Category: Web Marketing

How Much Do Small Businesses Spend on Digital Advertising?

How Much Do Small Businesses Spend on Digital Advertising?

Small businesses have always been tough nuts to crack when it comes to jumping on board the digital advertising bandwagon, but things are changing and biz owners are ready to get dealt a hand in the game of big profits. 

Creating a budget for starting a digital advertising campaign is a smart move for those that want to mitigate risk and retain control of their ad spend. Not sure where to start?  We’re here to walk you through and hopefully give you a solid foundation for your new launch pad. 

Who should use digital advertising?

Marketing your business is a necessary function to engage your customer audience on a long-term basis. Digital marketing enables you to conduct that marketing in a more meaningful and measurable way. Some industries seem to benefit more than others: 

  • Home services industry (HVAC, plumbing, electrician, construction.) 
  • Medical and wellness/fitness practices, clinics and studios. 
  • Restaurants and other food establishments.
  • Home-based businesses. 
  • Legal firms and accounting firms.  
  • Auto dealers. 
  • Entertainment companies. 
  • Moving companies. 
  • Real estate agents. 

The list is not exhaustive, however, the trend we are seeing is that a growing number of small businesses are seeing big profit turning benefits by upping their digital game. 

Why allocate dollars for digital?

If your business is running off of the steam of referrals and you still have a positive cash flow…do you even need digital marketing? 

Well, we’re not here to tell you what you do and don’t need. We can just express our fear of relying only on word-of-mouth to run a business.  It’s a double edged sword with referrals being the easiest sell ever and completely unpredictable. 

It’s that unpredictability that drives us to look towards paid marketing strategies that offer more control. 

One benefit of digital marketing is the control you have over your ad spend dollars.  This offers people the ability to track the pulse of your marketing from week to week, so you can make changes to campaigns by either cutting ineffective ads or accelerating the winners. 

Another great ability offered by the digital world is the “omnipresence” that your company can achieve for a relatively small budget. 

Average percent spent on digital advertising...

We’ve uncovered that businesses that dedicate at least half of their marketing budget towards digital advertising, digital content, email marketing and online reviews see their business grow much faster than those that don’t.

Print advertising is not dead, it can be used in conjunction with digital marketing, but for those that still put all their money into billboards, magazines, shopping carts, and newspapers, they are getting less engagement and exposure every year.

Those methods are nowhere near as effective as Google and Facebook that currently dominate local buyer intent. 

Of course, these figures vary greatly based on your company, however as the world of digital continues to grow year after year and with big companies like Walmart and Target shifting their business models online, it is a sign to come that if you don’t have some type of digital marketing plan will fall behind.

Invest in your business and its future.  

a graph of what small businesses will spend for digital marketing

For a deeper breakdown of costs

What services should I spend my money on?

If you’ve been a business owner for more than one minute, you have probably heard people pitch you about 25 different things you should be doing online to grow your business , by the end of it you just want to do none of it.

So, let’s breakdown what we believe is the most important services to focus on and give you an idea of how much it costs to be competitive.

*Disclaimer* This information will be based off of businesses that serve a local area of clientele as opposed to national brands and eCommerce brands.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is one of those types of digital marketing that tends to see incredible return on investments because nobody is willing to play the game for as long as it takes to get results.

When it comes to this type of digital service, the most crucial factor of your success is the research that is performed prior to spending money. It can take 3-12 months to see the big pay days so you want to make sure your plan is on point the first time around. 

The most common SEO services we provide are to rank a company for [service] + city.  

For example, acupuncture Albany Oregon, was the goal of one of our clients, Valley Health Clinic, who wanted to be found online in the best position possible when people are looking for his exact services. 

However, depending on your competition in the area, this can be an expensive task but worthwhile for long term customer in generation.

Not all keywords need to be as precise, many of your customers have questions about the services you provide and will ask those questions on Google.

A great example of this is, “what are the best neighborhoods to live in in Corvallis”? – Annette Seivert of  Corvallis used us to capitalize on this. (

How much is SEO going to cost you? Best guess is $299 per month in low/mid competition areas with lower-end sales. ($under $250 purchase) $1,500 per month for high competition areas with high ticket customers. (+$1000 purchases)

pie chart seo vs ppc

Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)

Pay per click is a very popular form of digital advertising because it allows your business to be at the top of Google search results without doing all the heavy lifting required to get there. (but it will cost)

Pay per click advertising works by putting down words that you want to have your advertisement triggered for in search engines like Google and then paying for people to click on that advertisement.

