This is, in fact, a big question to answer!
On an average day, I receive ten to 12 phone calls and more emails that inquire with me that how much I charge for a digital marketing campaign? As there is no defined answer, the question seems vague to me. Sometimes, the question becomes vaguer if the query is – ‘how much it would cost for digital marketing?’
Although I’m not selling cars and air conditioners, if someone asks me the prices, I can answer better than to a query about the cost of a digital marketing campaign. This is because digital marketing is a completely different thing with a lot of complex layers. The cost factors vary from case to case. Even in a single sector in a defined market, two different businesses can have different amounts to invest. In cases, the gap maybe twice or thrice.
Why it’s not easy to tell how much does digital marketing costs?
The answer is simple. It depends upon many factors. The common determinants are –
- The preparatory assets that you have before running a campaign
- Your business model and planning
- The demographic and behavioral aspects of your customers
- The level of competition
- The goals and objectives that you want to achieve through the digital marketing campaign
Till far not receiving answers to the question regarding the above factors, no one can answer a query about the cost of a certain digital marketing campaign. Let me explain each aspect.
1. Cost of Prerequisite Assets
For a digital marketing campaign to run, you need several assets. The most common types of assets are:
- Base asset – an excellent website.
- Branding assets – business name, logo, trademark, domain name, brand appearance, reputation, etc.
- Content assets – images, videos, infographics, white papers, blog posts, FAQs, etc.
- Channel assets – online presence through social media, forums, directories, maps, etc.
- Offline assets – business location, interior, exterior, etc.
Existing businesses can have some of the above assets ready with them. But startups and new businesses might have nothing. Although it’s not that each business needs all of the above assets, depending upon their business model and objectives, they need some of those. The cost of developing the required assets also counts for the preparatory cost for digital marketing. Depending on your financial ability and budget, you need to decide how much you should invest in creating a preparatory budget. You can take the help of a professional consultant in determining your budget. However, I’m giving you a working idea.
The cost factor of primary assets that are required to run any short-term or long-term digital marketing campaign are as follows:
- Investment on a website
- Investment on branding assets
- Investment on channel assets
- Investment on content assets
- Investment on offline assets
Investment on a Website
A website is your prime asset without which you can never think of digital marketing. Therefore, you need to invest wisely in getting a website that will work for you. In India, you may get a website at any cost, and that’s the real issue in determining your investment in a website.
There are some categories of websites that cost you in between zero to ₹ 15,000 annually. Those websites either come with a web builder plan or with a copied template hosted on a free server. If you want your business to grow, never be lured by such free or low-cost websites. Those are good for nothing unless you need a personal website just for hobby purposes.
A business, irrespective of size, should have a custom website designed by a professional designer and developed by a team of professional developers. Your website needs to be hosted on a high performing server. There are also security and other types of configurations. Depending upon your requirements and objectives, such a website will cost you anything between ₹25,000 to ₹1,00.000. Approximate investment of ₹40,000 on a website is a good step for a small startup. In this price, you can get good hosting space with speed, adequate web security and privacy, user-friendly dynamic and interactive website, all required features like easily navigable user panel, CMS panel, chatbox, pop-ups, and social media integration along with ready for search engine optimization (SEO). If you are planning for e-commerce, you need to spend an additional ₹10,000 at the beginning. Recurring annual expenditure that includes all types of renewals and maintenance will cost you around 35% of your starting cost. If you want your web developer will do more for you, you have to pay higher. If you have a medium or large size business, your website will cost you higher, and that can go up to many lakhs of rupees.
Specifically for e-commerce, you can depend upon Shopify without any headache. The company provides some excellent services.
Investment on Branding Assets
Branding features are essential to each type of business – whether offline or online, whether small or big.
Before proceeding further for digital marketing, be ensured that you have adequate branding assets ready with you. Branding, if carefully designed, can help you in a better marketing effect at a lower cost.
