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man at deskWhen you’re in the market to buy inbound marketing services, it’s important to understand the cost is more than the investment in an outside agency. Let’s talk about what the investment into inbound marketing includes and important considerations to help you evaluate the investment.

How Inbound Marketing is Different

Comparing inbound marketing to traditional marketing, or even traditional internet marketing, is a bit like comparing apples to oranges. Inbound marketing is a methodology for creating both short-term and long-term value via your company’s online presence. More than just a marketing activity, inbound marketing also functions as a sales enablement and support tool.

In the short-term, a revenue and lead generation plan is attached to the work. In the long-term, an online presence is built for the business. By building a sustainable lead generation engine, sales are supported with more engaged leads, readily available information about sales prospects, and personalized, automated nurturing to keep the sales process going.

While there’s no doubt all of these things are valuable, it’s difficult to assign an exact value, yet you need to place a value on these efforts to make sure inbound marketing is a good investment. Since inbound marketing is more than just outsourcing a marketing function, it helps to understand the scope of the investment.

Inbound Marketing Investment Planning

Research

There are a few critical items that must be researched before undertaking an inbound marketing initiative. These include buyers, the buying process, the sales process, the existing market, and the revenue model of the business. While a campaign is running, research continues to evaluate how offers are performing, if any buyer assumptions are found to be untrue, how well visitors are captured as leads, and how those leads turn into customers. Along the way, recommendations are provided based on this research.

Building an Effective Team

Inbound marketing requires a number of varied skills, and a well-built, experienced team is critical to success. If you don’t have an internal team, or you need additional skillsets for your existing team, you’ll want to consider retaining an inbound marketing agency as part of your team.

In addition to team members that know how to implement digital marketing, you need a team member that can see the big picture. We call this person “the strategist”. This is the person that can see the forest for the trees. They’re much like a captain of a ship, making sure the journey is on-course and that – as the landscape unexpectedly changes – adjustments are made and the destination is reached, on time and on budget.

Time and Expertise

Whether you’re a C-Suite executive, a VP of Sales or a Marketing Director, you know your business better than anyone else. You need to lead by giving the “what” and “why”. Your team figures out the “how”.

The days of simply outsourcing search engine optimization services (SEO) as a hands-off marketing strategy are over. Inbound marketing provides a more integrated, holistic, revenue-focused approach to online marketing. This requires the time and expertise of an inside business expert who has the responsibility and authority to make both marketing and sales decisions to inform the process.

Content Planning, Creation, and Distribution

The essence of inbound marketing is content. Content is used to attract the right prospects by delivering the right message to the right person at the right time. Well-crafted content is used as the tool to attract and engage a target audience. Just creating content isn’t enough, and putting it on a website isn’t enough. The right people have to see it. This is where distribution comes into play.

Third Party Advertising

Some might argue third party advertising is not an inbound tactic, but I disagree. Effective inbound marketing sometimes requires the flexibility of adding third party tools and services as-needed to support a campaign. We’re trying to drive revenue, remember? This often means using the most effective means to reach people who don’t already know the business.

This might include paid advertising, Google adwords, retargeting/remarketing services, additional content creation and distribution, or other new technologies as they arise. Costs associated with these methods are usually determined on a per-campaign basis. You can anticipate these costs by creating a campaign plan that includes a budget for these services.

Lead Management and Marketing Automation

Part of the beauty and effectiveness of inbound marketing is created using personalized automation. To accomplish this, a lead management and marketing automation tool is needed. There is also a cost for website management. This generally includes modifications needed to support marketing, integration of marketing tools like Hubspot, browser testing, and general support. If you do not have a developer on-staff, then you’ll need the support of a website developer to ensure the website is well-maintained and continues to be a powerful tool in your marketing toolbox.

In terms of the overall marketing strategy, inbound marketing is a marriage of smart ideas from traditional, revenue-focused offline marketing and modern, digital marketing tactics. Considering the six factors discussed here will help you evaluate your investment and make the most of your marketing efforts.

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Diona Kidd

Diona Kidd

Diona is a senior Internet marketing consultant at Knowmad. Her areas of expertise include digital marketing strategy, project management, brand management, search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click advertising, inbound marketing, content marketing, conversion rate optimization, social media marketing and website design.

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