The cost of a digital marketing consultant in Australia can vary a lot depending on a variety of factors.
Currently, digital marketing consultants charge between $100 and $350 per hour. Though it depends on a variety of factors including their location, experience and portfolio, demand, your requirements, fee structures, and business model.
As such, while searching for a consultant, it’s important to first understand what you’re looking for, what their specialties are, and what experience you need. This helps you understand, budget for, and plan your resources to make the most of your engagement with a consultant.
Many digital marketing contractors in Australia can provide the vast majority of their services online, and can support your business via Zoom, Teams, or Google meetings.
Typically, the cost of a consultant will increase as the cost of living and wages increase in their city. Comparing Australian cities in order of most to least expensive gives us:
If local knowledge, and face to face meetings are important to the consultant understanding your business, then search locally. If your business doesn’t target locals, you have a national, or international team or customer base, it’s likely best to keep your options broad.
The Consultant's Portfolio & Experience
It may sound obvious, but hiring a consultant is similar to hiring staff. It’s important to vet potential candidates by evaluating their portfolio and experience. Typically, the more experienced a consultant, the more expensive. But that’s not always the case, you’ll need to consider the following:
Digital Marketing Consultants with extensive experience in industries with typically high-value or high profit margin services will tend to charge more. It’s the nature of the experience gained in their industry, and the value that provides to their clients.
Typically, these clients will also include much larger budgets for campaigns or advertising, and are willing to pay a premium for advice to save money of their ad expenditure. Likewise, if the consultant has a specialty in a niche, this gives them negotiating power, and therefore increases the expected cost of that consultant.
Years of Experience
This is a tricky one, as years of experience may not necessarily be relevant specifically to your industry. However, it should be an indicator of their general experience in the field. A consultant with two to three years of intense eCommerce experience may be a better fit for your business than one with ten years of brand building, or a focus on SaaS companies.
Consider the consultant’s years of experience as a guide for potential skill.
Similar to experience and industries, it’s important to understand the type of projects the consultant has worked on. If they’re mainly focused on brand development or building consumer engagement campaigns, but your business needs to build lead generation or sales in the short term, it may not be the right fit.
Consider your goals, and whether the consultant has experience with projects aligned to these goals.
Typical Remit (Advisors vs Executioners)
When reviewing your list of potential consultants, it’s also important to understand where their skillset lies, and how that fits in with your business requirements.
If you have internal marketing resources that just need strategic guidance, then it’s best to look for a strategic advisor. If you have the strategy, or simply need assistance with a predefined set of activities, or are covering leave for a specific employee, then look for an executioner.
It’s important to note that this is a sliding scale. Most digital marketing consultants in Australia will be neither purely strategic, or purely executioners, but many will have a network of people they can refer you to for different elements of digital marketing.
Consider how the digital marketing consultant fits in with your existing team, and where you most need support.
Now that you’ve got an understanding of what goes into the fees a digital marketing consultant will charge, it’s important to understand what your requirements are for the consultant, and start to refine your shortlist.
What is your budget?
The first is obvious, but it’s important to understand. Consider your marketing budget, campaign budget, or disposable income you’re comfortable using to grow your business. Most consultants will be able to give you an estimate for any required projects on or after a initial call, but you’ll want to make sure you align your expectations and have this in mind before reaching out.
What services do your require?
Digital marketing consultants can range from broad strategic support to hyper-specific, depending on their experience and portfolio. You’ll need to filter down your list of target consultants based on the required services. If you’re not sure what you need, then you’re looking for a digital strategist. They’ll help contextualise your business, and develop a marketing plan.
Often, that marketing plan will contain one or more of the following individual services:
- PPC Advertising
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Organic Social media
- Web development, UX & UI
- Or other related services depending on your requirements
If you already know which area of digital marketing you need support on, they you’re probably looking for a specialist who focuses on execution in that area.
Make sure you consider the fees associated with different services that may be required to make your marketing strategy successful, and budget accordingly.
What is your timeline?
Finally, consider your timeline. As is common in many industries, some digital marketing consultants may charge a rush fee or rush rate for new clients with very short timelines. This is to prevent urgent campaigns or strategies from being sprung last minute and that affect the quality of work they can deliver.
