How to Create a Winning B2B Marketing Budget

Creating Marketing Budgets

With the new year upon us, thoughts are turning—if they haven’t already—to the creation of B2B marketing budgets. Typically, budgets for the upcoming year are created by October of the current year, but there are many reasons why the marketing budget creation may be put off until January, including the formation of a new marketing team; the hiring of a Chief Marketing Officer; a request to take a known budget and spell out how it will be used throughout the year; or funds have become newly available to spend. OK, so that last one is a bit of a daydream.

Daydreams aside, the majority of marketing budgets are indeed on the rise, according to Gartner’s “2016-2017 Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Spend Survey,” which surveyed 377 marketers at companies with more than $250 million in annual revenue in North America and the U.K. The survey showed that marketing budgets increased to 12 percent of company revenue in 2016, up from 11 percent in 2015. Fifty-seven percent of marketing leaders surveyed expect their budgets will increase in 2017. However, that’s not the case for everyone. Fourteen percent of marketers surveyed say they are bracing for budget cuts, up from 3 percent just two years ago.

No matter what the total B2B marketing budget is, it should be broken down into five sections, per Daniel Kushner, CEO of Oktopost:

  • Content Marketing: 40%-50%
  • Paid/Digital Advertising: 20%-30%
  • Internal Marketing/Education/Advocacy: 10%
  • Software and Tools: 10%
  • Events: 5%-10%

Content marketing refers to the concept of promoting various types of content, including blogs, videos (so hot right now!), white papers, webinars, checklists and more. It makes sense that this would take a high percentage of a marketing budget, as the cost can include the creation of said content. Note: It is sometimes difficult to track the ROI of one piece of content because a potential customer could purchase your product/service long after they first registered to view that piece of content. Plus, they may have viewed other pieces of content throughout their decision-making process. One way to fix this and be able to assign revenue to your content is by having a solid customer relationship management (CRM) system in place, where you can correlate content to first registration on your site. 

You can improve your overall content marketing budget ROI in a number of ways, but the top one is to create “snackable content” from one larger piece. For example, pay to have a research report created, and then you or your team can use that piece of content to create smaller pieces from it, including videos, blogs, checklists and social media posts that focus on various aspects of that report.

Another way to improve your content marketing ROI is to actually use the content that you’ve paid to have created. That sounds simple, but it’s not. Sirius Decisions has found that as much as 60% to 70% of content goes unused, which is a staggering statistic. If you’re spending dollars to have content created, it really should be used and promoted, especially if you can use it in multiple ways a la the snackable content mentioned above.


For paid/digital advertising, this is where search engine marketing like Google AdWords, and targeted social media advertisements on LinkedIn and Facebook come into play. With its pay-to-play aspect, you’ll be able to see the ROI at a glance before you even place your ad. Plus, when you add in a tracking code to the link or create a different landing page for each ad (Spoiler alert: Adding the tracking code is usually easier), you’ll be able to note exactly which ad performed the best for conversion.

Yes, you’ve used content marketing and digital ads to educate potential customers and create new customer advocates for your product, but do your colleagues know how your products work and why they’re so great? This is where internal marketing (aka “workforce marketing”) comes in. Don’t just assume that everyone in the company went running to your website to read the data sheet on your new product when it was released. Trust us, they haven’t. Some of your marketing funds need to be spent on educating your own internal team on the pros and cons of your products. This can be in the form of webinars, internal videos or brown bag lunch meetings. Plus, your company’s employees can be strong advocates for your products in the form of social media posts. Don’t make it a mandate that employees have to post about your products on their personal pages, but you can nudge them along that way by giving each one a trackable link to promote the products and a reward of some sort (Starbucks gift card, anyone?) to the employee that generates the most interest.

How do you keep track of the employee advocacy? Through software and tools in the form of marketing automation software, a Content Management System (CMS), and the CRM software mentioned above. Remember those time-consuming Excel spreadsheets you used to note information about customers, content and marketing efforts? With the right software and tools, they’re a thing of the past (which basically means they pay for themselves) and they’ll help you track ROI for all of your marketing efforts, including the ones above and marketing events.

Regarding events, these can be in the form of live conferences, conventions, or trade shows that you participate in as an exhibitor; live events or road shows that your company puts on; or they can be virtual. Deciding which type of event is right for you is an article in and of itself, but note that you need to consider the cost of shipping supplies, travel expenses, and other costs along with the exhibitor fee for a live event. The upside to any event is that you can easily track who visited your booth by scanning their badge or having them fill out a form (less common these days) and enter them into your CRM as a new lead from that event. That way, if a person who visited your booth does make a purchase, the sale goes towards the ROI of that event, helping you to further learn which events are right for you and which aren’t.

What’s in your marketing budget for this year? Are we missing anything or do you have advice of your own that you’d like to add? Hit us up in the comments with your feedback.