04.02.2020

Marketing & Growth

How much does it cost to be successful with Inbound Marketing?

22 min read

Matthew

In this blog, We answer the question: "How much does it cost to be successful with Inbound Marketing?". Have a read of the blog to find out the answer!

(This blog was first published in August 2019 and has since been updated to include new information)

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 or 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 into qualified leads.

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 annual 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 to maintain. 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 your inbound marketing efforts. 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 inbound marketing strategy 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.

(Find out more about our HubSpot website design services)

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.

We'd also recommend looking into Growth-Driven Design (GDD) if you're building a brand-new website or looking to revise your existing one. Check out the video below for more information.

Are there any other options?

There are, of course, alternatives to HubSpot, and depending on what you need you may find them more applicable. For example, if you're looking to build a small website primarily for blog posts, WordPress is certainly worth considering. It also has a plethora of plugins that can enhance your inbound marketing strategy, making your website function the way you want it to. Just bear in mind that as an open-source platform, it's significantly more complex (at the bespoke and custom end of things) to build a larger website.

WordPress is free to use but you'll have to pay for things like domain hosting and premium support.

If WordPress and HubSpot don't take your fancy and you want an enterprise-grade solution for a large website - then you can use platforms like Adobe Experience Manager. Adobe Experience Manager is a robust option for digital marketing and is used by major corporations worldwide. It's primarily designed for organisations that need to manage content across multiple websites and regions.

In terms of cost, Adobe plays it pretty close to the chest - although a blog by 6dglobal indicates that the cost of Adobe Experience Manager is between $250,000 (£192,081) and $1,000,000 (£768,785.00) and up annually.

These are just a few examples. To find the best CMS for your inbound marketing efforts, this blog has you covered.

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 colors 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 social media platforms that your audience frequents 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.

(If you decide to keep your content creation in-house, you may want to read this guide on creating a B2B content marketing strategy).

Benefits of hiring an internal content creator:

  • Budget: By keeping content creation in-house, you can manage your marketing budget more effectively, avoiding the higher costs of outsourcing.
  • Quality: Subject matter experts can speak directly to the copywriter, ensuring the material is on message. This direct communication is essential for creating high-quality content that resonates with inbound leads. (Find out how to create great content for your website)
  • Understanding: The copywriter will develop a deep understanding of your brand and product over time, becoming an expert themselves.
  • Timing: In-house teams can turn content around quicker as reviews can be done internally, which is crucial for timely marketing campaigns.
  • Quantity: There are no restrictions on the quantity of content you want to produce, allowing for a more extensive inbound marketing plan.

Benefits of outsourcing content creation:

  • Cost-effective: Outsourcing can be a cost-effective solution, especially if your inbound marketing budgets are limited.
  • Capacity: Your team can focus on other marketing activities, ensuring that your marketing efforts are more diversified.
  • Quality: Most external agencies have years of experience in specific industries, providing an edge in producing compelling content.
  • Scalability: You can hire an agency to create the right volume of content necessary to help you achieve your business goals – you aren't restricted by the performance of one employee.

For a really flat comparison, the average salary for a content marketing manager is between £43,000-£61,000 a year. Remember, this figure doesn't include additional costs like software costs, national insurance contributions, and so on.

Agencies, on the other hand, tend to charge by a 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 £3,500 and £7,000 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.

Check out our blog to find out more about the hidden costs of outsourcing your B2B content creation.

Creating video content

As with content creation, anyone can start creating videos. Video content is a powerful tool for engaging potential customers and building customer relationships. 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 thousand, you can get some really good equipment or even outsource video production to a video marketing agency.

Just by going from using a £500-£1,000 smartphone camera to a £2,000 set-up or £16,000 video marketing package, you can increase the quality of your video astronomically, thus enhancing your inbound marketing campaigns.

Want to develop a video content strategy? Check out this blog for insights on creating impactful video content that aligns with your marketing objectives.

Benefits of outsourcing video

  • Quality: Video specialists will have top-tier equipment and experience creating the kind of video that captures the attention of potential customers.
  • Access a bigger team: Production companies utilise a team of experts, each skilled in their assigned duties, to produce high-quality video content.
  • Efficient post-production: Experienced video editors can add post-production enhancements quickly and easily, ensuring a professional finish to your marketing content.
  • Creative input: Production companies can offer innovative ideas for presenting your content, making your inbound marketing efforts stand out.

If you're considering outsourcing your video, think about how it fits into your overall inbound marketing strategy and how it can help achieve your business goals.

Now you can keep video content creation in-house, of course, but there are a few costs and factors you need to be aware of:

1) Equipment

You'll need a camera capable of recording video, a microphone, a tripod, a stabiliser, and decent lights. This might sound expensive, but thanks to modern technology, you no longer need expensive equipment to shoot high-quality videos. You could just use a current-generation smartphone.

In terms of buying a camera - you could get something like the Canon EOS 650D (which can be bought for around £250 new) and then a tripod for anywhere between £25-100.

Depending on the quality of the sound recorded by your camera - you may need a standalone microphone. We use a TASCAM handheld recorder along (here's an example but not the exact one we use) with a clip-on microphone (we would recommend buying from a reputable brand like Rode, Sennheiser, Audio Technica or Sony). 

