The Ultimate Marketing Agency Pricing Guide: How Much Should You Charge?

The Ultimate Marketing Agency Pricing Guide: How Much Should You Charge?

What are we talking about in this article?

How to calculate the costs of a Marketing Agency

When it comes to digital marketing, it’s essential that you have carefully calculated the costs of the SEO work. Indeed, marketing agency pricing can vary, and this can make it difficult to know whether your marketing campaign is providing you with good value for money. Hence, today, we will be looking at some of the different pricing strategies used by digital marketing agencies, so you can decide whether investing in SEO services would be a beneficial use of your firm’s marketing budget.

Pricing Models for Marketing Agency 

Digital marketing agencies use numerous different pricing models, and understanding these can be the first step in making sure you are getting good value from your content marketing. Don’t pay over the odds for providing digital marketing services; make sure your search engine optimization services are giving you great value instead.


Pricing models that ask an hourly rate are among the most common types of digital marketing options. Hence, you will likely encounter teams offering their services based on an hourly rate at some point when carrying out market research for social media and SEO marketers. Projects that are charged on an hourly rate are beneficial in that the costs associated are well represented. The client only pays for the time that is done on the project; as such, the SEO team can provide good value with hourly pricing models, while having a clear understanding of how the marketing budget is being spent.

Benefits of Hourly Pricing Models

Hourly pricing models can offer a variety of benefits for your firm, and being aware of these could help you to make the right choice for your digital marketing strategy. Hourly marketing models are beneficial in that you only have to pay your marketers for the work done. The same is true for your clients paying you. And so, if the job is completed quickly, you will likely get a good cost for the services – and so can provide good value for your clients, too.

In addition, if you need to reduce the number of hours your digital marketing agency is putting in for email marketing, social media marketing, and the like, you can cut their hourly requirements and fees in line with your marketing budget. Admittedly, this is only applicable in cases where you haven’t signed a contract for a certain number of hours.

To get the most from hourly pricing models, it’s important to ensure you’ve negotiated fair and representative fees with your client for the services provided.

Drawbacks of Hourly Projects

There is one significant drawback to hourly pricing models, and that is the lack of control offered over the marketing budget. Indeed, with hourly projects, you will have to pay for whatever work is done. For example, if you struggle to accurately predict the length of time the services will take to complete, you will find yourself offering very little SEO work to your client for the price. As such, this should be carefully considered when taking out a contract for search engine optimization. 


Another common pricing model for digital marketing services is a project-based rate, whereby you charge a flat fee for SEO services. It’s not uncommon for new customers to be asked for payment upfront for project-based digital marketing services. You should always choose your marketing team carefully before offering an online marketing plan on a project-rate, to ensure your team is able to deliver the high-quality work it’s known for without compromise.

Benefits of Project-Based Hiring

There are numerous benefits to providing services on a project rate for you and your clients. For small businesses especially, funds can be tight – and project rates ensure that they won’t have to pay over the odds. They pay a flat rate for the work, regardless of the amount of time worked, whether the team spends 10 productive hours or 100 unproductive hours on it. For startups and small businesses, this can be beneficial as you know that they’ll be paying the same price, no matter what happens. Hence, project-based work can be a good incentive for new customers to choose your team.

Drawbacks of Project Rates

Project rates are common pricing models, but it’s imperative that your digital marketing team is able to complete work efficiently and the projects are priced fairly. Indeed, if projects take longer to complete than you originally budgeted for, you will suffer reduced profitability for the business. In some cases, if you severely misjudged the length of time to complete SEO services, you could make a loss on some of your SEO projects.

This will help your agency avoid falling into the trap of providing poor quality content and SEO services. Also, make sure that you have clearly defined and measurable expectations for the deliverable; this will help lessen the risk.

Retainer model

A third pricing model we should consider is the retainer model, whereby an agreement is drawn up between the new customer and the SEO service provider for a certain amount of digital marketing work to be carried out monthly, in exchange for a flat fee being paid every month. Retainer models can be beneficial for a number of reasons and are usually considered as an ongoing alternative to a project-rate model.

