How Much Does Online Marketing Cost?

A) Online marketing is free

B) Online marketing is too expensive

Both answers above are acceptable based on the question asked in the title. And to those of you who think you will know how I will answer that question here, don’t laugh necessarily. The idea for this post came from a question that I got the other day from an acquaintance attempting to open a small business this year.

This person has no marketing experience or training. And so it’s not surprising that this question was on their mind.

Of course, the problem with the question is that there is no real answer other than, “it depends”.

It depends on:

  1. What type of marketing or advertising you are interested in
  2. What your budget is
  3. How much you can afford to spend per sale
  4. What sites you want to advertise on

And a number of other factors. And based on how you answer each question, we can come up with follow up questions to help work our way towards an appropriate “cost”.

Because online marketing encompasses such a vast number of different activities. Everything from social media marketing, which can in essence be free, to search marketing and display, falls into the category of online marketing. I would argue that website optimization and email marketing are also version of online marketing, both with much different costs than forms of online advertising in general.

You can get started in the world of online marketing for free. And that surprises most people who might ask this question. For a great list of free or low cost marketing ideas, I encourage you to check out this blog series I published a short time ago on the site: Low-cost Online Marketing Ideas.

The #1 Reason You Need Email Marketing


The number one reason that you ought to be using email marketing is that, compared to all other marketing channels and mediums, it costs you nothing incrementally.

Here is what I mean.

When you advertise in print, you pay for each ad. When you send direct mail, you pay for each piece. When you advertise on Google, you pay for each click. And I could come up with a thousand different examples where all I am doing is saying the same thing.

With most marketing channels, the more you do, the more you pay.

But with email, that’s not the case. If you subscribe to an email marketing service, of course there is a cost. But depending on what service level you use, what volume of emails you send or subscribers you have, you don’t pay per email.

Incrementally, it costs me no more to send John Smith two emails instead of one, or three instead of two. It costs me no more to send to 500 people instead of 300.

Email marketing is efficient and affordable. You can reach more people, more often, than any other marketing channel.

So what are you waiting for?