Inbound vs. Traditional Marketing Cost

Over the years, inbound marketing has taken the business world by storm.

But how does it stack up against traditional marketing in terms of cost?


We’ve made a list of some of the most popular methods in inbound and traditional marketing with the price ranges for each, and how much companies typically spend on marketing annually. But first, let’s talk about what each category implies.

Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is the process of attracting people to your website or business when they’re already looking for information on your industry.

Unlike traditional marketing techniques, inbound marketing isn’t disruptive.

Instead, it relies on general principles, such as good web design, solid technical SEO, and a diverse backlink profile. It also relies on the way that it specifically targets the audience that is most interested in your products and services.

By targeting your most valuable audience instead of advertising to everyone that might be interested in your business, you have a better chance of generating new leads and customers.

NOTE: All inbound marketing channels are priced based on Inbound Marketing Inc. packages, except for webinars.

Traditional marketing

Traditional marketing advertises to everyone to get customers.

These techniques are disruptive because they go to anyone at any time, whether they fit your target audience or not.

Traditional marketing includes telemarketing, television commercials, and billboards, just to name a few.

This kind of marketing is less measurable because it doesn’t home in on an audience that is actively looking for a specific product or service, so it is harder to track.

Cost of inbound marketing

Here, we’ll break down the different kinds of inbound marketing and how much your company should budget for each method.


Search engine optimization (or SEO) is one of the most important forms of inbound marketing. By using SEO, you can enhance your website to increase your inbound traffic from search engines.

SEO includes elements like content creation, your site’s HTML code, and other strategies that make it easier for your website to rank in Google search results.

Cost-wise, SEO will run your business anywhere from $600 to $2,000 per month, depending on what you include in your package. That works out to anywhere from $7,200 to $24,000 per year.

Though the price may seem high, SEO is one of the most affordable long-term marketing strategies you can use since it has the potential to generate returns for years at a time.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing lets you connect with the billions of users on social media.

With a social media marketing campaign, you can reach your most valuable customers by targeting them based on data like demographics, interests, keywords, and more.

On social media, you can also post blog posts, videos, and infographics to engage your followers. You can also pay to promote selected posts for even more exposure.

Per month, social media marketing will cost your company anywhere from $800 to $1,200, which rounds out to $9,600 to $14,400 yearly. These costs depend on how many social networks you want to use, how many posts you want, and more.

Content marketing

Content marketing is one of the best ways to draw valuable traffic to your website. If you don’t have great content, it’s nearly impossible for you to rank highly in search engine results pages.

Successful content will includes keywords that your target audience searches and explains valuable information that demonstrates your company’s knowledge and authority in your industry.

The price of quality content varies since there are so many different formats.

That cost depends on personalization, length, and promotion, among other factors.

In general, content marketing costs anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000 per month or $18,000 to $72,000 per year. Like SEO, content marketing has the potential to generate returns for years after implementation.

Email marketing

Email marketing is one of the most affordable ways to advertise your business and earns fantastic results — mostly because you address people who have already expressed interest in your business.

Email marketing is the process of acquiring contact information from people who want to hear from you on a regular basis. Then, you engage them directly in their inboxes.

Your emails can be newsletters, special offers, client testimonials and more — all which help leads further down the conversion funnel.

For a month of email marketing from an agency, you’ll pay anywhere from $300 to $500 per month, or $3,600 to $6,000 per year. These figures depend on how often you plan to send emails, what’s included in each message, and other factors.

You can also pay to optimize your emails for mobile. But you should budget an additional $899, but it’s only a one-time fee for most email marketing providers, and it quickly pays for itself.

Email marketing is well worth your time and effort because it is 40 times more effective than Facebook or Twitter at gaining new customers, and it has an ROI of 3800%.

Visual content

Visual content sets your website apart from others. The most common forms of visual content are graphics, videos, and images.

For infographics specifically, cost depends on the detail, size, information, and design.

For one infographic from an agency, you’re looking at anywhere from $4,650 to $7,250.

For videos, price depends on the length of the video, how professional, time spent on script, etc.

If you choose to make a video in-house, production is pretty much free. Just make sure you have a professional video that makes your website more credible.

If you choose to use a semi-professional video production crew, you could pay as little as $1,500  as much as $50,000. It all depends on your budget and the quality you want for your website.

For a year’s worth of visual content with an infographic per month and three videos per year, you’ll be paying between $60,300 and $237,000 per year.


Webinars broadcast important information to your audience on a live platform. This is a great way to promote your business because it shows how knowledgeable and trustworthy you are in your field.

Depending on your needs, you’ll spend anywhere from $89 to $429 per month on webinars, based on this paid option.

If you create a monthly webinar, you’ll be paying $1,068 to $5,148 per year.

Free options, such as Google Hangouts are also an option for webinars, but paid options are often more reliable.


PPC or pay-per-click advertising is a great way to get traffic to your website. Like SEO, it targets your main audience. But unlike SEO, PPC costs money for continued use and focuses on short-term results.

