It’s not quite an age old question (yet), but it’s just as important. And it’s a popular thing to be thinking about this time of year: how much should you be spending on digital marketing?

If you spend too little, your message won’t make it to your target audience. If you spend too much, you won’t have the budget you need for other important aspects of your marketing plan.

So how much do you spend, and what do you spend it on? As the new year unfolds, you need to figure out:

  • How much money to spend on digital marketing
  • How much of that goes to each tactic – social, email, SEM, etc.
  • What tools you need, and how much they cost
  • Other expenses you need to plan for

December’s right around the corner, so it’s really time to figure things out. Let’s get started!

1. Start with a clear direction

The first step in any plan is to pick a direction and set your goal. What will be your marketing team’s main focus next year?

Do you want to build brand awareness? Do you want to increase your customer base by 5% each month? Do you want to better help customers you already have?

Before you set your marketing budget, you need to determine your marketing goals. Otherwise, you won’t know what that budget is expected to cover. For example, you can’t set your PPC budget without actually thinking about what campaigns you’re going to be running, what they’ll look like, and the price range your keywords might fall in.

By the time you’re spending next year’s money, you need to know not just what you’re doing, but how much of it. Setting goals won’t just help you pick a final number, it also narrows your focus.

2. Analyze past efforts

What strategies did you spend your money on last year? And of those, which ones were most successful? Which ones were a dud? Which ones showed promise for future tests?

Whether you’re measuring retweets, email subscribers, or leads generated. For any stage of the marketing funnel, conduct a brief postmortem. If something worked well in the past, consider why, and if you need to increase spend to take it further. If it didn’t, think about why as well, along with what could’ve turned it around.

Allocate money to different strategies based on their success, not their actual cost. Even though posting to Twitter is technically free, if Twitter marketing is working well for you, you want to toss some more money at that initiative.

For projects that aren’t going well, you have two options: kill it off and spend the money elsewhere, or figure out how to improve them.

And don’t forget to set aside some cash for testing new strategies – a lot of marketers keep 20% reserved for experimenting and trying new things.

But however you choose to divide things, don’t start off the new year by throwing more money at ineffective marketing channels.

3. Research industry trends

While you obviously shouldn’t copy your competitors’ marketing strategies, you should know what they’re doing. Also, you need to be up to date on industry trends.

Do other companies use social media or email newsletters more to stay in touch with customers?

Does your landing page look out of date?

Are you ranking way below your competitors in search?

Have you focused your efforts on direct mail or radio advertising while your competitors have been connecting with customers online?

It’s way too easy to spy on your competitors online, whether it’s through SEO or social.

Depending on the tactic, you either want to catch up or stand out. If something’s working for your competition, make it work for you. But if you see them stumbling, use their mistakes to figure out how to stand out. Use your competitive intel to get ahead!

4. Crunch the numbers

Once you’ve set your goals, analyzed your past campaigns, and researched industry trends, it’s time to crunch the numbers.

Fortunately, Leadgenix has an easy-to-use budget calculator that does the hard work for you. All you have to do is answer 4 simple questions and the calculator will work out the rest.

leadgenix digital marketing budget calculator

So how does this calculator work?

It uses a few established industry trends to set a baseline:

  1. Your total marketing budget should usually be between 5% and 15% of your total revenue. The calculator uses a rough estimate of 9%.
  2. Digital marketing should make up a substantial portion of your overall marketing budget. In general, 10%-50% of your total marketing budget should be used for digital.

Once a digital marketing budget baseline has been established, the budget is divided into 4 areas: SEO, PPC, social media, and content marketing.

5. Use your budget to make the biggest impact

Deciding how much to spend is a good place to start, but you still need to make sure each dollar goes as far as it possibly can.

If you really want the most for your money, you need to be using it to make some quality marketing happen.

That means your marketing needs to be great. Keep a few things in mind:

  • Consistency is essential. Keep your core message the same, whether you’re sharing content through email newsletters, Twitter, or Facebook.
  • Invest in quality. Your marketing content represents your brand, your values, your products, and your services. It’s essential to invest in the help you need, whether that means hiring a full-time web designer, splurging for the nice software, or handing your social media accounts over to an agency.
  • Cater to your target audience. Knowing your audience will determine not only what you share, but how you share it. If they’re reading email on mobile, you need to design your newsletter for that. If they spend a lot of time on Twitter and none on Snapchat, your social media strategy’s distribution should be similar.

Make this year your best year yet

Digital marketing is becoming more important each year—don’t get left behind. Determine your digital marketing budget for the new year and make it count.

We’d love to hear how you’re going to make this year your best year yet.

What new things will you be trying this year? What stalwart strategies will you carry over from past campaigns? What are your marketing goals for the coming year? Share your ideas in the comments!

Guest Blogger @Mention

Adam Fifield is the head of content marketing at Leadgenix, a digital marketing agency located in Provo, UT. He’s written countless webpages, articles, blogs, and whitepapers for a wide range of industries, and loves to dig deep into content strategy. Say 'hi' on Twitter.

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