How Much Does Digital Marketing Cost?

digital marketing cost

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As a general rule, businesses should allocate between 10% and 20% of their revenue to marketing. Though the pandemic saw an uptick in digital marketing budgets, this investment growth is predicted to slow down.

What that means is it’s critical to choose the right marketing partner, because return on your investment is critical. That said, you still need to know ballpark figures so you can get your budgets straight. Need pricing specific to your business? Our 🎁free quote request tool will match you with digital marketing experts who’ll give you quotes directly.

In this guide, we’ve set out the simplified costs of: search engine visibility, social media, and PPC (pay-per-click) display advertising. With our research, you can estimate your costs according to the types of marketing channels. 

Which marketing service do you want pricing for?

How Much Does Digital Marketing Cost?

Your monthly costs will depend on the number of channels you use. While you may be wondering how many small businesses have a website (the answer is a lot), only you can decide if your business truly needs one or not. Needless to say, you’ve got to invest in marketing channels where your customers are searching for your business.

Here are the costs per channel:

Marketing ServiceMonthly Cost
Copywriting$150 – $2,500
Web Design$125 – $3,375
SEO Agency$2,000 – $6,000
Content Marketing$3,900 – $12,000
Social Media Campaign$4,000 – $7,000
PPC Campaign$6,250 – $10,000 

As  mentioned, most small businesses spend around 10% – 20% of their revenue on marketing. So, if the above prices seem feasible, then why not get some more expert hands on deck? Hiring experts in SEO, social media, and PPC not only improves your chances of gaining new clients and customers, but “remarketing” helps you make more money from your existing clientele.

As you can see from the above, it’s really tough to pin down your exact pricing from industry averages. To get specific costs, simply register your interest in digital marketing services, and we’ll match you with some of the nation’s leading digital marketing experts. It doesn’t cost a dime, and there’s no obligation to hire anyone we put you in touch with.

Digital Marketing Pricing Models

We’ve put together this summary table to help you figure out which kind of billing cycle might work best for your digital marketing needs:

Business typeSuitable pricing modelsPros ✅ Cons ❌
1-5 employeesPer hour, per servicePay as you can afford; avoid debtYou must commit a lot of time to oversight
6-25 employeesPer hour, per service, per monthChoose a model that suits your budget structureHard to choose between them; Can’t predict costs long-term
26-100 employeesPer service, per monthPredictable, transparent costsMight get a generic set of services
101-500 employeesPer monthBuild a long-term relationship with marketers; aim for long-term growthMay be hard to adjust services mid-year; limits breadth of services
501-1000 employeesVariable billingAdjust your spend to your particular business goalsNeed to build trust with a marketing company over time; takes a while to choose the right company

It’s common now for agencies to offer their services and charge on a monthly basis, and many even decline to sign a long-term contract with you. This offers the benefit of flexibility that’s critical for fast-paced startups or other small businesses with a varied and unpredictable cash flow.

However, it means you’ll have to make time every month to reassess your business marketing strategy. So the downside is you’re not necessarily moving towards long-term success if you keep stopping and switching marketing plans throughout the year.

If you’re a microbusiness, working alone or in a small team where you’re not yet earning enough to quit your main job, pricing per hour may be better for you. We’d stress that working with just one freelancer isn’t a forever-approach. But it could be enough to get you through the first year or two of unsteady income as you grow your new business.

Find relevant business costs per hour, per service or per month

SEO Services Cost: $980-$2,500+ Per Month

What's SEO?

SEO stands for ‘search engine optimization’ and refers to the process of convincing search engines, such as Google, that your website should appear near the top of results pages.

For instance, if you sell baseball bats in West Virginia, you can hire an SEO professional to make adjustments to your website so that users typing ‘buy baseball bats in West Virginia’ will see your store’s website on the first search engine results page (SERP).

SEO is one of the most affordable types of digital marketing you can use to grow your small business. How much it costs will depend on what you want your business to achieve, so we’ll give you some ballpark figures. 

Thanks to our in-house research, we can shed some light on the cost of SEO services: 

SEO ServiceCost
Freelance technical SEO$100+/hour 
Full service SEO (small business) agency$980-$2,500+/month
Local SEO$1,557/month
SEO audit plus report$650

Hiring an SEO expert – that is, outsourcing to a freelancer – will cost anywhere between $100 and $230 per hour. It’s possible to pay less – even as low as $25 per hour – if you’re willing to hire freelancers in India.

Some of the best SEO companies for small businesses will charge a monthly retainer costing between $980 and $2,500+ per month. That’s a really wide price bracket, and the price you pay depends on the size of your website, and the scale of your growth ambitions.

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An SEO audit of a website often comes as part of an initial consultation with an agency, and may even be included for free (to varying degrees of quality or usefulness). However, digital agencies are now offering SEO technical audit reports for $350 apiece. If you want the professional recommendations gleaned from the technical audit (which you do), the price almost doubles to $650.

That said, we don’t recommend investing in piecemeal SEO services in this way. It will likely leave your web ranking results inconsistent at best. SEO needs steady, long-term investment and strategic development. In fact you shouldn’t expect to see results from SEO work until 6-12 months at the very least.

▶ Now read: How Much Does SEO Cost?

Social Media Advertising Cost: $4,000-$7,000 Per Month

Social media is free to use, right? Well, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case for businesses. Though there’s a lot you can do to build your channels organically, your best chances of reaching a specific audience is by running paid campaigns.

