How Much Does Digital Marketing Cost? A Guide For Small Startups to Giants of Industry

So… You have a product or service that is ready to be brought into the world (or at least brought into the new digital world,) but now it’s time to get serious. How much will digital marketing cost you?  

Truth is, this is a pretty tough number to nail down, a lot of it comes down to your needs, competitiveness and the scale you wish to operate at.  A “marketing agency” can charge as little as $100/month to $10,000/month, heck even higher.

That said, here is a fairly generally overview of how much it all might cost:

Website Design$3,000 – $100,000
SEO / Search Engine Optimization $500 – $30,000/month
PPC  / Paid Advertising 5-20% of monthly ad spend   
Content Marketing$1000 – $10,000/month
Email marketing$500 – $5,000/month
Social Media marketing   $500 – $10,000/month

Alright, enough of the charts, let’s get into the nitty gritty and figure out how much this will all cost.

Establish A Marketing Budget (That Moves the Needle) 

Step 1: Be Realistic. 

While we love to help as many companies as we can, there is sometimes a pretty big difference between what you are “wanting” to pay and what is required to make a difference in your business. 

For example, if you have a lot of competitors in your industry or local area, you can expect to invest more into digital marketing then into a market where there is virtually no competition.  

Where should you start with your marketing budget? This is not a question we can easily answer for you, however it is something you should think deeply about. 

Step 2: How many sales do you need?

When you finally sit down with a marketing expert, this is where the rubber meets the road. Your budget and expectations will be made more clear. 

Simply “showing up #1 in Google” isn’t a clear marketing goal, therefore it will make it very difficult to determine how much you’ll need to invest in digital marketing.

For example, if you are on a limited budget, but determine you need a smaller number of sales to meet a certain ROI, then the agency can work with you to figure out a budget that meets your needs. 

A good way to look at it is that a construction company would need very few sales per month in order to make a ROI on their digital marketing efforts. Whereas an eCommerce store selling low cost widgets would have to make significantly more sales per month. 

If you combine the number of sales you need with the competitiveness with the overall market, it makes determining a proper marketing budget much easier.

Step 3: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. 

Look, we hate to admit it, but there are a lot of shady players in the online space. We can’t count how many times someone came to us after being “had” over by a cheaply priced competitor. 

Any reputable marketing agency is going to be able to lay out a plan that seems realistic. For example, if they settle they can achieve goals in a short period of time or you have been paying $100/month for SEO Services” for the past 6 months and have yet to see results, it might be time to consider other options. 

Another item you should take into consideration is that all marketing agencies have a cost. For instance, in SEO, additional web content for your website won’t write itself. Certainly not high quality content. 

The amount of effort going into a project should reflect the end cost. Again, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is.

Determine The Type of Service That You Need

Generally speaking, digital marketing can be broken down into the following categories:

  • SEO / Search Engine Optimization
  • PPC – Pay Per Click
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Website Design 

Assuming you already have a website, each one of these have advantages and disadvantages.  Let’s do a basic breakdown of each one of these services:

SEO / Search Engine Optimization 

SEO is when someone goes to Google or Bing and searches for your product or service. With our SEO Services we make sure to use the most up to date tactics that yield the most results. 

The cost of SEO will range widely based on your needs. For example, if you simply want On-Page Updates, an audit, backlinks,  and/or ongoing monthly services. This will greatly affect the cost. 

The big plus with SEO is that they can bring results for years to come. Whereas with say social Media, once you stop posting, that’s it, no one will find your brand. 

For example, if we worked on your website for 1 year, even if you stop our services, it is likely that you will continue to get traffic. You should keep in mind, once you stop updating your site and addressing SEO updates, your website visitors will slowly decrease. 

How Come Some SEO Services are Just So Cheap?

Well, it’s probably because they do not know what they are doing.  For example, would you work hours and hours below market rate? 

More likely, it’s because they are cutting corners in some way. A very common way to do this is to build low quality backlinks. While it’s possible to see results with these types of backlinks, more likely your site will see no effect, or even worse, be penalized by Google. 

For example, a high quality backlink will run at least $100 to $400. This often will require writing high quality content to publish on a partners site. Good writers, don’t come cheap.

If someone charges only $20 per link, it means the website accepting their articles is of very low quality.   Why would someone publish an article on their site that no one is willing to read? It’s a fishy situation you are better off not getting involved with in the first place. 

PPC – Pay Per Click

PPC is a super common form of Digital Marketing, it is also how you will see the fastest results.

