Every business has its costs—regardless of industry. Whether you’re a startup-lover crafting an SEO strategy, a soon-to-be entrepreneur, or simply want to boost your small business’s bottom line, digital marketing is an eventuality you’ll need to approach carefully.
Your small business team works hard; even more so if you’re a solo operator. Between budget planning, consumer segmentation, product rollouts, and setting up a branded e-commerce portal powered by SEO and evocative content, you have plenty of planning to do. Fortunately, the digital marketing climate has never been sunnier. If you make the most of your resources, your online efforts won’t be in vain.
To kick off an effective, efficient digital marketing campaign, however, you’ll need to understand the fundamental expense hurdles every growing business needs to jump. This goes doubly for small startups in 2020 equipped with last year’s SEO utility belt.
Let’s talk about digital marketing costs. Specifically, let’s talk about the heftiest expenses you can expect to encounter when growing your business. By understanding them, you’ll not only be able to handle them—but work their environment to your benefit.
Cost One: Social Media Marketing
If you’re like most small businesses, social media is your first target to attempt a marketing bullseye. Not only can social media marketing be free, if you’re short on money, but it’s often bundled with useful marketing, analysis, and outreach toolkits provided each outlet’s governing titans, themselves.
This year, about 95 percent of small businesses ramped up their digital marketing spending. Roughly two-thirds of these small businesses—or 63 percent—funneled financial resources into social media marketing. Why?
Firstly, it’s important to note what effective social marketing is—and what it isn’t. Surprisingly, effective social media marketing in recent years has left direct audience communication by the wayside. Today’s biggest social media platforms simply aren’t fit for one-on-one, custom-tailored communication. Facebook, for example, will net you less than five percent of your audience if you’re attempting to impact them via an organic search approach—regardless of your SEO strategy’s quality
Unsurprisingly, these types of strategies are best suited for well-established brands: those who, primarily, engage large audiences to outbid one another by competing for consumer attention. On your end—as a small business owner—it’s important to utilize your budget effectively. Rather than limit your brand’s growth potential, acquisition opportunities, and scaling flexibility, you should consider platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat to be testing grounds for your brand’s marketing appearance.
Specifically, test content headlines, imagery, shared YouTube media, product rollouts, and unique services. If you can diversify your brand from other small businesses—absolutely do so. Don’t be too concerned with the fact that average social media marketing costs float somewhere around the $200 to $350 per-day mark. With only $100, however, you can surgically approach social media marketing effectively.
Half of this minor startup fee can be funneled into graphics, photos, and videos. A strong visual design presentation, in most cases, can help a small business get off the ground. Some services even offer social media marketing services for as little as $20 per month.
You should know, however, that your costs can—and will—increase as your following grows. While it’s possible to spend a Facebook or Instagram ad campaign for only $40, you’ll quickly need more fuel to power your strategy with quality analytics tracking, metrics analysis, and ever-changing campaign design implementations.
Cost Two: Website Marketing
Up next are the costs associated with establishing your brand’s “main hub,” online. While many small businesses reach out to consumers via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter before having a watertight website—2020 will be more demanding of startups than ever.
It’s worth mentioning, too, that today’s content—and SEO—world is constantly shifting. It’s improbable, if not impossible, for a brand to establish themselves via content funneled through social media alone: They need to utilize the above-mentioned main hub—their own website.
For this reason, a lot of startups fail before they even set sail. Experts believe that lacking the fundamental resources a branded website provides immediately lowers a social media campaign’s impact—and drastically so. Rather than outlining specific costs associated with crafting a viable landing page, they focus far too much on an eventual “tipping point.” This point, analyzed by today’s top innovators, is understandably ambiguous: It’s the proposed launching point of exponential growth. It’s the end of an unavoidable, often daunting, journey beginning bogged down by lacking growth.
To avoid dishing out extra dollars on an extended, laborious re-approach to your consumers via a surprise revenue spike, create a detailed list of both expected costs and expected growth opportunities. An example of this would be to project a 40-percent increase in sales following your brand’s first year in action. Prospective forecasts needn’t be short-term, either. Rather than crafting an annual estimation, plot out next year’s trajectory—perhaps detailing a conditional plan contingent on obtaining another 30-percent sales increase.
Remember: You can’t be too conservative, here. Check out The Small Business Association’s startup expense calculator. It’s rather in-depth, allowing marketers to hone in on specific website jump-start costs variably impacted by their current market status, fledgling revenue strategies, social media presence, and more.
To be even more effective in plotting your website creation expenses, take a close look at your brick-and-mortar location if you already have one. Specifically, examine its marketing expenses. Take note of specific tax deductibles, such as business-provided meals and promotional activities—which aren’t subjected to today’s 50-percent cost limit for business purposes.
In the realm of reasonable advertising and operational costs—those which can be deducted—website creation expenses are valid. Business card creation, Yellow Pages ads, television advertisements, and radio promotions are deductible, too.
Cost Three: Email Marketing
Email marketing fits snuggly alongside the other powerhouse digital marketing resources of today, including display advertising, paid search, social media advertising, SEO, and multimedia advertising alike. Together, these digital marketing channels are expected to account for 46 percent of all advertising costs accounted for within the next five years.
Once you’ve hashed out the details of establishing a reputable, honest, and efficient website, email marketing should be the immediate follow-up. Already, 57 percent of small businesses prioritize email marketing investment—despite the common, incorrect, rumor that email outreach isn’t as effective as it once was. In fact, it’s the second-most common platform for boosting brand awareness—just behind social media marketing. More importantly: Small businesses are expected to further increase spending in this direction, after the new year.
It’s difficult to provide a rough estimate of your likely email marketing startup costs. Like your new website, your email campaign’s costs will directly relate to your brand’s current awareness, cross-channel accessibility, expected revenue growth, and physical location success.
But what we can say is this: Your email campaign, most likely, will be more lucrative than your social media campaign. This isn’t necessarily due to retention-related benefits due to newsletters, product promotions and seasonal deal visibility. Instead, it’s due to a foundational aspect of digital marketing every business knows but often forgets.
You’ll own the data gathered from your email campaign. On the flip side, you’ll likely conflict with Facebook when it’s time to send in your analytics team to extrapolate meaningful insights from critical data snippets. Surprisingly, too few startups account for this. A majority simply perceive social media marketing to be unilaterally lucrative on all fronts—and a sizable fraction of businesses following in this statistic’s wake only equate both platforms in terms of value.
So, here, it’s a good idea to perceive email marketing expenses a little differently. Don’t stress too much about them, because your money isn’t going to waste. If you funnel it into solid promotional email campaigns, it could even be the wisest investment your small business makes.
This is because today’s largest e-commerce consumer-base, Millennials, prefer businesses who contact them via email. Specifically, 89 percent of them do. 59 percent even browse their daily mail via mobile—which is, understandably, always a safe bet in terms of future marketing investment. Where SEO is considered, email has consistently been a powerhouse utility capable of surpassing all odds when it comes to enhancing PPC, brand loyalty, and social media presence.
Redefine Future Setbacks: Embrace Opportunity
It can’t be overstated: A lot of modern startups fail due to a fundamental fault in expense perception. They don’t necessarily estimate their costs incorrectly—they simply wait until the final hour to analyze the cost, scope, and potential of their current digital marketing setup.
This mistake can be devastating, but it can be avoided if the industry’s freshest marketers embrace these primary costs not as setbacks—but as frameworks encompassing avenues of incredible potential. After all, the most expensive business assets are expensive for a reason: They’re the most valuable.