Tom King

Account Executive

June 29, 2023

7 minute read

Decoding SaaS Marketing Spend Benchmarks

Decoding SaaS Marketing Spend Benchmarks


Marketing spend is a crucial component of any SaaS (Software as a Service) company's budget, fueling growth and supporting customer acquisition and retention efforts. Understanding industry benchmarks for SaaS marketing spend provides valuable insight into the competitive landscape and enables businesses to strategically allocate resources. But how do you know what percentage of your revenue to reinvest in marketing, and how does that compare to other businesses in your field? This blog post will delve into SaaS marketing spend benchmarks to provide insights and guidance on these questions.

Understanding SaaS Marketing Spend

Before delving into the benchmarks, it's important to understand what's usually included in a SaaS company's marketing spend. This can cover a wide range of activities, from content creation and digital marketing to public relations, branding, events, and product marketing. It also often encompasses tools and platforms to support these activities, such as marketing automation software, SEO tools, social media advertising, and data analytics platforms.

Generally, marketing spend is viewed as a percentage of the company's overall revenue. This ratio offers a useful benchmark to compare across companies and industries. However, it's also important to note that the specific allocation can depend heavily on the company's growth stage, its market size and competitiveness, and its specific business goals.

Marketing Spend Benchmarks for SaaS Companies

  1. Early-Stage Startups: For startups and early-stage SaaS companies, the percentage of revenue spent on marketing can be significantly higher than for more mature businesses. This is because these companies are typically focused on growth and gaining market share. They are likely to reinvest a large proportion of their revenue - often more than 50% - back into marketing and sales to attract new customers and build their brand.
  2. Growth-Stage SaaS Businesses: As SaaS businesses mature and move into the growth stage, the marketing spend as a percentage of revenue generally starts to decrease, but still remains relatively high. According to a 2020 Pacific Crest SaaS survey, growth-stage SaaS companies spent an average of 41% of their revenue on sales and marketing.
  3. Mature SaaS Companies: For more mature SaaS companies with a well-established customer base and predictable revenue streams, the percentage of revenue spent on marketing tends to be lower, typically in the range of 20-30%. These companies often have a stronger focus on customer retention and upselling, so a significant portion of the marketing budget may be directed towards customer success and retention initiatives.

Factors Influencing Marketing Spend

Understanding these benchmarks is just the starting point. Several factors should be taken into consideration when determining the optimal marketing spend for a SaaS business.

  1. Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV): SaaS companies with a high CLTV can afford to spend more on acquiring each customer. This is especially true for companies with a low customer churn rate, where the return on investment for customer acquisition can be spread out over a longer period.
  2. Cost of Customer Acquisition (CAC): The cost to acquire a new customer is another important factor to consider. If CAC is high, a company may need to allocate more resources to marketing in order to maintain growth. However, it's essential to balance this with the CLTV to ensure a positive return on investment.
  3. Market Saturation: In highly competitive or saturated markets, marketing spend may need to be higher in order to stand out from the competition and attract customers.
  4. Company Goals: Finally, a company's specific goals and strategies will influence its marketing spend. A company focused on rapid growth may be willing to invest more in marketing, while a company prioritizing profitability may opt to keep marketing spend lower.

SaaS marketing spend benchmarks provide useful guidelines, but they are not one-size-fits-all solutions.

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