SaaS Marketing

B2B SaaS Marketing Budget: Planning & Allocation Tips

Perry Steward
June 6, 2024
B2B SaaS Marketing Budget: Planning & Allocation Tips

Want to spend less but win more in the cutthroat world of B2B SaaS marketing? 

Enter the strategic B2B SaaS marketing budget. It's not just about throwing money at ads; it's a calculated investment designed to attract ideal customers, nurture them into loyal brand advocates, and fuel explosive growth. But with a data-driven landscape and ever-evolving tactics, allocating your budget can feel like navigating a financial minefield. 

In this guide, we'll help you develop a data-backed roadmap to conquer customer acquisition and retention and skyrocket your ROI.

graphic of 2 people in a conversation with a dollar sign and money int he background

What We'll Cover:

How to Plan a B2B SaaS Marketing Budget

Running a B2B SaaS company without a well-defined marketing budget is like launching a spaceship without knowing how much fuel you have.

This budget is more than just a spending limit; it's a roadmap for your marketing success. It tells you exactly how much you can invest in different areas, like content creation, advertising, or attending trade shows.

By strategically allocating your budget, you can:

  • Target the right audience: Focus your resources on channels that reach the decision-makers who need your software.
  • Maximize your ROI: Track your marketing activities and generate the most leads and customers so you can invest more in what works.
  • Make data-driven decisions: Use budget results to refine your strategy and avoid wasting money on ineffective tactics.

Understand Your Audience

Buyer personas and market research are your targeting tools.

Buyer personas are profiles of your dream customers. They map out their age, interests, problems (pain points), and buying habits. Market research, like surveys, helps gather this information.

So, how does this save money? Imagine you sell skateboards. Knowing your ideal customer is a teenager who loves social media means you can target those channels (Instagram, YouTube) instead of wasting money on radio ads aimed at adults.

Buyer personas and market research guide your marketing budget toward the right people with the right message for the best results.

Conduct Competitor Analysis

Imagine yourself as a marketing detective. First, identify your competitors' most successful channels. 

  • Are they crushing it on Instagram with influencer collaborations? 
  • Are their blog articles ranking high in search results? 

By seeing what works for them, you can consider allocating the budget to similar tactics.

You should also look for chinks in their armor. Are they absent from a platform your target audience frequents? Is their content missing a specific angle at which you can excel? 

These gaps are golden opportunities to stand out, allowing you to invest strategically in areas your competitors haven't touched.

Define Goals

Well-defined goals act like a compass for your marketing efforts, ensuring your budget is spent on initiatives that drive success.

Some details about S.M.A.R.T

What kind of goals should you set? Here's a breakdown:

  • Awareness: Tell people about your brand (e.g., Zoom or Dropbox).
  • Lead Gen: Attract potential customers with trials, webinars, etc.
  • Acquisition: Convert leads into paying customers (targeted ads, demos).
  • Retention: Keep customers happy (education, loyalty programs, service).

You can allocate your budget effectively by setting specific, measurable goals for each category. For example, if your goal is to increase brand awareness by 20% through social media marketing, you can calculate the budget needed for targeted ads and content creation.

Research Different Marketing Channels

Marketing often feels like shouting your message in a crowded marketplace. Your voice gets lost in the noise if you need to know where your target audience shops. This is why researching marketing channels is crucial for B2B SaaS companies.

The right channels help you reach the decision-makers needing your product, maximizing your ROI and propelling you towards growth.

flow chart for growth channels

The common B2B SaaS marketing channels are:

  • Inbound Channels: Imagine instead of chasing customers, you attract them with helpful content. Inbound marketing uses SEO, blog posts, and social media to bring interested people to you, making sales conversations easier.
  • Outbound Channels: Proactively reach out to potential customers. These channels include cold emailing, targeted advertising (social media ads, search engine ads), and industry events (trade shows, conferences).
  • Referral Programs: Encourage your existing or long-time customers to spread the word by offering incentives.
  • Affiliate Marketing involves Partnering with other businesses or well-known individuals to promote your product in exchange for a commission on sales.

By researching and evaluating these channels, you can choose the ones that resonate with your target audience, maximize your reach, and achieve your B2B SaaS marketing goals. 

Remember, the right channel acts like a bullhorn, amplifying your message and driving sales.

Estimate Average Cost

Budgeting is a tightrope walk for any business. Every penny counts, and making wise financial decisions can mean the difference between soaring high and taking a tumble. 

