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What's the Right Price for Inbound Marketing Services?
Posted on January 21st 2013
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.
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.
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.