Digital Marketing: An Expense or an Investment?


digital marketing investment image

Digital Marketing has been a buzz term for the last several years. Starting out, it stirred up a lot of questions, but now, it is such a normal part of our everyday lives that we only question it when it is our job to implement it. 

We don’t think twice about seeing an online ad or a business’s page on Facebook. When we’re browsing a website and that “chat” button pops up, it seems like the most natural thing in the world. 

Why is it, then, that business owners hyperventilate a little bit when it’s time to launch a digital marketing strategy? They’ve seen it from the sidelines for years, but now, it’s time for them to put it into action. 

We can tell you why. The first question that comes to mind is this: “What is the expense?” And that’s a fair question.

It is the responsibility of business owners to ask those hard questions about budgets and finances. But here is another question you should be asking: 

Is digital marketing an expense or an investment?

Digital Marketing: On the Grow

Digital marketing is one of the fastest growing industries right now, and there’s no end in sight. 

These statistics from a Business 2 Community article are proof:

99% of businesses planned to increase their digital marketing efforts on at least one channel in this past year.

64% of businesses planned to spend more money on social media marketing than they have in the past, making it the largest growth area. 

55% of business expected to invest more money in high-quality, well-performing websites.

People are spending more and more money on digital marketing strategy and increased efforts. What is the reasoning?

The Basic Why

The simplest answer to the “Why?” is that the people are there. Walk into a waiting room, meeting room, grocery store… anywhere, really. What are people doing? They are staring at their phones.

On average, Americans spend 5.4 hours a day on their phones. Not to mention the drastic end of the spectrum: 13% of Millenials and 5% of Boomers admit to spending over 12 hours a day on their phones. And that does not even include their computers.

The truth is, people are going to be staring at their phones for hours a day whether you have a digital marketing strategy in place or not… You might as well invest in one and find a place on their screen, because they are not looking up at the billboard much anymore.

Let’s be honest, a strong, easy-access internet presence is a must-have to achieve relevance at all. Without it, you get lost in a stack of business cards. With it, you are reaching out to potentials constantly without lifting a finger, and those potentials are seeing whatever personality for your business you present to them online.

Digital marketing can be more personalized than traditional marketing ever could because of the emphasis on creating content that represents your business well. Content marketing has everything to do with drawing people in.

Measuring ROI

Going back to the original question––“What is the expense?”––we recognize that it is really a two sided question. The other side being, “What is the return?” 

ROI (Return on Investment) can be challenging to measure in digital marketing because you can’t make an immediate measurement. Just like any investment, you do it for its long term results, not its same-day monetary return. 

When you invest in digital marketing, you are paying for a platform to shout from, then waiting for the audience to be convinced. It might take some build-up work, but over time, they will learn your name and begin to trust you. 

Be proactive. Be patient. Repeat. 

It’s a process, but when you’re creating good content and offering good communication, people will seek out your good services. When that process gets fulfilled, however long it may take, you will start to see the return on your investment… 

In other words:

We measure in clicks, newsletter sign-ups, likes and shares, increase in website traffic, and leads before we ever measure in dollars.

From a monetary perspective, however, we know that if you were to invest $1 in a digital marketing campaign, any return more than $1 is a success. 

And if you want more of the nitty gritty details, check out this article and this article on calculating ROI for digital marketing campaigns.

Investing in the Long-Term

It’s hard to put out money where you can’t see the results right away. It’s a leap of faith. 

But remember all those statistics we mentioned earlier? There is a reason people are investing more and more in having a strong online presence. They recognize that this is the world we live in now, and it takes an adaptive spirit to have a successful business in it.

We’ve been seeing the positive results of digital marketing for years and the field only continues to expand. It can just be hard to imagine those results as your own when you’re the one paying for them. Still, it is about investing in the long-term. 

So, let’s answer the burning question. Is digital marketing an expense or an investment?

When done with excellence, digital marketing is an investment. Without a doubt.

If you’re considering investing in digital marketing and developing a new or fresh strategy, schedule a free strategy session with us today. We do everything with excellence.

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