Many companies are transitioning to this type of advertising because it is more intention based, engaging and traceable.

The real gold of PPC advertising can be found when you are working with a professional that goes outside of the common advertising mindset. 

Running an ad for a construction company in [xyz city] is competitive and expensive, however if you run ads for specific types of construction, such as deck construction, you get much more specific interests an less competition .

A good pay-per-click manager will be knowledgeable in creating ads that target the right people, in the right location, with the right information they are looking for. 

If you’re interested in growing your business with PPC, you can look to be spending between $500 and up.  

a google ad analytics graph

Content Creation

Content for a small business needs to be focused and have a goal to it.

Most small businesses get told that they need to be producing content every single day to make an impact, but it’s about creating effective content on a regular basis, even if that means once a month.

The easiest form of content is writing a short article.  We’ve never met an owner with ample time on their hands to sit and write engaging articles multiple times per week, so doing so routinely is your best bet. 

Video is arguably the most engaging form of content you can produce, but requires a little practice and calm nerves. 

You can make it all easier on yourself by integrating activities, such as taking pictures or shooting short video, into your day to day business. 

One strategy for small businesses centers around creating content about your service’s benefits, not features. 

For example, a yoga studio would publish content regarding the benefits of yoga, such as anxiety reduction and improved focus and community.  These types of content get shared and inspire people to interact with your brand.

Don’t sell in your content…it’s implied.  (your customers aren’t dumb.) 

In summary,  the price of content for a small business should not be a huge expense.  However, outsourcing your content curation is a good idea so that it looks professional and clean. 

Here are some average prices based on our research and our own pricing :

  • Average price for content editing in curation: $25-$75
  • Average price for video production: $250-$1000 (based on quality)
  • average price for graphic design: $50-$250

Content is a very effective form of digital advertising, however if the goal is to get more customers, each piece of content needs guide the viewer to take a “next step” action towards becoming a customer.


Email Marketing

We can confidently say that email marketing is one of the “no-brainers” on this list. It is the cheapest form of digital marketing listed and the software is relatively cheap.

It might seem archaic to you, but most working adults still check their email at least once a day.

How can you build your email list? Well, if you’ve got customers coming in, you’ve got an email list.

There are many ways to grow your email list , including online an offline methods. 

Email allows a business to put out promotions, events and incentives to people that have already done business with you. 

Another great use for email is sending potential customers valuable information to allow them time to warm up to you before they make a buying decision.

At a whopping $9 – $50 per month, you can have an email list of thousands of people at your fingertips.

Growing an email list is one of the most underrated skills in our opinion.

To make it more of an enticing digital effort, you can write 12 emails in January that go out to your list all throughout the year on autopilot. 

You can expect to pay from $9 to $50 per month depending on what email service you go with.

You could also choose to get professionally written emails that drive sales and engagement from $35 and up per email. 

email roi

Bonus: Reputation Management

With so many companies competing for attention on the Internet, the world has turned to on-line peer reviews of your business in order to determine who is worthy of being placed on that golden front page of searches.

Online reviews have become one of the most precious commodities on the internet. recently did a survey and revealed some surprising statistics.

  • 86% of people read online reviews for local businesses.
  • 40% of people will only take into account reviews within the last two weeks.
  • 91% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 57% will only do business with a 4+ star rated business.

Taken into account the psychological and technical benefits of online reviews, it makes a lot of sense for a small business to take advantage of happy local customers.

Programs for reputation management vary greatly but you can expect to have some sort of monthly fee associated with them.

At Clark Five Design we create reputation management automation for our clients for the price of $49 per month.

Most of the software available online seem to run in the range of $99 – $199 for small businesses depending on how many features you want to add.

directories for reviews


How much should your small business spend on digital marketing?

This is definitely a question that you’ll want to answer going into 2020 and beyond. 

“The future is not digital, its digital right now.” 

How much of the budget should be traditional marketing versus dollars in digital depends on a few key factors: 

  1. What are your profit margins from the average new customer? 
  2. What is your average customer life time value? 
  3. Do you have a calculated digital marketing plan?
  4. How competitive your local area is. 
  5. The industry that you are in. 

