Tag Archives: marketing metrics

What is Inbound Marketing? In a Word: Patience

As with any business strategy, inbound marketing takes patience. Time, effort and yes, even capital all go into a successful inbound marketing strategy. You cannot expect to buy into a product or company like HubSpot, Marketo or Eloqua and expect to triple your visitors and leads in a month. It’s not a matter of “buy our product and you’ll succeed.” So if that what you’re expecting, you’ll find mounds of disappointment around the corner. You might as well stick with billboards and TV commercials and wishes on unicorns.

what-is-inbound-marketing-in-a-word-patienceimage sources: david carradine| grasshopper

Instead of the old “spray and pray” method – spray money everywhere and pray for results – inbound marketing helps businesses to focus on the metrics that matter like views, view-to-lead conversions and click-through rates. With an inbound marketing strategy, you’re creating content that warm leads can find, and convert into leads and customers. These conversions rarely happen overnight. In fact, because the home buying process is such a big deal, some of these leads take months – even a year – for a conversion.

It took months to see results at AmeriFirst Home Mortgage. In fact, it took 2 full years for us to increase our website visitors 20 times over.

visits-3-years

Website views from all sources: 2 years

I’ve seen visitors come to us, take a couple months to become a lead, then a year to become a customer. Granted, we’re financing homes so it takes a long time.

This is why it’s so important to measure your marketing efforts, and track as much as you can. From tracked URLs to first-touch sources to conversion assists, the more you know the better you get at marketing. But all of that takes time.

After 4 years of marketing and making changes and collecting data, we’re now dissecting the buyer’s journey at AmeriFirst. We can now see how some visitors convert into leads and then sales qualified leads (meaning they get put in touch with a loan originator) in a matter of days. Others take years. But we’re now digging through the data to get better.

While it may have taken time to see major growth, the immediate affect was definitely felt. So set yourself attainable, reasonable and measurable goals as soon as you can. These wins will help fuel your success.

Take your time, educate yourself on best practices for inbound marketing. Then, take on the challenge and be patient.

How-I-Turned-Journalism-into-an-Inbound-Marketing-Career_CTA

Test Everything: Inbound Marketing Lessons from a TV Newsroom

Test Everything: Inbound Marketing Lessons from a TV Newsroom

Not My Newsroom

I came from a TV newsroom into the world of inbound marketing. After almost a decade in the newsroom, I have more than a few stories. One thing I want to do is offer inbound marketing lessons from a TV newsroom. This should help show businesses that a journalist just may be the right fit for a marketing department. It will also show journalists that there’s more to life than the newsroom.

When people found out where I worked, I was typically asked one of two questions – usually both. “Do you know ‘so-and-so’?” was often the first question. Whether it was the nightly anchor or the weather man they’ve watched for 20 years, people want to know if you know someone they see on TV. Let me answer this first. As the producer of the newscast I worked closely with the anchors and the meteorologists on-air. The producer is the person in their ear piece telling them breaking news or telling them to wrap it up. The other question I heard, the one related to this marketing lesson from the newsroom, was “Why do you only show bad news?”

Stop and think about it. You probably ask yourself some variation of this question when watching the news. It’s depressing, it’s all negative and it just bums you out. But here’s the secret: bad news sells. People may say they want to hear good news and they’re tired of the negative, but the most viewed stories online (where we can actually and accurately track views) are the bad news stories. We want to know the bad guys got caught, so we read about the murderers, molesters and thieves. We want to know if we know the person in an accident. We migrate to the macabre. And with technology today, we can know this without a doubt.

Herein lies the inbound marketing lesson from the TV newsroom. No matter what people tell you they like or their habits, test their actual behavior. For instance, what kind of call to action (CTA) would you click on a website? A green button that says “Free Guide Here” or a red button that says “Free Guide Here”? You may say you’d click green, but the numbers may show the red one to more popular. This is why A/B testing is such an important part of inbound marketing.

