Inbound marketing is a brand marketing strategy that focuses on having customers and potential customers find you. When inbound marketing is effective, it results in your ideal customers seeking you out and investing the time to learn about your brand’s offering as a solution to their needs. This blog post focuses on the importance of your inbound marketing budget. In a nutshell, failure to budget sufficient money and resources is a recipe for inbound marketing failure.
Budget Inbound Marketing
Like all marketing strategies, to be successful inbound marketing requires careful planning, sufficient resources and persistence. To succeed, we recommend that you ensure you have a realistic and sufficient budget for four main aspects of your inbound marketing. These four areas are:
- Budget for building your inbound marketing hub and systems (a.k.a. your inbound marketing machines);
- Budget for ongoing creation and dissemination of magnetic content (a.k.a. feeding your inbound marketing machine);
- Budget for nurturing; and
- Budget for ongoing troubleshooting.
(i) Building Your Inbound Marketing Machine
There are three main aspects of your inbound marketing machine that you will need to include in your budget.
1. Brand Marketing Basics
The budget that you require for building your inbound marketing machine will depend on your state of readiness to start inbound marketing. You will be investing time and money in ongoing inbound marketing, so we really do recommend that you have your branding basics in order before you get started. Having your branding house in order will allow you to get the most of your inbound marketing investment.
2. Your Website
Before you start, take a close look at your current website. Is it good enough to use as your inbound marketing hub? Will your website architecture work to make it easy for your audience to find and read your content? Consider whether your website is suffering from one or more of the five key website issues. If it is, then you should consider budgeting to redesign or refresh your website. Even if your website will work well as it is, you should budget for preparing or updating the base content and forms on your website. The next post in this series will delve more into best practices for an inbound marketing oriented website.
3. Social Media Channels
If part of your dissemination will include social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the like), your budget should include the cost of “skinning” your brand’s pages and profile to make the look and feel consistent with your branding. Provided you have your branding house in order, “skinning” should be relatively straightforward.
(ii) Feeding Your Inbound Marketing Machine
The core of inbound marketing is creating valuable content which will attract your target audience. As a result, you and your team shouldn’t see content creation as an afterthought. Many inbound marketing efforts succeed in creating the core content and setting up a system, but they fall apart when it comes to the systematic creation of new content. The typical reason for this is simply that the contributors get busy with paid customer work, and they don’t have time to write. The antidote to this problem is to budget regular time and money for feeding the machine.
To make sure your inbound marketing machine gets fed, consider these four key areas:
- Make someone responsible as your inbound marketing Editor. Their responsibility is for your editorial plan and getting content out.
- Set a smart goal (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) for new content. You will see value in your inbound marketing efforts, even if your goal is as little as one new blog post a week, biweekly, or every month; the key is to be consistent. If you can’t commit to a goal of one blog post a month, then a blog is not for your brand. You should consider an editorial plan developed around publishing other types of content like white papers, tools and resources.
- Give the person with editorial responsibility a budget of money or people’s time for new content creation. Ideally, this budget should include some funds for ongoing SEO review; more on SEO will be outlined in a later post in this series.
- If you will be using social media channels to disseminate your content, you need to budget time and resources for that work.
(iii) Nurturing Subscribers, Prospects, Leads and Customers
As set out in a later post in this series, you want to ensure that your inbound marketing includes opportunities to identify and nurture subscribers, prospects, leads and customers. You need to budget time to ensure they are not neglected.
Your ultimate goal is not simply to have a blog (even if it is a really great blog). Rather, it is for your inbound marketing to help you build the virtuous circle of brand awareness, sales and customer loyalty.
Like all machines, your inbound marketing machine will not be maintenance free. Make sure you budget the time and resources required for (a) purely technical website updates, (b) updates to your core content, (c) review of your ongoing content and goals, (d) SEO enhancement and (e) plugging any leaks which surface in your nurturing programs.
Want to Read More about Inbound Marketing?
This blog post is the fifth in our series of posts setting out the steps needed to develop a successful inbound marketing program. The first four posts were: