What's the ROI of Inbound Marketing?

Mackenzie | August 18, 2020 | Digital Marketing

Proving marketing ROI is not a new challenge. It's something marketers have always tried to define and calculate, with varying degrees of success. In theory, marketing ROI is simple. 


The goal is to make more than a dollar for every dollar you spend marketing.


In practice, measuring marketing ROI is slippery. 


Things like brand awareness are hard to quantify, and traditional marketing tactics lack the closed-loop reporting you need to really put a number to your marketing ROI. 


Compared to traditional marketing methods, inbound marketing is much easier to track and measure, which means proving ROI is easier too. 


If you're new to inbound marketing, or are considering dipping a toe into inbound marketing tactics, it's likely you (or your boss) want to know what the ROI of inbound marketing is before you jump in.


Let's dive in. This blog will cover everything from what the general consensus is on the ROI of inbound marketing, to why that ROI is so good, to how you can calculate your own inbound marketing strategy's ROI. 


What's the ROI of inbound marketing?


When it comes to inbound marketing ROI, the stat you'll hear most often is this: 


Inbound marketing yields three times more leads per dollar than traditional marketing methods. 

That's 3x leads for every dollar you spend.


That in itself is a pretty convincing stat for the ROI of inbound marketing.


But, if you're not convinced, here are a few more stats that outline the ROI of inbound marketing in general terms. 


  • The average cost per lead drops 80% after 5 months of consistent inbound marketing. (Impact)
  • Persona-driven content generated by inbound increases the volume of sales qualified leads (SQLs) by 45% (Weidert)
  • Inbound leads cost 61% less on average than outbound leads. (Impact)
  • Businesses that nurture leads make 50% more sales at a cost that's 33% less than leads that aren't nurtured (Weidert)
  • Content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising (Weidert)

How do I know that inbound marketing can deliver ROI for me?


Looking at the stats, it's pretty clear that inbound marketing has delivered serious ROI for a lot of people. If you're new to inbound marketing, it can be frustrating to hear about everyone else's success, when you're just not seeing the results yet. 


Remember that inbound marketing takes time to prove ROI.


Don't at me for this one, it's just the truth. 


Inbound marketers aren't trying to pull the wool over your eyes or convince you to waste money on some invisible magic marketing scheme. 




Proving the ROI of inbound marketing takes time because it relies on a few outside factors to catch up before you start seeing results. 


  • You create awesome content, but search engines have to crawl it and rank it before people outside your immediate circle will see it. 
  • As you update your website and continue to create awesome content, your domain authority and resulting SERP placements will start to rise. 
  • Basically, search engines need to see that you're putting out good content that's helpful to people before they'll give your content priority. And as with any relationship, trust takes time. 


What to do in the meantime?


Keep putting out content, and focus on paid efforts. While you're waiting for your inbound marketing and content marketing tactics to really take off, focus on creating killer PPC and social ad campaigns that deliver awesome ROI in their own right. 


And don't take your foot off the gas on organic inbound methods while you do it. If you continue putting out great content and optimizing your website for search, you'll start to see that amazing ROI you're looking for. 


Are we good on that? I'm not just selling snake oil here. 

Cool, let's move on to why inbound marketing delivers better ROI than traditional marketing methods. 


Why is the ROI of inbound marketing so good?


01. Every piece of content you develop has more than one use. 


You might spend 2 hours writing a blog, but that blog, once written and promoted, can perform for you for years. 


If it ranks well, that one blog can draw in leads for months and even years to come as it appears on the first page of search engine results and draws in qualified leads. 


In addition to ranking, you can use that one piece of content for your social media platforms, for your email marketing campaigns, and to promote an awesome content offer you've put together. 

We wrote this blog on the HubSpot Flywheel back in July. In addition to publishing the blog, we promoted it through our email newsletter, and we turned it into a quick video that was promoted on social media. 


You spent 2 hours putting together one piece of content that you will use in at least three ways. 


That in itself delivers inbound marketing ROI. If one blog that you spent 2 hours on delivers even one lead, it's more than paid for itself. 


02. Inbound marketing focuses on digital efforts (which is where consumers live)


Another key reason inbound marketing's ROI is so attractive is because it targets and speaks to consumers where they live. 


Traditional marketing tactics — cold calling, sending out mailers, sending out cold emails, etc, aren't effective anymore. First, people block them. Second, most people just aren't there anymore. 





The average consumer (and yes, manufacturers, this includes those purchasing managers you're looking for) researches and buys whatever they're looking for online. 


From a new parts supplier to the organic wine in their fridge, the average consumer will first research (best organic wine brands, organic wine shipped to me, clean local wines) online, and then make that purchase online. 


Inbound marketing methods meet consumers where they're at, by answering those questions they're searching with well thought-out and researched blogs, and by making it easy to make those purchases online, with quick click-to-call and order online features. 


Calculating the ROI of YOUR inbound marketing strategy


Now that I've proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the ROI of inbound marketing is stellar, let's talk about how you can calculate the ROI of your inbound marketing strategy. 


We've put together an article called Marketing ROI 101: Setting Goals and Calculating Your Marketing Budget that will help you figure out how much you should be spending on inbound marketing. 

That blog will take you step by step through a Marketing ROI Model that tells you exactly how much traffic and how many leads and sales you need to meet your monthly revenue goals. 


From there, we typically recommend that you spend at least 5% of your total gross income from new sales on marketing — and that's fairly conservative (most companies spend between 6 and 12 percent of gross revenue on marketing). 


So if you were making $300,000 per month in new revenue, you'd be spending just $15,000 on marketing efforts. 


Not a big math person? 


There are plenty of great marketing ROI calculators out there. This one from Sales Artillery is very straightforward.


HubSpot's will tell you not just your ROI, but how HubSpot tools can help you improve that ROI and better track your results. 


When it comes to figuring out the ROI of your inbound marketing strategy, there are a lot of fancy calculations out there, but the bottom line is pretty simple: how much are you spending to convert leads into sales? 


If you spend $1,000 on writing and promoting a blog that delivers 5 sales at $3,000 each, you've made $15,000 by spending just $1,000. 


No matter how you look at it, that's an impressive return. 


Calculating ROI isn't easy, and it's not always straightforward. If you're having trouble seeing the ROI in your marketing strategy, or if you feel like your marketing strategy is stuck in the mud, inbound might be the way to go.

The Evenbound team is here to help. Whether you have questions about how to effectively calculate your ROI or your marketing budget, or if you're just looking for help implementing a better inbound marketing strategy, we're ready to dive in. Let us know what your questions are. 

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