Benefits of Retainer Model Pricing

Choosing retainer model pricing can be an excellent way to benefit both your digital marketing agency and the client. Indeed, by agreeing a monthly rate, the marketing agency can expect longer-term work, meanwhile the business can rely on consistent pricing structures through the monthly retainer

Furthermore, working with a monthly retainer can be a good way to develop a strong relationship between new customers and the agency. This means that, looking on a more long-term basis, working with a retainer model can ensure your business is able to benefit from regular marketing and website design services to help build brand awareness

Drawbacks of Retainer Models

Retainer models are highly beneficial, however, there are drawbacks. They usually indicate a long-term relationship, however, there is the potential for the client to cut ties with your business if things aren’t going to plan.

Furthermore, it can sometimes be difficult to estimate the amount of time to be dedicated to content creation and SEO services from month to month. Some months, for example, your brand awareness could already be high through word-of-mouth and so the client might not need SEO services. Hence, you’ll get reduced orders compared to normal.

Finally, you should consider that many clients will expect discounted pricing models when choosing retainer projects, as many marketing agencies will offer a reduced price in exchange for long term, guaranteed work. Since most clients will expect edits to work to be provided for free, reduced project rates could impact your firm’s profitability. Furthermore, renegotiating rates with clients who are expecting a discount can be problematic, as many clients will expect to get the same amount of work for the same price, regardless of whether your business’ costs or pricing model changes.

Recurring model

Recurring payment models are becoming increasingly common, and they are potentially good options for your digital marketing needs. However, it is important that clients consider your overall marketing budget when signing up to a recurring model to ensure that you don’t end up spending too little or too much.

Benefits of Recurring Models

There are a few notable benefits of recurring pricing models that you should consider. These are largely the same as for retainer models, in that you can rely on regular SEO work for your brand. Furthermore, recurring pricing is also beneficial as it allows your brand to easily plan the marketing budget, as the orders for digital marketing will largely remain consistent from month to month.

Drawbacks of Recurring Pricing Strategies

Recurring pricing strategies are incredibly common, but they are not necessarily an ideal content marketing solution for every scenario – especially for small businesses. Indeed, because the SEO services will have the same price every month, your client will be required to pay this regardless of whether they need the SEO work or not. 

For business owners who aren’t sure of whether their business will be able to afford the price of SEO services every month, it’s thus important to consider whether a recurring plan will be ideal. This may put off some clients. Moreover, recurring pricing models largely rely on automation of payments; as such, if your client decides to increase its ad spend and further promote its content strategy, there may be a delay with this until the next billing month.


If you’re passionate about providing high-quality digital marketing, performance-based hiring solutions could be a good option to consider. These marketing solutions are created in such a way that they ensure the client is getting high-quality services without paying over the odds for them; they also reward the digital marketing agency for providing top-quality web design and marketing services. In short, they potentially sound like the ideal pricing for marketing channels – however, there are still a few drawbacks.

Benefits of Performance-Based Marketing 

The benefits of performance-based marketing are largely quite easy to understand. Indeed, when you use a performance-based marketing strategy, your client will end up paying a premium for quality services. Usually, this form of marketing campaign is carried out as standard until the project has been completed to a measurable standard, with the business owner paying the marketing team members a bonus on top of their basic salary.

Drawbacks of Performance Marketing

Of course, performance marketing is a valuable option – however, it does mean that the client business will need to pay a premium for marketing services if the quality is good. Of course, this can make it more complicated for them to manage their marketing budget. This may put some business owners off, who might prefer a more predictable pricing model. So, careful consideration may need to be given to ensure that performance marketing 


Value-based pricing is highly customer-influenced, and a strategist approach can be utilised in order to make the most of this method. Indeed, value-based marketing is dependent on the customer or user experience, and the price of a service is hence based on the price that the new customer believes it to be valued at.

Benefits of Value-Based Marketing 

Value-based marketing is becoming more popular in recent times, and growing numbers of digital marketing agencies are considering the possibility of offering these solutions to new customers. Indeed, market research shows that value-based marketing is a great way to ensure that customers get tailored solutions unique to their needs; hence, not only can this potentially save your client money, but it can also ensure they get a suitable solution for your marketing needs. This is a great way to improve your clients’ satisfaction with the services provided to them.

