So you've decided to take the plunge and try out inbound marketing. As a team of inbound marketing experts and certified HubSpot partners, we think you're making the right choice.
As with any new business direction, inbound marketing does come with some costs, in terms of software, people, and time. Making room in your budget for this new strategy might seem like a challenge at first, but it's well worth the extra effort once you see the new leads and conversions that inbound can bring. We can't tell you how much you're allowed to spend, but hopefully this post can shed a little light on the process of developing an inbound marketing budget.
Don't Underestimate Inbound
When you think about inbound marketing, what do you think about? Original content like eBooks? Blogs? Social media promotion? Those are all essential parts of inbound marketing, indeed. And they're free, right? So who even needs an inbound marketing budget?
Hold on. Posting on social media is free, but someone has to spend the time to do it. Plus someone has to write what you're going to post. And all those eBook aren't going to write, design, or upload themselves either. Inbound marketing doesn't have to be costly, but it does need a dedicated budget and a team who knows what they're doing. So how do you find and allocate the budget to get started?
Evaluate Your Options
There is no "one size fits all" solution for inbound marketing. Instead, it's important that you evaluate the different needs of your company when it comes to your marketing strategy. Your inbound marketing needs, and consequently your inbound marketing budget, will depend on the size (or existence!) of your marketing team and their expertise, as well as your overall business goals. The two most glaring options when it comes to starting in on inbound is whether you should utilize your in-house marketing team, or go out to an agency for your inbound needs.
Should You Go In-House?
If you already have a dedicated marketing team, consider yourself lucky. But just because you have great traditional marketers on your side doesn't mean they're ready or even interested in pursuing inbound marketing strategies. Chances are, your marketing team is busy so before you decide to introduce them to inbound, find out if they even have the time to take it on.
Assuming your marketing team is spending some its day twiddling their thumbs, you'll still need to find out what type of expertise or willingness to learn they have in the inbound sector.
If none of these are possible, you can still go with an in-house inbound team, but you'll need to hire from the outside and this can be costly when you add up salaries, new hardware (e.g., laptops), and overhead like office space. Try to add up the overall costs of just one new marketing team member and see how that would factor into your budget.
Or Hire an Agency?
The key to any good budgeting practices is exploring all your options. Hiring an outside agency for any reason may raise eyebrows, but it can be a useful and cost effective option when it comes to inbound marketing.
Inbound agencies are already up-to-date on the latest inbound strategies, terminology, and software. When you work with one, you can hit the ground running without the lag time that hiring and/or training can create if you work internally.
Inbound agencies are also experts. They know how to apply inbound strategies to your business and their goal is to get you the best results, not just to take home a paycheck every week. This can make for a faster implementation and quicker returns. They also know how to use inbound analytics to constantly improve your strategies.
Or Perhaps Some of Both?
For some companies, neither an in-house team nor an inbound agency will meet every need. Complex businesses can benefit from the unique insight of an in-house team able to work closely with an inbound agency for maximizing ROI. This can mean gaining the expertise of an agency and not having to shell out for an internal inbound expert, while still keeping your inbound team on the same page about your internal business goals.
Another budgetary consideration to make when building up your inbound strategy is inbound marketing software. At ManoByte, we are certified partners of HubSpot, which offers top of the line inbound marketing software. This type of software can be an extremely valuable asset when it comes to implementing inbound marketing strategy because it offers a centralized place to track your inbound performance as well as easy templates for landing pages and the content that is so essential to inbound success. Even if you think you're too new at this to need this type of software, using it from the beginning can be a huge leg up. Otherwise, you may start to see inbound growth but have no easy to way track, analyze, and improve your strategy, which can leave you floundering.
Find the Funds
Clearly, although inbound marketing can offer impressive ROIs, it is not free to implement. But you don't need to generate more revenue in order to start inbound marketing, you just need to find the funds (easier said than done, right?)
One of the most obvious places to look for inbound funds is the sales department. Successful inbound marketing can generate qualified leads and make your sales department rest a little easier, which means they should be able to find a few dollars to toss your way.
If you have funds to spare from your traditional marketing and advertising sectors, those teams can also benefit hugely from inbound marketing.
Only you know the status of your company's budget, but if you get a little creative and are able to focus on the long-term goals that inbound marketing can help you reach, you should be able to find the money to invest.
Inbound marketing is not passive and the better you can internalize that, the better chance you have of keeping your inbound budget in check. Analytics and constant evaluation of those analytics are key to successful inbound marketing. When you are able to see what is working and what is not, you can shift the focus of your strategy and therefore the focus of your funds, which makes it easier to keep your budget in check.
Inbound marketing is effective. We've seen it give our clients a positive ROI time and again. But like so many business improvements, it isn't free. If you can take the time to find the funds you need to implement a successful inbound strategy that works for you, it will be well worth it in the end.