The State of Continuing Education: A Benchmark for Your Marketing Budget

As you look ahead to 2022, a key question your company should ask itself is, “How much money should we put toward our marketing budget?” This is an important question to answer these days, especially for companies that focus on selling continuing education courses to spark employee growth, organizational efficiency, and drive more sales.

Sciolytix, a leader in learning management system development, recently conducted our State of Continuing Education Survey to inform and guide companies and professionals who administer continuing education courses, testing, and certification. We are excited because not only was this the industry’s first benchmarking survey, but it gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how online continuing education is a tremendously unique market with distinct challenges and best practices.

For this post, we are going to take a deeper look at question #7 in the State of Continuing Education Survey, which is “What percentage of your revenue is your overall marketing budget?”

By the numbers

In response to Question #7 of the survey:

  • One-third of respondents (33.8%) say their overall marketing budget is 3-5% of their overall revenue.
  • The next largest spenders (26.5%) commit 6-10% of revenue to marketing.

While these figures sound good, many respondents lag behind industry norms of what small to mid-sized businesses and startups spend on marketing.

For broader context, here are recent statistics regarding marketing as a percent of revenue.

  1. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7-8% of your gross revenue on marketing and advertising if you’re doing less than $5 million a year in sales.
  2. The average startup spends 11.2% of its revenue on marketing.
  3. In 2019, 62% of SMBs dedicated 4% or more of their revenue to marketing.

Remember that this was Question #7. Compared to earlier responses noting demand generation and landing new customers as top priorities, these responses indicate marketing budgets are lower than the industry average and are clearly a big reason why many companies don’t consistently hit their desired targets.

What are you doing to improve your continuing education business’ posture in the marketplace?

In a nutshell, online course development is more important than ever. As a result, companies need to think about increasing their marketing budgets to throw more money into this key area of future growth.

At Sciolytix, we’ve created DigitalChalk so that it can be the best LMS on the market. Instead of using a hodgepodge of LMS tools, our clients have one dedicated system that fills gaps in their training. And to ensure it stays that way, we’re constantly evolving and looking to make it even better. We plan to share highlights from this survey throughout the next several blog posts, all of which will help answer some significant questions. These include but are not limited to:

  • How continuing education has been impacted over the past 18 months.
  • If continuing education providers transitioned from in-person to online (or hybrid) business models for delivery.
  • If continuing education budgets and investments are shrinking, growing, or staying the same.
  • If there are any prevalent trends, challenges, and attitudes.

Please download the full survey report here.


Author: Dario Priolo

Dario brings over 20 years of experience in the sales enablement and talent development industry. He has led marketing and strategy as CMO for leading companies like the Hay Group, Miller Heiman and Profiles International and has been part of 4 successful exits, including his own start-up.