Regardless of your business type or size, Marketing Automation is no longer optional. In this era of attention deficiency, it is very important to be relevant to customers or prospects in the short window of opportunity that they give us.

Marketing Automation helps organizations scale marketing initiatives, deliver more personalized and targeted communications, align with sales, and measure which channels and programs are the most effective. Automation helps marketers do what they are already doing – but more efficiently and effectively than ever before.

The 2016 State of Inbound Report found that it’s a key focus for both Inbound and Outbound organizations to reduce cost per lead and cost per acquisition without negatively affecting revenue. Inbound marketing tactics helps reduce these costs by about 61%. However, you can’t do Inbound right without automation. Because you need to be able to attract, nurture and convert visitors to leads and eventually customers, you need to know how to identify potential and respond promptly.

The term “Inbound Marketing” was coined by Brian Halligan, the CEO of Hubspot so it’s only fitting that Hubspot is a leader in Inbound Marketing. Hubspot’s automation platform provides multiple tools to help any organization succeed with Inbound, these tools include the Website Builder, Landing Page builder, Email Campaign Builder, Social Media manager, Workflows, SEO analyzer, Sales CRM, A/B testing, reporting among others. Hubspot isn’t cheap though. To gain access to the relevant tools on the platform, you’ll need to commit at least $9,600 for the platform and at least $42,000 for management, consulting and training in your first year. For an SME that generates about $2 million in annual revenue, ideally you should budget between $3,750 and $9,000 for marketing technology and not more than $24,000 for management, consulting and training annually (you  can calculate your organizations ideal marketing budget for free here).

This means that if you generate $2 million or less in annual revenue, Hubspot is too expensive for you, but not to fret, there are other solutions and skills that’ll help you take your Inbound marketing to the next level without compromising on quality or integrating too many platforms that you get confused and lost. Here I breakdown some of those tools, skills and cost.

Growth Driven Website with WordPress: Your website is your biggest marketing asset and is the centerpiece of all your marketing activities. It is often the first place people go when looking for more information on your products or services. It is the place where we drive all of our marketing efforts.

A Growth-Driven website is tightly integrated with marketing & sales. What we learn about visitors helps inform and improve marketing & sales strategies and tactics (and vice versa). We are constantly researching, testing and learning about our visitors to inform on-going website improvements. Through continuous improvements we can reach peak performance.

Like Inbound, Hubspot is a pioneer of GDD, but also, like Inbound GDD is doable without Hubspot. While Hubspot web hosting starts at $100 a month, secure WordPress hosting for a SME will cost at most $150 annually.

With an agency, you can have a GDD Website, Blog and Landing Pages all developed in WordPress with an initial fee of $1,500 and a monthly maintenance fee that’s inclusive in your retainer contract.

Automation Platform: There are lots of tools you can use for automation and some are even available for free. But free tools rarely ever cut it for businesses interested in real growth. For automation on a budget, I recommend combining Hubspot Marketing Free and ActiveCampaign and using a tool like Zapier to connect all your applications seamlessly

With ActiveCampaign, $745 annually, gives you 2,500 contacts and a seamless email and automation platform to create and track great workflows, forms, newsletters and campaigns. You use Hubspot Free to create Lead Flows and capture all your contacts including the ones you don’t want captured by ActiveCampaign, like people applying for jobs and vendors trying to sell to you. Both Hubspot Free and ActiveCampaign have plugins that work seamlessly with WordPress.

SEO Analyzer: If you’re working with an agency, an SEO analyzer as powerful as Moz can come free. If you’re not, a subscription fit for a small business should cost you $49. With Moz, you can track keywords for your business and your competition.

Social Media Manager: An important part of Inbound is Social Media. There are tons of tools that help you with this and most of them are equally good. If however you are going without an agency, then Hootsuite might be ideal for you at $99 a month. If you are going with an agency, this will also be included in your monthly retainer.

Analytics: Google Analytics is essential even if you were going the Hubspot route. It gives certain insights that many other reporting platforms don’t (read: 4 Ways To Improve Your Inbound Strategy with Intuition). Use Google Analytics to track performance and set goals. This is free whether or not you’re going with an agency.

Reporting Platform: A reporting platformhelps you monitor all your reports on one dashboard. Instead of having to sign into ActiveCampaign, Hubspot, Hootsuite and Google Analytics each time you want to view your reports, you can have them all on one dashboard. I recommend Databox for this. With Databox, you’re able to pull data automatically into a report and share it with your team via a sharable link, bring consistency to your reporting process, make your reports look good and set goals within the report and receive alerts when milestones are reached. A reporting dashboard like Databox is important even when you use Hubspot. If you’re are flying solo, Databox will cost you $49 a month for a basic plan, if however you are working with a Databox partner agency, this should come to you for free.

Bringing it all together

Like I said earlier, I want you to use as few tools as possible so that you do not have more platforms than you can manage. We wouldn’t use tools like Unbounce for landing pages because, decent WordPress themes can help with Landing Pages and even A/B testing. If you are going without an agency, a process like this should cost you about $5,109 annually for your marketing technology, this includes a one-time cost of $2,000 for your small business website. You’ll however have to employ a Digital Marketer or go with various freelance marketers and developers to help with setup and management. This should cost you $30,000 on a very conservative budget. If you choose the agency route and work with an agency that understands SMEs, their challenges and the budgets they have to work with, your annual marketing technology should cost you $3,133 annually with a monthly retainer of $2,050, bringing your consultation and management fee to $24,600 annually .


Remember an automation tool doesn’t perform magic, it does what it’s programmed to do. If your Inbound Strategy isn’t good enough, it’s not going to work. Working with an agency can help you navigate the process pretty easily and set you up for success.

 For more about how your SME can start to use Marketing Automation like a Boss, please download the free White Paper: