When assessing your company's readiness for an inbound program, an inevitable question arises: “How much does inbound marketing cost?” Generally, the short answer is, "It depends."
There are several variables that influence the cost of an inbound program. Determining the level of support and resources — both human and monetary — you have or need leads to even more questions:
Your answers will largely dictate your initial investment in an inbound marketing program. As such it’s imperative that you understand the elements you have or need in place to see success, and how to strategically attract, engage, and delight prospects and customers.
Time and strategy are required to establish and maximize your investment in an inbound marketing program. Critically evaluate how you will manage and/or create these foundational and ongoing components of an inbound strategy:
The inbound marketing flywheel reflects the interconnectedness of every stage of the buyer’s journey to and through becoming a customer. Aligning your marketing, sales, and service in the same way helps you apply appropriate force during stages to accelerate activity and remove any friction that could slow progress. Balancing the two delivers the best customer experience, and requires building your core inbound strategy on attracting, engaging, and delighting prospects and customers.
Below are examples of the tactics in each stage of the inbound flywheel. Again, the more of these elements you already have in place, the less it will take to get your inbound program off the ground.
Within each stage of the flywheel — attract, engage, delight — you’ll need to devote some resources to monitor and analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) in order to understand if the dollars you’re spending are producing results. Based on the data, you can identify what’s working effectively and where you need to change course. Adjustments need to be made regularly according to your website visitors’ behavior, content performance, and SEO maintenance/opportunities to make your inbound marketing truly data-driven. Utilizing monthly growth-driven design cycles to continually optimize your site and quarterly marketing roadmaps to remain agile are the best ways to do this.
Yikes! That sounds like a lot to think about, and it is. But between your internal resources, your available dollars, and the speed at which you’re willing to move, you can determine what your inbound marketing budget should be each month.
Let's face it: if you need a complete website overhaul, haven't published a blog in two years, and need an agency to basically handle most of your inbound marketing, you're going to need a lot more help (and budget) to get and keep things rolling.
On the other hand, if you've already laid a foundation, regularly develop and post content, and have staff who can handle some of the workload, you’d expect to pay less for an inbound marketing program. An agency can serve in a consultative role, manage your program, provide recommendations, and work alongside you to boost your inbound efforts.
A truly effective inbound program will be customized, not only to address your specific pain points and maximize your marketing efforts, but it will also be tailored to your industry. An agency that is successful in B2C marketing for retailers, for example, is not experienced with how to address the unique challenges that face complex B2B industries and manufacturers with long sales cycles. Make sure you seek out a partner that specializes in your vertical to receive the highest potential ROI.
And, isn't that what it's all about? You'd likely get behind paying for an inbound program knowing your potential ROI could be multiple times your initial investment. One of our clients recently attributed a $2 million contract directly to the inbound marketing program we developed for them, and their inbound budget is a fraction of that amount. Those are the kinds of results that excite us!
For a detailed overview of what an inbound program investment will look like, check out our pricing page. There, we outline everything that is involved in the process and illustrate typical program budget ranges.