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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistThu, Oct 23, 2014 9 min read

Inbound Marketing Works: Real Results From Real Clients

Results Versus GoalsMost of you are new to the world of inbound marketing.

While we’ve been doing it for years, the majority of you are just starting out or are early on in your inbound journeys.

So, from time to time, we like to share real results from real clients.

We don’t provide the names of the clients because we want to respect their privacy, but we can show you how inbound marketing works, the time it takes to generate results and some examples of what real results for real clients look like.

This should give you some perspective on whether or not your inbound program is working and how well you’re doing in terms of getting found, getting leads and closing deals.

Setting Goals

You’ll never know how you're doing if you don’t set goals. Determine measurable objectives for this month and every month over the next year. We set website visitor, conversion and lead goals for all of our clients for the full 12 months of our Phase One engagement. You should do this for yourself, or ask your agency to do something similar.

Even if you miss the goals, reset them based on experience and keep working toward them. This is more important than hitting them. Over the next few months, you should have enough actual performance data to get better at setting goals. Then, over time, you’ll find your team hitting more and more of them.

Actual Client Results: In this case, we set a goal of 1,250 monthly visits to the client's website as well as 22 leads a month by the end of the first engagement phase. They started at less than 200 visits a month, with little to no leads from their site, so this seemed like an aggressive yet fair goal.

Driving People To Your Website

One of the leading indicators for your inbound effort is attracting visitors to your website. It’s the first indication that your inbound effort is actually working. Since your marketing strategy should be focused on all the non-paid sources of traffic (organic, social, referral, direct and email), you want to make sure that you’re moving all of these sources up each month. This is where you really get traction. Most people only focus on one or two of these sources, but looking at and working to impact all of them is one of the keys.

Actual Client Results: You can see from the dashboard shown above that we blew past the monthly site visitor goals. Midway through the month, we’ve topped 2,500 website visitors, which is a 10x improvement.

Publishing Content

One excellent method that works well in getting new people to your website is publishing content elsewhere on the Web. This takes a variety of formats, but the one that worked well in this case was posting blogs and offering content to the appropriate LinkedIn Groups. In other cases, working with industry influencers and getting them to participate in your blog or share content has a similar impact. Also, writing guest blog posts drives a lot of new and targeted visitors, assuming the venues are highly targeted.

BlogViewsActual Client Results: If you look closely at this view on our Blog Dashboard, you see that two of the blog posts this month generated over 500 and 600 views respectively.

You also see that these two articles performed dramatically better than the previous article, indicating that the article content was much more effective at driving results. You’re going to want to use this data to make content marketing planning decisions going forward.

Turning Those People Into Leads

I know what you’re thinking: “Website visitors and blog viewers don’t pay the bills. We need leads.” If you think you’re the first CEO or marketing exec to say that, think again. We want to get leads for our clients, too, but don’t downplay or overlook the importance of these other leading indicators of success.

Getting leads is about content. The more content you produce, the easier it’s going to be to turn visitors into leads. You also need content for all phases of the sales funnel. The content that converts someone who needs to make a decision today is not the same as the content that converts someone who is just starting to do research. The value of those leads is the same, but how you nurture them is very different. Don’t dismiss people who are just starting their buyer journey – you could be letting a major sales opportunity slip right through your fingers.

Actual Client Results: In this case, this client is already looking at 21 leads in the month of October, the highest number of leads in a given month since the program launched. This is also above the projected number of leads we had for them at this point in the engagement  good news on both fronts. It might not sound like a lot of leads, but remember, the total leads from their website when we first started was zero. This represents a huge improvement.

What’s Next

People often lose sight of the forest through the trees. In fact, some of the most exciting gains occur in the second year of an inbound program. After all, it took at least a few months to get your website reworked, create content, upgrade your social media accounts, start writing blog articles and more. Each month builds on itself, with gains from the previous month fueling gains in the current month.

In the beginning, for example, you only have a handful of blog subscribers. So, your shares, views and clicks are all lower. But, if you have 100 blog subscribers after a few months, you have all of those people to help spread the word. In essence, inbound program gains accelerate exponentially over time.

Actual Client Results: If you project what this client should expect in the second year, you’d be looking at around 8,000 site visitors and over 100 leads per month. That’s really exciting. Don’t give up on your program no matter what. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it on their own. Stick with it and work toward this type of performance. You can do it.

While results vary from client to client, business to business and industry to industry, we’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons over the years. One of the most significant has to do with your perspective on an inbound effort. We have clients who are all in and clients who are partially in. By far, those who are all in get far superior results. Don’t invest in an inbound marketing effort unless you’re all in on inbound and the tools that go along with it.

Start Today Tip – Look at the results coming from your current marketing tactics or your current inbound effort. If you’ve reviewed key metrics over the past six months and there isn’t a gradual movement up and to the right for website visitors, leads, social reach, blog subscribers, email addresses, visitors from organic search and sitewide conversion rates, you should be looking for other options. It might be time to switch agencies, hire a new internal person or move away from traditional marketing to inbound marketing.

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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.