Inbound marketing is a powerful approach to marketing that focuses on attraction rather than promotion. By creating content that addresses the needs and interests of your target audience, you can attract and engage potential customers, build relationships, and ultimately drive sales.
But like any marketing approach, inbound comes with costs, and it's important to understand the potential ROI before investing significant resources. In this post, we'll cover the costs and ROI of inbound marketing and provide some tips for maximizing your return on investment.
The Costs of Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing requires an investment of time, money, and resources to create and distribute content that attracts and engages your target audience. Some of the key costs include:
- Content creation: To attract and engage potential customers, you'll need to create a steady stream of high-quality content, such as blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, videos, podcasts, social media updates etc. This is the root of any inbound strategy, without content, inbound marketing does not exist.
- Content distribution: Once you've created your content, you'll need to distribute it across various channels to reach your target audience, such as social media, email marketing, search engine optimization, and more.
- Technology and tools: Various tools and technologies are needed, like marketing automation software, analytics tools, and content management systems, to help you create, distribute, and measure the impact of your content.
- Staff: Depending on the size of your organization, you may need to hire additional personnel to manage your digital marketing efforts, such as content creators, social media managers, SEO specialists, and more.
The ROI of Inbound Marketing
While it can be costly to implement, inbound can also provide a significant return on investment if done correctly. This article, “Understanding and Proving Marketing ROI” does a great job of explaining how inbound marketing tactics can help you prove ROI and how you can adjust on the fly so that your ROI continues to be positive. Here are some of the ways it can generate ROI for your business:
- Increased organic traffic: Increasing organic traffic can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to see substantial results. However, by focusing on SEO strategies, like blogging, optimized website pages, and a solid keyword strategy, Google will start picking up your content and the more that users click through to your website, the higher you’ll show up in search results. When you are ranking high in SERPs, you can spend less and less on paid media avenues, therefore increasing ROI and decreasing spend.
- Lead generation: Creating helpful content can help you generate leads by attracting potential customers who are interested in your products or services. By offering valuable content in exchange for contact information, you can build a database of qualified leads to nurture and convert into customers over time.
- Cost savings: Inbound marketing can also be more cost-effective than traditional marketing approaches, such as advertising, buying lists, cold-calling, trade shows, direct mail etc. Inbound relies on content creation and distribution, rather than paying a lot of money up front and getting minimal results, think of it as the long game; when you put in continuous, consistent effort, you will see results.
- Improved customer retention: By creating content that helps your existing customers solve problems and achieve their goals, you can improve customer retention and loyalty, which can lead to repeat business and positive referrals.
Maximizing Your ROI with Inbound MarketingTo maximize your ROI, it's important to follow some best practices, such as:
- Focus on quality versus quantity: Our CEO, Dustin Brackett’s new book, “Marketing Like a Human” stresses the importance of this in this podcast episode, Market Like A Human (And a Focus on Quality vs. Quantity), “All of the clients that we're working with or even our organizations potentially are looking at like, how do we get more leads in the funnel? We need more website visits, we need more followers on social, we need more, more, more. We're starting to focus so much on more that we're losing sight of the quality and the fact that there are actual human beings on the other side of our marketing. Whether we're advertising and marketing business to business or business to consumer or even nonprofit, we're marketing to humans. I think we're really starting as a society to lose sight of that fact.” Rather than creating a large volume of mediocre content, focus on creating a smaller amount of high-quality content that provides real value to your target audience.
- Do keyword research: Use a tool like SEMRush or Moz to create, track and optimize your organization’s keywords. In this post by Zach Lemmer, he explains that, “Keyword research is all about finding search terms are related to your product or service, and that will trigger Google (or other internet directories) to show a link to your website on their search engine results pages (SERPs). Within your keyword research, you will look for keywords (both short and long-tail) that have adequate monthly search volume, low competition, and realistic cost-per-click costs (for pay-per-click).” Keywords are pivotal to a solid content strategy and will be a pillar of how, when, and what content you are producing.
- Use data to inform your strategy: Use analytics tools to track the performance of your content and adjust your strategy accordingly. For example, if you notice that certain types of content are generating more leads than others, focus on creating more of that content.
- Nurture leads with personalized content: Once you've generated leads through content, use marketing automation software to nurture them with personalized content that addresses their specific needs and interests.
- Continuously test and optimize: Content marketing is an iterative process, so it's important to continuously test and optimize your content and distribution channels to maximize your ROI over time.
Inbound marketing can be a powerful approach to marketing, but it requires an investment of time, money, and resources to execute well. In a world filled with noise and out-of-date marketing tactics, inbound marketing will stand the test of time. Creating useful content for your target audience will never go out of style, and it will be the best return on investment you’ve ever seen in your marketing strategy. If you're ready to get started or learn more about inbound marketing, you can more resources at the button below.