How do I estimate a startup marketing budget?


Are you a startup or new SaaS business considering investing in digital marketing to get your business launch flying? Before you do, step back to take stock of the bigger picture.

Founder / Head of Growth
July 22, 2022
  (NZDT - GMT +12)

Are you a startup or new SaaS business considering investing in digital marketing to get your business launch flying? Before you do, step back to take stock of the bigger picture.

Don't let your excitement for potentially lucrative marketing campaigns get in the way of planning and budgeting ahead of time. Setting limits on your spending upfront will help you stay in control and put your money into the most profitable marketing ventures for your new business.

To help, we've put together this guide on estimating your startup marketing budget.

Outline Your Goal

Realistic marketing budgets align with business goals. Here is how to set your high-level goals for your marketing plan.

Strategic Goals

Before you can allocate a marketing budget, you'll want to ensure that the money you spend on marketing aligns with your broader business goals.

Take the time to put together a high-level marketing strategy for your business for the next twelve months.

Focus on how that aligns with critical goals for your business. For example, are you launching a SaaS business this year? Or do you want to double the size of your email list?

Financial Goals

Good strategic goals are measurable. Those metrics will guide you to check how effectively your marketing spend hits your goals.

Focus on financial figures as best you can. Most importantly, what ROI (Return on Investment) do you want to see from your marketing spend?

Create Your Startup Marketing Plan

Once you have your goals, you must create your go-to-market plan. That will steer you to the areas where you'll need to spend money.

Determine Your Priorities

First, prioritise your marketing. What options will bring you closest to your high-level goals? Priorities might include:

  • Brand building
  • Growing your social media presence
  • PR
  • PPC advertising (web or app)
  • SEO
  • Website and landing pages
  • Email marketing

Some marketing strategies will be more important to you than others. If you have a limited budget, you can focus on the few that offer you the highest potential ROI.

Determine Your Timescales

Don't forget to set timescales. You won't spend your budget in one day, and adding dates to your marketing campaigns will allow you to spread your spending across the entire year.

What to Include in Your Marketing Budget

Split your startup marketing budgets into smaller sections, reflecting your priorities. Here is a list of what you might have in your budget:

Your Ad Budget

There are two elements to your ad costs.

The first is the setup and management - creating the campaigns and ad sets that you'll run and testing and optimising them. The second element is the actual ad cost or media spend.

You'll need to factor both of these into your marketing budget.


Professional copywriting will help you capture your audience's attention when running marketing promotions.

Copywriting might include ad copy, promotional copy, and sales copy, along with your marketing funnels such as your landing and sales pages, website, and email automations.

Think about whether you have someone in-house to write copy or if you want to budget for a dedicated copywriter.

It might make sense to include copywriting services as part of a more comprehensive marketing plan with an agency.

Branding and Design

Branding and design tasks cut across multiple marketing strategies. You'll need good creative assets for any advertising, and you'll also need it for your web presence.

Ideally, you'll also create some professionally designed posts for your social media presence.

In other words, you'll need to set aside money for design work irrespective of the marketing campaigns you prioritise. It's also a specialist skill that you'll probably seek outside assistance with, so budget for those services.


Don't forget to budget for professional marketing tools. That might include analytics and reporting, competitor analysis, keyword tools (SEO), and scheduling tools (social media).

Most tools charge monthly fees, though they often offer discounts if you can pay for 12 months upfront.

Virtual Marketers can help you determine what tools you'll need for your business and give you our professional recommendations.

Social Media Content

Growing your social media following is great for brand awareness. But growth means having consistent, high-quality content on your feeds.

If you want to prioritise social media, you'll need to budget for content creation.

You might also want to set money aside for a dedicated social media manager who can take charge of these accounts, overseeing publishing and engaging with followers. Promoting your posts will extend your social media post reach too, so factor in promotion costs if this is important for your business.

Promotional Content

You might want to budget separately for promotional (i.e. advertising) digital content over and above any branding, design and social media content.

You will want to split test multiple ad creatives, so you'll need to budget for the time and effort in developing the ad images, videos, and headline graphics.


If you choose to do PR for your business, allow money in your budget to cover the cost of pushing your PR release out to news organisations. You'll also need to include associated fees for the cost of writing an effective PR news release.

Your Website

Your most significant budget will probably be for your website. You'll need to ensure your website reflects your brands plus any individual promotional campaigns.

If you intend to invest in SEO, you'll also want to assign a budget to regular content creation (e.g. writing blog posts, producing podcasts and videos).


If you already use email marketing, you'll need to set money aside for email promotions, including writing the emails to send out to your audience.

Suppose you don't use email but want to. In that case, you'll also need to set aside money for email automations plus the technical setup on your website to ensure you capture email addresses.


SEO is always a wise investment because the effort you put in now will pay dividends for years to come.

However, SEO is a long game so remember that you won't see the same sort of immediate return that you might with paid advertising.

Nevertheless, you'll need to consider on-page and off-page SEO when it comes to startup marketing budgeting.

That means investing in paid guest post opportunities, creating website content, and having SEO experts research keywords and optimise your site.

Marketing Incentives

Set aside some budget to cover incentives you intend to offer your audience as part of your promotional campaigns.

For example, perhaps you want to offer a prize as part of a social media competition. Or you might want to include a free offer as an incentive for providing an email address.

Plan for a Successful Startup Launch

You might feel eager to hit the ground running with your startup or SaaS company launch and get going with ads.

Still, the wisest approach is to use these marketing budget tips to plan a proper marketing strategy that will support your business as it grows over the next 12 months and beyond.

For more help, let us assist you in turning your business strategy into a successful marketing strategy.

Book a call with our team today to give you our expert advice on how to support your startup or SaaS business.