Why CMOs Need to Play the Long Game to See Maximum ROI from Their Inbound Marketing
By Alistair Norman

Why CMOs Need to Play the Long Game to See Maximum ROI from Their Inbound Marketing

The C-Suite always want to see a return on their marketing investment as soon as possible – but the rules have been changed by inbound marketing.

Article   Why CMOs need to play the long game to see maximum ROI

Inbound marketing has a problem.

According to Tomorrow People’s ‘How good are you at inbound marketing?’, less than 8% of companies are completely satisfied with their level of inbound marketing ROI.

The issue? The board expect instant results, a ROI overnight – “hell, by the end of the month at very latest,” they grumble.

But inbound marketing isn’t ‘instant marketing.’ It can’t deliver a ‘quick hit’ or an overnight success. Creating an opt-in community can take months, even years.

And that’s the real problem – because of the board’s results-obsessed mindset, marketers and their inbound marketing campaigns are ultimately paying the price because of under investment and unrealistic timelines.

Ergo, their inbound marketing ROI is doomed to fail.

Why Bother Then?

Because building long-lasting relationships with customers is the future – and inbound marketing is an essential tool for creating buyers who will stay with your brand, investing in your products and services in the long term.

It’s down to the CMO to present this business case to the board and raise the investment required.

How to Achieve This

The C-Suite needs to be educated on two fronts – firstly, about the budget requirements to make inbound marketing succeed and secondly, the time needed for the process to bear fruit:

Money Talks

They should allow 5 – 10% of company revenue to be invested in inbound marketing per year. This typically translates into:

  • £5,000-£7,000 for small-to-medium businesses (1 – 10m),
  • £7,000-£15,000 for medium-to-large businesses (10 – 100m)
  • £15,000+ for medium-to-large businesses (100m+).

If the C-Suite is not prepared to bring this level of investment to the table, you may be left  to drop your plans for inbound marketing and return to the comparably inefficient outbound marketing – with the occasional Facebook update to make your company look ‘digitally savvy.’

Time Matters

Scheduling the process is just as essential. Present the C-Suite with a full delivery schedule that reveals how many months it will take to make good on their investment. Again, if they baulk and demand you shoehorn 18 months into six, then inbound marketing is not the right fit for your company.

Months 1-2

Preparation & Planning Phase

Pulling together personas, conducting a competitive review, bringing employees onboard, and more are required to put foundations in place. This is the time to produce the business case and investment plan plus put first-wave KPIs and targets in place.

Months 2-4

Creation of Assets Phase

Content plans should now be in place, all assets created and leads beginning to accrue. Initial lead scoring is carried out to help refine the process further. Regular reviews of metrics and actions are critical to ensure you’re on track.

Months 6-12

Content Engagement Phase

Content is now being publish regularly, your opt-in community growing, and leads being scored and nurtured into sales – the latter under constant review to ensure your content plan strategy continues to evolve.

Months 12-18

Conversion & Pipeline Optimisation Phase

ROI is now being delivered, your content and opt-in community pushing you into thought leadership territory. Continue to refine and evolve the workflow process via lead evaluation and quarterly reviews. 


– The problem isn’t inbound marketing – it’s the C-Suite’s attitude to inbound marketing.

– Transforming your operations into an inbound marketing outfit will take 6-12 months.

– There is no magic bullet for the process – but the payoff can be huge if properly seeded with the right investment and delivery schedule.

– Convince the board of the time and resources needed for inbound marketing to succeed.

The Author

Alistair Norman

Alistair Norman | Marketing Director

Alistair is responsible for the strategy, design and implementation of our Inbound and Content Marketing, with a focus on developing B2B and B2C markets.

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