One question I get in every conversation about inbound marketing is: How much does it cost? And every time I answer them the same way "It depends".
Look, there is no cookie-cutter or plug-and-play approach when it comes to pricing inbound marketing for a prospective client, and if anyone tells you otherwise, run! Every situation is different as no business is starting out at the same place.
Inbound Marketing Methodology - A Refresher
Inbound marketing is a methodology that combines many aspects of Internet marketing and creates an overall strategy to make each tactic work better together in order to achieve the marketing and sales goals of your company. Here is a quick look at the methodology:
The Breakdown of Pricing Inbound Marketing
In order to price a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy properly for your business, we first need to do a little discovery, and take the following into consideration:
Understanding your goals and time-frame
Existing site, SEO, and content audit
Content marketing strategy
Social media strategy
SEO (search engine optimization) strategy
Email marketing strategy
Your ability to help
Marketing automation software
Training and consulting vs outsourcing or a combination
The inbound content marketing plan delivered
Let's look at each one of these components in more detail.
Understand Your Goals & Time-Frame
Every company has different goals, but one goal that every business should have is to increase leads and sales. If increasing leads and sales is not on your wish list, inbound marketing is not for you, so feel free to move along!
Now, with that being said, no business is starting at the same spot. Maybe you have a new website with little traffic, or possibly it's getting great traffic but you have challenges converting that traffic into leads. Either way, each company has a different pain point, and it is here that we set the stage for all possible services moving forward.
How does this affect pricing: We will recommend a different strategy based on your current situation, where you want to be, and how fast you want to achieve your goals.
Existing Site, SEO, and Content Audit
Before we can effectively price your inbound marketing plan, we need to look at your existing website to see what we have to work with, so I like to start with a content and site audit. We need to look at the following:
Is the website optimized from an SEO and conversion perspective? What needs fixing?
What tweaks can we make to the existing site to improve SEO and conversion rates?
Do we need a new website, or can we work with what you have?
What content exists on the site that we could re-purpose?
What additional content does the site need?
How does this affect pricing: Once we dig into the content you have, it may save us time creating new content during your campaign. However, your site could also be in poor shape, and we may need to do some tweaks, or create a new one.
Another thing we need to determine before we price inbound marketing for you is, how competitive is your industry, and how do you stack up compared to the competition?
Based on your goals, we look at your competitive landscape, as this will dictate a lot of your inbound marketing strategy. We look at how you rank in the search engines for specific keywords that you would like to be found for. We also look at your competitor's current content marketing efforts, their social media presence, as well as many other SEO-related items.
How does this affect pricing: Based on your competition, your goals, and your time-frame, we plan your custom strategy accordingly.
Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is all the rage these days, as it should be. Why? Because it works when done properly.
Content comes in many forms:
Based on budget, goals, and time-frame, we will create an initially recommended two to three-month content calendar with many of the above items listed.
How does this affect pricing: Depending on who creates the content, you, your employees, or if you have it outsourced, this can make costs fluctuate greatly.
Social Media Strategy
Content marketing and social media go together like peanut butter and jelly. As you create content, you need a way to distribute it so people can read your amazing and helpful work. But the distribution of your content is only one part of social media.
You also need to use social media for:
Following and engaging contacts on all of the social platforms you are on (but don't waste time where your prospects do not participate)
A sales prospecting tool
Keeping an eye on your competition
How does this affect pricing: Based on what you are doing now, how can we tweak or write your social media strategy to give you the most success? Also, is this something your business can do in-house, or do you want to outsource your social media management, if you outsource, how "real-time" do you want your social media presence to be? Again, this can make pricing fluctuate, a lot!
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Strategy
When doing awesome work with our content marketing strategy, a lot of SEO effort is already happening. But, there is always room for improvement.
There are some technical SEO tactics that can always be done to your website, especially if you have a large website with a lot of content. Not to mention creating, a proper keyword strategy and link-building plan should be factored in as well.
How does this affect pricing: Based on where you are currently, and if you are already working with an SEO firm, this can affect pricing quite a bit, as you want some SEO work to be done each month on your site. And if you do have a 3rd party doing the work already, syncing them up with your inbound marketing consultant is a great idea, so everyone is working on the same goals.
Sending newsletters is one thing, but creating a segmented list of all your contacts, as well as setting up rules for marketing automation is key to a fully functional inbound plan.
Email marketing is still one of the best forms of marketing today, and you should consider your email list gold. But you do not want to send everyone the same message, you should be segmenting based on predetermined personas, where they are in the buying process, etc. Proper email marketing helps with engagement, bringing contacts back to your site, and keeping your company on top of their mind.
How does this affect pricing: How many emails need to be sent per month, and to how many segments? How many emails per campaign will be going out, and what other emails need to be sent for additional marketing efforts? Again, this can be a factor in pricing.