To give you a rough idea, running a social media campaign usually costs between $4,000 and $7,000 per month. That sounds like a lot, but the majority of it will go straight to the platform itself rather than marketing assistants. The reason costs are so much higher than SEO is because of the dual payment: a portion to your marketing agency and a (bigger) portion to Instagram (or Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and so on.)

screenshot of three pricing plans from Lyfe Marketing for social media advertising
Lyfe Marketing offers three different levels of social media advertising pricing.

The fact is the platforms only show a fraction of your organic content to your followers. They stack the algorithms so that brands are pretty much forced to pay for advertising in order to reach audiences.

While it may seem savvy to save a few dollars by choosing your own paid social strategy, you’re likely to end up throwing money away. The landscape is changing at lightning speed, and these days social campaigns involve more than sharing images with witty hashtags. Strategic planning, audience segmentation and targeted content are essential to drawing in potential customers.

For this reason, we strongly recommend you hire in the professionals for your best chance at return on investment. Don’t know who to hire? We’ll put you in touch with our trusted digital marketing partners. They’ll talk you through some possible advertising strategies, and you can choose where to take it from there.

Social spending

Businesses from a range of sizes spent an average of 14-15% of their total marketing budgets on social media between the start of 2021 and mid-2022. This is down from a 23.3% high in June 2020 during COVID-19.

How Much Does it Cost to Advertise on Facebook?

With Social PPC, you pay Facebook each time a user clicks on your link, which usually costs between $0.50 and $2.00 per click. With CPM (Cost-Per-Mille, or Cost Per Thousand Views), you pay each time your advert is seen by 1,000 users. The average cost of a CPM campaign for a small business ends up at around $11.

Why pay more for your clicks? PPC is like an auction – you’ll need to bid more money to Facebook than your competitors in order to have your advert appear higher. 

What are Twitter’s Advertising Costs?

Advertising on the Twittersphere is fairly flexible, so you choose to focus on certain goals and pay each time a user interacts in a way that meets them. For example, you can promote Tweets to appear on people’s Twitter feed, even if they don’t follow your account. You’ll then pay for each time someone clicks, replies, or retweets that ‘sponsored’ Tweet – this costs on average $1.35 per click.

You can also promote your whole brand and pay for each new follower you gain – usually around $2 to $4 per follower – or you can promote a hashtag to encourage users to talk about your brand. This last option costs a flat rate of $200,000 per day, so it’s suited to larger businesses with an established online presence and healthy social marketing budget.

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PPC Advertising Cost: $9,000-$10,000 Per Month

As we’ve explained above, PPC (pay per click) involves bidding on search terms in order to secure the best positions and visibility for your links, websites, and adverts. Unlike social media advertising, generic PPC advertising primarily takes place on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), rather than social media timelines. So rather than pay Facebook, your business pays Google, Bing, Yahoo, and co.

According to one of the nation’s best PPC management agencies, WebFX, the average small and medium-sized businesses spend between $9,000 and $10,000 on PPC each month. This usually equates to around 5% to 25% of a company’s monthly advertising budget.

screenshot of three webfx ppc marketing price plans
PPC marketing plans from WebFX range from $600 to $975 to 12% of ad spend (plus fees) per month.

How Much do US Businesses Spend on Digital Marketing?

Small businesses in the US spent $534 on digital advertising per month in 2021, according to new data released by Statista in 2023. Marketing budgets are an average of 13.8% of overall company budgets, according to the latest CMO Survey.

Despite the looming clouds of economic gloom, marketers in small companies (under $10million in annual sales) are actually increasing their marketing spending. That highlights the importance of keeping up with the competition as consumers make more careful money choices.

Here are some other recent changes, according to the study:

  • 15% of marketers are adding new marketing channels as a result of inflation
  • 26% of marketers are doing more automated marketing due to inflation
  • 41% of marketers use social media channels to sell products or services

However, the increasing number of channels sits in a wider context of digital innovation among modern businesses; 65% of marketing professionals have increased the number of marketing channels they’re using over the past three years. Like it or not, customers now expect their preferred brands to be visible, accessible and present in more places than ever before.

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Next Steps

You now know the average digital marketing costs for a range of channels in the US. Is it worth the investment? Absolutely – a new digital marketing campaign can gain new customers, enhance brand visibility online, and improve sales conversions.

So, if you’d like to start creating some digital marketing magic, you’ve come to the right place. We can match you with some of the best digital marketing agencies – just outline your digital marketing needs and you’ll receive some tailored quotes. It only takes a minute – and it’s free.

Written by:
Sabrina Dougall
Sabrina is a business journalist whose career began in news reporting. She has a master's in Investigative Journalism from City University London, and her work has appeared in The Times, The Daily Express, Money Saving Expert, Camden New Journal, Global Trade Review, and Computer Business Review. She specializes in writing about SEO (search engine optimization). Having run her own small business, Sabrina knows first-hand how critical digital marketing is to building a client base and local reputation.
Reviewed by:
Robyn Summers-Emler, Grow Online Editor, Profile Picture
Robyn started working on Expert Market in 2021 as a specialist in business websites and digital marketing. As the Grow Online Editor, she ideates, commissions and optimizes content on Expert Market that helps businesses thrive in online spaces and maximize their ecommerce potential. Covering everything from choosing a website builder to scaling a social media marketing strategy - Robyn uses her expertise to help startups, SMBs, and larger businesses realize digital growth in an increasingly competitive landscape.