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How Much Time Does it Take to Run an Inbound Marketing Campaign?

Posted by Loree O'Sullivan

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image credit: alan cleaver via flickr cc

Inbound marketing should be pretty time-consuming -- if you’re doing it right, that is. While needs can vary significantly according to industry, it’s safe to assume you’ll need at least 40 hours each month to correctly “do” digital marketing.

The hours you put towards inbound may require a team of experts, unless you’re lucky enough to have a truly well-rounded generalist on your staff. The skill sets required for basic inbound marketing require:

  • Writing
  • SEO
  • Design
  • Web Development
  • Email Marketing
  • Strategy
  • Social Media
  • Analytics

And that’s without getting into any “advanced” inbound marketing skill sets, like advertising technology, video production, growth hacking, PR, or related competencies.

But, Why is Inbound Marketing So Time-Consuming?

If you’re wondering what a typical time breakdown looks like for a company doing inbound, we’ve highlighted the components of a successful inbound marketing campaign. For simplicity’s sake, we’ve highlighted associated time estimates on a per-month basis. In this blog, you’ll learn how best-of-class inbound marketing teams and agencies distribute their time and talent.

Before we get started, please note that the estimated time commitments aren’t a universal law. They’re observations, and meant to describe average time required for someone with at least some background in marketing or communications. If your times fall well outside these ranges and your inbound marketing results are stellar, you should absolutely proceed as you are.

Strategy

Every inbound marketing campaign you launch should have a clear strategy. As Square2’s Chief Inbound Scientist Mike Lieberman writes, “strategy before tactics.” The resulting strategy for your campaign should include the following:

  • Competitive analysis
  • Clear justification for how the campaign will enhance your resource library
  • Connection to one or more buyer persona profiles
  • Campaign planning, which includes an idea of related blogs, emails, and social media
  • Key performance indicators for resulting metrics
  • Proposed timeline

Estimated Time Commitment: 1.5 hours per month or campaign, assuming you don’t have long or laborious internal approval processes for campaign proposals.

Keyword Research

Performing keyword research to prop up your proposed inbound marketing campaign allows your team to match your campaign concept with key phrases your prospects are already searching for. This is also the perfect opportunity to pull out related concepts and terms to support your blog posts.

Occasionally, you may discover intelligence during your keyword research that forces you to go back to the drawing board and modify your campaign concept.

Estimated Time Commitment: 1 hour per campaign.

Blogging

Typically, the more blog posts you publish per month, the better your website metrics. HubSpot research indicates that companies that post 16 times per month get 350% more traffic than sites who publish 0-4 times.

To support your new inbound marketing campaign, you should publish at least one promotional post, and a series of related concepts, striving to deliver 3-4 posts each week that offer serious value to your prospects.

Estimated Time Commitment: Individual results can vary significantly, but you'll probably need to dedicate 1-2 hours to each high-quality, well-researched original post of 600-800 words or more.

Assuming you’re blogging four times each week, this puts your total blogging time per month at 16-32 hours. For simplicity’s sake, let’s land in the middle and say 24 hours.

Campaign Creation

Your campaign will need to be written and designed into an attractive, visually-appealing PDF document for your audience. The time commitment required for a full-length eBook is significantly more than a single-page checklist. However, your offer should always be long enough to deliver serious value to your target audience.

To learn more about campaign format ideas, check out Beyond Free eBooks: 10 Ideas for Content Offers That Convert.

Estimated Time Commitment: Assuming you’re writing an offer that is the length of 4-6 blog posts (2,400-4,800 words), you can assume a 4-12 hour time commitment for writing. Design will also vary significantly, but it’s safe to plan for 4-8 hours. This means the average campaign document will require around 8-20 hours in total.

CTA Creation

Call-to-action buttons are a simple way to promote your new campaign at the bottom of blog posts, on your homepage, and in your website sidebar. With the help of tools like PowerPoint and Canva, even non-designers can knock out professional designs pretty quickly.

Estimated Time Commitment: Up to 1 hour per each CTA with A/B variants for split testing, though experienced CTA designers may be far more efficient.

Email

Your company should announce your new offer to one or more segments of your contacts list with an announcement email. To nurture the new leads you generate from the offer, you’ll also need to build an automated lead nurturing workflow that consists of 4-8 emails or more.

The number of emails in your workflow should ultimately depend on the length of your buyer’s journey, and the frequency at which your leads prefer to be contacted. If you’re just beginning with inbound marketing, you should plan to contact your leads every 3-5 days.

Estimated Time Commitment: Approximately 4-6 hours for the announcement email and 6 lead nurturing emails.

Social Media Posts

Your company should plan to promote your new offer on social media as one part of your social outreach for the month. In addition to your offer and new blog posts, delivering a mix of custom and curated content can engage your followers without being overly self-promotional.

The time required for social media scheduling and monitoring can vary drastically by business, depending on the number of social media networks you’re using, the engagement of your followers, and how often you post per day.

Estimated Time Commitment: For simplicity’s sake, we’ll assume your brand is using three social media networks and has access to a high-quality social media management tool for continual monitoring and real-time engagement. We’ll also assume you post 3 times per day on each social network.

You can plan to spend approximately 4.5 hours per month scheduling if it takes you 10 minutes to schedule each post, with at least 10 minutes required for follow-up and engagement on a daily basis. Ultimately, social media may require about 10-15 hours per month.

Assessment

At the end of the month, your team should meet to assess the results of your inbound marketing campaign. This is the perfect opportunity to review your metrics in-depth, taking note of the following factors:

  • Visitor-to-Lead Conversions
  • Lead-to-Customer Conversions
  • Conversions by Source
  • Social Media Metrics
  • Blogging Metrics
  • CTA Metrics
  • Email Marketing Metrics

During this process, you’ll notice some things that went remarkably well, and some others that represent a need for improvement. You’ll likely also gain some insight into your buyers that can be applied to your marketing strategy in the future.

Estimated Time Commitment: 1 hour per campaign.

Grand Total Estimate

Conservatively, your company can plan to spend at least 50-75 hours per month on inbound marketing, if you plan to release one campaign and 16 blog posts per month.

This figure is just an estimate, but it should be enough to provide insight into the time required to effectively attract and convert prospects online using digital marketing tools. While individual time-commitments can vary, one thing is very clear -- inbound marketing is definitely time-consuming, but it’s effectiveness speaks for itself.

How much time do you spend each month on inbound marketing? Share your results in the comments!

Topics: inbound campaign

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