How much does digital marketing cost? The important matter of price is the first query that will spring to mind for most business owners, whether they are embarking on the path of looking to promote their new startup or wishing to use digital marketing as their promotion strategy for their established business for the first time. The answer? It can cost as much as you like. Don’t believe me? Allow me to explain…
In some cultures, it is socially acceptable to ‘haggle’ the price of a product, say an item of clothing sold at a market. In most Western countries, one wouldn’t dream of waltzing into a supermarket and engaging in a ping-pong like back and forth exchange with the cashier to negotiate the price of a tin of beans. In the past, we have experienced the sale of services, such as digital marketing services, being perceived as a commodity that can be ‘haggled’. That is simply not the case. The same amount of professionalism, time, effort, knowledge and experience goes into delivering a high-quality service as contributes to the production of a physical product. The price for digital marketing is whatever a digital marketing company sets it at. So how then can your digital marketing cost as much as you like?
- You are in control of your business; therefore, the onus is on you to do your research and decide which digital marketing agency is a good fit for your company.
- As the decision-maker, you also have the power to decide how much you would like to invest in your digital marketing strategy on behalf of your business.
So how much does digital marketing actually cost? First, let’s consider your business size and what you would like to get from digital marketing.
The Smaller Startup
Budget is understandably a constant concern at the forefront of most new business owner’s minds. This will no doubt be balanced with the excitement of their new business idea and the burning desire to get the word out there about their brilliant new idea, solution or innovative product. A new business owner will most likely be looking to shout about their new business from the rooftops but will be, understandably, looking for the cheapest way to go about this.
My advice on these occasions? Don’t run before you can walk. Rather than getting a quote from a digital marketing agency and scoffing in disbelief at the price invest in yourself and your own abilities. There are many affordable social media marketing and blogging workshops available for around £195+VAT. If you have the time to attend these types of workshops and then further time to practice what you have learned, I’d say go for it!
Often an active Facebook page is enough to help market most smaller start-ups. You’re present in your business, either making the product from scratch, for example baking the cakes you sell if you’re a new cake company, or delivering the service, such as mechanic services. You’re perfectly positioned to take photos and add a little caption about the latest order or job you’ve had and upload it to your Facebook page via your smartphone. Chances are you already use Facebook in a personal capacity, so will master using it for business purposes at a basic level in a jiffy!
As you are at the heart of your business, you’re also ideally positioned to write blog posts educating your customers and potential customers about your service or product. Most blogging workshops will cover optimising your posts for SEO (to rank highly on search engines) so you can successfully combine the knowledge you have of your business with the newfound knowledge you have picked up at training workshops.
Never underestimate the power of PR either. Local newspapers and community publications often love reporting on an exciting new startup opening. Most of these publications will have online websites and will link to your Facebook page or website if they are doing a feature on you and your new business. It might be worth getting in touch with your local publications and seeing your offline marketing efforts translate to more online exposure!
- The price is free as you’re carrying out the digital marketing yourself.
- We often find that people respond to that personal touch in marketing these days. If you, the business owner, are responding to queries from your customers, replying to messages and comments, your personality will shine through your marketing and people value that.
- Often testimonials and reviews from satisfied customers who have enjoyed a positive experience with your service or product, help convince and convert potential customers. By having a regularly updated Facebook page people will be encouraged to leave Facebook reviews (especially if you give them a polite nudge to leave you a review after they have successfully use your business’ services or product) and thus your business’ online reputation grows.
- In our experience customers prefer you to ‘show them rather than tell them’ nowadays. That means if you post good quality photos and videos of you delivering your service or of your products, your business will sell itself!
- Time! As a new business owner, you’re often time-strapped. Updating your Facebook page or writing a blog for your website might have to be done on your lunch break or in the evenings. Also, take into account the fact that you’ll probably be mastering new digital marketing skills which takes time to learn.
Your marketing efforts should eventually pay off, that’s when you find yourself too busy with your actual specialty i.e. running your business, that you don’t have time to manage your marketing. That’s when you start to run. You now have the budget to increase your marketing efforts…
The Bigger Startup
For the bigger startups with bigger targets and larger budgets I understand that cost will still be a concern, your business is still in its infancy after all! However, just like a smaller startup, you can only spend your money once so you might as well spend it wisely!
As well as managing your own Facebook page and maximising PR opportunities as outlined above, it might be beneficial to spend some money on ‘boosting’ a Facebook post or running a Facebook advert. A paid Facebook post/advert will help you reach people outside your Facebook page’s fanbase (people who don’t already ‘Like’ your page).
Why opt for running a paid Facebook ad rather than placing an advert in your local paper?
The ad in your local paper might be read by a hundred people but only one of them might be interested in what you are promoting. With Facebook advertising’s targeting options, you can home in on people who you know will be interested in your product by selecting certain demographics, such as age, location, occupation, education level, interests, and even marital status and income. Your advert won’t fall on deaf ears. Also, unlike a newspaper advert, you can use the Facebook Insights tool to track the progress of your advert and can find out how many people have seen your advert and clicked on it.
If you feel that your target audience hang out more on platforms like the professional social network LinkedIn or Twitter or Instagram, the advertising features they offer bring about the same benefits explained above.
Returning to Facebook, if you are able, it can be a good idea to run a competition on your Facebook profile, where entrants have to follow a link to your website and take some sort of action there, such as signing up to your newsletter or voting for their favourite product sold by your business. After all, the purpose of most marketing efforts is to drive people to your website. As it is against Facebook’s rules to force people to share your post or tag a friend in order to enter your competition, it’s a good idea to create a competition that is so enjoyable or original that people are tempted to share it of their own accord. If you ‘boost’ the post about your competition by putting some money on its advertising, you’ll increase the reach of your brand further. Remember to read up on Facebook’s rules on competitions first though!
Again, the cost of advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter is entirely up to you! We have run Facebook adverts in the past for clients for as little as £50 for the week and have seen some positive results. For a competition post, you might put £100 on ‘boosting’ your advert.
- You are in control of the money you spend on social media advertising. You can pause your adverts or stop your campaign at any time.
- Your social media advert can be more targeted, and its performance can be measured much more than a printed advert in a newspaper ever could so it a much more cost-effective option. We always say, ‘if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it!’
- If social media advertising is uncharted territory for you, the interface and analytics can be tricky to navigate at first. It might require you dedicating some time to learning how to use social media advertising effectively or require you parting with some money (probably around £200) for a short Facebook Advertising or Social Media Advertising course.
The Smaller Established Business
If you are an established business, you will no doubt have toiled for months to cultivate a respectable following on social media. You may have built up your subscribers list so fans of your company and regular customers have ‘opted in’ to receive a regular newsletter or emails containing exclusive discounts and updates from your business (in line with GDPR laws of course). The trouble is you may now be too busy to manage your business’ digital marketing or feel you want to take your online marketing to the next level.
Ask yourself what is worth more, your time or your money? Surely, at some stage, your time is better spent managing your business and leaving digital marketing to the professionals?
Most digital marketing agencies will offer a variety of digital marketing packages and essentially, the more you pay the more you get. More content creation, exposure on more digital marketing channels and ultimately more results. There will be packages available tailored to the needs and budgets of smaller businesses like yours.
The prices of these packages will be worked out based on how many hours it takes the digital marketing agency’s staff to deliver the service to a professional level. For example, if they are writing blog posts for you this will involve:
- The time needed to research the topic of the blog post, the marketer doesn’t work in your industry so they will have to get under the skin of the blog post’s subject and learn the lingo.
- The time required to ask you any questions to help form the blog post.
- The time to carry out keyword research to find out the most popular terms related to the blog post topic that people search for online.
- The time necessary to write the blog post and source images, either from you or stock images and/or videos.
- The time needed to optimise the blog post for the keyword (s) identified during keyword research and to help boost its chances of ranking highly in search results for the relevant keywords and search terms.
- The time required to promote the blog post by publishing a link to it on your social media platforms.
