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What is the real cost of running online marketing today?

What is the real cost of running online marketing today?

Guide Topics: Costs, doing it yourself vs hiring, how much does it cost to hire and where are my efforts most profitable.

For the purpose of this article, let’s assume that you are a business executive. You need to market your business to get more sales and you are wondering how you should execute your online marketing.

Marketing is a department of your business, not just a nice thing to do. So think in terms of months and years when looking at your marketing budget. Not in terms of days or weeks. It’s an on-going activity.

Think marathon, not a short sprint. And don’t drain your savings the first month and have no more marketing money for the next 11 months!

When do you go DIY style

Do it yourself style of online marketingWhen should you actually consider executing the online marketing actions yourself?

Make sure you can answer yes to most of these questions:

  • You can reserve enough computer time to do these daily/weekly actions (see routine actions below)
  • A certain willingness to learn the internet marketing know-how and techniques needs to exist. And that would include staying up-to-date with the changes.
  • Writing is somewhat easy for you or you have an interest in it and willing to learn
  • You can edit pictures and/or videos in a relatively short amount of time
  • You understand Google Adwords and how to optimize your ad spendings
  • A commitment that you can do either one of the above actions on a daily/weekly/monthly basis for as long as your need marketing.

The above DYI assessment questions have been distilled to just a few essential routine marketing actions.

Also by breaking down all the different tasks you can see who you need to hire when deciding to delegate some of the tasks.

Routine Actions

Here are some of the routine actions that covers what an online marketing agency would do:

  • Content creation and how to optimize for search engines
  • Social media content creation and ads
  • Execution of email marketing campaigns
  • Adwords and Bing ads campaign management
  • Photo and video editing
  • Studying Google Analytics (or any other traffic tracking software)
  • A/B or split testing ads and content in order to optimize them to get a higher conversion rate
  • Accessing the general marketing and branding efforts and dictate the next course of action

There’s a lot more but those are some of the most common online marketing actions agencies will perform on a regular basis.

This list doesn’t include website design and development and all the cost related to hosting and domains names.

DYI can also mean having it done in-house when you have staff. This implies they already have those skills or you are willing to invest in their training.

Hiring and how to access your monthly online marketing budget

An online marketer for hireAgency pricing will generally run between $200 to $5,000 per month. Those numbers are not corporate budgets of course. Here I’m referring to small and medium size companies.

When it comes time to access your own marketing needs ask yourself this question once you have decided to hire:

What monthly marketing budget can I maintain for the next year?

If your answer is minimally between $100-500 then you should probably hire.

The answer will also depend on what expansion speed you desire to reach.

Itemized cost of online marketing

Some monthly numbers. These are just approximative and to give a general idea.

  • Good quality content writing (non-technical) is about $0.20 per word and up. Content writing pricing varies a lot, so is the quality. Also if you need technical content that would be even more costly per word.
  • Email marketing software such as Mailchimp $50
  • Social media ads $75
  • Adwords ads $200
  • Website A/B testing tool minimally $60
  • Dashboard (used to make competitive analysis and/or keyword research) $75
  • Adobe software (Photoshop, Illustrator and Premiere) $50

If you write 2 articles of 500 words each and add up all of the above items, we get $710/month. And that’s a good basic estimate on the real cost of online marketing today.

Some of those costs are often avoided when you hire an agency. They’ll usually have a software to A/B test and they’ll have some kind of dashboard to analyze the data and the competitors.

So it all depends on what you do yourself and how much marketing you actually want to deploy. The monthly cost could be as low as $100/month with a bare-bone package and can go has high as you can imagine.

I actually encourage people who want to doing it themselves just realize there is a cost to online marketing even when you go DIY style.


It will cost you about $700 per month to execute a basic online marketing program.

The DIY route is good as long as marketing doesn’t become so sparse and gets de-prioritized so low as to being practically dropped.

Since I’m myself an agency, I tried my best to stay as objective as possible and came up with this: when hiring you are basically getting someone who does this all the time. Also, the purpose of hiring should be to free yourself up with the intent to concentrate on whatever else brings in more income.

Midway between hiring and 100% DIY is to selectively hire for only those specific tasks where you need the most help, for example content writing, paid ads campaign management or video editing.

Which route is best depends on so many factors and is really be up to you to decide.

Study the points above and see what’s best for you.


This is the forth article part of the 2017 guide. In May, I’ll be covering the concept of how to manage our online effort without getting lost in all of the different channels that currently exist.

About The Author

Patrick Debel

Online marketing since 2003.