Often, for consultants it’s about quality over quantity, and they’re trying to ensure they provide consistent, effective advice for their clients. Giving them time to make a solid plan not only increases the quality of output, but can help reduce costs for your business.
What Benchmarks to use to Evaluate a Quote?
Most digital marketing consultants fall into two categories, Freelancers and Agencies. Benchmarks will vary slightly between each of these parties.
Freelancers, or sole traders, are consultants running their own businesses. A freelancer will typically charge between 2x and 3x the average hourly rate they would expect as an in-house staff member.
For example, a freelancer who would expect a $100,000 salary ($50/hr) as an in-house employee would be expected to charge between $100 and $150 per hour.
Use the industry specialties, years of experience, and completed projects, alongside pay scale research for Australia to help you estimate what to expect when you’re looking for a quote from a freelancer.
- You receive more time and attention.
- Freelancers tend to work with fewer clients, and therefore have more time to focus on you and your business.
- They’re cheaper.
- A smaller business has fewer expenses, and so a freelancer has fewer overheads to cover, making the average cost much cheaper than an agency.
- They’re faster and more reactive.
- A freelancer is often much closer to the final product than an account manager at an agency. This means they’re able to react upon feedback often significantly faster, and there are fewer opportunities for a communication breakdown.
- They’re highly focused experts.
- Freelancers are focused on their area of expertise, and are specialists in that niche. They’re fantastic at delivering their specific services, and can turn these around with high accuracy.
- They don’t have the resources of an agency.
- Freelancers may rely on a supporting network of advisors. So support on out-of-scope deliverables may vary depending on the individual.
Agency consultants work for a team, and typically work with larger clients and campaigns. An agency consultant is typically charged at between 3x and 5x the average hourly rate they are paid by the Agency.
For example: An agency who would pay their team members a $100,000 salary ($50/hr) would be expected to charge between $150 and $250 per hour for that staff member.
Agency quotes will typically include a mix of different staff members and rates averaged out based on their expectations of time required for individual staff members.
Research agency roles, or job listings from the agency to evaluate their expected hourly rate.
- They have access to a wide range of specialists.
- With a wide range of experts, economies of scale will decrease the total labour time, and can lead to a cost effective quote.
- They have experience with larger campaigns.
- Most agencies focus on working with larger companies and handle large campaign budgets. If you’re looking to grow or scale the operations for a short time an agency can be strong support system to access an skilled workforce without hiring a full in-house team.
- They’re more expensive.
- When you’re working with an agency, they have to cover an increasing number of overheads, from staff wages, to subscription costs, finance, and administration expenses. These fees are all built into your quote, so be sure to compare valued deliverables and timelines.
- They move slower.
- As you increase the size of a company, you can often introduce layers of bureaucracy. This can slow down deliverables, increase the total time requirement (and therefore the cost) of campaigns, and make it difficult to deliver reactive campaigns on the fly.
Most digital marketing consultants in Australia operate on one of three different fee structures, and depending on the requirements above, you may find this influences the cost to your business.
The simplest option tends to be the most expensive. Many consultants charge an hourly rate, and will work with you as long as they’re providing value. This is most effective for entry level, or smaller budgets as it avoids lock-in contracts and minimum costs.
Retainers are the most cost effective options, but will often lock you in for a fixed fee either monthly or quarterly. If you’re going to be needing assistance from the consultant for an extended period, look to engage in a retainer structure.
A mid-point between a retainer and an hourly rate, this structure requires the consultant to quote based on expected hours to complete a set number of deliverables. This can be an effective structure if you know what you need help with. It gives security to both parties on the start and end dates, and doesn’t require extended lock-in contracts.
It may sound obvious, but consider what’s right for your business. If you’re trying to understand the fees, expected cost, or put together a budget for a digital marketing consultant, ask yourself:
- Does my consultant need to be local?
- What do I need them to do?
- What should there experience look like?
- What would someone of the above skills and experience be paid if I hired them full-time?
- Do I need a wide range of skills (Agency), or an individual with a network (freelancer)?
- How important is the speed of communication?