In this blog, Matthew Creswick, Group Marketing Director at The B2B Marketing Lab, answers the question: "How much does it cost to be successful with Inbound?" have a read of the blog to find out the answer!
The great thing about Inbound Marketing is that unlike traditional marketing, it’s less about the size of your wallet and more about the size of your brain.
What this means is that you don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to be successful. If you are just starting out, you can start with as little as a website and a blog – for a small cost – and start attracting and converting website visitors.
Of course, what’s defined as “successful Inbound Marketing” is different for every business. For some, success might be acquiring 50 new customers, but for others, it might be securing £500,000 in recurring monthly revenue.
So when it comes to the question of ‘How much does it cost to be successful with Inbound Marketing’, there are a few things which need to be considered:
The size and complexity of your website
Depending on how many pages, plugins and functions you need, your website could cost as little as £20 a month or as much as £1,000 a month. But, regardless of its size or cost, the most important factor is finding the right content management system (CMS) for it.
Choosing the right CMS is crucial because it lays the foundation for the rest of your activity. If it doesn’t support the integrations you need or does not allow you to easily edit and manage web pages, your website’s ability to grow will be limited. So, if you are using a CMS which requires you to hire a developer to make small tweaks and edits to your website – it’s probably time to rethink your website strategy.
Also, as your business grows you’ll need better tools to support it. With this in mind, you need a technology stack that enables you to add and remove tools as your business grows.
Luckily, there are solutions out there. A good example of a CMS that’s designed to scale with your business is one very close to our hearts - HubSpot. You can customise it to meet your specific needs – so if you only need a CMS, that’s all you’ll pay for. If you need sales, customer service and enterprise-scale marketing tools, they can be easily added to your package. It’s a truly modular system that can be scaled up and down depending on your rate of growth.
And, perhaps most importantly, HubSpot provides enterprise-grade website features at a mid-range price point. This means you can benefit from functionality that’s typically used by large enterprises at a fraction of the price.
Content creation, amplification and in-house vs outsourcing
Anyone can create content – whether it's blogs, podcasts, or market research reports – but success ultimately comes down to the amount of time and resource you dedicate to it.
Each content asset needs to be planned carefully. Case studies, for example, require you to interview your customers and do a bit of research. Webinars, on the other hand, need some form of online hosting software so that everyone can see and share the slides.
You also need to think about how those assets are going to be designed and promoted. Each asset will need its own template and will have to use your brand's colours and fonts. For more text-heavy assets, i.e. eBooks, whitepapers and market research reports, the layout will need to be carefully considered by a graphic designer. As for promotion, you need to create and develop profiles on the online channels that your audience frequent and create a social media plan.
It’s a lot of work. Many companies have to decide to either outsource content creation, or keep it in-house and hire an internal employee.
Benefits of hiring an internal content creator:
Budget: You don’t have to extra marketing budget to outsource content creation.
Quality: Subject matter experts can speak directly to the copywriter, ensuring the material is on message. No one knows your buyers better than you.
Understanding: The copywriter will develop a deep understanding of your brand and product over time and become an expert themselves.
Timing: You can turn content around quicker as reviews can be done internally.
Quantity: There are no restrictions on the quantity of content you want to produce.
Benefits of outsourcing content creation:
Cost effective: You pay a one-off cost. Hiring an employee, on the other hand, has other variable costs: their salary, national insurance (NI) contributions, sick pay, holiday pay, healthcare and so on.
Capacity: Your team can focus on working on other marketing activities
Pay for what you need to succeed: You can hire an agency to create the right volume of content necessary to help you achieve your goals – you aren’t’ restricted by the performance of one employee, but the level is scalable.
Quality: Most external agencies have years of experience in specific industries
For a really flat comparison. the average salary for a content marketing manager is between £30,000-£35,000 a year. Remember, this figure doesn’t include purchasing equipment and software, national insurance contributions, sick pay and so on.
Agencies, on the other hand, tend to charge by piece of content created or project – so their costs will differ depending on what it is you want to do. The average monthly cost for a content marketing agency is typically between £1,500 and £6,000 per month. It can be higher if you require a very specific content marketing strategy or a large volume of content over a short period of time.
Creating video content
As with content creation, anyone can start creating videos.
In the past, video was created primarily by brands that could afford it. These brands would spend tens – even hundreds – of thousands on equipment, actors, script writing services and advertising for just one video. Insane. Nowadays, video costs significantly less: you can just use your mobile phone (most have decent cameras) and a clip-on microphone!
If you want to shoot better quality videos you will need to invest in equipment, but much less than you would have previously. With a couple of thousand, you can get some really good equipment or even outsource video production to a video marketing agency.
