Budgeting for digital marketing services is a nearly impossible task.
If you’ve ever tried to outsource digital marketing or budget for marketing work, you’ve probably asked some of these questions:
- Should I go with a freelancer or an agency?
- Should we consider hiring in-house for this role?
- Should we hire someone for a one-time project and then run with it, or should we pay someone for an ongoing retainer?
- What services do we actually need?
We’re going to address all of these questions and more, as we dive into:
→ Common digital marketing services (and what kinds of businesses are a good fit for each)
→ The pros and cons of working with freelancers vs agencies
→ Cost ranges for each digital marketing service in Singapore and worldwide
Most Common Digital Marketing Services
You wouldn’t be reading this post if you weren’t familiar with different types of digital marketing, but let’s review the basics and look at which services make the most sense for different kinds of businesses.
SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of optimizing a business’ web pages to rank highly for certain keywords and phrases searched by its audience. SEO usually starts with topic and keyword research, involves technical optimization, on-page optimizations, content strategy, link building, and more.
SEO is a great digital marketing channel for most businesses, but it produces the highest ROI for businesses who sell products and services in high demand. The more searches there are for your product or service, the higher your return from SEO will be.
On the other hand, if you sell an obscure product or service, you may be better served by ads which introduce your brand to your target audience.
PPC and Digital Advertising
PPC (pay per click) and digital advertising encompass any advertising you do through Facebook / Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Display Network, Google Search Network, TikTok, etc… PPC involves strategy, design, copywriting, audience research, targeting, account management, optimization, and more.
Digital advertising can be used effectively by just about any business. That said, businesses with great SEO can often afford to spend less on ads, since they acquire so much traffic and so many leads organically.
Businesses in less popular industries should consider PPC, digital advertising, and social media marketing to get noticed by your target audience.
Content marketing refers to the use of content to attract, convince, and convert. Content here can include blog posts, whitepapers, videos, podcasts, and more. Content marketing involves audience research, lifecycle mapping, keyword research, topical research, content planning, writing, editing, publishing, and content distribution.
All businesses can benefit from content marketing, but it’s most effective for businesses whose product or service has a long buying cycle – particularly in the B2B space. If your prospects and leads have lots of questions on their journey and need education, content marketing will have big time benefits.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms to connect with your audience, build your brand, increase sales, and drive traffic.
It involves the creation of content posted across different social media platforms. Social media marketing includes audience research, topical research, content creation, copywriting, posting, and more.
Social media marketing is really a good idea for any business, but businesses who can create compelling content that their audience is really interested in will get the best returns.
In-House, Agency, or Freelancer?
If you’re considering taking the dive into digital marketing, doubling down your efforts on a specific channel, or switching up the way you’re currently doing things, you have a few options:
- You can do it yourself. If you are a business owner, we wouldn’t recommend this. You don’t have time to learn digital marketing. If you’re a marketing director or manager, you may have a background in one of these areas. If so, it might make sense for you to execute on it – otherwise, it will be well worth your money to outsource it.
- You can hire an in-house expert. Hiring an in-house employee can make sense, but oftentimes you wind up paying far more than you should in overhead, and unless you have enough work to keep them busy 40 hours a week, it may not be worth it.
- You can hire a freelancer. Freelancers tend to be the most affordable way to get something done, but it can also be the riskiest.
- You can consult an agency. Digital marketing agencies are often the best blend between hiring an in-house expert and taking a chance on a freelancer. Most agencies specialize in multiple channels and have large teams with a wide range of expertise and skill.
Pros and Cons
You can save money on outsourcing.
You may have solid expertise in the channel.
You should be spending your time doing more important tasks for the business.
You may lose money in the long run.
You have someone dedicated to the channel full or part-time.
Once you get the hire up-to-speed on goals and expectations, they can own the results.
You wind up having to pay for overhead, benefits, and other costs.
Unless it’s a channel you’re heavily investing in, it may not be necessary.
No additional fees to have them work for you.
Often unreliable and inconsistent.
Freelancers can quit working for you at any time.
Large teams with a wide range of skills.
Dedicated account manager to keep you in the loop on results and progress.
Onboarding and execution can be slow.
Some agencies lack transparency in pricing.