For example, we can design an ad Campaign for your company, then 1 to 2 weeks later customers will start to visit your website. 

Just keep in mind, each time someone clicks on an advertisement, a payment is made to Google or whatever ad service we agree upon.  While many of our clients have seen amazing results, for some customers it’s not cost effective.

Very often, this is done in combination with SEO.

The cost of PPC  largely depends on your ad spend. For example, if your ad spend is $1,000 a month, clearly that is quite different from a brand that has ad spend of $10,000 per month. 

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a great way to teach your website visitors about what your company can do for them. It’s also very commonly done in combination with SEO.

However, the cost largely depends on your needs. For example, if you need one educational article written per month, that is very different from another company who needs 100 written per month. 

Many companies also offer a range of different writers. For instance, someone just starting out writing is a very different cost structure from a niche industry veteran. 

Email Marketing

This one largely depends on if you do or do not currently have an email list. Meaning if you do not already have a list of customers that you regularly send emails too, you’ll have to build the list. 

This list can be built in a number of different ways. For example, customers can find your website from SEO, paid ads, social media etc. 

More often than not, this is done in combination with other marketing channels, therefore it greatly affects the price

Social Media Marketing

Similar to SEO, this type of marketing may take months to get off the ground. It also depends on your type of business, for example, an emergency plumbing company will likely not benefit from this type of service. 

Often customers will have to follow your account for months before they make a buying decision. In our emergency plumbing example, you may be better off with SEO or PPC. However, if you run a bakery, where customers can fall in love with your product, that’s a different story. 

Often campaign costs are effective by the number of Social Media channels you target. In addition, if you use video, that will determine a different price range. 

Web Design

The cost of a website is very difficult to determine without first learning your marketing goals. For example, if you want organic traffic from SEO, it’s completely different from a simple landing or “placeholder” style website. 

Meaning, hours of coding, design work, will most likely go into a high performing website. Whereas something more simple would likely require an overhaul at some point. 

Cross Culture and Language Marketing

A common, but not often spoken about is marketing in different languages. In many cases this is very profitable, because you are one of the few companies marketing in another language. In most cases, companies are so focused in English, they forget about other cultures. 

In our agency’s case, we offer marketing services in Spanish. Again the cost is hard to determine, but since most of the companies are focused on English, other languages offer lower cost customers. 

For example, the PPC ad cost in English, is likely much higher than in Spanish.

However, you should look at your local area and possible online customers. For instance our friends from are having a lot of success marketing to Chinese speaking populations. 

Since the market is so low competition, they are the only ones creating content in Chinese, therefore they are scooping up customers no one else even thought to look at.   For instance, their SEO article series is pretty popular, particularly their article on how to make a sitemap

They are a very good example of doing something fairly common in English, and quite unique in a different language.

Other Costs with Non-English languages

That said, there are other costs associated with this marketing strategy. 

For example, the cost of translating your existing website into Spanish (or language) would at the very least double the content cost.   Then, you would have to have a language expert, modify the marketing messaging. 

How Long Can You Wait for New Customers? 

If you are interested in cost effective customers, then SEO might be the way to go. It takes a long time to get going (3-6 months) however it generally has a higher ROI then other channels. 

Whereas PPC is much faster, from the movement the ads go live, you’ll start getting phone calls within a week or two. However, as a general rule, it’s much more expensive. 

Should You Invest In More Then One Marketing Channel?

Lots of clients will likely invest in two or more marketing channels. For example, if you are seeing good results from PPC, the next course of action might be to start a SEO campaign. 

When is a good time to start a second marketing campaign? 

This really depends on you and your budget. If you are working with a larger budget it might be worthwhile to start with more than one. 

However, if you are in a difficult market and don’t have a lot of resources, it might be better to start with one marketing channel. This way you can really “win” in one area, before you move onto another.

Which Marketing Channel and budget is right for you?

This is often very difficult to figure on your own, which is why we suggest you contact us today we are a startup marketing agency. In many cases it’s very hard to determine how much you should spend on marketing without fully understanding your business. 

When you get in touch with us, it will be very helpful if you can let us know how many customers you need per month. More often than not, that will help agencies determine what is truly right for your situation. 

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Lorenzo Gutierrez
Digital Marketing Strategist at Lorenzo Gutierrez Digital Marketing
A little bit about myself: Lorenzo Gutierrez, founder of Lorenzo Gutierrez Digital Marketing, has a decade of experience growing business revenues with cutting edge digital marketing. With an MBA from Western Governors University and a passion for the craft, he offers a results-driven approach to digital marketing, ensuring your online success.

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