Should you hire a B2B digital marketing consultant for strategy?


Businesses reaching the post-startup or scale-up phase often have their sights set on rapid growth and some idea of how they want to achieve it.

Scaling up marketing efforts always forms a part of this and business directors or owners may seek out the services of a consultant to give them guidance. This is particularly the case for digital marketing – where the landscape can change at a rapid pace, with new tools and platforms emerging all the time.

For any organisation looking to become a high-growth business, a solid digital marketing strategy is simply a non-negotiable. In fact, according to Google Trends data, searches about digital marketing strategy have soared in the last 5 years.

These days your website is your greatest marketing asset and the results prospects see when they Google your business has replaced the ever-faithful business card. Digital components like Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), paid advertising and content are business-critical, and a digital marketing strategy will provide the structure your business needs to generate high-quality leads, give your first digital marketing hires the best chance of success and ultimately increase your bottom line.

A quality digital marketing consultant will work with you to evaluate your existing marketing efforts, dive deep into the pain points of your ICPs and craft a strategy that gives you the most direct path to business success.


But they are not right for everyone.


Read on to understand what a digital marketing consultant does, whether one would be a good fit for your business and what to expect from them. We’ll also take a look at cost and pricing structures as well as some red flags to look out for when selecting one.




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What does a digital marketing consultant do?

The exact services offered by a consultant will vary, but generally they are professionals with a number of years’ experience behind them. Some consultants are comfortable working across B2B or B2C, in any industry – however many will choose to specialise in a given industry (for example retail or SaaS) or for a certain business lifecycle stage (for example startup).

There are also those who specialise in a particular aspect of digital marketing, for example SEO. A consultant who is willing to put a digital marketing strategy together for you is likely to have knowledge in a broad range of elements, but have specialist knowledge in two or three areas.


💡Top tip
When selecting a digital marketing consultant, take a look at any case studies or testimonials on their website. Do the profiles of those businesses broadly match yours? Did they have the same challenges?


Is your business right for a digital marketing consultant?

There are some cases where an organisation simply won’t receive maximum value from hiring a consultant. Here’s a few things to think about.


What did you spend on digital marketing last year and what are you prepared to spend this year? Remember that the costs of a consultant will be in addition to the costs you have available for advertising campaigns or content creation. The end product a consultant will hand you is a clear digital marketing strategy to take you forward, but they do not necessarily execute the actions within the strategy themselves.

If you are a business with still very limited resources for digital marketing, a consultant will very quickly eat up those finances and you won’t have anything to spend on executing the strategy. In this scenario, it might be better to either learn a bit more about what you can do yourself (Google Skillshop is an excellent free resource for this) or re-assess your budget.

Input quality = Output quality

Before making a final decision to hire a consultant who will build your digital marketing strategy, think about what you can give them to work with. The best strategies are data-informed and a lack of critical data points is going to affect the sense of direction in the output. How can someone know what a good result would be if you have no baseline to go off?


Critical business data points:

  • Average sales cycle
  • Average order value
  • Sales conversion rate
  • Leads to demo conversion rate
  • Demo to sales conversion rate


Data points from your website data might include:

  • Sessions per month
  • Conversions per month
  • Average engagement time
  • Average pages per session
  • Users per month
  • Returning visitors
  • Key channels (organic, paid, referral, social, direct, email)


Previous marketing campaign data points could be:

  • Downloads
  • Percentage of downloads where the contact matched the ICP
  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Conversion rate
  • Return on investment
  • Open / click-through rate (email marketing)


The more of these statistics you have prepared, the better equipped your consultant of choice will be to deliver an absolutely banging digital marketing strategy.


💡Top tip
If you are lacking some of these metrics – fix that first. Good data hygiene along with a CRM like Hubspot will make sales reporting easier and most of the website metrics will be tracked by Google Analytics 4. You can use a more user-friendly report builder like Looker Studio (formerly Google Data Studio) to extract the information you need.


What to expect from a digital marketing consultant

Let’s say your business fills all of the pre-requisites above. What should you expect from your consultant when you take the plunge and hire them to build your digital marketing strategy?

Obviously the way each marketer works is going to vary. As a digital marketing consultant I can only really speak for myself – but I do believe any consultant worth their salt will at least partially follow the stages below.

Phase 1: Discovery and Auditing

Initial Consultation

Here they will ask you some questions about your business including your objectives and why you are seeking their services (personally I always send any inquirers a thorough business questionnaire – it saves us both time and means I come to the session fully up-to-speed with your current position).
Depending on your responses, they will decide whether they can help you with your strategy. At this point they may give you an idea of pricing and timelines, but as strategies are often project-based they may need some time to calculate this based on your needs and the size of the task at hand.

Vision alignment

Before work begins, both parties need to ensure they have the same key objectives and expectations in mind. The consultant should clearly map out each phase of the project and timelines for this.
Here you will probably also re-confirm pricing and what the exact output of the consultant will be. You may be able to state a preference for the final format of the strategy (a slide deck, a drive of individual elements, a series of videos etc) This is also the point at which you may be asked to sign a contract.

digital marketing consultant vision alignmentDiscovery period

If you thought your consultant asked you a lot of questions during the initial consultation, strap yourself in. Any high-quality consultant is going to be absolutely grilling you about your ideal customer personas, their pain points, your competitors and any objections your sales team receive, as well as key events, publishers and influencers in your industry. Good consultants are curious and quite frankly invasive in their questioning. Remember those data points I mentioned earlier? This is the time to have them ready.


A website audit, although the most common kind connected to digital marketers, is only scratching the surface of what’s needed to build a strategy. Prepare for a thorough scrutiny of your content, data practices, tracking and entire sales funnel. What action do you want people to take at each stage of the buying journey? Does the content you already have support that journey? Where are prospects falling out of your funnel? Are new leads automatically scored based on ICP criteria? How does your sales team approach a brand new lead? Does their approach change depending on the content they’ve engaged with?

Phase 2: Research

This is where your consultant will go off and lay the groundwork for your strategy. During this time they will be using all the information you’ve provided them with to conduct keyword research, build out your keyword universe, size up your competitors (both commercial and organic), hash out recommendations for your website based on your objectives and much more.spreadsheet

Although they might contact you for the occasional clarification here, don’t expect to hear from them a great deal. At the end of this stage they will probably present some key findings to you, to check that it aligns with what you, as someone deeply immersed in your industry, knows to be true (there might be some surprises though).

Phase 3: Planning & Strategy Delivery


Based on the research they’ve conducted, your consultant will put together the strategy itself. Your keyword universe will be leveraged to form a content strategy. Findings about your target audience and where they spend time will be critical for crafting paid campaigns with a desirable ROI. The information about your ICP’s pain points at each stage of the funnel will generate ideas for lead magnets to nurture prospects and help them make a buying decision. This is where the vision you both agreed on at the start of the project begins to come to life.


Your business receives a well-researched digital marketing strategy, reverse-engineered from your business objectives and desired outcomes. The consultant will probably present the strategy to you, but you will also receive all the materials and documents you need to execute the strategy.

At this point, you can find someone else to execute the strategy – perhaps your business is ready to make their first in-house digital marketing hire! If you are looking for best results, you may want to continue using your digital marketing consultant. They are often very happy to undertake the work and see their ideas in action. They are also invested in the outcome of the strategy, so they will ensure work is done thoroughly and regularly optimised.

Optional phases:

Ongoing maintenance (optional)

If the amount of day-to-day work to do does not justify an in-house hire, you may want to use your digital marketing consultant for one or two days a month to monitor and optimise ongoing campaigns, write creative briefs for freelancers and help solve any teething problems you are having.

Analysis (optional)

12 months post-strategy, you may want your consultant to come back in and analyse the results. If you have chosen to involve them in the execution of the strategy, they should be updating you fairly frequently anyway. They can also help you understand if you are getting value for money from agencies or freelancers based on an evaluation of their efforts.looker

💡Top tip
If you don’t understand why a particular element is important or have any concerns about how your consultant is going about things, let them know. They will be able to explain why what they’re suggesting should matter to your business in a jargon-free way.


Cost and pricing structures

For most business owners and directors this is the biggest unknown when it comes to seeking out the services of a digital marketing consultant. And depending on the size of your business and how much capital you have available for marketing, it can be a real concern.

How much does a digital marketing consultant cost?

According to a couple of sources, rates range from €130 to €180 per hour (that converts to $140 - $190 USD at time of writing), depending on the region, industry and experience of the consultant.

According to Statista, the average day rate for marketing strategy services in the UK is £685. These services could be provided by an agency, in which case much of the work could be getting delegated to someone with less experience.

For a consultant with a decade of experience or specialises in your industry, you should expect to pay more. Consultants with plenty of clients to choose from and proven results have the luxury of setting whatever price they wantcoins-g0b646e509_1920


Pricing structures

The good news is there are different pricing structures, so hopefully you can find one that suits your business and helps to put any key stakeholders at ease. Here are the main ones and what sort of services consultants will apply them to. Bare in mind it is up to the consultant which pricing structure they use.

