Strategic Healthcare Marketing Budgeting: Your Complete Guide with Benchmarks and Calculator

Strategic Healthcare Marketing Budgeting: Your Complete Guide with Benchmarks and Calculator

Whether you are a healthcare marketing agency developing a healthcare marketing budget for your clients or a pharmaceutical company, medical device manufacturer, or medical practice, understanding the competitive landscape and determining your marketing spend is essential. Insight into how much and what others in the industry are investing in helps shape a practical approach to increase your bottom line. Therefore, a meticulously crafted healthcare digital marketing budget becomes an indispensable strategic blueprint, propelling organizations toward substantive and enduring growth. 

Budgets empower organizations to allocate fiscal resources strategically, enhancing the effectiveness of marketing strategies such as targeted paid advertising, content development, talent acquisition, and technology investments. Further aligning these marketing efforts with broader business imperatives enhances resource allocation efficiency and fosters sustainable strategic planning. This tactical alignment sets realistic objectives and maintains consistent campaign efficacy, translating financial expenditures into shrewd investments that drive measurable results in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

Below, Adfire Health details why you should consider using a healthcare marketing budget calculator and how to plan a healthcare and pharma marketing budget effectively. You can also access our free budget calculator to optimize your budget allocation.

Key Takeaways

Adfire Health’s Healthcare Marketing Budget Calculator

Adfire Health has designed a dynamic calculator to help you define your total marketing budget. This tool integrates your current annual revenue with industry benchmarks and specific growth objectives, making it ideal for healthcare organizations. It helps you determine an overall marketing budget by matching your strategy against prevailing industry standards and aligning it with your growth ambitions. With this calculator, you can plan your financial strategy precisely and confidently, ensuring your budget effectively supports and drives growth within your healthcare practice.

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How Much Should Healthcare Companies Allocate to Marketing?

While there is no universally prescribed budget that healthcare companies should allocate toward marketing efforts, industry standards exist to evaluate their effectiveness. The allocation of marketing budgets within healthcare organizations varies depending on factors such as industry sector, company size and revenue, organizational maturity, the nature of the physician referral system, and specific growth objectives.

Let’s break down the current state of healthcare and pharma marketing budgeting to shed light on best practices.

Healthcare Marketing Spend is on the Rise

Healthcare and pharma marketing budgets are heavily influenced by company size, growth stage, and business model variables. Despite this diversity, the industry is on a clear upward trajectory, reflecting both evolving market dynamics and increasing competition. To better understand how these factors are shaping marketing investments, here are some pivotal statistics that highlight current trends and future projections within the sector:

  • The global healthcare market will reach $665.37 billion by 2028.1
  • Healthcare marketers will spend over $12 billion in local advertising in 2024.2
  • Healthcare digital ad spending rose 10% in 2023 and is projected to grow.3
  • In 2021, healthcare digital ad spending overtook TV ad spending for the first time, accounting for 46% of total healthcare ad spend.4
  • The pharmaceutical industry has surpassed the technology sector to become the second-largest industry in advertising spending.2
  • Top spenders in this industry are hospitals, physician offices, dental clinics, and chiropractors, with direct mail, PC/laptop, and TV OTA receiving the most spending.2

Healthcare Marketing Budget Benchmarks

Healthcare industry marketing spend benchmarks range significantly. For example, our chart below highlights medical practices typically spend anywhere from 1-5% of their annual revenue on marketing efforts, while pharma companies spend 18-21%. Marketing budget averages can fluctuate depending on various factors and specific industry conditions. Another element that can impact marketing costs is attracting customers directly rather than relying on a physician referral system. Newer companies may need a better brand reputation to rely on to bring in more patients.

The following chart outlines lower and higher marketing budget percentage allocations based on total revenue for each significant healthcare industry.

To better understand these budget allocation percentages, let’s dive into why each industry reflects such diverse marketing benchmarks.

Competitive Healthcare Industries

Continuing Medical Education (CME): CME programs5 are in high demand, as HCPs must complete certain credits. Because of this enormous potential customer base and dense competition among CME providers to gain brand recognition, CME providers must invest heavily in marketing efforts like email, paid search, social media, display ads, and direct mail.

