How Much Does Digital Marketing Cost?

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Taking inflation into account, the average cost of digital marketing per month is £1,065 . When it comes to the average cost of a specific project or campaign, digital marketing agency pricing comes in at around £2,002.

But of course, what you will pay depends specifically on the services you need and the market niche your business occupies.

Which marketing channel would you like to invest more in? Choose an answer to get started on your pricing quotes

Taking inflation into account, the average cost of digital marketing per month is £1,065 . When it comes to the average cost of a specific project or campaign, digital marketing agency pricing comes in at around £2,002.

But of course, what you will pay depends specifically on the services you need and the market niche your business occupies.

Digital marketing costs can be really hard to find online. Frustratingly, companies aren't always transparent. But we can help. Use our free digital marketing supplier request tool and you'll get a phone call from a pricing expert. All you have to do is provide some basic details about your advertising needs and you'll be one step closer to decoding the cost of digital marketing.

Meanwhile, we've done some number crunching to help you puzzle out your expected digital marketing costs. We've broken down pricing per hour, per month and per project in this guide, so you can view the figures that apply specifically to your business.

Further down, you'll find some cost-effective digital marketing services for small business leaders not looking to break the bank.

But first, we've got some digital marketing costs for you, broken down by service per day, per month and per project. Skip to the FAQ section at the end for definitions of the below marketing terms.

Average digital marketing cost: what should you pay?

Digital marketing agency costs can vary according to the type of services your business needs. What you need depends on where your audience spends their time. Do your customers expect to find you on Instagram or Twitter? How about Google search?

Here's the average digital marketing agency pricing per service:

ServiceCost per dayMonthly retainerCost per project
Marketing strategy£839£905£2,958
Pay-Per-Click (PPC)£889£1,276£1,247
Content marketing£889£1,003£398
SEO£484£1,105£1,908
Paid social media£528£720£326
Organic social media£798£1,373£491
Website build£6,686
Figures from Statista ‘Cost of digital marketing agency services in the UK March 2021' published July 2022. Figures adjusted for inflation at the rate of 12.7% (CPIH) in 2022, then once more for inflation of 8.8% (CPIH).

Therefore the average cost of digital marketing per month is £1,065. The monthly fee generally gets you one to three days of agency time on a long-term ongoing basis. As individual projects (or campaigns) tend to span over more than one month, the average cost is higher: £2,002.

Cheaper services are available if you're looking to take baby steps into the advertising digisphere. After all, a copywritten blog post can cost just £150 and a paid social media project £326, on average. However, these won't grow your business in the long-term, so it's wiser to plan investment on a larger scale.

Of course it's far better value for money to invest in a monthly retainer with a reputable company. Honestly, you're unlikely to achieve much with a day or two of website SEO every six months, for example. The same goes for a one-off purchase of any other digital marketing service.

What's SEO?

SEO stands for ‘search engine optimisation' 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 gardening tools in Leeds, you can hire an SEO professional to make adjustments to your website so that users typing ‘buy garden tools in Leeds' will see your shop's website on the first search engine results page (SERP).

Did you know we can match you with an SEO specialist? Save money and time.

How much do companies spend on digital marketing in the UK?

Latest research indicates marketing budgets represent 6.4% of company revenue. This slipped from 11% in 2020, which is much closer to the usual pre-pandemic rate.

Anyway, let's say your annual revenue is £500,000, then at 6.4%, your marketing budget for the year should be £32,000. This works out to be £2,667 per month. That's a pretty modest budget and we'd recommend investing closer to 10% of your annual revenue. After all, research supports hiring marketing technology generalists as a smart strategy for business growth.

Digital marketing agency SQ Digital notes that most of their SME clients benefit from investing between £750 and £4,000 per month. We agree that this is a typical range within the industry. In fact, full content marketing services start at £750 per month with Coast360, a travel and tourism digital marketing agency.

