B2B SaaS Marketing Budget: Breakdown & Examples
If you’re amidst planning the marketing budget for a B2B SaaS business and are looking to inform your thinking from the wisdom of similar companies, this report is intended to help. Our agency has compiled statistics from 2017-2021 that reflect 46 B2B SaaS companies’ best practices for putting together a budget.
Below, we share the main factors CMOs consider when creating a marketing budget, along with 3 budgets that represent B2B SaaS companies in different stages of growth.
Factors to Consider When Creating Your B2B Saas Marketing Budget
The consensus among the companies we worked with in this space is that the marketing budget should balance 3 factors:
- The highest-ROI marketing channels in your industry
- The marketing channels with strategic secondary benefits to your company
- The commitments associated with each investment
We begin with the data on the marketing channels that deliver the highest ROI for B2B SaaS:
The Highest-ROI B2B SaaS Marketing Channels
The following table is the result of polling our B2B software clients between February 2017 and June 2021.
(3 year average)
|Thought Leadership SEO||7.5k – 15k||748%|
|Webinars||5k – 10k||364%|
|LinkedIn Organic||3k – 8k||229%|
|E-mail Marketing||1k – 3k||201%|
|LinkedIn Ads||5k – 20k||94%|
|Trade Shows||10k – 20k||85%|
|Outdoor Ads||10k – 40k||85%|
|PR||10k – 50k||62%|
|Basic SEO||2k – 4k||48%|
|SEM / PPC||3k – 30k||46%|
If you’d like more data on lead generation, we recently published a compendium of statistics on SaaS customer acquisition, as well as reports on B2B SaaS funnel conversion benchmarks and customer acquisition cost by channel and industry.
Considering the Strategic Secondary Benefits of a Marketing Channel
In addition to considering which line items will return the most revenue to your business directly, there are myriad secondary benefits of lead generation channels that may be strategic to marketing or the business as a whole. The following examples from our B2B SaaS clients may spark some ideas:
- A company in the industrial IoT space found that posting consistently on LinkedIn accounted for 12% of their leads. A secondary benefit of the content they wrote for LinkedIn was that it provided fodder for their monthly webinars. Producing webinars based on LinkedIn content and its resulting comments led to the growth of that channel, going on to make up 14% of their leads—an even greater share than the original LinkedIn posts.
- A staffing platform had seen positive early results from e-mail nurturing and was looking to grow its e-mail engagement rates. By investing in thought leadership-based SEO, it gained access to a body of content that could be cherry-picked for interesting tidbits to include in monthly e-mails. Their e-mail click-through rate went up 17% shortly after they began their SEO campaign.
- A PCB design software company invested in PR to increase awareness of their product, but soon realized it was even more valuable as a talent attraction and engagement tool. Employees enjoyed being a part of a company that had been recognized as a top place to work and featured in major industry publications, both products of the PR campaign.
- An equipment leasing company engaged in an industry-focused PR campaign for a sector they were looking to expand into. Separately, they were running an SEO campaign for lead generation purposes. They soon found that their search rankings were rising and linked it to the increase in their Google domain authority brought on by the PR campaign’s press hits.
Commitments Associated with B2B SaaS Marketing Channels
Once you’ve settled on the channels that make the most sense for your business in terms of ROI and strategic benefits, the last aspect to consider is how long you’ll realistically need to commit to each one. While your contract with a vendor may only be for one year, it often takes longer to realize a channel’s potential.
In the following chart, we’ve listed the top B2B lead generation channels and cited the average length of time our clients invested in each, along with considerations to keep in mind for each commitment.
|Marketing Channel||Average Length of Commitment||Considerations|
|Thought Leadership SEO||2 – 3 years||A well-run SEO campaign takes 4-6 months to produce leads and 2+ years to reach full lead generation potential.|
|Webinars||> 1 year||Repeated webinars are necessary to demonstrate your value as a learning channel and attract new leads. You can expect your first several to have lower turnout unless you’ve already established your expertise.|
|LinkedIn Organic||1.5 – 2 years||Posting on LinkedIn is a nurturing activity in that it serves to remind prospective customers and employees of your company. For that reason, it can take at least 6 months—and often more than 1 year—before it bears any fruit.|
|E-mail Marketing||4+ years||E-mail marketing is effective when the content of the e-mails is both interesting and well-targeted. It can take a while to find that sweet spot. And since the higher-quality incarnations of e-mail marketing are so effective, you’ll want to continue for several years at least.|
|LinkedIn Ads||6 – 12 months||Like SEM, LinkedIn ads require a few months of setup, targeting, and experimentation before they reach full effectiveness. Most companies run them for at least 6 months to understand their impact.|
|Trade Shows||> 8 months||While trade shows require an entirely separate skillset to plan and execute compared to the other marketing channels on this list. Training a team to effectively use trade shows for lead generations takes from 3–8 months, in addition to the lead time that is required to prepare for each show.|
|Outdoor Ads||~1 year||Like many marketing channels, outdoor ads are effective when run in the right location for at least 6 months at a time, as passersby typically need 7-10 impressions before your brand gains positive sentiment.|
|PR||~1.5 years||PR is a highly spotty lead generation tactic, as it’s built on relationships, emotion, and the timing of press hits. For that reason alone, it can take at least 6 months for there to be an ROI, and even then it’s hit-or-miss.|
|Basic SEO||~3 months||Basic SEO requires only a few months in time investment due to its limited scope, but also offers little in the way of lead generation.|
|SEM / PPC||3 – 6 months||The initial stages of a PPC campaign will be primarily focused on data gathering, but a skilled PPC team will be able to show results as early as 3 months in. This makes limited PPC campaigns an excellent low-commitment option for testing new markets, despite its poor scalability.|
B2B SaaS Marketing Budgets: 3 Examples
Following are 3 sample budgets from B2B SaaS businesses in different stages of growth.
High Growth (Startup)
|Marketing Channel||Annual Budget|
|Thought Leadership SEO||$140,000.00|
|CRO and UI/UX Consulting||$50,000.00|
|SEM / PPC||$290,000.00|
|Marketing Channel||Annual Budget|
|Thought Leadership SEO||$130,000.00|
|CRO and UI/UX Consulting||$70,000.00|
|SEM / PPC||$120,000.00|
|Marketing Channel||Annual Budget|
|Thought Leadership SEO||$180,000.00|
|SEM / PPC||$60,000.00|
Allocating Your Marketing Budget
As you create your marketing budget, no doubt many considerations will come up that are unique to your company and stage of growth. If you’d like us to take a look at your budget or have any further questions, feel free to contact us.
If you’re interested in discussing a partnership to build out your lead generation, you can schedule a call with us here. We have 12+ years of experience helping B2B SaaS companies grow through organic marketing channels.
Evan Bailyn is a bestselling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership. Contact Evan here.