Moreover, there is another key benefit that you should be aware of, and that is that not all digital marketers will offer this service. Hence, providing value-based solutions by professional content marketing experts and web design professionals can be a great unique selling point (USP). In turn, because of the pricing model‘s popularity among small businesses and larger business owners alike, you’ll probably get more orders from a wider variety of ecommerce and website clients.

Drawbacks of Value-Based Solutions

Value-based solutions are highly customer-focused, making them excellent choices for clients who have been considering getting digital marketing services. However, for the business itself, value-based marketing solutions can be a little tricky to implement, and there’s no guarantee that customers will want to pay the price your business needs to remain highly profitable. 

As such, value-based marketing plans should be carefully considered, and you should provide information to your new clients about the costs involved with SEO algorithm optimization, social media marketing, email marketing, and the like. This may help them to make informed choices – however, you will likely get many requests from clients wanting unviable, cheap marketing services. 

Customized pricing

Similar to value-based solutions, customized pricing strategies are highly popular for SEO customers. Indeed, not every marketing strategy is the same. For example, some business owners prefer to focus their attempts on keyword optimization for search engine algorithms. Meanwhile, other small businesses prefer to focus on social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn to market their services to the target audience.

As such, customized pricing strategies can be good options for helping your clients find an SEO service that best meets their unique needs.

Benefits of Customized Pricing

Customized pricing is hugely beneficial for your clients’ marketing goals, as it can help them get professional SEO support that’s perfectly tailored to their needs. 

Notably, it’s important to consider that the client will also get special rates for services that are specifically suited to your business. As such, customized pricing is massively beneficial from the client’s perspective, and increasing numbers of marketing agencies are offering it.

Offering these customized solutions can, as such, have beneficial effects in terms of your business’ reputation. In turn, this may help to boost your brand and increase your brand’s outreach, helping you to attract new customers and more experienced, professional marketing team staff to your digital marketing agency.

Drawbacks of Customized Pricing for SEO

Customized pricing is incredibly beneficial for clients, but it’s important not to get carried away. Indeed, it can be easy for clients to go over their marketing budget with a customized pricing solution that seems too good.

As such, if you choose to offer customized pricing SEO plans, you may want to provide assistance for your customers to find the right solutions for their needs. Make sure that the client has considered the pricing of the marketing services you can offer and that they choose a solution that you can afford, without stretching their marketing budget.

This is pivotal for establishing a strong, long-term marketing relationship with the customer. After all, this can be a common mistake that business owners make when ordering services from a professional marketing agency. Hence, they may need to cut ties with the marketing agency if the costs get too high – and this isn’t ideal for the future success of your agency.

How to get profit from marketing services

At this point, we have considered all of the different pricing strategies that you may want to consider for your digital marketing needs. But how can you make sure your business is profiting from offering digital marketing services? There are a few different strategies you should implement for your marketing goals to ensure you have the best chance at making a profit from investing in marketing services. Our team is on hand to help outline these today, to give you the best opportunity to succeed with your own business’ marketing goals.

Tips to calculate costs in a marketing agency

Calculating the costs for your marketing budget is absolutely integral, as this will help you to understand whether your marketing campaign business is providing good value for money. This is true both for you and for your clients. Fortunately, there are a few tips that you can use to work out how much your marketing campaign is likely to cost. Moreover, it will help you decide whether the marketing strategy will give a good return on investment for your clients in the form of inbound organic visitors – and good customer satisfaction is, of course, vital for your firm’s success.

Project management 

One of the most important tips that we can give for calculating and managing costs for your digital marketing is to make sure your project management is being considered carefully. Good project management is essential to enhance the return on investment from your digital marketing services.

As part of project management, you should consider a few different factors, as outlined below.

The types of marketing services being offered

When considering the project management for your marketing campaign, you should think carefully about the different services you are providing. Indeed, most marketing campaigns will provide different services, including content creation, social media marketing, email marketing, and Google Ads / PPC services to enhance the client’s outreach. In turn, this will hopefully optimize the number of inbound customers they receive from the efforts – however, not every marketing service will be effective for every business.