These clip-on microphones can cost anywhere between £50-£500 - but you don't need to spend at the upper end of the scale for good quality.

Next uplighting! If you've got a lot of natural light coming into your shooting location this is less important, but in dark rooms quality lighting is essential. Here's an example of the sort of lights you should be looking for. Lights, when positioned well, will make complexions smoother and more natural.

2) Skills

Anyone can shoot a video but not everyone can do it well. You can of course teach yourself how to record and edit videos but that requires time and resources you may not have. 

Also, on top of teaching yourself how to record and edit videos - you have to think about writing the script, setting up the equipment, recording the audio and managing the delivery of the video. 

You may need three or four people to do all of the above: one to do the recording and editing, one for the scriptwriting, one to listen to the audio and one to set up all of the equipment.

In terms of the cost of the above - you have to think about the software required to edit videos in the first place, as well as the hours it takes for the script to be written and the video to be edited. 

You also have to bear in mind that if you're doing it in-house, it's likely that those responsible will be splitting their time between their new "job" as a video professional and their actual contracted duties.

3) Time

As mentioned briefly above, time is another "cost" that you need to consider when it comes to creating video. 

Unless you hire a videographer for in-house video production, it's going to be a while before you can create a video in a few hours. Expect to spend days editing, reviewing and re-shooting bits of it.

You have to assume that whoever's responsible for creating and editing the video will have significantly less time for their day-to-day activities.

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 £635 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.

When considering a marketing automation platform, you should assess how it aligns with your inbound marketing plan and business goals. The investment in such tools can significantly impact your marketing budget, but the efficiency and potential for higher conversion rates they bring can be a smart investment for your business.

Promoting content

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. This 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 time 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 media content for one week, rather than having to remember to post live onto channels at specific times throughout the week.

Read our blog to find out how can you choose the right social media channels for your business.

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.

You can get a full price comparison from Buffer and check out the market report from G2 Crowd here.

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 raise awareness of your business, increase visibility, and generate some quality leads, contributing positively to your annual revenue.

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 within your inbound marketing budget.

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 on their inbound marketing campaigns.

Of course, before you dive into PPC, make sure you check out our PPC do's and don'ts!

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

All of the content you create and put on your website (and your web pages) will need to be optimised for search engines if they are to rank well and be shown for relevant search queries. This is a crucial aspect of your digital marketing strategy, enhancing the visibility of your blog posts and other content.

Of course, SEO isn't an easy practice - Google's algorithm changes every day of the week and there are hundreds of ranking factors (though we can be certain of a few of them). You can hire an SEO specialist or agency to do this on your behalf, but know this - it'll be an ongoing cost and will most likely cost more than any of your other marketing initiatives over the long term.

The main benefit of SEO is that it will lay the foundation for the rest of your activity and continue to drive traffic to your website long after your marketing campaigns finish.

Also, "cheap" SEO will cost your business more in the long run as it'll most likely leverage what we call black and grey hat SEO techniques. These techniques are frowned upon by search engines - i.e. keyword stuffing, duplicate content, link farms and so on. So whilst they may seem useful and beneficial to improve the ranking of your content, once Google's crawlers (or any other search engine's) find that content, it'll be penalised. This can cause lasting damage to your website.

Just how important is keyword optimisation for SEO? Check out this blog to find out!

Choosing a Marketing Automation Platform

As mentioned earlier, our platform of choice is HubSpot and for obvious reasons; HubSpot pioneered the Inbound Marketing strategy and build a platform around it. HubSpot provides all the tools you need to attract, engage, convert and delight potential prospects.

As you begin to grow and look to scale your Inbound Marketing activities, you'll need a platform to support them if you don't have one already.

Of course, you may not want to invest a lot of budget into a new technology - you may have loads of different tools already (although HubSpot has a growing integration library and may support those tools).

How much does HubSpot cost?

Luckily, HubSpot offers a free version of their marketing tool. It comes with everything you need to attract, engage and convert website visitors: lead flows, forms, contact databases, email, ads and a central dashboard for you to see your performance.

The Starter plan, at $18/month (£14), adds features like landing pages, ad retargeting, and list segmentation. For more comprehensive needs, the Professional plan at $800/month (£635) offers automation, SEO tools, social media, and video hosting.

The Enterprise plan, priced at $3,600/month (£2,800), includes advanced features like custom objects, single sign-on, and additional reporting. Each plan is designed to cater to the varying needs of businesses as they grow.

For a complete breakdown of features included in each plan, you can visit HubSpot's Marketing Software page.

How Huble can help you with your inbound marketing

Understanding the diverse pricing and features of HubSpot's marketing software is just the beginning. At Huble, we offer marketing consultancy services tailored to enhance your inbound marketing strategies.

Our expertise can help you navigate and optimise your use of tools like HubSpot, ensuring your marketing efforts are as effective and efficient as possible.

Think it's time to outsource your marketing activity? Feel free to reach out to us for a free chat here to discuss how we can help you with your goals.




Not using HubSpot yet?

Book a demo with our team today.

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