If you already have a business, I can assume that you have most of the branding elements. If you’re just starting, you need to develop those as soon as possible. You definitely should have an attractive business name, a simple but impactful logo, a domain name that matches your business, the appearance scheme for your marketing asset, and other branding elements. If you don’t have adequate experience in marketing, you can make a mistake by getting a wrong logo designed or obtaining a wrong domain name. Therefore, it’s better to consult your digital marketing consultant. Depending upon your relationship with the consultant, he/she will charge you anything in between zero to ₹1,000. A high profile consultant may charge you higher. Logo design cost for your business will be in between ₹1,000 to ₹2,000.
Getting the right branding assets from the begging will lower your digital marketing budget many times.
Investment on Content Assets
In the field of marketing and advertising, the content has been the king for centuries and will be for long. Content is everything. Specifically, in digital marketing, it’s highly meaningful. Hence, you should have a significant portion of your marketing budget for content creation and distribution. But, how much amount you need for your content assets? It depends upon the type, size, and nature of your business. For example, entertainment industries don’t require much additional content as their commodities are content in themselves. Fashion industries should have adequate content, but that can also be met by their primary product images and description. A logistic business, however, needs more unique content for marketing purposes.
Depending upon the nature of your business, the content cost will vary. If you have adequate content in the forms of videos, podcasts, images, graphics, and text, your digital marketer won’t need much to work. So, he/she will charge you lower. However, content creation is a continuous process. You have to invest in it regularly. It doesn’t matter whether your creative team or your marketing team will produce those stuff.
Investment in Chanel Assets
Especially for a digital marketing campaign, you’ll require several digital channels beside your website. Primarily, you should have a business account on the popular and right type of social media. But, as the digital platforms are growing rapidly, you also need to be present on other channels such as community forums, directories, and location maps. On all available and required digital platforms, you should represent your business adequately. So, you need a professional digital marketing team to create professional accounts for your business or to modify the existing accounts. The number of online platforms where your business should have a presence depends upon the type, nature, and size of your company. A professional digital marketer, on an average, charges around ₹500 for a single platform. If you have a big project, your marketing partner may do it for free of cost.
At BusinessKrafts, we set up to four social media and forum accounts with basic customization for our clients without charging anything. Additional account settings with customization costs ₹350 per each.
Investment in Offline Assets
If you’re thinking that digital marketing has nothing to do with your offline assets, you’re wrong. If not all, some business sectors can fuel their digital marketing activities through their offline properties. For example, if you have a hotel or a restaurant or a fashion mall, your location and indoor-outdoor design of your property can positively or negatively affect your online marketing budget. Businesses having a prime location with pleasant designs can attract more customers by sharing the location map and images online at a low cost. In contrast, businesses in less focused localities need to spend some more bucks for attracting an equal amount of customers through online advertising. Google and Bing location map also rank businesses in a prime location better.
2. Business Model and Planning Affect Digital Marketing Budget
The success of a business highly depends upon the model and planning. The same fact is also applicable to the marketing budget. If your business isn’t based on a strong model and isn’t well planned, it’s not only that you’ll have to struggle hard to survive, you will need to spend more on your entire marketing efforts. In basic principles, digital marketing isn’t different from conventional marketing.
Your marketing partner will charge you lower in the following two cases:
- If your business is based on the informed decision that you derived from systematic research, and
- If your business has a systematic plan document.
If the case isn’t as above, your marketing partner will have to work extra to bring your business to a track. So, the team will charge you for the extra work.
Some people think that digital marketing has nothing to do with market research and planning. They are 100% wrong. A marketing campaign, offline or online, starts with rigorous research and proper planning. Never be fooled by the digital marketing agencies that serve you a quote either without querying about your research and plan documents, or mentioning the requirement of the same in the quotation.
Market research and strategic planning can help a business in minimizing the marketing budget. These two significant works can help the marketing campaign going in the right direction. It can further help you in getting a better return on investment (ROI). Hence, never underestimate these two essential aspects while you’re planning for a digital marketing campaign. You may ask your marketing consultant for further help.
