How To Set Your 2021 Digital Marketing Budget

It’s that time again — budget-setting for next year. Joy. Not! (Really, like 2020 hasn’t been hard enough?!)

It feels fairly safe to say that coming up with the ideal marketing budget for 2021 is no one’s idea of a good time. And getting even more granular — like determining your digital marketing budget allocation — can make the whole process even more laborious, tedious, frustrating and confusing.

But, it’s a necessary and worthwhile business planning activity. Especially in light of the continued pandemic and permanent changes to how people work, recreate and manage their lives. (Hint: online or via an app). 

Leaning in to digital marketing during 2021 is essential because it’s the new norm.

We can help take some of the sting out of crafting your digital marketing budget plan. Read on for our experience-gained recommendations.

What’s In A Digital Marketing Budget?

Digital Marketing In A Nutshell

Digital marketing is the subset of marketing that’s conducted online or that leverages the internet, social media platforms and digital media content types (e.g., imagery, sound/music, video, AR, VR). Here are some other key elements of digital marketing:

  • It can encompass everything from your website or ecommerce shop to your SMS advertising to online forms, polls and surveys. And beyond!
  • It relies heavily on computers and mobile devices.
  • It evolves in lock-step with technology and culture.
  • It’s often highly customizable or personalizable to better suit target audiences.

Digital Marketing Budget Breakdown

A digital marketing budget is a business management document that identifies and outlines the efforts that will be undertaken to achieve the digital marketing strategy and the monetary outlays or investments for them. 

Pro Tip: Budgets are often living documents, so don’t be surprised if there are periodic or ad hoc revisions and updates.

Your digital marketing budget should address all components of your digital marketing strategy. In order for your strategy to succeed, resources (money) needs to be dedicated to it. Your budget will include line items for each project or program, as well as any overhead required to administer the digital marketing team.

Know Your Goals First!

Before you can divvy out the dollars, ya gotta know where they’re going. It’s part art, part science. Like a choreographed dance and Sherlockian detective case mashup.   

Working forward from your overarching goals, you’ll figure out what programs, projects, campaigns, etc. will get you where you want to go. Working backwards from those digital marketing outcomes, deliverables and associated costs, you’ll refine your objectives. This exercise of push-pull will settle somewhere in the middle, where your budget allocations hopefully match your expected activities and results.

The main takeaways here are:

  1. Set, communicate and get buy-in to realistic goals.
  2. Correlate your budget to these goals.
  3. Understand that money, goals, deliverable and so on are levers — adjusting any one impacts the others and the system as a whole.

Short-Term Digital Marketing Goals

If you’re thinking about immediate results, you’re mostly in the land of paid media. Ads, banners, promotions and sponsored content might fall in this category.

Email marketing is another great digital marketing tool that produces near-term results at a relatively low cost.

These methods are terrific for building audiences and keeping them engaged. (Must. Love. Repeat. Customers!) A comprehensive digital marketing strategy will include activities such as these to capture consistent short-term gains. Correspondingly, your digital marketing budget needs to cover these efforts.

Long-Term Digital Marketing Goals

Your digital marketing plan should also incorporate initiatives to tackle your extended-range objectives. To accomplish this, you’re looking at investments in:

With money (and priority) for these activities earmarked in your digital marketing budget, you’re setting yourself up well for farther-term — and possibly recurrent or continual — results. With proper spending, you could recognize improved metrics on your website and social media, better awareness of your business in the marketplace, more conversions, etc.

Coordinate With Others

Your digital marketing team’s not operating in the vacuum of space. It’s part of the overall marketing function and business as a whole, which all have needs of their own. Assuming you want your biz to be a going concern, your digital marketing strategy and budget need to dovetail nicely into the bigger picture.

Yes, this is probably going to require some cross-functional discussion and compromise. But it’ll be worth it!

Check Your Benchmarks

When you’re planning your budget, do a little research to see what’s needed to achieve your desired outcomes. Consider looking to your competitors or other companies whose digital marketing you admire and estimate their spend to do what they’re doing. 

Look into the average digital marketing budget levels for your industry. Perhaps audit your budgets from previous years and compare that to performance. A data-informed approach is the way to go. 2020 saw a lot of investment from organizations of every size in digital marketing, so what you spent in the last few years, may not be enough to keep you competitive in 2021. The landscape has changed, and you need to account for that to get the results you want. 

Innovate & Streamline Everywhere

You want to make your digital marketing dough count. To get the most out of your spend, you’ll have to work for it. But not necessarily in the same old ways of yore. Here are some ideas for upping your digital marketing game and budget:

  • Selectively adopt best practices. Learn from masters how to market better, how to budget better, how to administer marketing better. Pick and choose the tactics and tools that make sense for your business. Tweak them so they truly work for you and feel authentic.
  • Stay on top of or in front of trends. This will help you prevent wasting time, money and effort on hackneyed topics, approaches, etc. If you’re a leader in your sector, this is an opportunity to be a market maker.
  • Embrace new tech. If you don’t, it’ll just roll over you. Younger audiences — i.e., tomorrow’s customers — is latching on to next-gen technology as fat as it comes out. Own it, make it your own. Have fun with it and use it to connect with your peeps. Internally, there are ever-developing solutions to make budgeting and marketing faster and simpler; take advantage of them.
  • Review and revise. Don’t ditch old stuff just because it’s a bit dated. Reuse and repurpose everything you can — from content to rollout plan frameworks to supply chains. Not recreating the wheel where you don’t have to saves time and money. It helps you run a lean, agile digital marketing program.
  • Differentiate. Always seek out ways to separate yourself from the crowds and to promote those unique qualities. Customers are looking for outcomes and solutions. This is your space to shine. Make sure your digital marketing plans and budget enable you to exploit how you’re the best things since sliced bread.

Intuitive Digital’s Here To Help

Yah, we know. Sometimes, even with terabytes of info and tips-n-tricks articles, you want expert help. There’s definitely confidence and a competitive edge that can come with the swift, knowledgeable guidance of a pro.

That’s why our team is poised to assist with your digital marketing budget planning. As a digital marketing agency, we have tons of data to draw upon — we’ve learned a lot in our years of partnering with scores of small-to-medium business clients across various industries. You can count on our experience and know-how to work in your favor. It all adds up to a more realistic, more accurate, more goal-aligned digital marketing budget for you.
So, feel free to reach out today. We look forward to contributing to your future successes!

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