What to look for when researching digital marketing costs

Of course you want to get your money's worth, so digital marketing agency pricing needs to be clearly linked to the services provided. Clear communication is a must; you need to ensure you're in agreement with the deliverables expected of the agency you're hiring. This can come in the form of setting goals based on return on investment (ROI), return on advertising spend (ROAS), or on the specifics of campaign delivery, such as the number of emails sent or tweets posted.

Reputation of the agency is also a key factor, and looking into customer reviews on a range of platforms will give you a good overview. After all, you need to get a sense of whether your investment will be worth it. This can be a tough one as newer companies are so small that they may not have customer ratings available to see online. In these cases, don't hesitate to ask for the contact details of recent clients.

Some agencies offer generic pricing packages with a set number of services delivered. It's not easy to tell if these will be right for your particular business. If you're a medium-sized company looking to scale and grow, it's advisable to steer clear of tiered pricing like this. The reason for this is because it's not a tailored enough service for you to spread your wings as a business and adapt to changing needs as they arise.

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Factors that affect digital marketing cost

Although there are averages you scope for general guidance, these figures won't narrow down your specific costs. Reason being, there's a fair few variables that will affect your final price quote from a digital marketing agency. Some of these factors include the following:

  • The niche or market you are in: medical and legal services are more likely to be quoted a higher fee than a non-profit safehouse group, for instance.
  • Your location: Londoners, or those in UK capital cities, may face a premium due to a perception of greater turnover compared with rural businesses.
  • Where you currently stand in search engine ranking: if you're a new business with hardly any online presence, it's going to take between six months and two years of focused SEO optimisation to build up domain authority and rank well on SERPs.
  • How competitive the agency is: well-established digital marketing agencies don't need to try too hard to win business, so they may quote high fees without any expectation you'll haggle. Fledgling agencies, however, may quote surprisingly low rates in order to win your custom.
  • Your timeline for getting results: if you're ambitious and want to rollout a product launch with a bang, you can expect to pay more for a bigger slice of your agency's time.

Agencies will either take a role of training and educating your staff, or taking everything into their own hands. So your ongoing costs depend on how much work your in-house team is willing and able to do. This will hinge on whether or not you pick up some digital marketing skills during your agency collaboration.

Overall, it's best to leave your online advertising to dedicated professionals who have their ears to the ground on the latest digital marketing trends and demands. To stand a chance of competing in your niche, you should save time and in-house resources by outsourcing your digital marketing.

Digital marketing agency costs for small businesses

It's understandable that small businesses have concerns over their outgoings in today's uncertain economy. With inflation on the rise, most merchants are questioning whether their products and services are still top-of-mind for the everyday consumer.

For that reason, it can be much less scary to dip a toe in the water with digital marketing before investing in full-blown advertising campaigns. Lower cost digital marketing services are available for small business leaders just looking to make a start.

We've researched some affordable yet reliable digital marketing options for small business leaders looking to save on costs:

Swipe right to see more
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Blog writing

Smart Performance

Basic content marketing

Coast360

Yell Business

Title Media

Price

£150+ per post

Price

£300+ per month

Price

£350 per month (plus VAT)
min. 3 months

Key Features
  • Blog post written for your website to generate interest in your services
Key Features
  • Google search optimisation
  • Social channels: Facebook and Instagram
  • Paid ads: targeted by demographic
  • Conversion tracking
  • Online dashboard reporting
Key Features
  • Consultation and audit of your content
  • Competitor research
  • Content calendar creation
  • 2x blog posts (700w) optimised for Google
  •  

Digital marketing cost summary

Digital marketing agency costs range from £720 to £1,373 per month on average. Remember, though, this is just an average, and you shouldn't look at these numbers as a blueprint to your own spend.

If you want to see a respectable difference in your brand awareness and sales conversions, this all depends on hiring the right digital marketing agency for your specific business. That means you're going to need a specific price quote.

Your smartest move is to request bespoke digital marketing quotes that target your specific business goals. After a couple of clicks you'll be well on your way to hearing from a select few of our trusted digital marketing agency partners. Let the success begin.