For a social media advert, a digital marketing agency will take into account the time it will take them to:
- Discuss with you what goals you want the advert to help you achieve and how much money you would like to spend on the advert and how long you want to run the advert for.
- Set up the advert, including determining targeting demographics.
- Design the advert, which includes creating the visuals/video or sourcing good quality images and crafting compelling wording.
- Monitor the advert, which entails checking on its performance each day and making necessary tweaks to boost performance.
- Interpret the analytics of the advert and formatting this information into a report for you so you know how successful your advert has been, for example, how many people clicked on it.
Most digital marketing packages targeted at small businesses will cost around £350-£500 a month. Although they will have set prices for set services, most digital marketing companies are flexible will allow you to ‘cherry-pick’ the digital marketing services that you prefer or will recommend the ones that will work best for your business, based on their professional opinion.
- You’re freed up to concentrate on what you do best: running your business.
- Digital marketing agencies do digital marketing for a living, they have the experience and knowledge to make sure your online marketing portrays your business in the best light and aligns with your goals. They have the time to research what works and what doesn’t.
- Digital marketing companies can generate you more leads by driving people to your website through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), email marketing and social media and creating engaging content through videos and blog posts to keep them on your website for longer. You’ve invested money on a great website, so you want people to find it and stay on it! Once your website visitors see that you know what you’re talking about (through your informative blog posts, videos, and content) they’re more likely to trust you and therefore more likely to buy from you.
- You’re allowing someone else to represent your business. That requires a lot of trust. You need to be sure the ‘personality’ of the digital marketing agency you choose to work with, their values and culture, complement yours.
- Successful digital marketing by an agency requires a two-way relationship. Any good digital marketing company will regularly contact their clients to see if your marketing goals are still the same. You will be expected to be forthcoming with information and give them some ideas for blog posts, such as company news and photos. Although this might take up some of your time, it will be worth it in the long run!
The Large Established Business
As a larger business you have probably invested in a user-friendly and mobile-friendly website but understand that that investment would have been a waste of money if you are not:
a) taking measures to drive people to your website.
b) making an effort to keep people on your website once they are there.
You are also likely to be striving for thought leadership in your marketing rather than needing your marketing to generate you leads or raising your brand’s profile. Chances are you’re well-known in your field so are well-positioned to champion important industry causes, lead the discussions on controversial or topical issues or disrupt the status quo for the greater good. All this can be achieved through a cohesive digital marketing strategy delivered by an experienced digital marketing company. Blog posts, webinars, press releases, e-books, whitepapers, social media advertising and campaigns, email marketing, videos, and podcasts, you name it they can deliver it and ensure it aligns with your goals as part of an overall digital marketing strategy for your business.
A high level and consistent digital marketing strategy such as that described above is likely to cost between £800 – £2000 a month depending on how many services you opt for.
- Your business becomes the company other brands aspire to be. If you are regularly delivering consistent, high quality educational and thought-provoking thought leadership content you’ll get noticed for the right reasons and will become THE trusted, go-to brand in your field.
- If you employ one digital marketing agency to carry out ALL your online marketing efforts, they become an extension of your own team and will intuitively know what content will work best for your company. Over time you’ll build a positive and trusted relationship with one another.
- Ongoing reporting and analytics can also help pinpoint what works and what doesn’t, and your digital marketing company will be able to act accordingly to make sure your marketing efforts stay on track.
- When your digital marketing strategy is consistent and ‘joined-up’ it is more coordinated, your messages don’t get diluted and your goals are more likely to be fulfilled because each piece of digital marketing is geared towards helping to achieve your goals.
- I honestly can’t think of a disadvantage of investing in your company’s digital marketing, especially if you are a larger established business with the budget available. I guess the only disadvantage would be in the rare event that you had a ‘falling out’ with your digital marketing company. You may be tied into a contract with them that you can’t get out of for a few months or the digital marketing agency may have all your passwords. For this reason, at Pivotal, we remain open and flexible and don’t tie clients into contracts.