As a marketing firm, we see firsthand where the marketing focus is going. And, it’s clear who is, and who isn’t participating in inbound marketing. Nationally, 60 percent of companies will execute an inbound marketing strategy in 2013. This projection includes big and small companies. Those companies who are not employing the ROI of inbound are scratching their heads and wondering where the market went while trying to formulate yet another campaign to “turn it around."
Inbound marketers have seen that the buying cycle has changed to include a research phase. Remember this buying cycle - attention, interest, desire, and action? That was the buying cycle when I started helping companies grow in the 1980’s. Today the buying cycle is more like - attention, interest, desire, Google search and action.
Today my job includes a lot of time helping CEOs and CMOs understand inbound marketing. They know that the Google search has been inserted into the buying cycle (which actually includes a whole complex research process that we will save for another blog). Now the question is – how do I adapt my current efforts to include inbound marketing?
There are really three fundamental prerequisites for inbound marketing and they are:
- A site that can get found
- Traffic and revenue goals
- A plan to generate traffic to your site
1. If you have seen the power of inbound marketing and want to get on the bandwagon, the first thing you need to do is to analyze your website. Not all sites are created equal. I liken a website to a new house. You can hire a general contractor to build you a wonderful house that has three stories and six bathrooms with all of the latest bells and whistles. But, if that house doesn’t have a driveway where people want to park, and roads into the neighborhood with some connections to some highway on and off ramps – you might not get found.
Unfortunately, many web firms are still general contractors. They are not interested in who is coming to visit, how often, and how you attract them. They just want to build the house. You will likely know you have a general contractor for a web developer if they are suggesting a navigation button titled “About Us”. You see, the pages of the site get found by search engines. No one ever searches “about us”. It’s an easy fix with lots of traffic potential but you have to have your marketing hat on.
So, have a competent inbound marketing firm look at your site and recommend changes that can get your site found by more people.
2. Most sites have analytics which help you determine your goals and complete your return on investment formula. If you marry your current monthly site traffic with your current monthly leads from your website, you have a good starting point for goal setting. It looks like this:
Current Monthly Traffic 1000 visitors
Current Monthly Leads from Web 10 people inquired via email
Number of customers closed from web leads 2 people became customers
The next prerequisite for inbound marketing is setting some goals. This includes taking your benchmarking and increasing the numbers for goal setting.
Goal for Growing Web Traffic Example
Current Monthly Traffic 1200 visitors
Current Leads from Web 15 inquiries
Number of customers closed from web leads 4 customers
You can, and should, apply revenue numbers to this formula. It’s common to use numbers that represent what a lead is worth to your company like average sale over the life of a customer or average ticket price multiplied by the number of customers closed.
3. Having a plan to generate traffic to your site sounds like a no brainer but it’s an afterthought for many businesses. Today traffic is built through a number of sources:
- Organic Search
- Social Media
- Email Marketing
- Direct Traffic
- Paid Search
There is a direct correlation to content and activity that translates into web traffic. For example, businesses that blogged 16 to 20 times per month had double the traffic of their non-blogging counterparts (source: Lead Generation Lessons From 4000 Businesses). And of course more web traffic means more prospects, leads, and customers.