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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistFri, Oct 24, 2014 8 min read

Inbound Marketing: How Do You Know If You're Doing It Right?

Inbound Marketing Takes PracticeIsn’t this the $64,000 question when it comes to inbound marketing? Isn’t this the doubt that seeps into your mind when you’re up in the middle of the night?

What if we’re doing this wrong?

How do you know if this is your first inbound marketing campaign? If you’re an agency, you might be working with your first inbound client.

Relax. Today I’m going to give you the dashboard to see if your inbound marketing results are tracking correctly.

One of the major challenges of inbound is that, like working out at the gym, you don’t see immediate results. You don’t get immediate feedback. It takes time for your body to adjust. Inbound works in a very similar way. Also like working out, if you do it wrong, you might not see results at all, or you may see them at a much slower pace.

One of the keys is to work out with someone who has experience getting results for clients – which is true in the case of inbound, too. Strongly consider finding someone (or an agency) with rich and deep experience in planning, implementing, managing and optimizing inbound programs.

Still, if you insist on doing it yourself, here’s what you should be looking for to see if you’re doing it correctly.

Look For Leading Indicators

The best leading indicator that your inbound program is working is an increase in website visitors. If you’re writing blog articles, creating engaging content and publishing it for your prospects, you will see an increase in new site visitors. You should expect to see these increases quickly  usually about 30 days from the time you start creating this content.

Now, this assumes that you have the other components of an inbound campaign in place. It means that your website is responsive and that the messaging is creative, compelling and emotionally engaging. It also means that you’ve resolved your keyword strategy, implemented it on your site and infused it into your content marketing efforts. This is one of the places clients typically drop the ball. Don’t make that mistake.

Look For Lagging Indicators

It’s much harder to turn those new visitors into leads. The buyer journey has to be mapped perfectly so that your new prospects' experience on your website effectively turns them into leads. You need CTAs that grab their attention and landing pages that convert. You also need an approach that ensures you have content for each type of prospect: top, middle and bottom of the funnel. We call this content the Trio of Offers: No-Risk Offers, Low-Risk Offers and Direct Business Offers. You need them all.

Perhaps the most significant lagging indicator is revenue from the leads generated by your inbound program. Don’t think that you can have the same old outbound sales process for your new inbound leads. A lot of companies think that they can turn their new inbound leads over to a sales person, have him or her apply the old-school “sell 'em something today” mentality and see results. That is a monumental mistake. You need an inbound sales approach to match your new inbound marketing methodology.

Conduct Small Experiments

Another way to tell if you’re doing inbound right is to run a few small experiments to see if you can generate results. This proves your methodology and understanding. To give you an example, we recently found that our ranking for a highly relative keyword was 12, which is on the second page of Google. (Side note: Do you know where the best place to hide a dead body is? The second page of Google! Ha! Right?) So, we wanted to see if we could move our rankings up from 12 to 10. It's just two spots, but it puts us on the first page versus the second page. For three weeks, we tested a small tactic that should have moved the needle. I’ll share those results with everyone next week.

The bottom line: If you can move the metrics, you know you’re doing it right.

Look At Performance Over Longer Time Periods

Sometimes, all it takes to see if you’re doing it right is perspective. If you’re looking at this week versus last week versus the week before, that’s a very narrow time frame to see improvement. But, if you look at this month versus all the other months this year, you get a much wider view of where you were and where you are today. It’s also easy to forget how bad your results were even six months ago. This view shows you how far you’ve come.

We try to use this longer perspective on most of our analytics reviews because it shows a much more strategic view of what we’ve been able to do and what we're going to do in the future.

Use Trending Tools

In some cases, the results are more difficult to see. Consider some trending tools like the ones built into HubSpot. With the click of a button, you get analyzed trend data that helps you see if what you’ve been doing is working and whether or not you need to make modifications to improve performance.

Beyond the tips provided here, you have to be patient. Think about dieting and working out. You have to get into it for a good couple of months before you see real results. Sure, you might lose a pound or two each week, but it’s not until you’ve lost 20 pounds that people start saying “wow” and your clothes start fitting better. It’s going to take time for the move from outbound to inbound to significantly impact your business. Don’t quit right before your results are about to take off.

Start Today Tip – If you’re doing inbound, apply these measures and give yourself a grade. Don’t be disappointed if your results are not where you thought they'd be. After all, your expectations probably weren’t realistic. Most people think inbound is going to be a silver bullet. It’s not. A lot of people also think inbound is going to be easy. If you’ve never done it before or even if you’ve only done it a handful of times, the complexity and relative newness of inbound makes it challenging. Watch your numbers, especially the leading indicators, and you'll see enough success to sustain you until you achieve dramatic results.


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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.