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing in itself is a pretty simple idea. You present your audience with 2 choices. As in the example above, it’s the red button. “Free” is a popular word in email subject lines and on CTAs. But some research has shown that the word free actually drives less traffic than an action word like download. In your business, the golden word may be free and the color may be green, but if you don’t test it and track it, you’ll never know.

Some software like HubSpot allows you to A/B test things like calls to action. Other tools allow you to test email subject lines. But even if you have to set it up yourself, testing is vital. Let’s look at email subject lines. If you had a list of 1,000 people you email, you could send an email to a small portion like 100. Email A might say “Download Your Free Coupon for Our Widget” and email B might say “Widget A Solves Your Hair Loss Problem.” Send each one to 50 from your list of 100, and whichever line gets the most clicks or opens, you know that’s the kind that resonates with your audience.

Just as with the negative news question from TV viewers, we all think we know what works best and what we want. But at the end of the day, our behavior is the only true metric that matters. As an inbound marketer, it’s vital to test everything you can to find out the best or most efficient way of doing what you do. Test everything: it’s today’s inbound marketing lesson from the TV newsroom.

If you like what you’ve read, please share on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook. And subscribe to the blog over on the right side of the screen. Cheers!

Download the book to find out how to go from the T-V newsroom into inbound marketing

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Do We Have to Track and Measure Everything in Inbound Marketing?

Do We Have to Track and Measure Everything in Inbound Marketing?

Measure, measure, measure!

This post is less about instruction and more about conversation. One of the keys to the new world of marketing – inbound marketing, content marketing, digital marketing – is the fact that we can track almost anything. Marketers can see how you found their website. From organic search to referral traffic to social media, we’re able to see so much more about our potential customers than ever before. With that level of tracking. we’ve come to focus on the metrics of click-throughs and conversions, obsessing over the mantra “If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense.” Or some other like motto with better grammar. But you get the gist.

So if we can track what email subject lines bring in the most paying clients, we can track how much a Facebook like is worth and we can see which web pages on our sites generate the most revenue, does this mean that something that isn’t trackable is worthless? What if something we’re tracking doesn’t generate an immediate dollar to our bottom line? Does this mean that we shouldn’t spend time doing those things which we cannot track?

I’m guilty of this. I tried a Pinterest marketing experiment for my employer. We were cranking out views and leads from our posts shared on Pinterest, so we began to invest time and effort into creating Pinterest-ready posts. This means we were looking for pretty, pin-able pictures to center blog articles on, in hopes that they’d gain a bunch of re-pins. And it worked, for awhile. But let’s be honest here: after awhile all those views began to offer no more leads. It wasn’t affecting our bottom line. At this point we had several hundred followers, and we stopped focusing on creating content solely for Pinterest (you can see the AmeriFirst Pinterest boards here). However, we didn’t completely abandon the site. We still pin and share cool content there, and we’ve grown our audience about 500%. It still doesn’t generate direct dollars, but it does give us a wider audience.

So this is where I wonder what the value of a larger audience is. It’s not always a trackable metric like email click throughs and closed leads from LinkedIn. However, these audiences – or as Seth Godin calls them – Tribes – become a powerful tool in our book of business. We may not be able to always track the exact value of a Facebook like, but what happens when we have 500 Facebook fans, 700 personal Facebook friends and a large peripheral network? This tribe often discusses life offline, and we may begin to see our business grow by word of mouth referrals.

These un-trackable metrics are not something I’d build a business on, but they’re still a valuable part of doing business. Trade shows, client lunches, a Pinterest audience, vacation time for employees – these are all part of the “cost of doing business” that may not directly tie to a profit margin. But I’d like to know how business owners and marketers feel about these things we cannot measure, and how we should attack them. Dividing your time and efforts between blogging & calls to action and meeting with another local marketer to discuss amazing ideas can be difficult. But it’s all necessary when it comes to business and inbound marketing.

Your turn: Tell me what you think about tracking everything in business and making decisions based only on the measurable metrics? How much value is there in a Facebook presence if no traffic from there converts directly into leads?

Download the book to find out how to go from the T-V newsroom into inbound marketing

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