Mar 18, 2014 8:56:00 AM

7 Ways to Know When Your Inbound Marketing Content is Working

Posted by Lauren Totin

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Money | Inbound Marketing Campaign WorkingIt seems like a simple question: How do you know when your inbound marketing campaigns are paying off? The knee-jerk answer, of course, is “When it’s making more money than it’s costing you!” – but that’s rather simplistic. Of course you want to hear the phone ringing off the hook.

But while sales are ultimately the goal, there are several ways you can peek into the data and find out whether or not the money you’ve invested in inbound marketing is doing its job. In fact, in the early days, sales might not be your number one metric!

If you’re questioning whether or not your campaign is earning its keep, here’s what a trusted inbound marketing agency will tell you:

1. Top of Funnel Leads

This is the most obvious place to look – your incoming leads. We all know the math here – more leads = better. That said, this remains an important metric to track not only the raw numbers of, but the sources. Are the leads coming through your blog, or offsite content? Are they being referred by existing customers, or finding you in search engines on their own? Sorting out your top of funnel leads will provide deeper insights into not only whether or not your inbound marketing is working, but which channels are pulling the most weight.

2. Mid-Funnel Leads

Don’t forget about the buying cycle; sometimes, leads take awhile to convert. Inbound marketing is about generating an ongoing conversation, not just a flash-in-the-pan conversion. How many people are signed up to your mailing list, but haven’t bought yet? Who has downloaded a helpful resource or guide, but has yet to take the plunge and put their money where their interest is? Go beyond inquiries and look at the micro-conversions like downloads, sign-ups and content shares that can denote people who have been in the funnel for awhile but haven’t yet bought.

3. Lead Quality

This is a huge one. Raw lead numbers are good – but if they’re all poorly qualified leads, then the total doesn’t matter so much. Talk to your sales team – are leads coming in hot, warm, or freezing cold? Are they in line with the personas you’ve identified? Are they representative of your ideal customer? Inbound marketing shouldn’t just improve lead numbers, but the quality of those leads, too.

4. Conversion Rates

How many of those incoming leads are becoming buyers? Has that percentage improved over past numbers, or are your sales people still closing at the same right? Has the new content you’ve been creating for the website helped to push more people into that coveted “new customer” column? Track your initial conversion rate, and measure how much this changes as your inbound marketing campaign hits full swing.

5. Cost Per Conversion

Here’s another one that’s easy to miss: How much do you need to feed the marketing beast in order to earn a customer? Inbound marketing is famous for its dramatically lower cost per lead over outbound methods, and while it can take some time to get the machine humming, once you’ve hit the 6 – 12 month mark, you ought to be seeing the conversions coming in at a reduced cost to your business. Again, benchmark this from the very beginning, so you don’t miss the chance to measure the change across time.

6. Share of Conversation

This comes in a lot of formats, but the basic gist of it is this: Are more people talking about you – and favorably? Do you own more of the search results than your competitors? Are you stealing that market share? This metric is much harder to calculate, but you can start by looking at your social metrics, comments and search rankings to see whether or not engagement has picked up over where you started from.

7. Sales

And it all comes full circle! Sales will be the biggest measuring stick you hold up to your inbound marketing campaign’s performance – and rightfully so. But don’t miss the more nuanced signals that your marketing is paying off – especially early on in the campaign.

It’s easy to get obsessed with the sales numbers and miss out on all the other benefits you’re reaping. Start with a birds’ eye view of your campaign, then dive into the details to uncover the real story behind those sales numbers. It’ll give you more things to measure, more details to share with your boss (or your team) and more meaningful ways to analyze the outcome of your investment. If you're having trouble with your marketing, check out this post about knowing when you need an inbound marketing agency.


Topics: Inbound Marketing, Inbound Marketing Agency, Content Creation

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