How much it really costs to outsource your digital marketing efforts
Did you know that most people believe that social media services usually cost around $500 - $1,000 a month (managing two social channels like Facebook and Instagram), but the actual cost can range anywhere from $3,000 - $20,000? The industry average is around $4,000 - $7,000 (A MONTH). Why the huge discrepancy between expectation and reality? Many clients do not value these services much because, well, anyone can “do” social media, right? You don’t have to trust us on this. Just see the pricing for yourself on this social media marketing website >
And we’re only talking social media here. Let’s not even go into SEO, Google Ads, or marketing automation. Those services are ones clients (usually) are willing to pay for. You see, the perceived value increases along with the perceived difficulty. Clients are willing to pay for something they don’t understand or know how to do. But in reality, all of these services take TIME and STRATEGY. Sure, anyone can post a cat video and throw some hashtags on it. But will that really send your message to the right audience and ultimately result in growing your business?
Now it may seem like it’s a bit strange that we talk so openly about pricing our services, but we believe it’s important to tell you what we do, why we do it, and why it’s worth every penny (and it’s also not the industry average.)
First of all, the industry average of $3K - $7K for social media services are based on traditional agency prices. These are medium to large agencies which have a lot of overhead. The ones where you have an account manager, they have an assistant, that assistant has to communicate your needs to the social media manager and the graphic designer, the editor has to review the work, then account manager triple checks it and sends it to you (yes, this is how it works – I’ve been there.) All of those individuals have a salary (and salaries have to be paid), plus the agency has plenty of other costs (rent, insurance, benefits, alcohol, etc., etc. It's not cheap keeping up with that #agencylife.) So, let's say the average hourly rate of the agency is $150 (the lower end of the scale) and each person tracks their time.
Based on that rate, here's a sample scenario of the inside agency processes of managing social media account(s) (only writing content, not including advertising) and how time is tracked for the service:
Account manager + coordinator: 1 hr each ($300) meets with client, gets the rundown of goals/events to promote for the month, takes notes, then sets meetings with the team
Account manager + coordinator + designer + social media manager: 1 hr each ($600) meet to discuss new campaign
Social media manager: 4 hrs ($600) writes posts
Graphic designer: 4 hrs ($600) designs graphics
Coordinator or editor: 1 hr ($150) checks the work and makes edits
Account manager: 1 hr ($150) reviews work, sends back to graphic design or social media or editor for changes
Changes: 1 hr ($150)
Account manager: 1 hr ($150) sends to client with explanation or meets with client
Repeat if client has changes
= $2,600 total
There you have it. That’s one simple scenario of how an agency would track their time. The agency might actually have charged you $2,000 for managing the one social media profile then tell you that you received $600 in extra value that month. Now doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? On the other hand, they may use this to try and raise your fees. “You received an extra $3,000 in marketing services, therefore we’re increasing your retainer for next year.” Yes, I have had these conversations with clients, as sometimes it truly is that one party is receiving more than they should be. The great thing about agencies is that each person is highly specialized, therefore if you're a larger client, you can afford to pay for specialty. If your budget is small, a smaller agency makes more sense.
So to summarize, there's a reason our prices don’t look like this.
Why we charge less than the industry average for digital marketing services
1.) Our prices are relative to client budgets. Our clients don’t have gigantic, unlimited budgets. They are budget-conscious small- to medium-sized businesses. We don’t think that clients with smaller budgets shouldn’t have a chance to get the same services that large companies do just because their wallet isn’t as thick.
2.) Our overhead is… virtually non-existent. Ok, of course we have some overhead like software, equipment, etc. But we don’t have thirty employees; there are only three of us. We don’t have offices, we all work 100% remote. We don’t wine and dine or schmooze our clients (the perks - or downsides depending on your point of view - of being remote.) Therefore, our costs are much less and we can offer these services at a lower overall rate. So we won’t charge you $3K. In fact, our average monthly rate for a slew of marketing services is about $1,500. Some clients pay less, some pay more, but generally speaking, the price is about half of what’s industry-accepted as “normal” for the services provided.
3.) We’re efficient. The fact that we are a small team means that there is no game of telephone. I am the business owner, client-facing account manager, but also execute the work and we distribute it where appropriate across the team based on their specialty. There’s no pecking order or things getting lost in translation, and there’s no double-tracking of time happening.
One thing to note is that we also aren’t the least expensive on the market. You can always find something cheaper (especially if you’re looking in countries who offer the same services but charge way less.)
Here are a few reasons why we’re not your “low-cost option” for digital marketing
1.) We deliver a personal touch that no one else can. We work one on one with each client not just about their marketing, but we take the time to understand their business. It’s an investment on our end that makes us do better work for you in the long run. And clients appreciate it! Most of our new clientele comes from referrals. So we know we’re doing something right. What clients love about working with us is that we are a virtual part of their team, not some invisible agency that communicates once a month with a status report. I meet weekly with almost each client, and every client has my cell phone number and can message me at any time of the day or night.
2.) We’re flexible (and don’t nickel and dime). Because we take the time to understand client’s needs, we don’t pigeon-hole clients into the agreement set in the first place. We will shift tactics around over time (and keep the budget the same if they can’t afford more). An example would be a client who started with social media marketing across three platforms. After understanding the ins and outs of their business, we realized that their sales process were in desperate need of help. We scaled back on social media and trained them on how to manage most of it on their own.That freed up hours to set up their marketing automation CRM and ed them improve their sales processes and communications. An agency would typically change the scope of work and charge more rather than prioritize tactics and work with the client to keep the budget the same.
3.) We’re good at what we do and use DATA, not fluff. We don’t just measure effectiveness of the online marketing we do for our clients based on the likes, shares and comments of their Facebook posts. We actually tie it back to how many leads they received, and how those leads resulted in new clients. We tell clients how much they pay per lead and customer, and then reduce that over time. That makes the higher investment worth it.
4.) We have experience. Between the three of us, a combined 15 years. Me personally – 8 years of marketing experience, primarily agency-based and all of it has been online marketing. This ain't our first rodeo!
Our prices are set in a way that the clients understand and value what we do. Pricing at the lowest end of the scale just doesn’t work. Although we would have more clients, those clients wouldn’t value the work (been there, done that.)
Cost is definitely a sensitive subject when it comes to marketing, but we believe in transparency. Sometimes it can be difficult to convince a client that it’s worth it (especially if they’ve been burned before) and you can’t prove that it will be effective for them until they actually trust you to prove it. But when you have built your business based on referrals, solid experience, and real data to show that your efforts are proven to work… well, the marketing just speaks for itself. If you're a small or medium sized business and wonder about if what we do suits your expectations, read a little more about us and our approach >