Based on some of some of your answers, you’ll be able to expect to allocate 50% of your marketing budget on digital. 

If you would like to fully explore your digital marketing capabilities, please contact us.

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How To Best Use Google My Business for Small Businesses SEO [2019]


Second to your website, the Google My Business profile for a small business has the most impact on new and reoccurring revenue from online searches.  Best part, it’s total free, but knowing how to best use it is not always intuitive. Don’t fear, Clark Five is here, we’ll teach you how to best use GMB to maximize your results and dominate the local competition. 

Don’t think that you need to optimize your Google My Business?  

Think again. 

People are searching on Google for your products and services right in your ideal locations and right now.  We’re talking ready-to-pay customers, that like 74% of other modern consumers, will chose the first business that meets their expectations.  Don’t let that be your competition.  

Data provided by Google themselves and deciphered by Clark 5 for you. 

Match your Website and Google

Google gives the most credit to companies that they trust and you earn that trust by having consistent information across all your assets. The three most important pieces of information that every business needs to have match are:
  1. Your Company’s Name – This may seem obvious, but making sure that your companies name matches exactly what you have on Google My Business is crucial, even if you have multiple locations.
  2. Company Address – Google will send out mail verification of your physical address to add credibility, however, having your address match is important.  Tip: We recommend that you even keep the address in the preferred google format on your website. (Example: 123 Main St, Philomath, OR 97370)
  3. Phone Number – If you serve local customers, it’s a good idea to have your website mobile friendly so that a user can easily call your place of business from both Google and your website. Pro tip: Do not use call tracking numbers unless you intend to have ALL your online phone numbers be that number, we are aiming for consistency.

Assign The Best Google My Business Categories

When setting up your GMB profile, it’s important to assign the most accurate business category as possible. As of 2019, there are 3,920 different categories listing by Google, so try to get as specific as possible.

Once you’ve chosen your ideal category, think twice before adding additional categories. Each additional category you add spreads your businesses exposure a little thinner. So if you offer one primary service and a several secondary, it might be ideal to not list the others so you can get laser targeted primary searches.

Additionally, be careful to not add additional categories that are actually amenities. For example, a hotel that lists having a wedding venue as a category will have the same effect as above.


Get Amazing Professional Photos

No need to go one on one about the power of photos in attracting customers to your business. If you want to stand out on Google, get someone with a good camera and an eye for angle to take some stunning shots of your establishment.

Tip: Having people in photos is psychologically more attractive than empty spaces.

Local SEO is already hard enough to stand out in. Beat out your local competitors by submitting photos to your GMB page regularly as seasons change or as events take place. If you have an modern smart phone, your photos will even be geo-tagged, adding extra validation to your business.

One great local example is Bo & Vine of Oregon, who has concentrated on delivering a remarkable digital experience through visuals. Hats off friends!

Go Deep With Your Products and Services

Google wants you to list your products and services within the platform so that they can list your business when people search for those services but maybe not your category.

An example of this is when someone searches for “upholstery cleaning”. You might be a carpet cleaning company, but you offer this service, so you’ll want to still show up.

How do you write a Google My Business service description? 

Describing your service is not as hard as you think. If your service has elements to it that are special, include them. An example of this would be eco-friendly cleaning solutions or same day denture impressions. 

Remember to write your services in a way that both appeal to your customers and search engines. You can do this by thinking about words that describe what a customer would want. 

If I were looking at a lawn care business online, reading a yard maintenance descriptions that includes details of cutting and trimming services, as well as the frequency of visits to maintain a constant beautiful lawn.

Systematically Ask For Google Reviews

The biggest ranking factor that is in your control are your Google reviews.

In my control? Yes.

Google reviews, for some businesses, happen naturally and often. However, for most businesses, you’ll want to have a systematic way of asking for them both off and online.

What is so important about Google reviews?

Google has come out and said that it ranks local businesses when someone is searching for your services based on a company’s prominence in the community. A major part of that are positive feedback from customers that had a good experience.

If your competition is boasting a four star review average but has 50 more reviews than you, they are probably going to hog the market by showing up above you in the search results.

importance of reviews on google

How can you create a customer feedback loop for reviews?

