Even If You Have All The Inbound Marketing Tools, Putting Them Together Correctly Might Take More Time And Energy Than You Expected
Look up the word perseverance and you get the following definition: "Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success." There’s an important aspect to generating inbound marketing results that plays out over and over again: You must be in it for the long term.
To be honest, transparent and give you the guidance other agencies might not, it’s likely that over the course of your experience with inbound you may find yourself struggling once or twice, but the end result will be worth the struggle (like most things worth struggling for).
Inbound Marketing Is Different And Going To Be Challenging
Let’s back up a minute. Doing something you’ve never done before is hard. It takes practice, patience as you learn and perseverance to push through those tough parts and start to excel. Think about training for a marathon, learning how to play a musical instrument or even losing weight. You’re going to have good days and bad days, but you can’t let the bad days get you down and cause you to give up.
Now let’s look at marketing. You’re reading this article because you’ve already realized that the traditional marketing tools and techniques are far less effective than they’ve ever been before. People don’t answer their phones, so cold calling is on the way out. People don’t read mail, so direct mail is on the way out. People don’t go to as many trade shows as they once did, so those are on the decline. People hate unsolicited emails, so those are less effective. People read fewer magazines than they used to, so print advertising is less effective.
What’s Old Is NOT Going To Be New Again
All of these old marketing tactics are not contributing what they once did. Are you on board with that? Do you believe that this trend will continue? I hope you do because it’s true. Cold calling is NOT making a comeback. This leaves you with one option: Find better and more effective ways to market your business because you have to do marketing.
Even some of the digital marketing tactics that you might be executing are old-school tactics in new-school clothing. Banner ads are simply a new form of impression-based advertising. Pay-per-click ads, while they do deliver quickly and in a measurable way that is inbound, are still advertising. Even if you have an SEO firm, do content marketing, do email marketing and you have a website, there is a very good chance you’re still doing marketing like it’s 2003.
Switching up what you do is going to feel uncomfortable, it’s going to take time to figure it out and it’s going to take more time to get good at it. This is why you need to keep the word perseverance in mind the entire time.
Whether you’re training for a marathon, trying to lose weight, learning to play an instrument or changing your marketing from outbound to inbound, there are signs along the way that you’re making progress.
10 Early Indicators That Inbound Is Working
Here are the 10 quantitative signs you should be looking for while you wrestle with your inbound marketing. Increases in all (or at least some) of these should give you the confidence you need to know it’s working and to stick it out.
1. Increases In Overall Website Visitors: Think about this like a retail store. The more people who come into the store, the more stuff you’re likely to sell. Of course, the right people have to find your store and come in, but this is a very early indicator that more people are finding you, clicking, coming into your site and looking around. Congrats!
2. Increases In Your Prospect Email Database: This is one of your most important corporate assets. Earned email addresses from people who have expressed interest in what you do and given you permission to email them are a critical corporate asset that should be treated as such. This is something you should be building each month. Some will come automatically from your marketing and others might come from more traditional sources like salespeople, but this number should be increasing every single month.
3. Increases In The Number Of People Opening Your Emails: You’re going to leverage this highly valuable corporate asset by sending these people one or two emails every month. This air cover for your ground troops is important when it comes to remembering you, what you do, why you do it and even cross-selling other services to current clients. As your stories, messaging and offers get better, you’ll see an increase in the open rates on these emails. This tells you your marketing is improving.
4. Increases In The Number Of People Clicking Through From Your Emails: Having people open your emails is good, but having people click on your emails and land on your website is better. This is an indicator that your content, offers and educational material are resonating with your prospects and your customers. This is a very good indicator that your marketing is working.
5. Increases In Rankings For Selected Keywords: Depending on the difficulty (competitiveness of the keyword) you could see improvement in your ranking for selected keywords. This is an indicator that your content is ranking, your site pages are ranking and people are linking back to your site. This should also lead to more visitors to your site from organic searches and more leads from organic searches as well.
6. Decreases In Website Home Page Bounce Rate: This can be a misunderstood metric. A lot of amazing websites have bounce rates of 50%. That might not be bad. Sometimes you want the wrong people to bounce off your site and the right people to stick around. However, getting this number down is usually an indication that your message is resonating with visitors and your pages are compelling them to look around more.
7. Increases In The Number Of Pages Viewed On Your Website: Similar to the bounce rate metric, the number of pages people view when they come to your site is an indicator that you’re creating a rich, educational and helpful experience on your site. It also means it’s easy to navigate and your visitors are comfortable looking around. This almost always translates into more leads for your business.
8. Increases In The Site-Wide Conversion Rate: This is also an indication that you’re doing a better job turning visitors into leads. In some cases, even half a percentage point can be a big difference, and small improvements in this over time almost always produce a big increase in leads from your website.
9. Increases In Blog Subscribers: It’s likely that your inbound marketing tactics will include a blog. Google is looking for blog articles to rank, so blogging helps you drive more visitors to your site, but blogging also gives you an opportunity to speak with your prospects. If you’re writing helpful thought leadership blog articles and you’re making it easy for people to subscribe to your blog, you should see blog subscribers increasing month over month. If this is happening, it’s a good indication that your content strategy is on the right track.
10. Increases In Blog Views: If people are subscribing to your blog they should be reading it. Blog views help you focus your ongoing blogging on topics people care about, but it also shows that you’re nurturing these people every time you blog. If your blog has a lead-generating CTA button at the bottom, then views can be an early indicator of leads.
I know these are soft marketing metrics. They’re not hard business results like sales opportunities, proposals submitted, new customers and new revenue. But Rome wasn’t built overnight and you’re not going to build your inbound marketing program overnight either. These metrics give you insight into the early indicators associated with program performance. If these numbers are up and to the right month over month, then you should see leads, sales opportunities, proposals and new customers follow.
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