Managing Your Digital Marketing Expectations (as a Small Business Owner)


managing digital marketing expectations for small business

If you are a small business owner, you may be noticing the need for a change in your digital marketing strategy. Or maybe you don’t have one yet at all. It can be a little daunting to think about at first, and many small business owners have no idea what to expect or where to start. As an agency that works frequently with local businesses, we’ve seen this time and time again, and it can be challenging on both ends to manage digital marketing expectations. 

So whether you’re launching out on your own with a digital marketing strategy or you’ve decided to hire an agency, here are some things you should keep in mind:


The initial thing to think about is, of course, the expense of developing a digital marketing plan. This is especially true for small businesses who don’t have a hefty budget to work with. 

A company can spend anywhere from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars on digital marketing strategy, so this tells us a few things: you can underdo it, you can overdo it, and you have a lot of options. 

To be transparent, if you are only spending in the hundreds, you are probably underdoing it. This is where “you get what you pay for” comes in. You may know a guy who knows a guy who can build you a website, but what you should be looking for is quality and effectiveness, not just your cheapest option. 

You might have to stretch your budget a little, but the return will be worth the extra investment. Certainly try not to overdo it either––do your research!––but know that you will have to be willing to pay for something worthwhile, and digital marketing done wrong can really damage your reputation as a business.

Digital marketing is, ultimately, more of an investment than it is an expense. Done right, it is highly worth it. 

For more on this, read our article on investing in digital marketing.


As a small business owner, we know time is precious to you––and time is money. You may be rightfully concerned about the amount of time investment digital marketing is going to take, especially until you see some kind of results. Split into two categories, here’s what you should be expecting:


Again, you may be thinking, “Yeah, let me just hire someone to whip up a website in a few weeks so I can have it by such-and-such a date,” or something similar. If you are, think again. While digital marketing experts try their best to be timely and efficient, they are craftspeople. 

It takes time to create quality and effectiveness. The ones worth their salt don’t do sloppy. They will take the necessary time to create a stunning, visually appealing, and strategic website, landing page, or whatever it is you hired them to design and build. It may be a few months worth of work, depending on the project, but it will be worth the wait.


Strategy is, by definition, a “plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.” The key word here is “overall.” It is not immediate, or it would not require such careful strategic planning. Don’t get discouraged or frustrated if you have put a strategy in place after a long development process and a significant startup cost and you don’t see results right away. 

The time it takes to generate results––whether they be leads, sales, or sign-ups––differs from business to business depending on where they are starting from. Not everyone is going to be on the same page, so try not to compare. That takes your focus off the end goal! Just stick with it.

Remember, you’re building a foundation, especially if you’re starting from small beginnings. Once your foundation is solid, the growth will become more rapid and more noticeable. Don’t expect to see significant change until around six months of putting the digital marketing strategy into place.


Digital marketing expectations are particularly challenging when it comes to ROI. If you’re putting time, money, and energy into something, your goal is obviously to get a return. With online marketing, however, Return on Investment can be somewhat tricky to measure, especially in the beginning months. 

For the same reason that it takes several months to see your strategy come into full affect, it takes time to see ROI that is actually measurable.

Don’t let this scare you. As we mentioned earlier, digital marketing is a long-term investment, and we all know not to expect immediate monetary results from a long-term investment. You have to let it simmer for a while before it really takes off. It is better to have that than to have a spike in short-term results that slow into a simmer over time and never pick up again.

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

But the truth remains, if you invest $1 into something, anything more than $1 back is still return. If you invest in quality strategy, however, you’re sure to get more than that, and we’ll be ready to celebrate with you when you start to see it!


Digital Marketing is not a one-and-done deal. Again, it’s about the strategy, meaning it is a long-term commitment. If you are working with a digital marketing agency, you may not have to be quite as hands on in that, but if you are doing most of it yourself, you’ve got your work cut out for you. 

Your website is most effective when paired with a social media presence, quality content, lead nurturing, fresh campaigns, etc. If you don’t think this is something to commit to, you should definitely consider hiring a digital marketing agency that will serve as your marketing team to make sure these things get done in the best possible way. 

But either way, you need to keep an eye on updates, strategy changes, and the constant shifts of digital marketing best practices. It matters.


We hope you now know a little about what to consider and how to manage digital marketing expectations when you are initiating plans. It can be overwhelming in the first several months. You’ve invested so much, and you don’t want to see it down the drain, but digital marketing is proven to work. 

If you’re looking to enhance your digital marketing for your business, contact us today for a free strategy session! We have years of experience and a clientele base throughout the US with only good things to say.

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