Suggested marketing percentage

Here are some key strategies to keep you afloat without breaking the bank:

  • Ditch the expensive office lease: Remote work arrangements are all the rage, allowing you to tap into a global talent pool while saving on rent, utilities, and office supplies.
  • Enter the world of freelancers: Hire skilled professionals project-by-project, keeping your costs flexible and aligned with your needs.
  • Don't be afraid to negotiate: A little friendly bargaining can lead to significant savings, Whether with suppliers, vendors, or even your internet provider.
  • Explore the vast array of free options: From project management software to graphic design tools, go free before committing to paid subscriptions.

Remember: While saving money is crucial, invest in high-quality tools and resources that directly impact your core business functions. The key is to find the right balance between cost-effectiveness and quality.

Set a Marketing Budget

Budget allocation is where you divide your income into categories for your expenses.

There are different strategies for allocating your budget. One popular method is the 50/30/20 Rule. It allocates 50% for needs, 30% for wants, and 20% for savings and debt repayment.

The best budget is the one that works for you. Be realistic, track your spending, and adjust your plan as needed.

SaaS Marketing Budget Trends

In this section, we'll explore how much companies allocate to software subscriptions and marketing their SaaS products. 

Average Budget Allocation

Imagine a pie representing your SaaS company's annual income and Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR). How big does a slice go towards marketing strategies – attracting new customers?

The answer isn't one-size-fits-all, but most companies invest roughly 10% of revenue into promotion.

Identifying key areas for budget allocation

Companies with investor cash might dedicate a more significant chunk (say, 15% or more) to marketing, aiming for explosive growth. 

How a company accounts for expenses can affect the numbers. By understanding different factors in your company's expenses, you can allocate the right amount to fuel your customer acquisition engine.

Breakdown of Budget

Dividing the marketing pie isn't one-size-fits-all, but here's an example:

  • The most significant slice (40-50%) often goes to digital marketing to attract customers, such as content creation (think blog posts, social media content). 
  • Paid advertising, split between search engines and social media platforms, enables your business to reach your target audience directly. 
  • Marketing automation tools (think email marketing) can grab a smaller chunk to nurture leads.
  • Public relations (think press releases, media events) and attending industry events might get 5-10% for brand awareness. 

Remember, this is just an example. This will change depending on your goals. This guide gives you an overview of how marketing budgets are typically divided.

Equity-backed vs. Bootstrapped

Consider this scenario: one company is funded by investors (venture capital), and the other uses its own money. How much they spend on marketing can be quite different!

Like a sprinter, the investor-funded company needs a quick burst of growth. They might dedicate 30% of their annual income (ARR) to marketing. This fuels aggressive tactics like social media blitzes and influencer sponsorships to grab attention fast.

Understanding your startup funding options: bootstrap, debt, or equity

The self-funded company acts more like a marathon runner. It carefully manages its budget, spending a smaller portion on marketing. It might focus on organic growth through SEO (search engine optimization) and building a loyal customer base.

This is a general trend, though. Both types of companies can be successful with different approaches.

Impact of Industry

Industries play a significant role in marketing spend. Here's why:

  • Customer Needs: Different industries have varying challenges. Legal software needs a sophisticated approach compared to marketing automation aimed at small businesses.
  • Competition: A crowded market with established players means you'll spend more to get noticed.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): Precious enterprise deals allow for a bigger marketing budget than attracting many low-cost customers.

In short, understanding your industry helps you tailor your marketing strategy for SaaS and budget for maximum impact.

Emerging Trends

Marketing is like a chameleon, constantly changing its colors to fit the environment. As technology races forward, so do marketing strategies.

Traditional methods like print ads are not that trendy now, but video marketing and automation tools are still on trend since many of them are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Digital Marketing and its types

But it's not just about fancy tech. Engaging content is vital. People crave videos, interactive quizzes, and experiences that make them feel involved. 

With the ever-changing technology, marketing must become more complex and dynamic in reaching and connecting with your target audience.

Marketing Channels and Budget Allocation

Marketing channels are like paths leading customers to your business. 

By understanding these channels and spending wisely, you can attract a crowd and quench everyone's thirst (sell your product)!