So, to manage the costs of your digital marketing projects effectively and in a way that benefits your clients, you should strive to carefully manage every aspect of the marketing campaign. If any of these areas are not performing at their best, you should try to encourage your digital marketing agency staff to spend more time focusing on these services to improve their efficacy. 

Alternatively, you may want to distribute finances to other, more profitable aspects of your digital marketing campaign instead if any particular aspect isn’t providing the metrics that your client needs. Indeed, if your business needs to tweak the marketing template that’s being used, it’s important that you make sure this is carried out quickly. This will help ensure that you (and your clients) aren’t throwing finances at unprofitable aspects of the marketing strategy.

Time tracking 

So, we’ve clarified the importance of getting project management right, and making sure your marketing template is tailored to the most profitable aspects of the campaign. This is an important part of making sure your SEO pricing is profitable all the same. Next, then, we need to focus on time tracking, time management, and enhancing efficiency of your digital marketing services.

It might seem like this is most important for projects that are charged on an hourly rate. However, all projects will benefit from getting time tracking right.

Time tracking will help you understand how long is being spent on each aspect of the digital marketing and SEO strategy. This is vital, as it will help to give you an insight about where funding is being spent.

For example, if you find that your marketing agency staff are spending most of their time on pay-per-click optimization, but your clients would prefer them to spend more time in getting your brand’s search engine optimization and social media presence right, then you will be able to better manage how time is being spent.

Furthermore, if you find that your agency isn’t spending much time at all on your content marketing, this may give you good grounds to provide a reduced rate to clients (great for promoting good relationships) or otherwise reduce the size of your marketing team, if each workers is only providing minimal services. Alternatively, you could ask the team to spend more time working on the client’s website or ecommerce site in line with the rate they are paying for the work. Again, this is a brilliant way to keep your business profitable while also cultivating great relationships with clients.

Whatever the case might be, getting time management right is integral. This is especially true for hourly rate projects where every hour has to be paid for. However, even for flat rate projects, knowing how time is being allocated could be crucial in optimizing the profitability of your brand’s marketing team and agency overall.

Resource management

Optimizing your marketing efforts can be difficult, but resource management is absolutely vital for your business to be successful. This is no different in terms of digital marketing, either; so, you may want to consider looking at how your digital marketing agency is managing resources to see if there could be any scope for improvement. Ways in which you could optimize resource management could include:

  •  making sure that the right marketing team members are working on areas that they specialize in 
  •  ensuring that the most profitable or successful digital marketing strategies (these are usually SEO algorithm optimization or social media marketing) have the right number of staff allocated to them
  •  checking that the right number of team members are working on marketing campaigns. There should be neither too many (which would invariably be costly and put the pricing for your content marketing services up), nor too few (which could result in poor results for your clients and a negative reputation overall).

Consider Smart Resource Management Software

There are numerous project management software tools that you might want consider investing in that allow for smart resource management. Tools such as Telanto are designed to enhance resource management for your firm, be it for staff or other resource aspects that might need optimization. By better understanding the number of marketers you will need to provide effective SEO services, you may be able to negotiate a more representative and fair pricing model for your content marketing. This is especially true for customized pricing models, whereby the digital marketing agency charges a rate in line with the services you need.

As such, you can optimize the management of your digital marketing campaign and have greater success regarding the number of marketers that you need to pay for. This, in turn, may help make your marketing strategy more affordable. In turn, this will immediately improve the overall profitability of the marketing strategy

Project profitability 

Finally, you should consider overall project profitability. There are numerous tools and algorithms available that can help you calculate the profit margin of services. Moreover, these tools can help you work out how much it costs to provide services to new customers, which could allow you to reduce SEO rates or provide a more tailored pricing model. This will improve your relationship with clients and boost your own reputation in the digital marketing industry, helping you to cultivate a long-term business model.

The number of agencies providing services that don’t actually bring any profit into the business is surprisingly high. Therefore, investing in project management tools and templates can be a pivotal part of optimizing your overall digital marketing services and ensuring long-term profitability.