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10 types of cost in marketing: Can you afford not to spend?

3 mins read

Managing a marketing budget can feel as though you’re walking a tightrope. One minute you’re on top of the world — but spend too much or too little and you’ll fall to the depths of business mediocrity below.  

Your budget that once looked nice and healthy can soon start to look like my bank balance after three years at university. This is because it’s easy to overlook the different types of cost in marketing for today’s businesses. So, here’s a handy list of everything you might want to spend money on this year. 

  1. Website setup and maintenance 
  2. Social ads
  3. Paid search
  4. Video production
  5. Marketing automation tools
  6. Travel expenses
  7. Attending trade events
  8. SEO and outreach
  9. PR campaigns
  10. Branding

1. Website setup and maintenance 

If you’re on this blog and researching marketing costs, then you don’t need me to tell you how important websites are. What you might be unaware of is just how much they can eat into your yearly marketing budget. 

Hosting, establishing a domain, SSL certificates, templates, eCommerce functionality, integrations — the bigger and more complex your website, the more it’s going to cost. Simple templates from DIY website builders aren’t a bad place to start but you’ll find limitations compared to bespoke builds. 

2. Social ads

Again, you don’t need me to spend too long outlining the importance of social media marketing. By 2025, 4.41 billion of us will be tweeting, posting, sharing and double-tapping on one social network or another. 

tom cross social media digital 22

So, how do you make yourself heard in all that noise? The answer could be social ads. Marketers ranked social media advertising as the second most successful form of marketing and CTR for social media ads rose in 2020

They can be costly so make sure you’re confident you’ve cultivated your ads so they’ll reach the right demographic. 

3. Paid search

Next up is paid search. Google SERPs are crowded and you’ve got to jostle with your competition for the best spots. An easy way to get ahead is by grabbing yourself a spot at the top of the page with a paid ad. 

Tread carefully, however. Paid search is high risk, high reward. You’ll need to target the right keywords otherwise you’re effectively throwing money away. If it’s a medium you’re new to, keep in mind there are PPC pros out there who aren’t going to be easy to shift. 

4. Video production

We’ve got the website sorted, social ads published and paid search campaigns running. What’s next? Video. 

Video ads are the number one way consumers discovered a brand they later purchased from. Number one! If you aren’t already creating video content then that’s just really not good. The issue is those cameras, lights and videographers aren’t exactly cheap. 

people forget text remember video

We’ve created a tonne of content about getting started with video by the way. Here are some benefits of inbound video. This one tackles video in sales emails while this handy podcast from Paul and Jon talks you through setting up a YouTube channel.  

5. Marketing automation tools

We’re team HubSpot but whichever tool you rely on for your marketing automation, it’s going to cost you. 

HubSpot continues to make big changes every year with your growth in mind. it'll help your teams stay in sync, grow without feeling the strain, achieve adoption for richer insights and much more. 

You could choose to go without but you’d be turning your back on more leads, conversions and revenue.

Up to you though. 

6. Travel expenses 


7. Trade events

I’m grouping these two together because they fall into a similar category and it’s my blog, so I make the rules. 

Pre-COVID, visiting clients and industry events were important things to do to close deals and boost your reputation. It remains to be seen whether or not we’ll fully return to pre-COVID in-person meetings but if we do, it’s another expense you’ll need to factor in. 

love inbound event digital 22

Plus, everyone wants to return with a bang. So if your first event since COVID is going to be memorable, normal might not cut it.

8. SEO and outreach

Developing effective SEO strategies takes time and money. You’ll need to audit content, carry out keyword research, optimise site architecture and manage links through outreach.

The tools needed to do this work will need to be factored into the budget too. 

9. PR campaigns

I’m not sure how much a PR campaign might typically cost, to be honest, so bear with me while I Google it. 


I’m back. 

The answer seems to be that it depends on the type of campaign you want to run and who you get to run it, although some estimates had it as much as $10,000 per month. 

I wasn’t exactly sure because at Digital 22, we have all the tools you might need to achieve the same goals as a PR campaign. 

10. Branding 

Brand refreshes can have transformative results but they do take up a large chunk of your budget. Creating new logos, fonts, colours, images, websites, tone of voice documents and more is a large project that often doesn’t come cheap. 

So, is it even worth it?

Are any of these marketing types actually worth the blood, sweat, tears and most importantly, the cash you invest into them?

Can you afford not to invest in your marketing?

The short answer is no. 

The long answer is also no but with an explanation.

We could create this same blog in 12 months and the list might be twice as long. Digital marketing is moving at such a breakneck speed that if you stop for a moment to pause, you might be left behind. 

The cost of stagnation is ultimately more detrimental to your business than the cost of investing in marketing. That’s not to say we recommend throwing your money at everything. Identify which marketing types have the most potential for success. Not everyone is going to benefit from Twitter adverts or PR campaigns — find a combination that suits you. 

Plan your marketing investment with our conversion calculator

Prove that your marketing plans will have the best ROI with our free conversion calculator. Get a clearer view of how you can best spend your marketing budget by using our conversion calculator that enables you to forecast costs upfront. 

Try it now using the link below.