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FAQ and Jargonbuster

What is marketing strategy and how much does it cost?
A marketing strategy is your roadmap to attracting in more customers who want to buy your services or products. A marketing specialist will get to know your business and its customers, and then take a look over your existing advertising. They'll advise on which channels you should develop your company presence, for example, social media platforms, online directories, paid banner ads, and more. The strategist will design a plan for increasing awareness of your business with a view to increasing sales conversion.

You can expect to pay an agency digital marketing strategist £839 per day, on average. As of February 2023, a senior marketing strategist from Title Media costs £850 (plus VAT) per day.

What is Pay-Per-Click and how much does it cost?
Pay-Per-Click, known as PPC for short, is where a company lists an advert somewhere online and pays every time a web user clicks on their advert. It's a very effective form of marketing because the company only pays when someone is already interested in engaging with their brand.

An example will be an organic soap company that pays Google to display adverts on results pages when a web user searches for “buy olive oil soap”. The company might pay £2, for example, for each click on the advert. The link leads to their website, so the customer can find products to buy that match their search query.

There are two costs involved in PPC: paying the agency – at an average of £1,276 per month – and paying the advertising platform (eg: Google, Facebook, eBay). Depending on how competitive your search terms are (think “new trainers” versus “silver polish”), you will have to outbid your competitors in order to get the advertising space.

What is content marketing and how much does it cost?
Content marketing is a standard digital marketing service and broadly refers to the creation and promotion of articles, videos or other media to stir up interest in your business. For example, a cupcake bakery owner wants more custom orders placed as they bill higher than basic cupcakes. The owner hires a digital marketing agency to shoot videos of their custom cupcakes, create Instagram posts and write blog articles on “gift ideas for cupcake lovers” and emails them to a range of cookery magazines. After the campaign, the bakery enjoys a 45% uplift in personalised cupcake sales.

On average, content marketing pricing costs just £398 per project. The reason this cost is much lower than most other types of digital marketing is because content projects can be very small, relating to just one piece of content, for instance. A blog article written by Title Media costs £300 plus VAT, for example.

What is SEO and how much does it cost?
Search engine optimisation, known as SEO, is a method of updating websites so that search engines list them higher up on the results pages. It mostly relates to improving website content so it focuses on ‘keywords' that web users are typing into search bars on Google, Bing, and others.

For instance, a shed manufacturer might upgrade the written content on their website to include phrases their customers use when searching for products to buy. This could involve adding in headings and product descriptions based on keyword research in their target market, which may reveal interest (search volume) in “pine finish sheds” and “slate roof sheds”.

SEO digital marketing agencies vary widely in cost and, unfortunately, this makes it difficult to avoid the smoke and mirrors in this industry. The average SEO monthly retainer fee in the UK is £1,105. SEO is a worthwhile service to invest in – just make sure that you are clear on what the agency will, and will not, achieve for you.

What is paid social media and how much does it cost?
Paid social is a very wide term and refers to paying for a post, video or product placement to appear on a social media channel. When you're about to watch a YouTube video of a cow playing football and suddenly a bitcoin coach starts talking about an investment opportunity – that's a form of paid social digital marketing.

The advantage of paid social is targeting your advertisement content to a very specific audience. If you're trying to sell fitness equipment, you'll pay for your brand's Instagram posts to appear on the screens of Instagram users following fitness channels in your target location, age group, gender and income bracket.

Just like PPC, there's two costs involved in paid social: paying for the content creation and paying for the content placement. The average monthly retainer fee for paid social is £720. You should set a spending cap on how much you're willing to pay each social media channel which you should adjust according to how successful your content is at generating conversions. A digital marketing agency specialist will do this for you in exchange for a monthly retainer.

How much should a digital marketing budget be?
A digital marketing budget should be around 10% of the total annual revenue of a business. UK businesses pay an average monthly retainer fee of £1,065 to their digital marketing agency (figure adjusted for inflation).
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.