60+ Essential Marketing Budget Statistics (2024)

  • Brandon Boushy by Brandon Boushy
  • 2 months ago
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Real small business owners introducing UpFlip’s small business marketing budget stat page with words "From Small Business Owners, For Small Business Owners: Marketing Budget Statistics"

Marketing is essential for any small business that wants to grow and succeed. We surveyed our large audience and analyzed over a dozen high-impact reports to establish how small businesses approach their marketing.

Our original surveys were presented as multiple-choice questions; each received a minimum of 500 unique responses.

Top Marketing Budget Statistics

  • On average, each American business spends $14,575 on marketing per year—$481 billion in total. But 66.3% of small business owners spend less than $1,000 on marketing each year.
  • Major outliers drive that average up. The majority of marketing spending is done by just 14.9% to 18% of all businesses.
  • 60% of business owners consider social media their best marketing strategy, but 24% are disappointed with its returns.
  • Less than 6% of small business owners consider content marketing their best marketing strategy, but 93% of business owners who invest in content marketing are satisfied with their results.
  • Marketing a service costs 36.5% more than marketing consumer goods.
  • Business-to-consumer (B2C) companies spend 52% to 71% more to earn the same revenue as business-to-business (B2B) companies.

Keep reading for more high-impact marketing statistics, plus cutting-edge marketing strategies you can implement right now.

Average American Marketing Spend

There are over 33 million businesses in the U.S., and they spend a combined $481 billion a year on marketing. This means the average American business spends $14,575 on marketing annually.

But this is a top-heavy figure. Most marketing spending comes from 14.9% to 18% of all businesses (from sole proprietorships to publicly held companies). By comparison, 63.4% of small businesses spend less than $1,000 annually.

The average business spends 12.3% percent of revenue on marketing, with the median rate coming in at 10%.

Marketing Budgets Broken Down

On average, companies spend 53.4% of marketing dollars on their digital marketing budget. Small businesses spend 46.6% of marketing budgets on traditional advertising.

Digital vs traditional marketing spending pie chart

Here’s a breakdown by industry:

  • Educational companies spend 75.5% of their marketing budget on digital marketing.
  • Technology companies spend 65.7% of their marketing budget on digital marketing.
  • Healthcare companies spend 64.6% of their marketing budgets on digital marketing.
  • Banking, finance, and insurance companies spend 60.7% of their marketing budgets on traditional marketing.
  • Real estate companies spend 60% of their marketing budget on traditional marketing.
  • Manufacturers spend 56% of their marketing budgets on traditional marketing.

Research-Based Recommendation: Companies should spend between 39.3% and 75.5% of their marketing budgets on digital marketing and 24.5% to 60.7% on traditional marketing, depending on their industry.

Professional marketers who responded to Gartner’s 2023 CMO Spend and Strategy Survey intended to spend approximately equal portions of their marketing budgets on labor, paid media, technology, and outsourcing, as seen below:

Allocation of marketing budgets infographic

Paid media spending makes up the largest portion of marketing budgets, with 25.6%, but even the smallest portion is only 2.3% behind.

Where Most Companies Draw the Line

We surveyed 1,800 UpFlip viewers about how much they spend on marketing per year.

  • 66.3% of small business owners spend less than $1,000 on marketing each year.
  • 15% of small businesses spend over $10K annually on marketing.
  • 19% of small business owners spend between $1K and $10K on marketing each year.
Marketing spending distribution infographic

That 85.1% of businesses spend less than $10,000 on marketing isn’t surprising. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, 99.99% of U.S. businesses qualify as small businesses.

Research Opportunity: Further research should be done to determine 1) How marketing expenditure correlates to revenue and 2) How marketing expenditure impacts revenue per employee.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing uses a combination of organic marketing strategies and paid marketing strategies to build relationships with customers on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

Our survey found that 60% of small business owners prefer social media marketing over Google Ads, SEO/SEM, print advertising, and content marketing.

Preferred marketing channel bar graph

While social media marketing dominates the battle of preference, 24% of small business owners say that it’s their least successful marketing strategy.

Least successful marketing strategies bar chart

Research Opportunity: Further research should be performed to find what sets successful social media campaigns apart from unsuccessful campaigns.

The Effectiveness of Content Marketing

Content marketing is a strategy that involves creating and sharing blogs, videos, and other useful content to drive awareness of products and services. This strategy can be highly successful because it helps develop authority with both potential customers and search engines.

Just 6% of businesses surveyed use content marketing, but only 7% of businesses surveyed found content marketing to be unsuccessful.