Medical Device/Diagnostics: The medical device industry6  is incredibly competitive, with massive companies like Medtronic and Stryker vying for market share. Medical device companies are increasingly spending more on digital marketing and HCP outreach to build brand awareness, differentiate their products, and reach potential customers. 

Pharmaceuticals: The highly regulated and competitive nature of the pharmaceutical industry7 presents significant marketing challenges that drive companies to invest heavily in marketing efforts to differentiate their products, reach HCPs, patients, and caregivers, demonstrate ROI, and adapt to industry changes.

SaaS: The highly competitive nature of the Software as a Service (SaaS) industry8 forces SaaS companies to invest heavily in digital marketing tactics, data-driven decision-making, and an integrated approach to outbound and inbound marketing efforts to acquire and retain customers.

Telemedicine: Large established healthcare providers and newer telemedicine-focused companies9 compete for market share, requiring telemedicine companies to invest significantly in marketing to stand apart and reach potential customers. Also, the telemedicine market is still relatively new, so companies must invest in marketing to educate consumers and demonstrate value to overcome barriers to adoption.

Less Competitive Healthcare Industries

Hospital and Medical Practices: Hospital and medical practice marketing budgets10 can swing depending on the specialty and location of the organization. Due to patient demand, more competitive industries, for instance, would include family medicine and cardiology, particularly in densely populated areas. Therefore, companies in these fields must invest more in marketing to differentiate themselves. On the other hand, companies in more niche, specialized fields like podiatry or those in more rural areas would face less competition and, therefore, have to spend less on marketing efforts.

Home Health and Long-Term Care Centers: The home health and long-term care center industries are competitive due to growing patient demand, but companies, on average, are only spending 1-2%11 of their total revenue on marketing efforts. This leaves plenty of opportunity for companies to invest more in marketing and lead generation to stand apart from the competition.

Finance: The healthcare finance solutions market12 is less competitive due to high regulatory barriers, the need for specialized expertise, customer loyalty, and market segmentation. These factors allow companies in this industry to take a more measured, educational, and personalized approach to marketing compared to more competitive industries.

Aligning Healthcare Marketing Budgets with Growth Ambitions

Growth goals13 are a critical factor influencing how healthcare organizations allocate their marketing budgets. A marketing budget should align with the organization’s growth objectives, whether increasing website traffic, generating more leads, or boosting sales.

As stated, companies aiming to maintain current growth5 should allocate 1-5% of their total revenue towards marketing efforts. On the other hand, steady growth requires roughly 8-10%, while aggressive growth demands approximately 10-14%.

Other industry benchmarks dictate that 5-15 % signifies modest growth, 11-20% signifies significant growth, 36-50% signifies aggressive growth, and any percentage over 50% of budget allocation is generally considered an extreme growth range.

The Impact of Organizational Age on Healthcare Marketing Budgets

Healthcare marketing strategies and budget allocations vary significantly based on a company’s age and size, reflecting distinct priorities at each stage of development. Here’s a breakdown of how companies at different maturity levels typically invest their marketing dollars:

Startups and New Companies (Under 5 Years Old)

Average Marketing Budget: $4.3 million14

Younger companies prioritize digital marketing tactics, including social media, email/direct mail, and search ads, to swiftly establish their market presence. They strongly emphasize operational efficiencies, utilizing tools like patient scheduling software to enhance marketing capabilities and gain momentum quickly. Additionally, demonstrating ROI and accurately measuring marketing impact is fundamental for these companies, as these metrics are crucial to justify the expenditures and continuously refine their marketing strategies.

Established Companies (5-20 Years Old)

Average Marketing Budget: $7.6 million14

Established companies are witnessing a significant evolution in their marketing strategies, with a noticeable shift towards digital channels where digital ad spending now exceeds traditional avenues like TV. These companies are enhancing integration between their marketing and technology teams to build a seamless customer experience across multiple channels. Additionally, they strongly emphasize analytics and attribution to measure marketing effectiveness, focusing on enhancing the overall patient experience. This comprehensive approach supports their goals of maintaining competitiveness and adapting to changing consumer behaviors.