There are several ways that you can create a reputation management system for your company. The best ways that we have found include keeping customer service at the forefront of what you do, matched with an incredible service experience.

After that, collecting your customer’s email and phone number will automate the process. However, person-to-person is an easy and cheap extra step.

You can train your staff to pass on information to the customer about how they can leave a review if they liked their service and contact information if they feel you did not meet there expectations. (This will deter negative reviews.)

The most powerful way to ask for reviews is by following up with the customer via text and email. This works very well for the businesses we work with because it puts less pressure on the customer and lets them immediately click towards the link to leave the review.

We set up fully automated reputation plans for small businesses. You can learn a little more about how to outsource this vital feedback loop in your business here.

Bonus: Make sure to respond to each review that is left, even negative ones. Always stay constructive and positive, never argue. Google will reward the two way communication effort.

Extra Google Love: Use The Posts Section

If you’ve done everything up until this point, you are a rock star that will start seeing some real results from the efforts, but you’re hungry and want to dominate.

As an extra tip for Google rankings, use the posts section to offer customers offers, events, news and blog posts.

It’s basically a free ad section and sends a clear signal to Google that you are an active business.

Also, it’s becoming more and more important to Google that their users stay on the platform instead of going to your website. If this trend continue, you can rest assured that using the post section will attract attention more and more.

Wrapping It All Together

The value you get from this article will be the actions you take after reading it. Currently, Google My Business is arguably the most revenue boosting tool for small businesses online today that’s completely free.

We’re living in the “information age” and companies that chose to do business in modern ways will trend up, gain community awareness and ultimately meet their goals.

Along with a successful website, you’re GMB strategy can be added to your arsenal of web assets for your business.

Don't set it and forget it

I know, you’ve put in a lot of work reading this lengthy article and implementing these tips, but your work isn’t done.

The world of today demands fresh updates. Reviews within the last two week have the most impact, posting regularly tells people you’re still relevant, updating your hours serves your customers through holidays.

In it’s most simple form, your GMB needs to be part of your monthly tasks.

You can always outsource these tasks, it may surprise you how little it costs.

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How To Create An Incredible Digital Marketing Strategy For Your Small Business

two artistic doors

Create a small business marketing plan

Ready to get started with creating a digital marketing plan for your small business but don’t know where to start?

Today we’re going to break down the steps you’ll need to execute your plan so that you can say hello to leveraging the revenue growing power of the internet.

Is Advertising Online Right For You?

Let’s cut right through the fluff that is the internet marketing game and get real with each other. Digital marketing is the most strategic growth focused arena when it comes to spending your businesses hard earned dollars. Odds are, you’re having trouble figuring out how to harness it’s power to get results.

It’s a fair assumption because only about 25% of smaller sized companies have a plan for their digital advertising and even fewer have a full plan developed. But, there is a bright side!

The good news is, this means your competitors are most likely falling short, so let’s get started.

A infograph showing screen time

Half Your Success Is Based On These 3 Questions

Making the decision to start a online marketing campaign means the possibility of massive success for your business, however, it also has been known as a black hole for your money.

So, how can you make sure that doesn’t happen?

We recommend doing your homework on this one.  Whether you’ve been in business 50 seconds or 50 years, you’ll need to have a solid foundation for this to succeed.

Things to know before you go gung ho (with digital marketing):

  1. Can you clearly state what your business does for people in 10 words or less? The internet is a scary place where attention is often in scarce supply. We need to take full advantage of the images and headlines that we use.  Most people won’t make it past them if they aren’t captivating.
  2. Describe the people that your product or service best helps. This might feel like you’re generalizing but it’s quite the opposite. Your ideal customers have characteristics, traits, habits, and lives. The more you know about the people that best enjoy your business, the better you can craft a marketing message that resonates.
  3. Why should someone chose to do business with you over your competition? Knowing what makes you different helps you highlight your uniqueness and people are searching to be a part of that.

What Platforms to Use

Let’s not over complicate this, because there are literally 100’s of platforms you can select and each one looks shinier than the last. The last thing that we want for you is to become overwhelmed with options and give up.

We recommend you stick to three platforms at most, and develop a good understanding of those before you explore any others.

So, which ones should you chose?

