Planning An Inbound Marketing Campaign

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In this modern world, we are all bombarded with literally thousands of marketing messages every day – from billboards to print adds to TV commercials. As a society, we are getting very good at ignoring these types of messages. We Tivo, we buy spam blockers, we drive right past billboards without noticing them.

As this sort of costly, outbound marketing gets more and more ignored, smart marketers are turning toward inbound marketing campaigns. Rather than broadcasting a pitch far and wide, the inbound marketing model places your services strategically in the path of individuals looking for someone just like you. It’s cost effective, highly adaptable, and exclusively on the web.

The most important part of any good inbound marketing campaign is the website. The website is where potential clients are transformed into actual clients. Gone are the days when a website was simply an online business card. These days, websites serve as portfolios, sales portals, news outlets, document databases, connection conduits and more.

Given all this, smart business owners are reassessing how their online marketing efforts factor into their budget.

A 2008 study of professional service firms in Washington DC (with revenues ranging from $1 million to $1 billion) found that most firms were spending roughly 5% of their revenue on marketing and experiencing a growth rate of about 14%. However, the firms that consistently spent more on marketing (closer to 12% of revenue on average) saw growth rates that were notably higher – averaging 33%. The study showed a direct correlation between increased spending on marketing and increased revenue growth rates in the professional services sector. Given that fact, many firms are now embracing the idea that their online presence is worth a serious investment.

The largest component of any inbound marketing campaign budget will be website design (including brand development) and regular updates. Most experts agree that to keep your website current it needs to undergo a comprehensive overhaul every 12-18 months to integrate the newest technology and applications. Between overhauls, regular (at least semi-monthly) content updates will keep the site fresh, help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and make sure that visitors will be engaged by the site time after time. Roughly 55% of your online marketing dollars should be spent on your website.

Another 35% of your online marketing budget should be devoted to creating that inbound marketing traffic – that is – getting people to come look at your site. At Tripepi Smith, we advise committing 15% of your online marketing budget to advertising with Google AdWords, and another 10% to advertising through social media. A branded newsletter campaign should fill in the last 10% of your advertising budget. It is absolutely worth hiring a professional to write your newsletter content, as uninteresting or useless content will have potential clients clicking “unsubscribe” when you want them to click “forward.”

The last 10% of your online marketing budget is for the professional you pay (either in-house or on retainer) to keep your efforts on track, plan for the future, and implement a cohesive vision. Remember, to implement a complete overhaul every 12-18 months, someone needs to be thinking about your next site, almost as soon as you finish the last one.

At your next budget meeting, take a moment to review your marketing allocation. Consider that increasing that slice could very well make the entire pie much bigger.

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