One of the biggest challenges with starting digital marketing is figuring out an appropriate budget.
What’s too little? What’s too much?
Most digital marketing agencies don’t display pricing on their websites, and there’s good reason for that. In some cases, it makes sense to customize pricing to the solution. In other cases, agencies don’t want you to run away from sticker shock before they have the opportunity to break down the value and help you understand ROI.
We recently created a pricing page on our own website in an effort to maintain the option to customize solutions but also set expectations upfront.
How Much Money Do You Need to Start Digital Marketing?
You can start digital marketing with virtually any budget. You may want to start with a free consultation, then pay hourly for ongoing consulting or help with research. This is a good route for someone who wants to minimize costs and do most of the work themselves. You can pay a specialist just for their guidance! Expect to pay anywhere from $75 to $150 per hour on a true specialist consultation. We strive to remain affordable and accessible; our rate is $100/hr.
How Much Does a Website Cost?
You typically need a website first before you can go too far into a full digital marketing and advertising plan. You can build a simple template website yourself on Squarespace, Wix, WordPress, and Shopify. If you want to outsource a template website build, that cost can run anywhere from $300 with a less experienced freelancer or off-shore solution to $7,500 for a larger template website built by an agency. You will also need to expect to pay monthly hosting fees. This will cost a minimum of $10/mo but can go up to $50/mo depending on the platform.
How Much Do Digital Marketing Services Cost?
Digital marketing is most affordable through freelancers on websites like Upwork and Fiver. However, freelancers tend to specialize in one or two aspects of digital marketing. To get a comprehensive digital marketing solution, you’ll need a team of experts. This can be done through in-house hiring or outsourcing to a digital marketing agency.
Digital marketing as an industry is constantly changing, making hiring and training difficult. The greatest asset a digital marketing company can provide is true specialization and constant advancements in service offerings as the industry continues to innovate.
To start with an effective digital marketing plan, we recommend starting with a minimum budget of $1,500 per month. That will cover both ad spend and fees.
Investing in PPC and Paid Media
Think of your digital advertising dollars as starting from the bottom of the marketing funnel and going up. You’ll want to get a return on investment that you can then re-invest in marketing. This can mean starting with one qualified lead campaign on one advertising platform, which can start at around $500 and go up infinitely depending on amount of ad spend plus contractor/agency fees. As you find campaign types that work, you can expand into campaigns that attract audiences further up the marketing funnel.
How To Monitor ROI
No matter how much you initially invest in the process, you’ll want to have a way of measuring the value of the investment. On ad platforms, you’ll see a return on ad spend (ROAS) metric, which is great, but it will only show you a return on the ad spend itself- not the agency fees. Make sure you work with a specialist who understands how to calculate ROAS as well as true ROI. They should ask questions about your bottom line margins. Advanced digital marketing agencies should show you results of your total investment real-time in a dashboard, and they should be able to customize your dashboard view to see exactly what you need to know. This helps keep your vendor accountable to you and will allow you know if or when you might need to cut ties. Be patient; it can take a few tries to find the right vendor.
If you need any further guidance on budgeting for digital marketing, please reach out to our resident numbers wiz and strategist, Kate Izell, who also happens to be our Founder and CEO. She will be honest with you about what you need!