If you've got this far, then you're convinced that inbound marketing really works.
We use it to grow our business, as well as our customers', but there's often a serious challenge faced by the organisations we want to help.
They want to adopt inbound marketing, but because inbound marketing is a long term strategy that takes time to deliver a return on investment (typically 6-9 months), they're left with a dilemma: how do we budget for inbound, without missing our short term lead generation goals?
In this post I explain some of the ways different sized B2B organisations can approach blending inbound marketing into their existing marketing strategy.
< £100k Annual Marketing Budget
Integrating an inbound marketing strategy into a marketing budget of this size requires care.
Working with an agency to implement a fully developed strategy can eat into your budget and present a high risk if short term lead generation needs are ignored.
The way to tackle the approach to inbound with a small budget is often to take smaller steps.
First, get started with blogging as soon as possible. That means developing a blog content strategy, and getting at least two high quality blog posts done each week. If you don't have the time or skills in-house to do this, consider reaching out to an agency for assistance. Make sure you blog about the right things.
Many agencies are more than happy to develop blogging strategies for clients, and help them to put together posts. Blog content is cheaper than other types of lead generation content, too, like eGuides, videos or research reports.
Paid software like HubSpot will make your blogging more effective, and allow you to better measure results -- but if you're really squeezed, Wordpress is a great way to start. You can download Wordpress for free, and find a Wordpress specialist to get it setup as a one-off expense.
Some agencies also offer "kickstarter" packages for customers with smaller budgets, which represent a cost effective way to get started with inbound for the first time. These packages are great if you can budget around £30k per year to your inbound marketing strategy.
£100k - £1M Annual Marketing Budget
With this size budget, it is easier to move funds around -- but it will still take some careful planning to integrate inbound without disrupting your existing lead generation efforts.
Usually in this type of budget range, you're investing money into a number of different marketing initiatives. You can therefore probably strip out marketing activity that's underperforming. Some suggestions:
- Purchase marketing automation software. This may sound counterintuitive (you're spending more money), but purchasing marketing automation software like HubSpot will help you to get a much better visibility of your existing marketing efforts. When setup properly, and integrated with your CRM software, you'll be able to see which of your marketing efforts are really working, and which aren't -- which is vital for determining where to cut back.
- Cancel a tradeshow or two. Tradeshows are expensive. Go back and take a look at all the tradeshows you've attended. How many leads did they generate? Were they qualified? How much business has each one brought in so far? If there are any that you can't clearly determine a return on investment for, then pass on them next time round.
- Optimise pay per click (PPC) campaigns. PPC campaigns can be a huge waste of cash when they're improperly optimised. Spend some time going through any PPC campaigns you're running and be diligent in stripping out campaigns and ads that aren't performing well. You can also apply an inbound way of thinking to your PPC campaigns to improve ROI.
- Reduce "branding" activity. If you're investing into branding activity, like running ads in magazines or similar -- activities which are very difficult to assess an ROI for, then put a halt to some of these efforts. Your brand advertising efforts are a long term investment, and an investment into inbound marketing will bring a bigger, more measurable return faster.
These are all things that can be done without a dramatic impact on short term results. You can then use the spare budget created to make room for a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy outsourced to an agency.
£1M+ Annual Marketing Budget
With a budget greater than £1M, making some room for an inbound marketing strategy is more straightforward, and the question often comes back to the best way of doing it, rather than what needs to be cut back to make room for it. You can work with an agency to develop and implement a strategy, or you may have the expertise and resources available in-house.
A £100k investment in inbound marketing services from an agency over a 12 month period should generate a substantial return on investment for your company, and demonstrate its impact. After an initial 12 month period, you may then want to consider increasing your budget, tune the strategy and work on transforming the organisation as a whole, rather than viewing inbound as another marketing tactic.