Here are some common and effective marketing channels:

Steps to a successful sale
  • Content marketing: Attracts customers with valuable, free information, such as blog posts, ebooks, or guides. It builds trust and makes them thirsty for your product.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Helps your stand appear at the top of search results when people look for "Software as a service" online. It involves using the right keywords (like "SaaS company") and making your website super-friendly.
  • Pay-per-click (PPC): Ads appear in search results or on websites, reaching a broad audience. You only pay when someone clicks the ad, making it a targeted approach.
  • Social media marketing: Uses several popular platforms to connect with customers, share updates, and build a community around your delicious lemonade.
  • Email marketing: This lets you connect directly with interested customers, send special offers, and remind them about your excellent lemonade.
  • Public relations (PR): Involves getting positive mentions about your product in news articles, interviews, or even a local blogger's review. PR helps build trust and credibility for your brand.
  • Events (webinars, conferences): Events like webinars (online workshops) or conferences allow you to connect directly with potential customers, showcase your product, and answer their questions. They create a memorable experience and build brand loyalty.

Budget Calculation Methods

Marketing fuels business growth, but how much should you invest? A common rule of thumb is allocating 2-10% of your annual revenue to marketing. This range works for many businesses but is more than a one-size-fits-all solution.

Why is 2-10 % a good starting point?

  • Industry Benchmark: It reflects what similar businesses typically spend. It gives you a sense of competitiveness.
  • Flexibility: The range allows you to adjust based on company size, growth stage, and marketing goals.

However, consider these alternative methods:

  • Goals-based budgeting: Set specific marketing goals (e.g., increase brand awareness by 20%). Then, estimate the budget needed to achieve them.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) based allocation: Focuses on the total revenue a customer brings over time. You might spend more to acquire high-value customers who get more profit in the long run.

Choosing the correct method depends on your business strategy and goals. A well-detailed article can provide industry benchmarks and in-depth explanations of these methods to help you make an informed decision.

Budget Breakdown

This section will provide a sample budget breakdown template to help you budget your marketing budget.

Breakdown of marketing costs for a typical SaaS company


  • People ( $[amount] )some text
    • Salaries: [Insert amount for salaries]
    • Contractors: [Insert amount for contractors]
  • Demand Generation & Lead Gen ( $[amount] )some text
    • Tools: [List & budget for marketing automation, CRMs]
    • Content Creation: [Budget for content creation like ebooks, infographics]
  • Content Marketing ( $[amount] )some text
    • Creation: [Budget for blog posts, social media content]
    • Distribution: [Budget for social media scheduling tools, email marketing]
  • Advertising ( $[amount] )some text
    • PPC (Pay-Per-Click): [Budget for search engine & social media ads]
    • Social Media Ads: [Budget for targeted ads on social platforms]
  • Marketing Tools & Software ( $[amount] )some text
    • [List & budget for design tools, analytics software]
  • Events & Sponsorships ( $[amount] )some text
    • Trade Shows: [Budget for booth fees, travel]
    • Sponsorships: [Budget for sponsoring relevant events]

Total Expenses: [Insert sum of all expenses]

Remaining Balance: [Income - Total Expenses]

Note: Adjust categories and allocate budget based on your specific marketing needs.

Measurement and Tracking

Imagine throwing darts blindfolded. You might hit the bullseye occasionally, but it's mostly luck. 

Marketing is similar. You need to track results to ensure you're guessing what works.

Snippet of the MADX SEO ROI Calculator

Luckily, MADX offers a free SEO ROI Calculator that can show where your marketing efforts land. 

Here is an overview of MADX’s SEO ROI calculator:

  • Website traffic tells you how many people see your marketing messages. High traffic is excellent, but it's like having a crowd around the dartboard. 
  • You need to know how many throw darts (leads generated) are potential customers who show interest, like signing up for a newsletter. 
  • Finally, conversion rates show how many throws hit the bullseye (become customers).

Tracking these metrics is crucial because they tell you what's working and what's not. Imagine social media gets you tons of website traffic but only some leads. This might mean your social media posts are entertaining but don't convince people to buy. 

By seeing this data, you can adjust your budget, spending less on social media and more on campaigns that generate leads.

Final Thoughts

Building a strategic B2B SaaS marketing budget is a calculated investment designed to attract ideal customers, nurture them into loyal brand advocates, and fuel explosive growth.

Following the steps outlined in this blog post equips you with the knowledge to craft a data-driven roadmap.

But don’t stop there. Ready to transform your marketing from a guessing game into a bullseye-hitting machine? Contact MADX today for a free consultation.

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