Companies focus a great deal of attention on two things: ROI and the bottom line. Rightfully so. When you invest thousands of dollars and perhaps hundred of hours in a something you believe will help your business grow, you want – and deserve – to see some results. So, a question we often hear is:
How much does online marketing cost?
The response from our team comes at this tricky question in a variety of ways…
Stoney (@StoneyD): There is no one-size-fits all answer to that question. It’s kind of like asking, “How much does a house cost?” Or a car. Or surgery. Or ObamaCare. Well, not the last one because the others can actually have a defined costs. The better questions is, “How much ROI will I get for my investment?” While there is no “sticker price” that can be placed on that, it really is the bottom line question. Whether you’re paying $5,000 or $500,000 for online marketing, you need to make sure you will get a return. This comes back to making sure you trust your SEO. If you pay a lowball price then ROI can be very difficult to be achieved, especially if your competition is out investing you in SEO. You also don’t want to over-pay, either. If your SEO provides quality and gets results – and more importantly, gets ROI – then there is no such thing as overpaying. Bottom line is, you need to invest whatever is needed to grow profits and not a penny less.
Craig (@craiggeis): That’s a broad question. I prefer to look at online marketing as an investment rather than a cost. There was a day when playing the internet was like hitting the lotto. Those days are long gone. Today, setting goals, doing research and creating strategies are vital if you want to swim with the internet sharks. Don’t be fooled, there is risk when you invest online. But with the proper approach you can reap great returns if you proceed with wisdom and have patience.
Mike (@mflem25): Let’s say I have a friend who has agreed to give me $4 for every $1 that I give him. Of course, I’m going to give him as many $1 bills as I can muster up. That is, unless of course, I have another friend that will give me $5 for every $1, right? If this were the case, I would give friend #2 as much money as I could muster up until he ran out of money. If he stops giving me the $5, whatever I have left goes over to friend #1.
Yes, the friends are marketing channels and the Internet is one of them. Of course there is another layer in this whole deal. Whichever “friend” you treat better will make a better deal with you. So, if you don’t know how to treat a certain “friend” well, you likely would want to go get some counseling on how to conduct that relationship.
Jen (@martijen): For more than 100 years, businesses have been sold on the value of traditional advertising and marketing, such as newspapers, magazines, trade publications, flyers, brochures, billboards, radio and television. Hundreds of studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of these communication channels. Collectively, companies have spent billions annually on “crafting their message” in ads and commercials. Yet, all this effort was one way, sent out via electromagnetic waves or printed materials to nameless, faceless consumers on the other end. Metrics were based Gallup Polls, demographic readership studies or, in the best-case scenario, an actual pile of coupons that could be counted when redeemed.
The Internet, however, has ushered in true two-way communication between consumers and organizations. People have names and faces and personalities and conversations. And, oh yes, they CLICK. Suddenly, you’ve got some actual numbers. You have measurable statistics. You can tie your online marketing efforts to conversions of all sorts (purchases, subscriptions, likes, retweets, etc.). Of course, interpreting and managing all this still takes planning, execution and, yes, moola. But, when compared to traditional marketing, online marketing demonstrates ROI in a much clearer way. In the end, you must decide how much that’s worth to you.
Look for our Q&A posts about online marketing each month. Or, if you have a question you’d like to ask our team, just send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be glad to answer via our blog.