Just by going from using a £300-500 smartphone camera to a £2,000 set up or video marketing package, you can increase the quality of your video astronomically.
Benefits of doing video internally:
Budget: After the initial upfront cost, you don’t need to spend anything else on video equipment. It’s yours!
On brand and on message: Your subject matter experts – i.e. other employees – can work directly with your script writer and videographer.
Speed: Turnaround times are significantly shorter; you can see a rough version of your video right after it’s recorded.
Quantity: No restriction on the amount of video you create or when you create it.
Benefits of outsourcing video
Quality: Video specialists will have top-tier equipment and experience creating the kind of video you need.
Access a bigger team: Production companies utilise and/or hire anyone they need to work on your video. These crew members will have separate roles (rather than wearing several hats) and be incredibly skilled at their assigned duties.
Efficient post-production: When you produce video in-house, you have to learn it all from scratch (unless you hire a video expert) and editing video will take days. With an experienced video editor, any post-production you need can be added quickly and easily.
Creative input: You might have the content, but the production company will have a better idea of how to shoot your video.
OK, so you’ve got your website and your content, now you need to promote it.
Some marketers recommend you spend 20% of your time creating content and the other 80% promoting it. That means that if you spend 3 hours creating a blog, you should spend 12 hours promoting it. It might sound like a lot, but if you create an awesome blog that resonates well, it’s worth spending an hour a week for 12 weeks promoting it across your channels.
But when it comes to promotion, you also think about the cost of scheduling (i.e. time versus return). By using a social media tool which allows you to schedule social posts, you can focus your time and create social for one week, rather than having to remember to post live onto channels at specific times throughout the week.
Second, learn how to use the tools available on the social media platforms you use. These tools will help you understand the performance of posts and identify opportunities to increase reach and engagement - doing more of what works well and less of what doesn’t.
Social media management tools can cost as little as £10 a month (per user and with limitations on posts per month) or as much as £1500 a year).
CoSchedule, for example, costs $1400 (£1152.41) a year, while Hootsuite, a market leader, costs $599 (£493.07) a year. HubSpot's up there with the best of them (Hootsuite, Zoho Social, Sprout Social, Buffer, etc) but the difference is that HubSpot offers more of a 'complete' package. It's not just social media management.
Automating marketing activities
If you are running all of the above marketing activities, creating content at scale, building out your website, generating video content etc - it’s at this point that you need to start thinking about marketing automation tools. Cost is normally the main factor, but you should also look at the features provided.
Using HubSpot as an example again, the Professional Marketing Hub which includes automation – you would be looking to pay at least £655 per month. It also includes the following: smart content, blogging, search engine optimisation (SEO), content strategy, social media, A/B testing, landing pages, calls-to-action (CTAs), video hosting and management, website traffic analytics, campaign reporting, attribution reporting and custom reporting.
Now let’s look at Salesforce. Salesforce’s Growth package – which includes automation – costs £1,000 per month. It includes prospect tracking, lead nurturing and email marketing, lead scoring and grading, return-on-investment (ROI) reporting, real-time alerts, forms and landing pages and standard CRM integration.
If you want to use one of the leading tools and achieve the best results, you’ll be paying upwards of £600 a month. There are plenty of cheaper options, but in our experience, companies that try to implement these solutions tend to see results much later.
Paid promotional activity
Today’s marketing world is more pay-to-play than ever. So, if you want to compete with the big dogs on competitive keyword terms, you’re going to have to put your money into paid advertisements.
That said, you don’t need to spend a ludicrous amount to achieve success. A bit of carefully targeted pay-per-click (PPC) spend can help to raise awareness of your business, increase visibility and generate some quality leads.
Costs will vary depending on the competition for a specific term, so try to focus on terms you can compete on. This approach will ensure you generate qualified leads at a reasonable cost.
It’s hard to provide concrete examples of how much it costs to generate leads as it depends on your target keyword and competition. If it helps, many of our clients have achieved success by just spending a few thousand pounds each month.
So, the answer is…?
Anyone can run an Inbound Marketing campaign on a shoestring budget, and a lot of its strategies can be done for free: website content, blogging, social media and so on. However, to be successful, you need to be doing all of these things over a long period of time. Think less ‘quick wins’ and more ‘building for tomorrow’.
Remember, Inbound isn’t a short-term strategy, it’s a recipe for long-term success.
Some companies spend around £3,000 a month with us. Others spend £15,000 a month on enterprise-level support. What we can say, though, is that we’ve seen them all achieve success with Inbound Marketing.
Have a look at our pricing guide if you’d like more information on our pricing tiers.