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The cost of an Inbound Marketing strategy (and how to justify it to your CMO)

Written by Lucy Jones

Sep 3 2015


Inbound marketing can be complicated to implement but when done properly has the potential to provide real ROI vs traditional outbound tactics.

From content creation, social media, workflow automation, Inbound sales, marketing automation and more, there’s a lot to consider. For that reason alone many B2B marketers may think an Inbound strategy is way out of budget or staff resource and will not entertain.

The simple fact is it’s not a low cost route to market. A full 12 month inbound campaign can cost anywhere between £25k to £50k per annum. This variance in cost largely depends on the following factors:

  1. Current monthly lead volumes

  2. Financial targets and growth expectations

  3. Internal resources to help with implementation

But before dismissing it - remember that Inbound is a long-term game. When the value return is considered, that initial investment can be amortised across years to come effectively reducing down any initial investment.

“According to HighTable, the average cost to generate a lead through inbound marketing ($143) is about half the average cost of outbound marketing ($373)”

Justifying Inbound ROI to your team

To justify Inbound Marketing costs to your team and CMO, consider first what you want your strategy to achieve, then assess the potential ROI you could gain.

Most B2B clients who come to us need to achieve one of a number of goals via Inbound, typically:

  • Increased qualified leads/ lead-to-customer conversion

  • Revenue growth

According to the HubSpot State of Inbound report, 54% more leads are generated by Inbound tactics than traditional paid marketing. So if that initial investment of sounds high, remember that costs are relative and that investment is likely to performs and achieve goals (and often more).

You can determine the ROI your business could achieve in one year with Strategic IC using our Inbound Marketing ROI calculator.

Remember too that the cost of an Inbound campaign covers a vast range of marketing components and skills. For example your Inbound campaign investment will cover content production, software costs (such as for HubSpot), all testing, all marketing automation platform integration, site optimisation and day-to-day activity. You’ll gain access to a variety of professional skillsets; analytical marketing, content writing, social media management, design, development, business development and project management.

Assessing if Inbound is suitable for you

Not all business and budgets are suited to an Inbound strategy. If the annual cost of an Inbound strategy is a substantial part of your revenue, or you have a short sales cycle (often B2C’s) it may not be the best strategy for your organisation. To assess if an Inbound investment suits your goals and budget, digital agencies will usually offer an initial Inbound Marketing assessment (to analyse your challenges, budget and goals to see how viable Inbound would be for your business), and occasionally offer a trial campaign.

Re-thinking your marketing budget

If you’ve a fairly restrictive digital marketing budget, it’s wise to audit current activity to determine what’s effective and what’s not to save cost. You may also want to review what activity will be contained within an Inbound campaign. Larger organisations may implement Inbound in addition to current digital marketing activities, but to streamline cost, it’s wise to review; you may unlock substantial budget not considered before.

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