Mature Companies (20+ Years Old)

Average Marketing Budget: $11.4 million (for companies over $500 million in revenue)14

Mature companies with substantial revenues—often exceeding $500 million—allocate an average marketing budget of $11.4 million, allowing them to make significant investments in critical areas such as physician outreach, market research, and sales aids. These companies extensively leverage data and advanced analytics to personalize marketing strategies and enhance consumer engagement. Their long-term strategic focus is on developing mature marketing capabilities, with the ultimate goal of building enduring consumer relationships. This strategic approach optimizes current operations and secures a sustainable competitive advantage in the healthcare market.

Legacy Companies (50+ Years Old)

Average Marketing Budget: $9.3 million (for large pharmaceutical companies)14

Legacy companies allocate significant funds towards digital transformation, focusing heavily on integrating sophisticated marketing technology stacks to stay ahead in a rapidly evolving marketplace. These organizations prioritize innovation and form strategic partnerships, often leading to the creation of cutting-edge digital therapeutic solutions. Furthermore, they employ advanced analytics and sophisticated attribution methods to continually refine and optimize their marketing efforts, ensuring they maintain a competitive edge and drive meaningful engagement with their consumer base.

Improve Your Healthcare Marketing Performance With Adfire Health

Determining your marketing spend and understanding the competitive landscape is crucial, whether you are a healthcare marketing agency, pharmaceutical company, medical device manufacturer, or medical practice. Utilizing Adfire Health’s free healthcare marketing budget calculator can significantly streamline this process. By aligning your marketing investments with broader business goals—whether increasing brand awareness, generating new patient leads, or boosting website traffic—Adfire Health can collaborate with you to develop a customized strategy that meets and exceeds your marketing needs.

At Adfire Health, we work with healthcare marketers to create optimized, highly effective, data-based digital engagement strategies. With Thumbprint™, our segmented data ecosystem of over 8.2 million healthcare professionals, we can offer direct access to healthcare professionals nationwide. We bring our years of hands-on experience to every new campaign and work with you to get the best results possible. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for your business.


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  2. New survey from BIA and SalesFuel reveals $12 billion projected in 2024 for local healthcare advertising. (2023, December 7). BIA Advisory Services.
  3. Mitton, K. (2023, December 1). 2024 trends for healthcare and pharmaceutical marketers. Basis Technologies.
  4. Andersen, D. (2024, February 6). 42 Statistics healthcare marketers need to know in 2024. Invoca.
  5. How much should healthcare organizations spend on marketing? (n.d.). Evolve.
  6. Breuer, R., Guenther, E., Motiwala, R., & Zerbi, C. (2021, September 24). The rise of digital marketing in medtech. McKinsey & Company.
  7. Kirksey, C. (2024, February 12). What percentage of revenue should be spent on marketing? Direction.
  8. Perry, N. (2023, August 31). 2023 Spending benchmarks for private B2B SaaS companies. SaaS Capital.
  9. How much should you spend on marketing? (2024, February 15). The AD Leaf Marketing & Advertising Firm, LLC. 
  10. Gandolf, S. (2022, July 12). Healthcare marketing and medical advertising for doctors, hospitals, healthcare networks & pharmaceuticals. Healthcare Success.
  11. Olivo, F. (n.d.). How much do home care agencies spend on marketing? Sagapixel.,The%20Most%20Common%20Monthly%20Advertising%20Budget%20We%20See%20is%20%24500,k%20to%20%24100k%20a%20month.
  12. Lake, R. (2024, March 4). How much financial advisors should spend on marketing. SmartAsset.
  13. Ogg, A. (2023, October 27). 8 Health tech marketing budget allocation best practices. ClarityQuest.
  14. Mahoney, S. (2023, March 7). The 2023 healthcare marketers trend report: A trim off the top. MM+M.

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