These numbers indicate that small business owners can benefit tremendously by focusing on producing new content.

Research-Based Recommendation: We suggest spending at least a couple of days each month creating new content and scheduling social media posts. If you aren’t confident doing this yourself and don’t have an employee you can assign it to, consider contracting a freelance content creator.

Preferred Ad Platforms

Business owners can choose numerous forms of paid advertisement, but some platforms drive results better than others.

44% of small business owners prefer using Google Ads over Facebook/Instagram ads (32%), YouTube ads (13%), or TikTok ads (11%).

17% of small business owners prefer Google Ads over other forms of marketing, and only 13% of small businesses are not satisfied with the performance of Google Ads.

Research-Based Recommendation: Start by spending your ad budget on Google Ads, then learn how to optimize other ad platforms.

Specific Marketing Campaign Costs

Small business owners need to break their marketing budgets down by campaign. These numbers will help you get a feel for the real-world cost of different marketing tactics and tools.

  • Content marketing budget: Expect to spend a minimum of $29 per piece, but know that some of the best content creators have content marketing budgets that cost up to $1,000 per piece. You may also find content creators that charge $.05 to $1 per word.
  • Paid digital advertising budget: Small businesses should expect to spend $2.59 per click, $3.12 per 1,000 impressions, $0.66 to $1.23 on remarketing, $15 to $800 on tools, and a minimum of $350 per month on paid digital advertising.
  • Monitor ad budget: To pay someone to monitor ads for your small business, include a marketing spend of $350 to $5K per month or 12% to 30% of monthly ad spend—whichever is more.
  • Email marketing budget: Your email marketing budget will vary based on the number of email addresses on your list and the features you need, but you should expect to spend around $18 per month for up to 1,000 people on your email list. As you grow, costs may increase up to $540 per month plus related labor expenses.
  • Social media marketing budget: Social media marketing in 2023 was expected to reach $72.33 billion, or $2,178.62 per business (calculated by dividing $72.33B by the number of U.S. businesses).
  • Sales funnel automation budget: Automations are part of a marketing budget that will fluctuate depending on the number of automations included in your email marketing, social media marketing, and other marketing tactics.
  • Marketing tools and software: You might include these in other categories or you might include them in a separate category. Depending on the size of your company and number of customers, you may need a budget ranging from free tools to thousands of dollars per month.
  • Traditional advertising budget: Traditional marketing budgets are expected to decrease by 2.6% according to The CMO Survey. This includes print ads, outdoor advertising, radio, and more.

For social media, paid ads, and traditional advertising, you may want to break the marketing budget into specific marketing channels. We recommend utilizing this marketing budget template.

Online vs. Traditional Businesses

Our surveys found that online businesses are 75% more likely to increase their marketing budgets.

  • 70.6% of online businesses are either increasing their marketing budgets or keeping them at the same level this year.
  • 40% of businesses with less than 10% of revenue from online sales have flat or increasing marketing spending.
  • 60% of businesses with less than 10% of revenue from online sales are decreasing their marketing spending.
Marketing spending trends bar chart

This is consistent with consumer trends, as online sales are increasing their overall percentage of sales by approximately 1% per year.

Research-Based Recommendation: Even if you’re saving money by decreasing your digital marketing budget, foregoing an online marketing strategy may mean poor performance in the future. We recommend maintaining a digital marketing budget comparable to industry benchmarks.

Return on Ad Spend Distribution

One of the metrics small businesses use is return on ad spend (ROAS), which is defined as revenue from ads divided by cost of ads, but many business owners implement a modified ROAS calculation that uses this formula:

(Revenue – Cost of Good Sold)/Cost of Ads

893 people responded to our questions about their ROAS. Here’s what the survey showed…

  • 67% of small business respondents make less than $3 for every dollar spent on ads.
  • 14% of small business respondents make $3 to $6 for every dollar spent on ads.
  • 3% of small business respondents make $6 to $9 for every dollar spent on ads.
  • 15% of small business respondents make less than $3 for every dollar spent on ads.
ROAS distribution bar chart

Numbers From Real Business Owners

Some of our original survey respondents provided more detailed information that you can use to determine what you might aim to spend in your industry.

eCommerce

As stated earlier, 70.6% of online businesses are either increasing their marketing budgets or keeping them at the same level, while 60% of businesses with less than 10% of revenue from online sales are decreasing their marketing spending.

@bobsimpson9228 told us:

[We are in] Ecommerce and average about 3-4 ROAS) with a break-even [point] of 2.2 [ROAS].