If you’re a service based business that serves predominately local clients?  You will probably start with these three:

  • Google – This is by far your heavy hitter to dominate your local market. Set up a Google My Business account.
  • Facebook (possibly Instagram) – This platform is known for it’s high engagement in the local community. Add Instagram if you have a business that is very photogenic.
  • Email & Text – If you don’t currently have a way of gathering your customer’s email and phone number, you’re missing out on the highest ROI (return on investment) platform.

Of course, at the center of your efforts, you will need to have a fast, functional and stunning website.  If you don’t have one now or what you do have is not good enough, contact us for advice and potentially some services. Contact us here.

How to Use Each Platform (generally)

Now Lets Bring It All Together

Now that you have a solid foundation of what your marketing message will be by answering the questions above, you have a direction for where to put that message and how to approach each platform.

This is how you bring it together.

Tools That Will Help You Finally Start Marketing Online (and how to use them)

Google My Business account: Optimize your listing for success.

  • Link your business information with all the major verifying directories, which boosts your position in Google.
  • Show your best side with photos and videos that encourage people to contact you or learn more.
  • Get as many customer reviews as possible! This can’t be understated.
  • Keep it updated.

If you don’t have an account, get one here today.

Facebook for business: Many business owners have set up a Facebook page for their business and might be posting updates occasionally and at random. Unfortunately, that’s not going to grow your business, at least not at the speed you probably want.

  • Plan on posting 3-4 times per week, spread them out and set them at targeted times. If you run a restaurant, target those posts for 10am.
  • Take high quality images that focus on your product or service’s benefits and have people’s faces in them. A close up of a lunch special is less impressive than the chef holding that lunch special smiling at the camera.
  • Use up to 3 emojis in your posts, they humanize your posts and provoke people to comment by asking questions or making bold statements.
  • Give away free stuff.  Depending on your business, giving stuff away over social media in exchange for a follow or email is a great PR opportunity in a non-threatening way.
  • Post non-business related topics that are politically neutral and highly relevant to what your business does.

Email & Text Marketing: We use a service called Active Campaign. We like how visual it is, beginner friendly, and it has ability to make complex campaigns as your business needs evolve.

  • The headline of your emails matter. Go back to the questions we asked ourselves and speak the lingo of your people so they will open up your letters.
  • Use images and talk naturally in your emails. We encourage businesses to use email as either a personal letter to each customer or a teaser for something on your website.
  • Always give your customers a call to action (a button or link to do something further with your business). Example: If you’re suffering from lethargic energy moods and need advice, contact me HERE.
  • Sending a text to someone’s smartphone is highly personable and gets opened the majority of the time, which is gold for businesses. However, you’ll want to use it sparingly (1-2 / monthly). That said, use it, it works wonders. *Let us know if you want to know what to say in those texts.

Create a Content Calendar: A calendar of tasks will keep you on a straight line towards success. Digital marketing is not a strategy that works well with inconsistency.

Businesses that keep their message inline with bringing consistent value to their customers, making non-threatening offers, showcasing not selling, and engagement are the ones that see real growth in their numbers.

Look at how advertising dollars are quickly turning away from traditional advertising and focusing on the quality of online.

Free Web Strategy & Audit: Interested in knowing how your current online presence compares to the competition? Request a free audit and we’ll dedicate hours to deep-dive web research focused on analyzing & uncover hidden opportunities for your business on your website, in social media and in content you produce.

We’ll provide you with a detailed report that assesses your web presence and shows you actionable steps you can take to perform better against the competition.

Formulating a Conclusion

If you just read our article and seem overwhelmed by the amount of work that goes into a “beginners” journey with digital marketing for small business, you’re not alone.

Most businesses do not have the time or the willingness to do it all. I mean, you already are an expert in what your business does, why would you be one in marketing too?

…but the exponential growth in revenue and return on investment are too big to ignore! 

We’ve met business owners that have successfully orchestrated a great digital marketing plan independently, but it has come with a large time commitment and steep learning curve.

We urge you to consider implementing a complete digital marketing plan for your small business, especially as the digital era continues to grow. Use our web strategy and site audit service to understand how you can increase visibility on Google and better perform against the competition on the web, and if you need help, our advice is always free.

Give us a call at (503) 949-4276

Or get started working with the Clark Five Design team today.

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