How to Budget For Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation

Budgeting for Internet Marketing in 2018

This is the fourth post in our series of blogs related to budgeting for Internet Marketing in 2018. Today’s blog is about “Inbound Marketing” in concert with “Marketing Automation”. Inbound Marketing is a phrased that was coined by HubSpot and relates to the combination of Search Engine Optimization , social media and other tactics, typically wrapped up in a “marketing automation” platform to make it easier to manage. Internet Marketers are famous for creating new terms to describe a suite of services, and this is one example. However, if you fit the profile for a successful Inbound Campaign, this strategy has the potential to significantly impact your business in 2018.

The idea behind Inbound is that potential customers discover and become familiar with your brand through interactions that are relevant and helpful, not disruptive. It starts with a process that looks very familiar to Search Engine Optimization – keyword research. The keyword research, in this case, is focused more on answering questions than on products and services.

Before I go further, let’s talk about the criteria for being a good candidate for an Inbound Campaign. Inbound campaigns work best when:

  • Transactions are of a high value, and
  • Sales cycles are longer

Inbound campaigns are not generally used for quick decision, B2C online transactions. Inbound helps you get a prospect through a long decision cycle for a product/service that is considered “expensive”.  The definition of expensive varies. “Expensive” in a B2C environment could be a $10k piece of exercise equipment, a $100k remodel or a $500k vacation home. Expensive in a B2B environment could be a new ERP platform or a new analytics tool for $200k/year.

Let’s use the analytics tool example; If a company sells a platform that provides “Healthcare Analytics”, then “Healthcare Analytics” is a great phrase to optimize a website for (this is SEO). But about 20 minutes of keyword research reveals a bunch of keyword phrases, like questions, that can be used for blogging, such as:

What is Predictive Analytics, what is big data in healthcare, what is healthcare analytics, what is predictive analytics in the health care industry, what is analytics in healthcare, how to use big data in healthcare, etc.

A good SEO AND Inbound Campaign will develop blog content around these keyword phrases in an effort to draw organic traffic; but Inbound takes it a step further. Inbound is SEO on steroids.

The deliverable for SEO is “non-branded organic traffic”. Graphs of organic traffic and tables of landing pages are traditional deliverables for SEO. In contrast, the deliverable for Inbound is a list of names of people that are now in your pipeline and being worked through the sales funnel…and if implemented well…without human touch. Inbound is still personal.

The process requires much more than a blog about budgeting to explain, but here’s an example of what can happen:

  • Author a blog about “What is Predictive Analytics in the health care industry”
  • Optimize the blog for organic traffic
  • Market the blog via LinkedIn (both through employees and in groups)
  • Email a teaser about the blog to a list of contacts
  • Once people get to the blog, offer a case study about how predictive analytics prevented a malpractice lawsuit
  • In exchange for that case study, ask for a name and email address
  • Put that site visitor into a workflow, where you email them 1/week for 6 weeks with new content about why predictive analytics in healthcare is so important
  • Measure that individual’s activity. Do they revisit the site? How many pages do they look at? Do they look at your product page? Rate this individual higher or lower based on their activity
  • When this individual reaches a certain “score”, have a salesperson contact them directly and request a conversation
  • Create a “deal” in your pipeline for this person’s company and have emails automatically sent to follow up with them
  • Track the progress of the deal through a visual pipeline. Speed up your ability to work your pipeline by over 200%
  • Close more deals, more efficiently than you’ve ever done before

THIS is inbound, and it’s magic. It’s also Marketing Automation.

Back to the subject at hand…how do you budget for this?

It’s possible to do all of this manually, but not with any volume or reliability. Using a tool to get this done will ensure that it gets done correctly and consistently. Magnetic North is a HubSpot partner and you’ll get a biased opinion from us. There are cheaper platforms and more expensive ones too. HubSpot has a great user-experience and is intuitive to use and is our recommendation. There is a cost to HubSpot and the cost is correlated to how many contacts are in your Database. If you’re between 1,000 and 30,000 contacts you should be thinking about $750 – $2,500 for access to the tool.

It’s possible to setup and manage all of this yourself – but most don’t. So, in addition to the tool, you should think about hiring an agency to help you setup and manage your campaigns. The example bulleted above is just one string of events…which might be called a campaign. Or it might be one piece of content in a broader campaign. Either way, imagine 10 or 20 of these running in parallel. It takes time to concept, design and implement these campaigns, and an agency can help you do that. We price our engagements based on the amount of help our clients request. It might be $1k/mo. or $10k/mo., it just depends how complicated we get.

Finally – Inbound is dependent upon good content. So if you’re going to be successful with Inbound, you need a content generation plan. Maybe you have engineers, marketers or consultants that LOVE to generate content. If you do, that’s great. Maybe you need to hire your agency to generate content. That’s fine – but keep in mind that YOU’RE the expert, so you have the domain expertise. The best content is usually from our clients, although we’re happy to work with bullet points and ideas to generate content on your behalf. Either way, you need a budget for content development, whether developed internally or externally.

Putting an Inbound campaign together takes planning, but it can be extremely effective. If you want to develop and budget a plan, give us a call and we’d be happy to have the conversation with you!

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