‘What will it cost?' is one of the most popular questions we get asked when talking about a new SEO, PPC, Paid Social, EDM or general digital marketing campaign. There's a short and a long answer and I am going to give you both. Read right till the end though, this will not be one of those articles that promises much and delivers little!.
Surely, you knew this was going to be part of the answer! Any agency looking to price an effective, mutually beneficial and long-term engagement will carefully consider the following before putting forward a fee structure:
Here's exactly how we reach a $ value
The agency/client relationship only works if there's real value generated for both parties. For this reason, most good agencies will take the scoping and pricing stage very seriously. Be very wary of any agency willing to give you a price before they truly know the answer to the first three points above. A cookie cutter price list will almost certainly result in a cookie cutter solution. This might result in a lot of campaign activity but will not always lead to the desired outcomes.
To flesh out the desired outcomes, requirements, current situation and existing marketing assets, we typically go through the following process:
This is a lot of work for us. However, more than a decade of running effective marketing campaigns has taught us that these steps are critical to long-term success. Bottom line, doing this is a lot less work than trying to save a poorly thought out campaign six months later.
We enthusiastically do all the above before a dollar has changed hands or a contract has been signed.
The best pricing model for you and your agency is the one which best incentivises the right people to focus on the outcomes you value. We see agencies charging by the hour, working for a percentage of media spend, paid on specific performance outcomes, paid by channel or working for a set monthly fee. Depending on the agency and what you want to achieve there is a place for one or more of these approaches. None of them is inherently flawed.
Never forget though that each model might incentivise specific unwanted behaviour.
The overall marketing agency pricing model is a critical thing to consider! Price is important. But it needs to be secondary to achieving the outcomes you need. Don't 'win' on the price negotiation only to 'lose' on the whole purpose of needing an agency in the first place.
You'll find a lot of people cheaper than Rocket and you'll also find agencies charging a lot more. We believe we're above the average but not massively so. That said, our ongoing clients don't tend to focus much on how much we charge. We like to think it's because they see value in what we do.
There are two ways we work with clients and both are priced in slightly different ways. Here's how it works.
We're often approached by in-house marketing teams to provide scale or execute on a single tactic or channel. In other words, we’re viewed as their SEO Agency, Hubspot Marketing Agency, PPC or Google Ads Management or Paid Social Marketing Agency (or a combination of more than one of these).
Typically, this sort of engagement is for an agreed monthly fee (plus potentially a % of media above a certain threshold if applicable). Pricing depends on the complexity and the required outcome. To give you an indication:
Google Ads: We generally manage Google Ads campaigns starting from $3,500 per month. This will then scale depending on media spend and complexity of account. Media management will generally be 9% to 19% of monthly ad spend depending on scale (only charged above a certain threshold).
SEO: Our SEO engagements start at $3,000 per month for an ongoing SEO Australia campaign. Once again the rate for an individual client will depend on scope:
Paid Social: Facebook, LinkedIn or other paid social channels can be the hardest to price. An effective paid social campaign requires strategy, tracking, creative, media management and technical efficiency. Almost all digital marketing disciplines touch an effective paid social campaign. Generally speaking, if we are running a paid social campaign for a client it will start at $3,500 per month to Rocket, plus media fees (again, typically only above an agreed threshold).
The rates above are indicative only. The cost for your campaigns will vary depending on scope, complexity, and competition. On occasion, these indicative ranges can go up when we’re managing very large media budgets or there is out-of-the-ordinary complexity. We also have some clients paying less than the above for very simple campaigns or where the engagement is more about maintenance.
Campaigns are for an initial period of 6 or 12 months with an intention from both parties of a much longer relationship. We have clients using us for single or multiple channels and there are typically cost savings when we are engaged to work on multiple channels.
We also have clients who are more focused on the outcomes themselves and do not care about specific channels. Where this is the case our strategists develop 6-month roadmaps outlining what we believe to be the activities and channels required to achieve key outcomes in the coming six-month period. Each roadmap breaks down the campaign into clearly costed channels so our clients know where their investment is going at all times.
If something significant changes, or when we reach the end of the six-month roadmap, we create a new roadmap. From roadmap to roadmap the channels we use for a client will change as required. As an example, a typical roadmap (if such a thing exists) could include discovery work to assist in setting up the strategy, several channels (such as Google Ads, retargeting, paid social, EDMs, display advertising, SEO or CRO) as well as tracking, analytics, education and sales enablement services.
Typically, campaigns of this nature start from $7,500 per month for a really well-scoped campaign of blended digital marketing. We also have clients paying up to double or triple this amount, and more, for significantly more complex blended campaigns. Again, initial campaigns are for a 6 or 12-month period and we've worked with some of our clients on this basis for many years.
This can be an extremely effective way to work for companies who want us to look after overall digital strategy as well as digital execution.
There are times when ongoing retainer work is not the appropriate solution, and what is required is a specific piece of work with a clear outcome. Common examples include digital marketing strategy creation, ad creative, SEO site migration or technical audits, creation of a video, landing page design and more.
Projects are always quoted depending on complexity once we’ve created a clear scope of work. For example, we may discover dozens of different optimisation opportunities in an SEO technical audit. Implementing these changes on your site may be a simple process or it can take days of coding - it just depends!
We would of course be happy to give you an indication of cost for any specific project you have coming up.
You now know what we charge our current clients and roughly the way we approach things.
If you are interested in our approach and feel we're somewhere in the ballpark for your budget, then get in touch! We'd love to find out more about what you do and what you're trying to achieve in digital.
David Lawrence is the MD and Co-Founder of Rocket, an award-winning Australian digital marketing agency. He is also the co-author of the Amazon #1 best-selling marketing book 'Smarter Marketer'. David has presented at several events including Inbound, Search Marketing Summit, Mumbrella360, CEO Institute and a variety of seminars and in-house sessions.
David has built his expertise from a diverse career, starting with an economics degree before jumping into all things web in the late 90s.
Today, David is Rocket's Managing Director and is known for his ability to find clarity in the bigger picture. He is highly respected as a digital marketing authority, sharing his expertise with an extensive network here in Australia and around the world.
Everything an in-house marketer needs to craft a winning digital marketing strategy in 2023.