Editor's Note: This post was originally published on September 4, 2015, and was updated on August 14, 2019.
We talk a lot about inbound marketing, and a common theme in our resources and material is its efficiency and cost-effectiveness. In our ROI-driving engine infographic we analyzed cold hard facts showing the average cost-per-lead of inbound marketing is less than half of outbound marketing leads.
It’s great that we, as marketers, know how and why inbound marketing saves us money, but as a writer I was taught to “show don’t tell,” as in it’s better to give readers an explanation rather than simply make a statement they should accept as fact. This got my thinking about the many articles about the efficacy of inbound marketing, many of which can be summed up in once sentence: “inbound marketing just works better.” Indeed it does, but here are some examples of how inbound marketing saves you real dollars:
Maximizes Your Time
When it comes to marketing, time is money. You’re either paying for somebody's time or using your own in order to attract clients or customers. If the time you’re spending (or paying for) doesn’t create something that extends beyond the finite number of minutes or hours put into it, you could argue the time is being wasted. Not wasted in the sense that work isn’t being done, but rather because of the opportunity cost associated with not adopting an inbound marketing strategy, which generates returns long after implementation.
As an example, consider the practice of cold calling to generate new business. Let’s say you spend four hours calling potential clients you’ve never had any contact with. You’re essentially dedicating four hours in hopes of finding a new customer; once the four hours are up, if you haven’t made a sale, you’ve wasted that time.
Inbound marketing saves time, and therefore money, by investing in tactics with the ability to generate new business both now and in the future. Things like blog posts, whitepapers and videos that answer the questions of an existing audience. Once you write a post addressing the legitimate concerns of a group of people, you could potentially generate a new customer the day you publish it, the week after, five months down the road, or a full year later. There’s really no limit like there is with the four hours of phone calls.
Sure, some resources will bring you more clients than others, but that’s where the analytics side of inbound marketing comes into play. The crux of the time saving argument for inbound is that it shifts your focus away from activities with limited potential.
Evolves With Technology
One of the things about inbound marketing that’s immediately obvious once you start talking to other marketers in the community is it operates on the cutting edge of advanced technology. If you adopt an inbound strategy or work with an inbound marketing agency, you’ll quickly realize you don’t need to worry about having an outdated website or being targeted by one of Google’s many penalizing updates. The inbound community, which we consider ourselves a part of, is all about evolving with technology.
How many times do you hear of businesses that are constantly updating their digital properties because they’re always behind the curve? In the digital world, reacting is losing. You have to be proactive. Inbound saves you money because keeping up with the constant evolution of technology is part of the ideology’s foundation.
Getting the most value for each marketing dollar you spend should be the goal of every campaign in existence. But it’s not. Many businesses and marketers don’t have the time to make sure what they’re doing is the most optimal option, which results in unnecessary spending.
With inbound, getting value is already factored in because that’s the point. If you think back to the cold calling vs. inbound resource creation example, which activity would you say builds value for a company? While you’re on the phone for four hours, there’s a chance you could make a handful of connections, if not a sale or two. But how many of your personal and professional circles are full of people whom you cold called? I didn’t think so.
Cold calling, like many traditional marketing methods, is no more or less than itself. It’s just cold calling. Inbound marketing activities seek to build a company’s value in the eyes of its target audience. Over time, value, trust and loyalty is what draws customers to businesses - not phone calls.
The best characteristic of inbound marketing is that it can’t be done without a strategy. Of course it can be done theoretically, but you won’t find an inbound marketer willing to do anything inbound-related without setting goals and devising a plan for accomplishing them. That’s just how we roll. But seriously, that’s the way it should be. Do you go on road trips without Goolge Maps? Start a business without a plan? Draft a fantasy football team without doing extensive research and printing off rankings cheat sheets? I certainly hope not!
Inbound marketing saves you money by being the whole package. The requirements of an inbound marketing campaign just so happen to be components that streamline, maximize and optimize your efforts and investment. And when it comes to saving money, those are the words you want to hear.