ you will spend. When your marketing budget lacks granularity, it becomes challenging to identify specific areas of spending, leading to potential oversight.

How to avoid this:

Adopt a detailed approach by breaking down the budget into specific line items, such as advertising, content creation, and events. This not only improves transparency but also allows for precise tracking and evaluation of each component’s performance.

Inadequate tracking of KPI’s

Another frequent misstep is inadequate tracking of key performance indicators (KPIs). Failing to monitor and evaluate KPIs can undermine the effectiveness of marketing strategies as you’re working in the dark. Without a robust system in place to track KPIs, businesses miss out on valuable insights into the performance of various marketing initiatives.

How to avoid this:

From the outset, establish clear KPIs for each marketing strategy and regularly monitor their performance. Make sure you use analytics tools and reporting systems to gain insights into what is working well and where adjustments are needed.

A lack of flexibility

It’s important to have a little wiggle room in your marketing budget as things can change from time to time. Rigid budgets can lead to missed opportunities or ineffective allocation of resources if you’re not prepared to change and adapt to the needs of the business.

How to avoid this:

Embrace an agile mindset, allowing for adjustments based on evolving business needs and market dynamics.

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Marketing budget management best practices

On the flip side, employing best practices in marketing budget management can significantly improve the overall effectiveness of your spending.

Take a look at these top tips below.

Align the budget with wide business goals

This best practice ensures everyone is on the same page. When your marketing budget is in sync with the wider goals of the whole company, it increases the likelihood of you achieving success as your marketing budget will be focussed in the right places. It’s about linking what you spend to the bigger picture, whether it’s expanding your customer base or building loyalty.

How to do this:

Ensure that marketing goals directly support the company’s overarching objectives. You will need to sit down with the other heads of departments to work out what the business is trying to achieve as a whole.

Regularly update and revisit the budget

Your marketing budget needs a refresh every now and then as things are constantly changing and what you had anticipated would work at the start of a quarter, might not have achieved the desired results. This best practice is all about regularly checking in, and adjusting your marketing budget where necessary.

How to do this:

Review your marketing budget so that you can reallocate resources based on the performance of various strategies and changing market conditions.

Use data to make informed decisions

We’ve covered this above in our seven step process above but we must emphasise the importance of data. It’s about analysing what works, what falls flat, and adjusting your marketing budget to suit. This ensures your marketing decisions aren’t just guesses; they’re well-informed choices based on actual results.

How to do this:

Track the ROI of each marketing initiative, considering both direct revenue increases and indirect benefits like brand awareness. This data-driven approach helps in justifying spending and refining strategies moving forward.

Marketing Budget Management: A Comprehensive Guide

And there’s your complete guide to marketing budget management.

Money is always an important topic, in any business, of any size. Your boss will want to know exactly how you’re spending the marketing budget, but also why you’re spending it in certain areas over others.

It’s not enough to just have a ‘gut feel’ of what tactics will work and what tactics won’t, as you’ll need to prove how the marketing strategy is generating value for the business. It makes zero sense to keep investing money in areas that don’t yield any return on investment as this money could be much better spent somewhere else.

From understanding what you want to achieve, to choosing a marketing budget template, we hope you’ve found this useful.

But if you need some in-depth guidance about how to manage your marketing budget, get in touch with our team. We work with marketers across the world helping them achieve success with their marketing strategies and providing detailed reports so they can see exactly what’s performing.

Hi, I'm Amy, Content Strategist at Canny. In my day-to-day role, I'm responsible for creating content that gets you noticed and makes you stand out from the competition. Naturally, I love writing and creating engaging copy that brings your brand to life.

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