You can create PPC ads on social networks or search engines to reach your primary demographic. Your ads can promote anything on your site, from your homepage to conversion pages.

Most social media channels offer a self-serve ad campaign, which makes it easy to direct your own campaign.

The best part about PPC is that you only pay for an ad someone clicks on it.  Some social networks also have a CPM (cost per thousand) option, where you pay a certain amount of money for every 1,000 people who view your ad.

If you choose to hire an agency to run your ad campaign, you can spend anywhere from $2,825 to $5,700 per month. If you decide to run a monthly PPC campaign, you’ll pay anywhere from $33,900 to $68,400 per year.

Total cost of inbound marketing

If you want a total-package inbound marketing campaign with all of the strategies we’ve talked about, you spend roughly $74,868 and $239,948.

You can also use individual strategies to promote your business on a smaller budget. This is a great way to test different strategies to see what works best for your company, specifically.

Cost of traditional marketing

Now we’ll take a look at traditional marketing methods and how their average cost differs from inbound marketing costs.

Newspaper ads

One of the most popular traditional marketing strategies is newspaper ads.

Newspaper ads typically charge for every inch of your ad on a page. Each newspaper also has different rules on the text you can use, images you can add, and color.

There is a pretty wide gap in the price range because the cost depends on a lot of factors. These factors include how many times you want to run your ad, how big the ad space is, newspaper distribution, and more.

For a week of advertising, your ad could cost anywhere from $200 to $300,000 for a slot in the New York Times—and not everybody gets the newspaper.

If you were to place an ad every month, your budget would be $424,000 to $3,600,000 per year.


Telemarketing is a traditional marketing technique that involves calling targets on a contact list.

To hire a telemarketing agency to market your business, you’ll pay anywhere from $7 to $70 per hour for the actual phone calls and anywhere from $1,000 to $5,200 for someone to write your script.

Including your script writing, and when you pay for a typical 40-hour telemarketing week, with one telemarketer, you’ll pay anywhere from $5,120 to $32,000 per month. With a team of five to ten telemarketers working the same hours, you’ll pay $9,600 to $132,800 per month.

In general, with all things considered, the range you’ll pay for telemarketing works out to about $5,120 to $132,800 per month based on the implications mentioned or $61,440 to $1,593,600 per year.

Direct mail

Direct mail is one of the oldest traditional marketing methods. You simply mail postcards or letters to lists of recipients who fit some criteria of your target customer.

Costs vary depending on the mailer, contracting designers, paying writers, postage, mailing lists, and more.

For 10,000 designed, written and postmarked mailers, you’re going to spend anywhere from $4,125 to $6,320.

If in one month, you decide to do two, 10,000-mailer campaigns, you’ll pay anywhere from $8,250 to $12,640.

This equates to $49,500 to $151,680 per year.


Billboards promote your business to drivers on major roads.

Billboards can cost anywhere from $300 to $30,000 per four-week period. That equates to about $3,600 to $360,000 per year.

These figures depend on the billboard ad’s location, size, duration, and whether it’s a digital billboard or a traditional paper billboard.

Television commercials

Commercials allow you to advertise to niche audiences that tune into certain television channels or shows. The budget for a commercial varies widely because what’s involved.

To run a commercial on a local station, you’ll pay anywhere from $200 to $8,342,000. These prices depend on the station, its broadcast range, the time of day, potential viewers, and more.

But this figure doesn’t include the price it costs to create the commercial, which involves a film crew, actors, script writers, and more.

If you’re not planning on doing that all yourself, you can plan to tack on $63,000 to $8 million. (Based on Inbound Marketing Inc. prices.)

Television commercials usually run in month-long schedules, so the price yearly is based on what you pay for one commercial. However, with the range we used, you could pay anywhere from $24,000 to $100,104,000 per year in commercials if you were to advertise every month.

Press releases

Press releases announce new products, services, and upcoming events and are typically sent out once a month, at most.

Depending on postage, length, and audience size, press releases cost anywhere from $50 to $2,500 per month, or $600 to $30,000 per year.

Total cost of traditional marketing

If you were to go with a full traditional marketing plan using all of the techniques we mentioned, you’d spend between $163,140 and $101,599,280 per year.

Cost comparison

When you compare the numbers of inbound and traditional marketing, inbound marketing is the clear winner.

It costs less exponentially less, and you attract much more targeted traffic than you do with traditional marketing methods.

Plus, you engage your customers as they’re looking for information on your business, which is more helpful than disrupting their favorite TV shows, interrupting dinners with annoying phone calls, or sending them junk mail.

What kind of marketing should I use?

Inbound marketing will yield better results, for a cheaper price.

Are you ready to start an inbound marketing campaign?

If you’re ready to start seeing valuable traffic with inbound marketing, we can help.

Our team has all the skills and knowledge necessary to create the perfect inbound marketing campaign for your business. We can’t wait to work with you!

Contact us today for a free quote!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *