If you’re like most Chief Marketing Officers around the country, you’re likely boosting your overall marketing budget over the next couple years.

An IBM and CMO Club study reports that nearly 60% of CMOs are increasing their budget next year across almost every area.

Marketers experimenting across buyer cycle
But the real question for many is, how much should you put toward traditional advertising, PPC, SEO, social media, email, inbound, budget for content marketing, PR, mobile, etc.?

There’s a simple solution to help make that decision: Understand your customer journey.

“CMOs are really focused on investing across the customer journey,” said Jay Henderson, director of Strategy at IBM Commerce in an AdAge article. “They are looking at more sophisticated ways of experimenting with different channels at different user stages to drive revenue.”

Once you truly understand the customer journey, you’ll have a better idea on where to invest money along the buying cycle. Marketers, according to the study, are focused on investing across the entire customer journey, which includes 6 phases: Discover, Learn, Try, Buy, Use, and Advocacy.

Discover learn try buy

The IMB study reports that marketers will spend 20% on awareness or the “discover” phase when customers beginning to search for products or services. In the discover phase, the top channel they use is social, followed by website, email, digital and events.

They are spending:

  • 16% on the “try” phase, when customers are searching and comparing products and services
  • 21% on the “buy” phase, when customers want to make a purchase
  • 13% on the “use” phase after customers have purchased
  • 14% for the “advocate” stage — in our terms, this would be nurturing content that creates loyalty with the customer.

Look at the image above and match it to your own customers’ journey. Consider what holes you have in pushing them through that cycle. In a very simplistic way, that’s where you need to invest your money next year.

On average, CMOs are investing their budget like this:

awareness to engagement

Average Budget for Content Marketing

Content creation makes up the largest portion of the marketing budget (13.3%) followed by traditional advertising (11.5%), online advertising (11.1%), events (10.9%), website development (10.5%) and public relations (9.6%).

In another survey of 288 senior U.S. marketing executives at business-to-consumer and business-to-business companies, CMOs are increasing their digital marketing spend by 12%, primarily on social, mobile and analytics.

“Social media spending now makes up an average 10.7% of marketing budgets, and will grow to 14% of budgets over the next 12 months, according to the survey. In five years, social media spending will make up 23.8% of total marketing budgets,” as quoted in AdAge here.

When you look at these numbers, ask which tactic can survive on its own without content creation? Will social media, email, digital, website, apps, along any part of the funnel work without consistent, strong, engaging content? Content is the foundation for each part of the buying cycle that marketers are investing in.

How Much Should You Budget for Content Marketing Success?

To succeed in content marketing, you need to invest enough to make a real difference. You need to dive in. Those that dip their toes in it will fail.

A new study from Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs reveals that companies who invest more, get more with content marketing: “There is a correlation between effectiveness and the amount of budget allocated. The most effective B2B marketers allocate 42%, on average (up from 37% last year), whereas the least effective allocate 15% (down from 16% last year). B2B marketers whose content marketing maturity level is sophisticated allocate the most (46%)” of their budget to content marketing.

Related Content: 10 content marketing roles you need to build an effective team (Start at slide 16).

Michelle Linn published a chart for mid-size and large businesses to help understand how much it could typically cost, below:

Content plan chart budget

Of course, you can either decide to build that all in house or outsource to an agency, or do a mixture of both.

If you’re doing any other source of lead generation, make sure to put in a budget for content, too. Over long term, content marketing has a significantly lower cost than paid. Linn also quotes a Kapost and Eloqua study claiming the cost per lead is 31-41% less than paid search marketing:

paid vs content


To answer the question of how much should you spend on a content marketing budget, it’s this: There is no real answer. It depends on your audience, what holes you need, your industry, and your unique customer journey.

We’d love to help you set up your marketing budget for success next year. Hit me up at dan@contenthook.com for a free consultation.

Here’s the entire graphic from IBM, which puts more visual on the study:


Your turn

How are you planning your budget? Is your breakout similar to the CMOs in these studies?


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