Research, strategy building, and planning counts for about half of a digital marketing proposal. If you don’t have anything ready yet, you should ask your marketing partner to do the same for you. Depending upon the work hours required, it will cost you around ₹20,000 to ₹30,000. Most of the marketing agencies calculate the cost factors on hourly basis. Since the work demands senior-level experienced professionals, the cost per hour is between ₹600 to ₹1,000.
3. Customer Distribution Can Affect Digital Marketing Cost
How much you actually need to invest in digital marketing, largely depends upon how your customers are distributed across digital channels. For a location where a low density of target customers are online, you need to spend more in comparison to locations where a higher volume of target customers go online. Demography and online behavioral pattern also pay important roles that determine your budget for a certain kind of digital marketing campaign. In fact, this is a complex aspect that no one can predict before running a pilot project.
Professional digital marketing firms normally work for three to four days to have proper knowledge of how the customers for a certain business are distributed online. During this phase, they also run some A/B testings AKA pilot projects to have a working idea on how much a certain client needs to pay for a digital marketing campaign. These are the criteria on which they can offer a custom quotation to their client.
Never be fooled by the self-styled digital marketing agencies that tend to send you a proposal without evaluating the cost factors. Preparing a custom quotation in accordance with the requirements requires time to invest. So you have to wait to get a better proposal. A business can’t be established in a week or a couple.
4. Competition Matters a Lot in Digital Marketing
Wise entrepreneurs never underestimate the competition around their businesses. Competition is also an important factor in marketing of any kind. The higher competition will obviously lead to more marketing efforts. So the cost will rise. It’s not easy to tell how much the efforts your competitor is putting on. In some cases, it’s difficult to identify the real competitors. Competition may be latent, or even mysterious. Therefore, a digital marketing agency has to take a lot of pain in evaluating the competitive scenario before helping you with a customized proposal.
Competition evaluation is highly essential before a full fledged marketing campaign as you can’t depend upon mere assumptions. I normally face the odd situation while a client tells me that he/she is well aware of the competition. The situation becomes further complicated, when he/she lightly tell me that I can go without a competition research. Such prejudices are really devastating for any business. A true spirit digital marketing consultant or a marketing agency should never work with such clients.
You can fall for nothing if you don’t dare to have a competition research before proceeding for a marketing campaign. It’ll not only help you in estimating the competitive scenario, but it can also guide you on determining your marketing strategy and budget.
5. Your Goal and Objectives Matter in Finalizing Digital Marketing Budget
Last but not list is the goal that you want to achieve through your marketing activities. It can highly help you in getting the right digital marketing proposal for your business.
If you don’t clearly define your goals and objectives, your digital marketing partner will face much trouble in helping you. So you need to finalize your goals that you want to achieve throughout your business in a certain period of time as well as the objectives that a certain marketing campaign can bring for you. Convey the same to your digital marketing partner. Your marketer can help you in multiple great ways.
Defining a goal and enumerating the objectives may be complex, but it’s never complicated. Just think – how can you run a business without certain goals and objectives? Nothing can be possible out of vacuum.
How much ROI you want to get by the end of a certain financial year matters a lot for a marketing campaign to be initiated.
This is the last section that summarizes the entire discussion on digital marketing cost factors. Assuming that you’re starting from zero and a small startup, your initial investment for digital marketing in India needs to be in around ₹75,000 that includes research and planning, website development and hosting, branding assets creation, channel set up and optimization and consulting. However, depending upon various factors, the cost may be lower or higher. If your business is less competitive and your customers are evenly distributed, you’ll need to set your monthly digital marketing budget between ₹25,000 to ₹30,000 for a small startup. The monthly marketing budget includes search engine optimization (SEO), website maintenance, continuous content development, social media management, and paid advertisement. Depending upon your business profile, this budget may be lower or higher. But none of the professional digital marketing industry can help you if the budget is too low.