How Much Money Will You Need in Your 2012 Inbound Marketing Budget?

How Much Money Will You Need in Your 2012 Inbound Marketing Budget?

By Roman KniahynyckyjJan 12 /2012

inbound marketing grooveIf you're a CMO or marketing leader for an enterprise level SaaS (Software as a Service) provider, ISV (Independent Software Vendor), or other mid sized company, and you've decided to get your inbound marketing groove on this year, be sure to review the items and activities below. Maybe you've included many if not all of them, so consider this post a double-check on them. If you have more - let us know that too! 

Marketing Automation Platform - $1-3k per month

If you currently host your site on a low cost platform like Wordpress or Drupal, are you integrated with marketing automation software, which tracks and automates activities like lead scoring, lead qualification, and lead nurturing?  Marketing automation software pricing often depends on the level of contacts you have in your system and can range between $1-3k per month or greater. Tracking the effects of all your marketing events under one dashboard can save you time, effort, and marketing budget. Without an integrated approach, collecting data across multiple platforms, analyzing the results of that data, and proving ROI can be a big challenge. Marketing automation software is a core investment and should be in your budget.

Website Updates - $1 - 3k per month

Once you have an easy to use content management system (CMS) combined with your marketing automation process, it's important to define your overall business goals as they relate to measurable data points like number of inbound leads or increased brand awareness. Your website should be optimized for inbound marketing and serve as a 24/7 "virtual salesperson" for your company. If it's not already setup this way, you may need to rethink your website design, page architecture, and the website offers for each level of your sales funnel. Depending on the size of your website and the internal/external parties and costs involved in a redesign process, you may need to budget between  $15k and $50k for small to medium size sites with a few hundred pages or more. Once your website is complete, you'll need ongoing support and web updates. Setting the one time costs aside, what is your budget for internal and external costs for site updates? Consider budgeting a minimum of just $1- 3k/month. Including software, your budget is now between $2-6K a month, which is still typically less than the cost of one full-time employee.

Achieving Inbound Marketing ROI - $6k - $20k per month

As you create a marketing plan focused on content marketing, calls-to-action (CTAs), landing pages & lead nurturing, your budget is based on the cost of your marketing team and advertising costs. A 4 person team usually consists of a strategist/manager, copy writer, designer & web developer. Using a conservative average cost of $4k/month ($50k annual salary per team member) you would spend $16k/month on the team strictly for payroll. Round that to $20k/month by including a $4k/month budget for advertising (PPC and special promotions). Now, consider outsourcing a marketing team for $6k/month to an agency. This would bring your monthly budget down to $10k. Overall, your total budget is now $12 - $16k/month.

The $10k/month may not include the HR costs for search and recruitment. That could be another $5k - $25k/month. That would increase your budget to $17k - $41k/month.

It's  certainly a formula with many variables, we use our inbound marketing calculator as a guide to budget cost for some of these activities. Naturally, activity levels vary greatly for each situation depending on your goals. We have found though, that a budget in this range and a commitment to following an inbound marketing methodology typically results in an ROI at or exceeding 150%.

What do you think? Too much? Too little? In this example, even without HR costs, the $12 - $16k/month, or $144 - $192k/year might seem outrageous. If you're a $30 or $50 million company, it may seem like nothing. If you can get a minimal ROI of 150% on a $192k investment, it will add an extra $92k to your balance sheet. What if you get a 200-300% ROI like we have? The real question becomes, in 2012, do you plan to go big, or go home? It's up to you. 


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