The Brew Interactive team recently launched a service called LiteBrew, an attempt to offer the reliability and care of an agency, with the affordable pricing and quick turnarounds of a freelancer. Learn more about LiteBrew and how you can grow faster with hassle-free digital marketing you can afford.
Different Types of Digital Marketing Pricing
Not only are there a number of different ways to outsource digital marketing, but there are a handful of different pricing structures when it comes to freelancers and agencies that you need to be aware of:
- Hourly Work: Hourly work is going to be most common among freelancers. You will describe your needs, and they will draft up a scope of work dependent upon how many hours they estimate it will take them.
- By Project: If you only need one-time work, some freelancers and most agencies will opt to charge you a flat fee for the entire project, and it may not be entirely based upon hours worked.
- Monthly Cost: Most agencies will charge a monthly fee for a range of services. Some are flexible and allow you to adjust where that money goes on a monthly basis, depending on real-time goals and results.
- Results Based: Some agencies charge based on results. They may charge on a per lead or a per KPI basis, and if you don’t see any results, you don’t pay. This model isn’t seen in the APAC region.
As you’re considering your options, be careful to thoroughly vet any freelancer or agency pricing model. Be aware of how they price and don’t sign a contract until you understand it.
What Impacts Digital Marketing Costs?
We’re about to get to actual costs you may encounter for different services, but to be honest, they all vary widely. So let’s first discuss the factors that impact digital marketing costs the most when hiring a freelancer or agency:
- Industry and Type of Business: Some industries and types of businesses are more specialized and require additional expertise, which can impact digital marketing costs. In addition, the more competitive the industry, the more you might have to pay for digital marketing – especially when it comes to SEO.
- Agency / Freelancer Experience: Marketers and agencies with more experience will charge more than those with less – and it’s usually going to be worth it.
- Speed of Execution: If you need something completed or you need to see results quickly, you may have to pay a premium.
- Internal Agency Costs: When working with an agency, you may see higher-than-average costs if they have to cover internal expenses like a big office, frequent meals, travel, etc… Leaner agencies can afford to charge a little less.
It’s important to be aware of what factors impact how much you pay for different services. As you vet different options, make sure you know why you’re being quoted a certain amount. An agency or freelancer may not give you an itemized list, but you should have an idea.
How Much Do Digital Marketing Services Cost?
We’ve finally made it. The question you’ve been asking this as you scrolled through all our caveats: how much does digital marketing actually cost?
It’s probably no surprise that we can’t give you a hard and fast number. There are so many factors to consider. That said, we did our best to give you averages and discuss what you might wind up paying for different services.
We can tell you that the average hourly rate for marketers (including both freelancers and agencies) worldwide is somewhere around $153 SGD per hour.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown for each service and channel:
How Much Does SEO Cost?
There are a wide range of SEO projects, needs, and goals you might require. You might need one-time work done, such as a technical audit or one-time on-page optimization, but most providers offer monthly SEO services that include on-page optimization, link building, and perhaps some blogging or content marketing.
For single projects, a freelancer will probably charge an hourly rate or a project rate. SEO providers worldwide charge an average of $182 SGD per hour. For a one-time project like a technical site audit for a small-to-medium sized site, you might wind up paying around $1500 SGD.
For monthly retainers, you can expect to pay an agency in the $1,200 – $2,500 SGD range for small or local business SEO and between $3,000 – $12,000 SGD for eCommerce, SaaS, or larger business SEO – depending on the activities performed each month.
To hire someone in-house, you’ll be looking at somewhere between $40,000 SGD annually for an entry level SEO specialist position and $100,000 SGD annually for a more experienced strategist.
Biggest Factors Influencing SEO Costs
- Competition: SEO is all about outranking your competition. If you have a lot of competitors who invest heavily into SEO, it’s going to cost you more to outrank them. For example, if you’re a small business trying to rank in a small town, SEO shouldn’t cost you too much. If you’re an eCommerce shop selling a popular item worldwide, SEO will be a significant investment.
- Speed of Execution: If you need to boost rankings within a couple months, it will cost you. If you’re okay taking a slow and steady approach, you’ll wind up paying less up front. Frequency of marketing reporting and meetings could be a factor, too.
How Much Does PPC / Digital Advertising Cost?
Pricing for digital advertising and PPC services such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or LinkedIn Ads vary widely across the board.
