Why Inbound Marketing Is All About Results
You don’t wake up and decide to switch from traditional marketing to inbound marketing without some expectations around results. Those results might include a nice website, a blog, landing pages, social media and higher rankings on Google, but if that’s all you get after a year or so of working on this, you might be disappointed.
If, however, you also see increased visitors to your website, increased conversion rates, increased leads and a steady growth of new customers, you’ll be thrilled to say that inbound is working – and working well.
I like to refer to those business results as the outcomes from inbound marketing – most specifically, the positive outcomes. Almost everyone is looking for revenue growth from new inbound leads. If we all agree, setting the stage for those outcomes should become a major initiative for any inbound effort.
Here’s how you ensure you are getting the most positive outcomes from your inbound program.
Strategy Before Tactics
Heading out on a long trip without a map or GPS would be crazy. The same holds true here. How are you going to get to your goals if you don’t have a road map? Marketing strategy provides you with the ability to create a guidance system that helps you identify major milestones and get directional support for each of the many tactics of an inbound program. Without it, you’re most definitely going to get lost.
Inbound marketing is much more complicated than traditional marketing. It has many moving parts and requires a lot of iteration. One of the most critical and often overlooked components of inbound is the perfect orchestration of all the tactics. The majority of our clients have over 20 individual tactics that make up their program, and the ability to sync those up is essential to performance. It’s literally impossible to do this without a strategy.
Patience Produces Results
Inbound, when done right, delivers a slow and consistent up-and-to-the-right movement. You won’t see dramatic increases in leads in one month. More than likely, you’ll see a more modest 10% increase in visitors and leads every month. A 10% increase compounded over 12 months delivers a 185% improvement, or almost double the numbers.
This can be dramatic, and remember that this compounds every single month. So, while the first year includes strategy, planning, building and implementation of your inbound program, you see the benefit of that work in the second year and spend the entire year optimizing your program. Your business results continue to get even better. The same 10% month-over-month improvement for another 12 months delivers a 795% improvement, almost an 8x increase. Please be patient and let the program work as designed.
Invest In Optimization
No inbound program works the same as any other inbound program. Every business, every industry and every client is different, so the programs all have their own nuances and unique aspects. This means that no matter how great we are at planning and building it, it’s going to require adjustments or optimization based on the actual performance and the data we receive from the program.
This optimization effort is also critical. Most agencies don’t know how to do this in a productive way because you need extensive experience running programs like this to learn how to execute, test and experiment with optimization. The optimization is what takes your program from 10% to 20%, or what takes a negative turn and reverses it so that you get back to your 10% month-over-month increase.
Adopt A Long-Term And Strategic View
Inbound is not about purchasing some ads, buying a list, going to a trade show or even redoing your website. Inbound is the methodology we use to build a scalable, repeatable and predictable revenue machine. If you do this right, you’ll never wonder where you leads are coming from again. That makes this initiative a strategic one that requires a long-term view in order to be successful.
Long-term, strategic initiatives need to be well planned out. Their implementation has to be done thoughtfully. We can’t build an inbound website in two weeks. It takes a page-by-page approach, ensuring that it’s mapped perfectly to the buyer journey, that each page has a conversion strategy, that the stories are persona-based and that they make an emotional connection. If you’re going to be pressuring your inbound team to move faster than they should be moving, you’re going to negatively impact your results.
Work In An Agile Way
Marketing leaders have finally realized that a waterfall approach to marketing and a 12-month planning cycle just don’t enable you to adjust to data and respond to the marketing quickly enough. Even a 90-day planning cycle is too long. Today, we have so much data on the performance of our marketing programs that we need to respond daily, weekly and monthly. To plan out more than 30 days would mean spending time working on tactics that are likely to change.
Agile marketing provides a new methodology to prioritize marketing tactics in a dynamic and results-oriented way. You want to be working on the tactics that deliver the best results with the least amount of time required to get those tactics up and running. You want to prioritize all your tactics that way and create a backlog of great ideas. Each month, pull from that backlog and deliver. Use data to decide what tactics to execute and be flexible enough to avoid ever getting locked into any predetermined set of tactics.
Agile, which comes from the software development industry, is the only methodology that marketing can adopt to allow our teams to cycle faster. In the end, it produces much more dramatic results.
Having been doing this for over 10 years and having worked with over 100 clients on their inbound programs, I know that the tactics like blogging, social media, content creation, websites and email marketing are what most people focus on. But, in our opinion, these tactics are not the difference between success and failure.
What we’ve found impacts the business results most significantly are the five discussion points above. Companies that embody those elements get great results, and companies that don’t often get moderate or even disappointing results. As you’re running or considering running your inbound program, keep these in mind. They might be the difference between success and failure.
Start Today Tip – If you’re thinking about inbound or you are in the midst of an inbound engagement that’s not performing to your expectations, look at what we discussed above and evaluate your perspectives on each of the five areas. If you’ve been impatient, you may have forced your team to bail out of a solid execution too early. If you’re not cycling execution quickly enough, you might have delayed your results. Make sure you’re setting the stage for either your internal team or your inbound marketing agency to deliver the outcomes you’re looking for. If you’ve been misaligned, you can always recover. Success is almost always about how you recover, as opposed to dwelling on any of the missteps you might have taken in the past.
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