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Inbound Marketing Blog

How Much Should Your Business Budget for Marketing Automation?

Posted by Stacie Chalmers on 08-Jun-2017 07:02:00

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Did you know marketing automation is considered one of the best marketing technologies? As of last year, 49% of companies are using marketing automation systems, with over half B2B companies using the technology.

Today, there are so many marketing automation systems out there to choose from, such as simpler platforms like ActiveCampaign to more integrated systems like Hubspot and Marketo. No matter what the size of your business is, marketing automation is a highly useful tool for everyone. So, deciding whether or not to invest in marketing automation is simple – of course you should. Deciding how much your company should be spending on marketing automation can be a little harder. The purpose of this article to help you figure out how much your business should budget for marketing automation in 2017 and beyond. 

What does marketing automation cost?

With the range of marketing automation systems out there today, the costs vary widely. And, with many of the major companies offering free or entry-level versions of their products, there really is something out there no matter what your budget is. However, it’s important to remember it’s not just a one-off payment. You can expect to pay an upfront investment, then many automation vendors (but not all) have an additional fee called onboarding or implementation and then once your marketing system is in place, there are a few ongoing costs to execute your strategies.

CRM Switch has compiled a comprehensive guide of prices you can expect to pay for different marketing automation systems, which you can check out here.

How much your business should budget

You probably already know this but of course there is no perfect percentage of your marketing budget that will get you a stellar marketing automation system that produces out-of-this-world results. So if you’re thinking the more money you throw into marketing automation the better, think again.

Your business, just like every other business, is completely unique. Your needs, resources and goals are going to be different to those of other businesses, even if they are in the same industry. So when thinking about how much money to allocate to marketing automation, it’s a good idea to think in depth about your needs and goals as a business.

Look at your marketing automation history

If you’ve used marketing automation in the past, for example Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or all in one platforms like Hubspot, it’s a good idea to look at how much you spent and the benefit your business received. For example, how much time did it save, did this mean you didn’t have to employ another person or that your current staff could focus on higher level, more important tasks? Were you able to respond to leads sooner resulting in a higher closer rate? If you’ve never used a marketing automation tool before look at how much is currently being spent doing tasks that can be reduced with the right tool, or if there are things you currently don’t have the resources do – how will marketing automation enable you to achieve this? I typically recommend companies justify the investment of marketing automation by looking at it as a junior person or ½ the cost of a more senior employee. 

Back in 2013, Marketo co-founder Jon Miller said bigger companies should spend around 3% of their marketing dollars on marketing automation, while smaller companies should plan to closer to 7% of their budget. Then in 2014, a survey of B2B marketers revealed that 81% allocated about 10-39% of their marketing budget to marketing automation. From these figures you could certainly determine that what businesses are spending on marketing automation is rising quickly. 

Marketing automation tools available today

The above figures are from three years ago, so what’s changed between then and now? Well, a number of easier and inexpensive marketing automation solutions have been created between then and now. Today, you have so many more low cost or free options available to you.  Check out this Marketing Automation Starter Kit to help you find the right solution for your needs.

How much should you be budgeting?

As we mentioned before, it really depends on your business, its goals, needs and current processes. However, based on the information in the article and from other sources, I would recommend you budget 10-30% of your marketing budget towards marketing automation.

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Topics: Marketing Automation


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