For single projects, like short term campaigns or designing ad creatives, a freelancer will charge an average of $155 SGD per hour. For handling the design, setup, and optimization of a small campaign that runs for one month, you might pay a freelancer around $2,000 or $2,500 SGD.
For monthly retainers, an agency may charge you a one-time setup fee and then an ongoing fee based on how much you’re spending. Some charge only a percentage of your ad spend, while others charge a fixed fee or a combination.
For example, if you’re spending $10,000 SGD per month on Facebook Ads, an agency might charge a $2,500 SGD flat fee + 25% of ad spend. So you’d pay $5,000 SGD per month for ad management and optimization, on top of your $10,000 SGD in ad spend, for a total of $15,000 SGD.
To hire a PPC expert in-house, you’d be looking at spending around $40,000 SGD for a PPC specialist and $75,000 SGD for a PPC Manager or experienced strategist.
Biggest Factors Influencing PPC Costs
- Scope of Work: PPC campaign tasks range from graphic design for creatives, copywriting, technical setup (for tracking), platform expertise, audience targeting, funnel strategy, and more. If you need someone to handle an entire campaign, you’ll be spending more than if you just need help setting up the account or only need assistance with creatives.
- Ad Spend: Most PPC experts and agencies will charge based upon how much you’re spending – at least to a degree. A small campaign will cost you less in management and optimization fees compared to a large campaign.
How Much Does Content Marketing Cost?
The biggest factor when it comes to content marketing is whether you require full content strategy or you’re looking simply for blog writing.
Blog writing is affordable, but requires strategy and direction for you to get what you need out of it. Content strategy and planning takes expertise, experience, and research. Many companies will have an experienced content strategist perform topic research and create a content calendar, then create outlines to assign to writers who charge far less.
Agencies will handle the whole process for you.
For single writing projects or blogs, most freelance writers charge on a per word basis. For general subject matter, you might be able to charge between $0.08 and $0.20 per word. For experienced writers in specific subject areas, you’ll be looking at more like $0.20 to $0.50 per word.
For monthly content marketing retainers, an agency may charge anywhere from $5,000 SGD to $30,000 SGD per month, depending on your industry, competition, and amount of content produced each month.
To hire a content marketing strategist in-house, you’d pay an average of $75,000 SGD annually. A content marketing manager would cost in the $80,000 SGD to $100,000 SGD range.
Biggest Factors Influencing Content Marketing Costs
- Amount and Frequency of Content: How much content you need on a regular basis will depend on your preference and goals. Depending on your industry and competition, a couple posts a month may be plenty to establish your authority, rank for keywords, and educate your audience. If you really want to make a splash, you might want to publish 10 pieces of content per month.
- SEO: If you want your content marketing strategy to incorporate SEO, you’ll be looking at higher costs.
How Much Does Social Media Marketing Cost?
Social media marketing costs probably vary more than any other digital marketing service.
Social media marketing involves audience research, content planning, graphic design, copywriting, platform expertise, and much more.
For hourly work, an inexperienced freelancer might charge in the $20 SGD to $80 SGD range, while an experienced social media marketer will charge between $120 SGD and $200 SGD.
For monthly social media retainers, an agency may charge anywhere from $5,000 SGD to $20,000 SGD, depending on a number of factors.
To hire an in-house social media manager, you may be paying somewhere between $45,000 SGD and $80,000 SGD, depending on experience and expertise.
Biggest Factors Influencing Content Marketing Costs
- Frequency of Content and Number of Platforms: How much content you need or want to post on a regular basis will drastically affect costs. One post per week on Instagram will be very affordable, while 3-5 posts per day across five channels will cost you more.
- Amount of Strategy: As a small business, you may just want to stay in front of your customers with an occasional, generic post. A growing business who really wants to connect with their audience needs in-depth persona research and lifecycle mapping – which will cost more.
Do Your Research
At the end of the day, before making any digital marketing decisions, be sure to do your research. There are a lot of great freelancers and agencies out there, but there are also many who will happily take your money without producing results.
Ask questions about recommended services, thoroughly vet freelancers, ask for help evaluating quotes, and don’t sign any contracts until you’re confident.
If you aren’t sure what direction to take, our team would love to give you a free, no obligation consultation.