Skip to main content

«  View All Posts

8 Common Questions About Digital Marketing Costs, Answered

February 8th, 2024 | 3 min. read

By Kim Kovelle

A Black woman in a sweater at her laptop, researching the digital marketing costs

Digital marketing refers to a wide range of services. The costs for those services can vary just as widely. So you’re not alone in wanting direct answers to what seems like a simple question: “How can I figure out what digital marketing costs?”

While it’ll always depend on your goals and needs, luckily, there are guidelines. Here are Zoe Marketing & Communications, we’ve helped small- to mid-sized businesses navigate digital marketing costs for 15+ years, especially in the metro Detroit and Chicago markets.

In this Q&A, we’ll tackle eight common questions, including:

  1. How much should I spend on digital marketing?
  2. What does SEM (search engine marketing) cost?
  3. What are the average costs for SEO services?
  4. What are the costs associated with content marketing?
  5. How much does email marketing cost?
  6. How much do businesses invest in social media advertising?
  7. What factors influence the overall cost of digital marketing?
  8. What’s my return on investment (ROI) for digital marketing?

Skim the list, or click on the topic above that’s got you wondering the most. Either way, you’ll gain quick, digestible insight into digital marketing costs — and how to plan your next steps.

Cost1. How much should I spend on digital marketing?

Small businesses (under 50 employees) typically spend 7%-8% of their revenue on marketing, while mid-sized companies (50-250 employees) may spend 10%-12%, says the Small Business Association.

The amount trends a bit higher if you serve consumers; a little lower if you serve businesses. Your exact amount for digital vs. traditional (think print, radio, TV) will depend on your goals.

Another solid approach is the “70/20/10 Rule”: Essentially spending 70% of your budget on proven tactics, 20% on newer tactics, and 10% on tactics that are more experimental.

SEM2. What does SEM (search engine marketing) cost?

Search engine marketing — aka SEM — aka pay-per-click or PPC — aka Google Ads. They’re all referring to keywords you bid for on search engine platforms to appear higher in results.

You pay per each click your result gets. Those vary significantly by industry and competition. For instance, insurance, mortgage and attorney keywords can exceed $50 per click; it’s more like $3 for health, hospitality and education. 

On top of that, agencies charge management fees to refine and optimize your campaigns. These range from 15%-50% (at Zoe, it’s 35%).

SEO3. What are the average costs for SEO services?

Search engine optimization, or SEO, helps people find your website quicker and stay on it longer. It involves optimizing many factors, like keywords, site speed and backlinks.

Monthly rates range from a few hundred dollars for small, local campaigns to several thousand for more comprehensive strategies. A survey of 400+ pros found $500-$1,500 is common.

Competition and how fast you want results can influence these costs.

Content4. What are the costs associated with content marketing?

Content, which aims to position your business as a trusted source of information, requires continuous investment in quality content to be effective.

Content marketing can include blogs for your website or sponsored content with media partners. These rates often run from $1,000 to upwards of $10,000 per month.

It can vary depending on the size of your business, competition and production frequency.

Email5. How much does email marketing cost?

Email marketing boosts brand awareness and loyalty, increasing conversions and sales.

For your subscriber list, the costs of services like Mailchimp or Constant Contact depend on the number of emails you have. Plus, there’s the work of creating and deploying campaigns. On average, costs check in around $2,500 per month. 

Targeted email marketing delivers your messaging to a specific market beyond your subscribers and typically requires working with an agency. Expect monthly rates of at least $1,500.

SocialMedia6. How much do businesses invest in social media advertising?

With at least seven major social media ad platforms to pick from, rates vary. For the duo with the most reach — Facebook and Instagram — a common range is $200 to $2,500 per month.

Prices can run thousands higher if you want a wider impact or face more competition.

Keep in mind that’s only for the ads. Agencies charge extra management fees.

Price Factors7. What factors influence the overall cost of digital marketing?

Your digital marketing costs will be impacted by: 

  • The scope of your campaigns
  • The platforms you choose (Google Ads, Facebook, Mailchimp, etc.)
  • The competitiveness of your industry (it can take more money to stand out)
  • Your business’ size and reach
  • Your geographic target area and audience, including geography and demographics
  • Your budget
  • Your specific marketing goals

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach in digital marketing, meaning customization is crucial — and costs fluctuate.

ROI8. What’s my return on investment (ROI) for digital marketing?

For digital marketing, an often-cited ROI is 5:1 — in other words, for every $1 you spend, you earn $5. Measuring ROI involves tracking conversions and comparing them to the costs.

Your ROI will depend on your strategy and execution quality. Content and email marketing often earn high ROI, while SEM nets more immediate returns. A mixture of tactics tends to get the most consistent results across the board, from branding to conversions.

Next steps for figuring out your digital marketing costs

With so many variables, digital marketing costs can be tricky. But, as you’ve read here, there are guidelines. Here, we tackled some of the most common, from budgeting and ROI to costs for popular services like SEM, SEO, content, email and social media.

If you’re looking for a digital marketing quote based on your goals and challenges, talk to us. Zoe can give you a clear picture of the tactics that’ll work for you and what it’ll cost with us.

For a better big picture, these two articles are your best next steps:

Kim Kovelle

As Zoe Marketing & Communications’ content manager, Kim Kovelle brings nearly 20 years of writing and editing experience in metro Detroit. She has strong roots in community journalism and a knack for making complicated topics make more sense.