What is the Real Cost of Inbound Marketing?

cost-of-inbound-marketingThe most fashionable sales tool on the planet is set to continue phenomenal growth through 2013. Are you already using hyper-fashionable Inbound Marketing? Here are answers to your top Inbound questions:

  1. What do I need to set up effective Inbound Marketing
  2. How long does Inbound take
  3. How much does Inbound Marketing cost

Since Inbound Marketing took off in 2005 it has seen phenomenal growth with major players like Eloqua, Marketo and Hubspot, getting top level financial investment, recruiting and expanding internationally at a hair-raising pace.

Source: Google Insights for ‘Inbound Marketing’

But if you want to ride the Inbound rocket, what are the six crucial cost areas for businesses wanting to implement Inbound Marketing

1. Create knock-your-socks off online content

Inbound marketing is driven by you creating remarkable content and then giving it away in exchange for your leads’ contact details. You give (content) to get (leads) so you will need to make your content worth the value of the exchange.

Companies that blog get 55% more web traffic and 67% more leads than those that don’t? Hubspot Marketing Fact vs. Marketing Fantasy

2. Time to create content

You can create strong content in a couple of hours a week, but be warned. To build a following you will need to write consistently on diverse and relevant topics. Your competition is creating ever more sophisticated and attractive content using infographics, charts, and original research. This kind of content is time and effort expensive. Some bloggers can produce remarkable, sharable, influential content apparently in minutes. Read Seth Godin’s blog for examples of perfect lean content creation.

62% of marketers said that “lack of resources in staffing, budgeting or time” is the greatest barrier to marketing success MarketingSherpa 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report

3. Budget for Inbound

Blogging software can be free; social media accounts are generally free; you can use Google Analytics for free. You can send email with free services like Mailchimp and Aweber; and you can produce content yourself for free. So… that’s a lot of free Inbound Marketing, right?

Not exactly. Your time has an opportunity cost (see below) and once you require a level of size, frequency, or complexity that the free services don’t cover, you’ll be paying fees to run your Inbound Marketing Services. One good argument for getting into Inbound now, is that you will be months or years ahead of your competition and while they catch up you can sell, sell, sell.

4. Technology to manage and convert leads

The real benefit and beauty of Inbound Marketing lies in its all-round-view of how your leads are interacting with your website. If you want to produce knock-out calls to action and landing pages, you need some technology to do that. Some providers offer one-off pricing like Inbound Now’s own Contextual Call To Action WordPress Plugin. Unbounce offers monthly pricing, and for businesses needing an integrated service the big players are companies like Hubspot, Marketo and Eloqua

To reach mobile users, deliver you content over breakfast, lunch or dinner. 35% of mobile email opens occurred between 6 – 8 am, 12 – 2 pm and 6 – 8 pm.  Tailored Mail

5. Opportunity cost: is Inbound worth it

The time you spend on Inbound Marketing is time you could spend bringing in leads and converting them to customers through other means. Could pay-per-click, face-to-face networking or attending exhibitions bring you more business at a lower cost? According to Hubspot, Inbound leads typically cost 61% less than outbound leads.  Once you have a piece of content, it is out there permanently able to draw in new traffic. With PPC or events, once it’s over, it’s gone and no one will ever see it again.

6. Being a master of Inbound Marketing

Perhaps the most expensive aspect of Inbound Marketing is the level of skill needed to run effective Inbound campaigns. Are you, or your team experts at developing: marketing strategy; writing copy; keyword research; link-building; email marketing; lead nurturing; sales; Twitter; Facebook; LinkedIn; writing guest blog posts; designing websites; creating landing pages; developing calls to action; understanding the psychology of sales; data analysis, etcetera. If not, the good news is there are a range of service providers and inbound marketing agencies to help.

Starting Inbound Marketing

Given all the benefits of Inbound Marketing you are probably champing at the bit to start, and it is possible to manage Inbound Marketing with a limited time and financial budget. Here’s what you need as a firm basis:

  1. Learn something about keyword research as it is the starting point for getting your website found online
  2. Create a minimum of one blog post per week (ideally two) and promote with gusto
  3. Add bold calls to action (CTA) to each and every one of your blog articles
  4. Have your CTAs take visitors to dedicated landing pages
  5. Measure, review and keep on repeating

Chris Markham runs the UK Inbound Marketing Agency Bizfix, helping clients get found, get leads and get sales, all with a proper British accent

Follow Chris on Twitter, connect on linkedin, and google+

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