Your Ability To Help
There are two ways to skin this content marketing cat, one is called outsourcing, and the other is called in-sourcing.
While it may be easiest to just outsource your content and social media, oftentimes you get what you pay for. No one knows your business better than you and your staff. So, when it comes to blog posts and even social media, I like to get my clients to produce as much content as possible, or at least be interviewed so we can create better content for them. This allows for your company's true voice to be heard.
Sure, it may sound daunting at first, but we find that most success happens when we get as many people in your company on board, and willing to help out.
How does this affect pricing: Outsourcing is always more costly. If you can in-source, and have the agency act as a coach, edit, and publish your content, you can save a lot of money, or you can re-invest that part of the budget to a different area.
Marketing Automation Software
Bernco Media is a certified HubSpot partner and re-seller, and we use the platform for our website, email marketing, social media, blog, and more.
However, there are a few other marketing automation software platforms out there. Pardot, Marketo, and Infusionsoft come to mind. Each software has different feature sets, as well as different price ranges. But, I like HubSpot, as it truly is an all-in-one solution for 90%+ of all businesses out there.
You want a platform that can do the following:
Have or sync with a CRM
Have a contact database with detailed records of contact movement on your site
The ability to create landing pages
Handle your email marketing
Help your social media efforts by monitoring and publishing
Ability to manage marketing campaigns
Ability to show custom content depending on who the visitor is
Keep tabs on your competitors
Track your keywords, as well as track keywords vs your competitors
Have content grading tools built-in
Have incredible reporting
as well as other criteria
How does this affect pricing: Each marketing automation platform has different prices based on functionality. But be warned, you get what you pay for here as well. To do great inbound marketing you may need to patch a few platforms together to get the data you need to become a better marketer. (again, that's why I like HubSpot)
This is the million-dollar question, isn't it?
I never ask this question in order to gauge how much I can get away with charging you. It is more of a question so I can determine if you are serious about inbound marketing for your business.
If you were to come to me and say "What can I get for $500 a month", we will not be able to get very far. But, if you really have a marketing budget, or can see yourself being able to shift marketing dollars from some ancient marketing practice to inbound, we can keep the conversation going.
How does this affect pricing: Based on what we recommend vs what you can afford, we tailor a solution that will best fit, yet still give you value.
Training and Consulting vs Outsourcing or a Combination
Depending on your business, you may or may not be able to tackle inbound marketing on your own.
Maybe you need to outsource all or part of your inbound marketing efforts, or maybe you just need a coach or consultant to walk you through the steps and keep you accountable, or maybe it's a combination of both.
Look, inbound marketing takes work. And one way or another, the work has to get done to see the results to meet your goals.
How does this affect pricing: Based on your needs, goals, and capabilities, how we plan this can make the price fluctuate quite a bit.
Inbound Content Marketing Plan Delivered
Now that we know the above information, we can put together a plan for success. Typically, here at Bernco Media, we give our prospective clients a few options, and the options typically revolve around time, goals, and budget.
A well-thought-out inbound marketing strategy should spell out, in detail, many of the following items:
Site and content audit
Persona research & development
Baseline data for reporting
Keyword analysis and strategy
Premium content ideas for top, middle, and bottom of funnel leads
Email marketing plan
Social media plan
Agreed upon KPIs that will keep both client and agency on track and accountable
Inbound marketing and the tactics used to reach your goals takes a lot of time and effort. If your budget will not allow for moving at the highest speed possible to hit your goals, we scale back the plan to meet your budgetary concerns, to a point. I say "to a point" because if your budget is too low, it will take too long to get results, making neither party very happy.
So, How Much Does Inbound Marketing Cost Already?
The answer is still... It Depends.
But, allow me to give you a range:
If you are a small to mid-sized business working with an agency to deploy your inbound marketing efforts, you can expect to pay $2000-$6000 per month.
For larger and enterprise businesses, I have seen some campaigns at $15-20K a month or more.
With all of the factors we laid out above, as well as many I did not cover such as pay-per-click and paid social media, you can see that it is impossible to just give a standard price for inbound marketing. Having a custom solution created for your business, based on your goals, is always the best way to go. Working with a company that tries to put your business into a "one-size-fits-all package" is a disaster waiting to happen.
I hope this helped to shed a little light on the process we go through in order to determine marketing investments for our prospects.
Owner/Head Coach @ Bernco Media. Digital sales & marketing since 1997. Passion for teaching companies to be the most trusted voice in their space. They Ask, You Answer Certified Coach & HubSpot Certified Partner & Trainer. Reversed Type 2 Diabetes doing KETO. Wears Mickey Mouse Daily. Daydreaming of next Disneyland Trip.