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The Cost of Inbound Marketing

The Cost of Inbound Marketing

Dustin Brackett
April 28, 2020

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No matter the type of business you run, inbound marketing is likely among the most important components of your long-term success. The goal of this type of marketing is to attract new customers by creating content and experiences that are tailored directly to the needs and desires of these individuals. When implemented correctly, this strategy uses various types of pull marketing, which include blog posts, social media, content marketing, and search engine optimization.

Instead of going out of your way to interrupt customers with the outbound marketing philosophy, this marketing philosophy focuses on capturing the attention of customers and making it easier for your company to be found. There are many reasons why every company should utilize this form of marketing, the primary of which is that an effective campaign increases brand awareness. It will also produce qualified leads, assist your SEO efforts, and shape brand preference. If you perform quality inbound techniques, the amount of traffic that reaches your website should increase significantly.

This form of marketing works for many different industries, business sizes, and initiatives and should be used by any company with an online presence. Once you start to use this form of marketing, you'll notice that it can take some time to see the fruits of your labor. Notable increases in site traffic and customer conversion rates should start to appear after a few months, which makes this form of marketing ideal for businesses with longer sales cycles. Before you begin creating a campaign that is centered around inbound marketing, you'll likely want to have a solid understanding of the true costs associated with this kind of campaign. Let's dive in.

Overall Cost of Inbound Marketing

This type of marketing is considered by many business owners to be more cost-effective than outbound marketing because you're being far more targeted than you are with say television commercials, direct mail, or billboards. However, it's still important that you're aware of the costs related to inbound so that you can fit it into your budget. The total cost of inbound marketing is broken down into agency/team investment, software costs, and additional resources.

Average Agency/Team Investment

Regardless of whether you hire an internal team or partner with a marketing agency, you have costs. Every business's situation is different and you will have to decide if working with an agency or hiring an internal team is the right choice for you.

Likely the best way to creative an effective marketing campaign is to hire an agency that offers inbound marketing services. While doing so may seem costly, it can actually a very smart decision from both a business and financial standpoint. The amount of money that you spend to hire a marketing agency largely depends on the size of investment that you would like to make, I.e. how large your growth goals are and how quickly you'd like to see those results.

The main services that are provided when you hire a marketing agency include strategic planning, website optimization, content creation, and expertise with marketing software. The amount of money that you can expect to spend when hiring a good inbound marketing agency is around $3,000-$10,000 per month. While that may seem like a big investment, it's important to remember that you're getting the expertise and work from a team of experts, not just a single individual. The exact amount that you end up spending depends on your marketing needs and the types of services provided by the marketing agency that you hire. If you're considering hiring an agency for your marketing needs, we would love to chat with you. We invite you to schedule a free consultation today at a time that works best for you and your company.

Should you decide to go the internal hire route, it's important to temper your expectations. Inbound marketing is a beast. There are a lot of moving parts and to be honest, one person can't handle them all - at least not well. Hiring a jack-of-all-trades to handle your inbound marketing will likely be okay to start, but you're never going to reach your full inbound marketing potential. If you are going to hire, we recommend hiring a team of at least three to head your inbound marketing initiatives. This will allow you to have each person lean into their unique areas of strength and not expect them to excel at something that is simply out of their wheelhouse. Hiring a team of this skillset will likely cost you at least $200,000 annually.

For larger organizations jumping on the inbound marketing train, we recommend a team of six to include:

    • A marketing strategy expert
    • At least one individual with creative copywriting expertise
    • An individual who is skilled at managing and creating social media plans and content
    • A web and graphic design expert
    • A search engine optimization specialist
    • A marketing automation expert

For an organization of this size, you can likely expect to spend about $500,000 - $750,000 annually on this team. While many businesses believe that it doesn't cost as much to use an in-house team compared to hiring a marketing agency, the opposite is likely true. We ran through the cost differences of hiring an agency vs hiring a single employee in our blog post, Employee vs. Marketing Agency: The Real Cost Breakdown. Here we take into account things such as paid time off, sick time, benefits, and taxes which should be included in your cost of hiring estimates.

Total Software Costs

If you want to be able to implement inbound effectively, you have to have the right tools. We recommend using a marketing automation software, which is designed specifically to automate repetitive marketing activities, nurture your leads, and manage your marketing and sales pipelines. Our software of choice is HubSpot. HubSpot is the world's leading marketing automation platform and is suitable for every business from startups to Fortune 100 companies.

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If you decide to use the HubSpot software, they offer three main marketing packages, which include the Starter package, the Professional package, and the Enterprise package for their Marketing, Sales, and Service hubs. They have also rolled out their CMS hub which gives you the ability to develop your website directly in HubSpot. In order to truly take advantage of the software and develop a great campaign, we recommend starting with a Growth Suite. They offer a Starter, Professional, and Enterprise Growth Suite. Each suite includes that level of Marketing, Sales, and Service.

You can learn more about the HubSpot Growth Suites here. HubSpot is currently running a special on the Starter Growth Suite which is now only $50/month (normally $112.50/month). The Professional Growth Suite is where we really start to unlock the great tools and that starts at $1,275/month. The Enterprise Growth Suite is suitable for large businesses or medium sized businesses with large databases. It runs $4,200/month. 

Additional Resources

While marketing software and the agency or people you hire are the two main drivers of the marketing costs that you should factor into your budget, there are some additional resources that are needed if you want your marketing to be consistent and high quality.


If you decide to forego hiring a marketing agency to assist with your inbound efforts, another highly important resource to take into account is time. When you're attempting to grow a business, you need all the time that you can get. While inbound marketing is very effective at increasing leads, it can take time for an inbound campaign to provide substantial results. If you don't have the money to hire a team or a marketing agency, you will be required to invest a large amount of your own time on learning and implementing effective inbound campaigns, which can be counterproductive when trying to run a business. 


Whether you hire a team or hire an agency, we always recommend that you learn what is going on. Taking the time to invest in your team and your own training as it pertains to inbound marketing will help to ensure that you end up seeing an ROI at the end of the day. There is plenty of great training out there from HubSpot Academy to courses offered by agencies. Make the investment in education, it'll pay off.


There is no one perfect software that does everything. In fact, the average company uses nearly 200 software applications on a regular basis! Considering in costs for things such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Zapier, Slack, Zoom, Eventbrite, Databox, Teamwork, and more, you're probably looking at a few hundred per month in additional tools. 

With this cost guide in hand, you should better understand how to budget for inbound marketing. By implementing a solid and strategic inbound marketing campaign, you can produce a large positive return on your investment, but it will take making the investment first. Be smart about how you spend your money, get the right tools, and put the right people in the right spots. That's the key to inbound success.


Ready to learn more about inbound marketing and what it could do for your business? Let's chat!

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