  • Project-based: This is the model usually applied to digital marketing strategies. The consultant will go away and calculate the number of days needed to complete a project, then use their day rate to calculate a final price. This is great for businesses because before work even begins they know that for £X price you will get £X output.
  • Retainer: If you know you will require the services of a consultant or marketer consistently in the medium or long term, you may want to put them on a retainer. This means you are making a contractual commitment to them of £XXXX per month for a period of 6 – 12 months. In exchange, your business receives more value for money – because their “day rate” will be lower. This is great for ongoing maintenance work and also if you wish to retain your consultant to execute your strategy, instead of committing to an in-house digital marketing hire.
  • Daily: This is great if you want your consultant or marketing freelancer to do some ongoing maintenance work such as setting up, managing or analysing campaigns. They should be able to give you a rough idea of how long a list of tasks will take, but if they run into complications or issues it could take slightly longer. You get more “value for money” here than with an hourly rate because you are promising them a day’s work.
  • Hourly: Usually charged when the consultant is required to give advice or collaborate with you, with no commitment to a wider project. This works out the most expensive option, but is good if you just want to get some top-level digital expertise for a project you are working on.


🚩Red flags 🚩

Unfortunately not all people claiming to be digital marketing consultants have the experience or the expertise to undertake a digital marketing strategy. Here are some things to look out for.

  • No case studies or testimonials: Everyone has to start somewhere, but for consultants charging top-dollar you should expect to see a least a handful of case studies on happy clients, with quantitative results (i.e. statistics).
  • A lack of curiosity and no questions: Any decent consultant should be desperate to find out absolutely everything about your business and your target audience. This information is critical for building a strategy that will support your business goals. Be wary of anyone who seems to be applying a cookie-cutter model.
  • Auditing stops at website: Unless you’ve specifically hired someone to come up with an SEO strategy, rather than a broader digital marketing one, your consultant should also be auditing your tracking practices, data hygiene, lead nurturing process (or lack thereof), previous lead magnets and campaigns. Digital marketing is a holistic beast and all of these components matter.
  • No check-ins: Although during the research and planning phases you may not hear from your consultant as much as at the start of the project, someone who is not even checking-in with you on a regular basis is a red flag. Make sure you communicate at the start of the project how often you would like them to give you an update on progress. For my projects, I usually arrange check-ins after each phase, with a few additional ones to report key findings from certain elements (e.g. keyword universe).
  • Woolly on objectives and KPIs: Any vague-ness on key performance indicators should be a red flag. Consultants worth hiring should be keen to understand how your business is performing now and where you would like to be, with quantitative metrics attached. They should report any results with a background knowledge of what a “good” result is, both with general and industry-specific averages to hand. Of course digital marketing also has an element of trial and error, so there will be times when your results fall short of what you would’ve liked. A good marketing professional will be able to unpack this and identify the areas that underperformed, so you know where you should direct your marketing budget in the future.

A decent consultant, however, is worth their weight in gold. They will want to exceed your expectations and are personally invested in meeting your business goals.


What will your business gain from a digital marketing strategy built by a consultant?

In short, there are three things your business will get from a well-considered digital marketing strategy:

  1. Structure and direction – This is with immediate effect, because your strategy should map out the most direct path to success and what you need to do to make it happen.
  2. A deeper understanding of your target audience – Keyword research (i.e. identifying what your target audience are searching for on search engines) will reveal the pain points of prospects at different buying stages.
  3. Bottom line and business growth – All the planning and research undertaken during your strategy build means that recommended campaigns have been crafted to give your business leads that convert.


To illustrate this point further, here are some typical problems faced by businesses just exiting the startup phase:

Lack of direction for online activity.

Budget being drained by ineffective campaigns.

Hiring mistakes: first-hire marketers lacking structure to drive results.

Ignorance about targeting and channels that fit your niche best.

Gaps in knowledge regarding target audience behaviours online.

"Hit and hope" campaigns not driving quality leads.

Disorganised / no tracking - analysis and reporting impossible.

Being left behind due to lack of online activity and presence.


Here is where they would find themselves after a decent consultant has been contracted to build a digital marketing strategy for the business:

Clear short and long term plan for digital marketing.

Budget optimised through precise targeting and relevant content.

Structure to confidently make future marketing hires.

Awareness of how to target your desired audience.

Full picture of your audience's pain points.

Reverse-engineered campaigns based on your objectives.

Clear, scalable tracking that informs future strategy and budget.

Ready for high-growth with a tailored plan for the future.


All of the above facilities the high growth most businesses in this phase of life long for. Ultimately, it’s about facing the future with a well-considered plan, rather than conducting your digital marketing is a purely reactive way.


Ready for a digital marketing strategy? Get a free consultation

If you are a B2B business looking for rapid growth and you’re ready to invest in your online presence you’re in the right place. Book a consultation with me today!

Book a free consultation now and accelerate your business growth.

Digital Hydra

For the last 10 years I've been driving results in-house for B2B companies within a variety of industries. I'm a full stack marketer with specialist knowledge in SEO, paid advertising, content, data analysis and strategy. Whilst the majority of my experience has been in SaaS, I have also worked within the life sciences and publishing industries.