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The B2B Marketing Budget: When to Invest in Digital Marketing

A marketing budget can be tricky to define in the B2B environment. While all items in your budget should contribute to your Return on Investment and overall marketing success, you should know how your budget is broken down and how much of your budget goes towards digital marketing expenses. For example, I know that every year between 50-60% of my budget goes towards event marketing expenses. About 30% of my budget goes towards digital marketing, so I need to be sure every penny counts. Therefore, how do B2B companies know what marketing tools to be investing in?

Before considering the options below, make sure you know:

  • What your overall budget number is
  • How many people are responsible for implementing marketing activities
  • Timelines for executing marketing activities (you don’t want to invest and then not have time to carry out your plans)
  • What are my main marketing goals (strategy, branding, lead generation) and which are the priorities?

The Freebies
If your budget is tight, and like most companies in the past decade it probably is, take advantage of all the “freebies” you can. This includes free versions of LinkedIn, Hootsuite, Twitter, Slideshare and YouTube. There is no reason your company shouldn’t at least have LinkedIn and Twitter. Implement Hootsuite, which lets you manage up to 5 social media accounts for free, to manage your social media platforms from one website.  

The only investment you need to make here is time. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you don’t need to dedicate time. Make sure your marketing people are maintaining your social media accounts with quality content.

Small Investments with Big Impacts

Sometimes making a small investment in a digital marketing tool can make a big impact – either for strategy purposes, branding or lead generation.  Here are some smaller digital marketing purchases that are worth the investment:

  • LinkedIn Premium Account (Lead Generation): LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for B2B marketing. For $30/month you can upgrade to the premium account and access features like InMail and sales lead generation lists. It is a great way to get marketing and sales on the same team.
  • SurveyMonkey Select Monthly Account (Market Research & Branding): For $25-30/month, SurveyMonkey is a great marketing tool for both strategic market research and branding. I’ve used SurveyMonkey to build customer and industry surveys for market research as well as registration forms. SurveyMonkey is also free, but the added benefit of a paid account is for branding such as personalized themes and the ability to send more surveys. It also has some added features to make your surveys very professional.
  • Email Marketing tools (Branding & Lead Generation): if your company focuses heavily on email marketing, consider upgrading from a free plan to a monthly subscription. This will generally allow you to send more email campaigns per month to more subscribers. With companies like MailChimp, it allows to remove the logo from the email footer, therefore avoiding emails that look too “spammy”.

Bigger, Riskier Investments with Bigger Potential Rewards

Finally, there are those digital marketing tools that will make an imprint on your budget. These are the tools that require a strategy before investment, and if you choose to invest, require time. However, these tools have the potential for big pay-offs if used strategically.

  • Google AdWords (Lead Generation): the great thing about AdWords is that you decide how much you want to invest. Obviously the smaller the investment, the less Google runs your ads. But this is a perfect tool to invest small and then grow your investment as you strategically monitor your campaign. If you’re starting out it’s recommended to go with a budget of $4/day. This is the max you can spend, and Google makes it easy to monitor the progress of your ads so you know whether to increase, decrease or stop your investment.
  • Website Development and/or Hubspot (Branding & Lead Generation): website development is not cheap, but it should be part of your annual budget. Websites need to be continuously updated to refresh content and move at the pace of your customers. Hubspot is a great tool for lead generation by implementing landing pages, doing keyword analysis and optimizing your website for search engines. But, it can cost you – from $200/month to $2,400/month. Here’s a tip: if you want to save money on website development, ask your developer to implement an administrative panel that’s editable by your marketing person. Invest in Hubspot only when you have a firm grip on your digital marketing strategy and you know you are ready for your website to take off.
  • SalesForce (Lead Generation): yes, this is a CRM tool but it’s a great tool to connect Sales and Marketing. Marketing can keep a database of contacts, build fields useful to them to generate email marketing lists, run reports, log and track campaigns and much more. Again, it’s costly but it’s a worthwhile investment for those who have a handle on their sales and marketing process.

Not sure where to start? Most marketing budgets will need some sort of financial investment in digital tools. Start by checking the freebies off your list. Then decide if your marketing goals are strategic, branding or lead generation and base your decisions on your end goal. The most important step is to monitor your investment and make the necessary changes. If you made a bad investment, get rid of it! Keep investing in what has paid off for you in the past. 

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