“Contact us for pricing”. There’s nothing more infuriating when you just want to know how much anything costs - and inbound marketing costs are no different. You hit the back button.
And your ‘Pogo-ing’ between results (as Google would call it) has led you here.
So I’ll attempt to answer the ‘How long is a piece of string” question of inbound marketing costs. From what % of your marketing budget you should allocate and a glance at agency package prices, to how to calculate your exact needs and how the costs stack up.
So whether you’re looking to instruct an agency, considering taking it all in-house or something in-between, here’s a quick guide to help you budget.
A Rough Guide To Inbound Marketing Costs
A quick review of five Hubspot Inbound Marketing Partner Agencies reveals that you can expect to pay around 5k per month for a ‘basic’ 12 month retainer package, including services such as:
- A 12 month content strategy
- Marketing assessment: audits/competitor reviews, etc
- 4 blogs a month
- A download offer every quarter
- Account management
(Normally basic lead nurturing workflows, simple social media sharing/management* and monthly reporting.)
*[According to Edeman’s Trust Barometer 2019, in today’s world, social media posts by your experts and regular employees are trusted much more than marketing-led posts. Discover the secrets to social success with our eBook: Employee Advocacy 2.0: Leveraging Influence to Drive a Connected Organisation and Employee-Led Buyer Journey.]
For extra content, PPC and link-building content campaigns, the next step up typically costs around £7,500 to £10,000 a month (but expect to pay £15,000 to £25,000 for fast, acceleration packages).
How Much Budget Should You Allocate To Inbound Marketing?
Outbound leads are simply no longer converting like they used to. Just look at Implicit's B2B Sales Benchmark Data.
The top 3 sources for lead-to-conversion rates are:
- customer & employee referrals* (3.63%)
- website leads (1.55%)
- and social media's (1.47%.)
Meanwhile leads lists and events score close to 0% and sales-generated leads less than 1%. And all take much longer to close. And this is all before you consider that inbound leads typically cost 60% less than outbound leads.
So identify where you can reallocate your budget from. Then work backwards from revenue goals, to deals needed, close rates, opportunities, qualified leads, contacts and website visitors.
For benchmarks rates, check out Unbounce’s Conversion Benchmark Report 2017. You’ll see a vast difference in best-performing landing pages and the average, such as 27.4% vs 5% in business services.
So aim high, but be realistic!
How Inbound Marketing Resources Add Up
Plan & Content Strategy
Typical time: 3 months
Building an effective inbound marketing strategy involves a lot of in-depth research, which is why the first three months of an inbound marketing retainer are usually dedicated to planning and strategy.
Buyer persona & the buyer journey
Online research, your sales staff and historical sales and website data can give you some clues, but you really need to insights from customers. You should aim to interview a minimum of 10-15 customers for each buyer persona.
Once complete, you’ll need to identify triggers and map out their steps, pains and motivations for the research, consideration and decision stage.
Keyword and links research and analysis
Free tools (such as Google Analytics, Google Suggestions, AnswerthePublic and UberSuggest) are great for those starting out. Once up-and-running, you may wish to consider advanced tools such as AHRefs (costing $999 p/m for 5+ users).
Content audit & mapping
Identifying what topics and content are required for each buying stage and where the gaps are in existing content.
Reviewing differentiation tactics, their content and social strategy and backlinks.
Identifying any areas of weakness or strength e.g. copy/design, user experience & lead generation tools.
This includes reviewing information architecture, indexing pages, identifying 404 redirect pages and removing bad inbound links.
Creating the content strategy and editorial calendar
Many inbound marketing teams will follow Google’s Hero, Hub and Hygiene strategy to help them plan and allocate content budgets, between content offers, answering specific buyer persona questions and in-depth product/service details.
Marketing Automation Software
Typical cost: free for basic packages, with paid packages usually based on marketing contacts starting at approx £2.50-£3 per contact with potential for discounts with bulk contacts.
(For example, at the time of writing, Hubspot charge £650 for their Professional package which includes 2,000 contacts, while their Enterprise package costs £2,555 per month for 10,000 contacts).
If you’re ready to embrace inbound marketing, you’ll need marketing automation tools and end-to-end visibility of leads - from the first social post contracts clicked on to website pages/landing pages visited through to deal won.
You can attempt to join the dots with lots of free software, like Mailchimp, Wordpress plug-ins and Google Analytics, but it’s very difficult to identify trends (like if a particular CTA increased clicks by 10%).
Hubspot’s free version allows you to link sales and marketing whilst you experiment BUT it’s limited to 1,000 contacts. After that you have to pay per 1,000 contacts.
Ongoing Monthly Costs
Once the initial strategy and software is set up, every month you’ll probably need to budget for these ongoing resources:
Typical time: 10 to 20 days on average, depending on the amount of content required and how fast results are required Many of the inbound agencies roughly follow the Hero, Hub & Hygiene content strategy (as can be seen from their pricing models). So each month you’d need the following:
- 4 to 10 blogs posts a month, usually spread across 2 to 3 campaigns
- A minimum of 1 Hero ‘content offer’ every 1 to 3 months e.g. a viral video, calculator tool, eBook, TipSheet or white paper
- Landing pages, thank you pages and CTAs to support every content offer
- Website page updates as required e.g. testimonials, product data sheets, testimonials
This includes optimising existing workflows, creating new ones to go with each content offer and liasing with sales about hot leads/what content key accounts have been reviewing.
Most inbound agencies will include ‘easy’ links to relevant directories as part of basic packages. Yet you can expect to pay midline or even top packages for inbound link-building campaigns.
As with all marketing, monthly reports and analysis are a must! (But the right software can make the task a little easier!).
The Real Question Is: Can You Afford Not To?
Most of us have heard that B2B buyers have usually completed around 70% of their buyer’s journey before they even pick up the phone to sales.
But did you know that Corporate Visions found that 74% of buyers choose the sales rep that is first to add value and insight? Or that 89% of B2B buyers purchased from a vendor that “provided content that made it easier to show ROI and/or build a business case for the purchase” according to DemandGen?
And with the higher lead-to-conversion rates and lower cost of inbound marketing leads, the jury is no longer out on whether inbound is right for businesses. The question isn’t whether you can afford to do it but whether you can afford not to, as your competitors gain the edge. And whether you have the resources to do it in-house or it’s more cost-efficient to outsource it.