digital marketing budget

By Rieva Lesonsky

Are you planning to spend less on digital marketing this year than you did last year? If so, you’re in the distinct minority. Just 2 percent of small and midsized businesses (SMBs) in a recent survey by GetResponse will decrease their digital marketing budget in 2017, and only 28 percent expect their digital marketing budgets to stay the same.

Instead, SMBs will be upping their digital marketing spending substantially. Some seven in 10 SMBs say their digital/web-based marketing budgets will increase this year; of those, 30 percent expect their budgets to “increase considerably.”

Where will most of the additional money be spent? According to the GetResponse survey, 59 percent say they will increase marketing spending on social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter this year; 50 percent will spend more on mobile marketing; and 42 percent say they will spend more on email marketing this year.

Nor is this a one-time surge in the digital marketing budget. Recent data from The CMO Survey predicts marketers will increase social media marketing spending by a whopping 90 percent and mobile marketing spending by 118 percent over the next 5 years.

How much should you be spending on marketing overall? Many small business owners struggle with this decision. To provide a bit of guidance, The CMO Survey reports that the average company spends about 11 percent of its entire budget and about 7.5 percent of its revenues on marketing. (B2C companies tend to spend slightly more on marketing than B2B companies do.)

Why is the average digital marketing budget growing so fast? There are several reasons:

  • Online marketing costs less than most traditional marketing methods.
  • It can be implemented quickly. You can have an online ad campaign up and running in literally minutes, as opposed to a print campaign that requires developing an ad and purchasing advertising space ahead of time to allow for printing.
  • It’s possible to measure ROI (at least in some cases). While most companies in The CMO Survey admit that they still struggle to quantify and measure the results of social media marketing, other online methods such as search engine marketing and pay-per-click ads offer an easy way to track viewers’ actions.
  • You can make changes quickly. Using the analytics you gather from your online advertising campaign, you can instantly see which images, marketing copy or offers in your ads get the best results. You can play around with ads that aren’t working as well or make changes and get immediate feedback.
  • Small companies can compete more effectively on a digital playing field. A niche ecommerce entrepreneur, for instance, can never hope to afford as many print ads or TV commercials as a major department store—but with the right SEO and SEM strategies, he or she can stake out a pretty big territory online.

Where are SMBs still falling short when it comes to digital marketing? Most of those surveyed admit that their social media marketing still isn’t well integrated with their overall marketing strategy. In addition, many local businesses still don’t have mobile-optimized websites. This can hamper mobile advertising as well as social media marketing, since social media is widely accessed on mobile devices these days. Worse, Google is now rewarding mobile-optimized sites with higher search rankings, which can really hurt your results if your site isn’t mobile-friendly.

As for other areas where SMBs plan to spend more in the coming year, 28 percent of those in the GetResponse survey will increase spending on video production; 26 percent will spend more on search marketing; 26 percent will spend more on content creation and management; and 23 percent will spend more on data collection/analytics and website maintenance and development. (Your first step in website maintenance should be making your website mobile-friendly.)