What's the Right Price for Inbound Marketing Services?

Posted on January 21st 2013

What's the Right Price for Inbound Marketing Services?

One of the more challenging aspects of finding the right inbound marketing support is determining the right price for the services delivered. Whether those services are delivered by a fully-staffed agency or by a consultant, there is significant price variation in the marketplace. right price for inbound marketing service

The first step in a pricing evaluation is to tightly define the level of support you need in order to achieve your business objectives. This step requires enough knowledge on the client side to have clearly stated objectives, a priority order of the inbound activities that need to be executed to achieve the objectives and a budget (or at least a rough idea of the right budget amount). In many cases, a company may not have clearly defined objectives or a strategic marketing plan, which might necessitate the development of one or both by the service provider.

The good news for both providers and clients is the move away from the hourly billing mentality to one of service packages tailored to the specific needs of the client. Hourly billing is much less focused on outcomes and efficiencies whereas package pricing is centered on specific deliverables based on their relevancy to the strategic objectives.

Keep in mind that there are numerous factors that contribute to price variations and while some of those fall on the supply side, the majority come from the client side. A sampling of these factors is listed below:

Client Side Factors

  • Presence of a strategic marketing plan

  • A capable internal marketing team

  • Tightly defined target market segments

  • An existing customer database (with email addresses)

  • Legacy content that can be updated and repurposed

  • Defined buyer personas

  • A unified sales process (sales and marketing agree what it is)

  • Established metrics for measuring performance

  • Some marketing technology tools in place (email, CRM)

  • Existing social presence

  • A website with conversion capabilities

  • The cultural acceptance of the practice of inbound marketing

  • Financial goals of the client

  • The level of competition in the client's niche

 

Provider Side Factors

  • Experience of the provider (in your niche or a generalist)

  • The structure and depth of the support team

  • Service delivery model(s) of the provider

  • Level of provider competition

  • Profit requirements of the provider

  • Provider's client satisfaction rating

Now, let's take a look at how the typical packages are structured and I'll provide some pricing ranges for these packages. The prototypical client used for this illustration is in the B2B space, has 10 employees (one marketing person), $5 million in annual revenue, sells an annuitized service, does not have a formal marketing plan and is fairly needy across the service spectrum

Strategic Planning - Inbound Marketing Plan Development

There are two primary methods of pricing for this service - the first is an up-front charge to conduct a thorough assessment of client needs and the development of a plan; the second approach simply rolls the cost of the upfront work into the monthly service package fee to spread across the length of the engagement. Either way, the strategy should address the upcoming fiscal or calendar year for the client.

Pricing Range: Free to $10,000

Core Monthly Inbound Support

Typical packages should be configured for client specific needs. In general, a core package will include:

  • Weekly or bi-weekly planning and review meetings
  • Development of buyer personas
  • Keyword analysis and strategy
  • Content creation (some blogging and/or longer form content assets)
  • Social media support (setup, training and guidance)
  • SEO support (on-page and off-page)
  • Development of offers
  • Call to action and landing page development
  • List segmentation
  • Development of email campaigns
  • Develop of nurture workflows/campaigns
  • CRM integration
  • HubSpot management and oversight
  • Competitive analysis and monitoring
  • Development and review of performance reporting

Price Range: $5,000 - $15,000 per month

Keep in mind that these prices don't reflect the cost of software - you would add the cost of HubSpot (a range of $1,000 - $4,000 per month for this prototypical client - version choice and number of database contacts affect this) and CRM software (which typically falls in the same range as HubSpot).

An associated cost to these additional software platforms is integration - these fees can range from under $100 per month to $5,000 annually. 

One last area of consideration is content - the more aggressive your inbound marketing plan is the more content you'll need to generate to achieve results. Unless you have the internal capability to crank that content out, you'll want to establish a budget for outsourcing it. 

Every client is unique: different niches, different competitive situations, varying sales cycles, a wide range of profit structures and a never ending variety of strategic objectives. The key is tailoring your inbound marketing plan to match your objectives and that will provide greater clarity in designing the support needed.

Your Thoughts?

I'd love to know what types of packages and pricing other people encounter in their search for inbound marketing support. Have you seen any novel pricing models you'd like to share? You comments and input are always welcome and appreciated. 

RichMcElaney

Rich McElaney

I'm a results oriented marketing professional with over 25 years of experience developing new customer acquisition programs for businesses. A certified HubSpot partner since 2009, I help businesses develop the successful practices of inbound marketing to positively impact the bottom line.

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Comments

Dave Young
Posted on January 21st 2013 at 4:34PM

I like this prespective. Many companies simply start firing away with tactics before considering the big picture. We build a small company focused on providing a packaged content production service. Our goal was to create content from the mouths of the company's internal experts without forcing them to write. We don't offer full service social media management, but we play well with those who do. 

RichMcElaney
Posted on January 21st 2013 at 6:13PM

Thanks for your comment Dave! 

I think the toughest thing any agency or consultant or service provider has to do is get their clients to think strategy first. It's so easy to get sucked into tactical band-aiding and never hit the most important strategic targets. I have to believe you see a lot of this where the stated need is "more content" but it's not guided by a strategic approach. What do you do when you see that? 

I really appreciate you engaging with this content and dropping by SMT!

 

Rich

Dave Young
Posted on January 21st 2013 at 6:43PM

Most of our clients for Shortcut Blogging have a strategy in mind when they engage with us. Their goal is usually a simple customer engagement or credibility building exercise. A few use us for SEO content. Since we use an interview model for our source, the SEO tactic is simply to write the keyword phrase on a post-it and stick it to the monitor during the skype recording. ;-) This ensures that either the client or the interviewer will use the phrase in conversation. It ends up being quite natural instead of a forced post around a keyword.

 

 

jgeysen
Posted on January 22nd 2013 at 2:52AM

This is a great way to start. The key line is "requires enough knowledge on the client side." I've found this to be a huge challenge and a big part of selling inbound services.


Dave, I love Short Cut Blogging concetp.