Learn more about how small business owners start online businesses.

Car Detailing

@josh3.064 gave an example of what to expect in car detailing:

I detail cars and I average about $5-8 [in revenue] per ad [at the moment]

Want to learn more about car detailing? See our comprehensive blog and YouTube video.

Automotive Repair

@allaboutdiy1375 provided information about car shops:

I don’t advertise at all with my Mercedes Benz repair shop. It turns out that if you are honest, fair, and have integrity, word of mouth and reputation is all you need. I’ve got more work than I can even get done in five, 9 hour days.

Want to know more about automotive repair? Check out our how-to blog and in-depth interview.

House Painting Business Marketing

@kdp9607 had the best performance with a nearly 22x return on ad spend in the painting industry.

Housepainting business here. I spent $1.5k on Google ads this year. The return is between 35 / 40k gross profit.

Coffee Shop Advertising

@stoneroastery disclosed:

I’m in the hole. Lost money

Coffee mogul Wes Herman confessed that 19-location Woods Coffee doesn’t actually spend a lot on marketing. Read about how he runs his coffee shops.

A Reduction in Long-Term Marketing

Growth in customer relationship management, customer experience spending, and brand building is expected to slow by 50% in the next year.

There are some exceptions:

  • Communications companies expect to increase their spending on customer relationship management, customer experience spending, and brand building by 19.1%.
  • Pharmaceutical and biotech companies expect to increase their spending on customer relationship management, customer experience spending, and brand building by 13.4%.
  • Professional service companies expect to increase their spending on customer relationship management, customer experience spending, and brand building by 10.3%.

These three industries are spending nearly double what other industries are spending.

Marketing Goods vs. Marketing Services

Interestingly, marketing consumer goods costs 36.5% less than marketing services.

As such, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) suggests different marketing budgets for different types of small businesses.

  • Business-to-business (B2B) companies spend 6.3% of revenue on marketing if they offer a product.
  • A good marketing budget for B2B service companies is 6.9% of revenue.
  • Consumer product companies spend 9.6% of revenue on marketing.
  • B2C service companies spend 11.8% on marketing.
  • B2B companies spend 9.5% more to market a service than a product.
  • B2C companies spend 36.5% more to market a service than a product.

Research-Based Recommendation: Effectively, this shows that small business owners should expect to spend between 10% and 40% more when they are selling services instead of a product.

B2C vs. B2B

Business-to-consumer companies spend 52% to 71% more to earn the same revenue as B2B companies.

This may be because since the 1970s, productivity has grown eight times as fast as wages. GDP has increased by a multiple of 8.7x before inflation.

Businesses have more spending power today than they did in the past, but consumers have similar spending power than they did in 1979.

Research-Based Recommendation: Marketing a B2B product is the least costly form of marketing. If you’re trying to decide on a type of business to start or exploring new ways to increase revenue, consider selling products to companies instead of individual consumers to maximize your marketing effectiveness.


Methodology

These statistics were gathered by reviewing literature, surveying our audience, and using the combined statistics to help small business owners understand the marketing landscape and highlight opportunities to improve their marketing results.

Literature Review

We studied numerous reports and blogs on marketing statistics, marketing budgets, and other economic data to gather statistics obtained and published by other companies and organizations.

We used these statistics to better understand how UpFlippers’ survey responses compare to the findings of larger companies and organizations regularly published in annual reports and other research.

UpFlip Surveys

UpFlip surveys were conducted on our YouTube channel. Due to the limited nature of YouTube surveys, it is impossible to tie every answer to a specific respondent unless they leave additional comments.

Nor could we establish whether there were correlations between ad spending and successful results with each type of marketing expense. In the future, we will update this piece with long-form surveys that will provide additional insights into how small businesses use their marketing.

Combining Statistics

In some scenarios, we compared two statistics to gain more insight into a subject. Combining two statistics was useful for gaining insights about content marketing being underutilized, selling products requiring less marketing than selling services, and B2B marketing being more cost-effective than marketing to consumers.

Operating based on these conclusions may have different results for different companies, and they should always use metrics to measure the success of their results.

Closing

These small business marketing budget statistics can help small business owners create an informed marketing budget, especially when you keep in mind that online marketing is steadily gaining traction over traditional marketing channels like print and radio advertising.

Whether you’re a small business owner or work with them, you can use the information in this report and our marketing budget template to create a balanced small business budget. What’s the biggest pain point in creating your marketing budget breakdown, and what new marketing strategy are you going to try next?

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