There are two growth models that most people are familiar with. One is called the “hockey stick” model, illustrated by the blue line in the picture to the right, and one is called the “linear” growth model, illustrated by the red line in the picture to the right.
The hockey stick model is where your results are tracking along and, all of a sudden, they zoom up and to the right, making the line look a little like a hockey stick. The problem with this model is that, as you can see, it's not always sustainable. The linear growth model illustrates more consistent and predictable results, but it's slower and more time-consuming.
The question is does inbound marketing deliver the hockey stick or linear growth model?
The answer is—linear. Here's why:
Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to execute inbound marketing day after day, week after week, month after month. The more you do that, the better your results. Simply running a single Super Bowl ad might deliver the hockey stick growth for a day or two, but it also delivers an equally sharp decline soon after.
Inbound marketing creates a Marketing Machine and a system that allows you to repeat efficient, effective marketing tactics that work together over time to help your business get found, get leads and grow sales.
It takes time to implement all the inbound marketing tactics required to grow your business. It also takes time for those tactics to gain traction. Most importantly, it takes time for those tactics to work together as designed, driving sustainable results for your business.
Allow me to illustrate.
When you start your first inbound marketing effort you might only have 400 visitors a month coming to your website. You might not have any blog subscribers and only 600 email addresses. You might only have 40 Twitter followers and only 75 people following your business on LinkedIn. You might not have any videos and you might not have any educational content or lead nurturing emails.
Say you start blogging three times a week. After a few months your blog posts start getting ranked on Google and your traffic increases month over month by 10%. So now you're getting 1,000 visitors a month. Since you added a new piece of educational content each month for the last five months, now you are getting a much better conversion rate on your website. Chances are, you are also starting to see some lead growth, usually at a frequency of about two or three a week.
Say you created a few videos and used them for video search engine optimization further increasing your rank on Google and driving even more traffic to your site. You increased your social media engagement and now have 150 Twitter followers, 400 Facebook fans and 197 people following you on Linked In. You have also increased your email database from 600 to 1,800 and now when you do an email blast, you usually get a one or two people who want to speak with you.
There is a lot of work involved in the hypothetical inbound marketing program described above. It takes time but, once all of the Marketing Machine tactics are firing on all cylinders, you're able to easily see the key metrics improving month over month. The most important metric (leads) is easy to recognize because your sales people are busy and your top line revenue is growing.
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