Inbound marketing allows companies to collect data that allows them to determine which content and strategies are the most successful. However, all that data is nothing more than numbers if time isn’t regularly scheduled to critically analyze it. That’s why the best best practice for inbound marketing is a frequent review and analysis of the most important data points and then making continuous adjustments and improvements. How frequent? It depends on your staff’s resources, but a minimum of once a month is a good start (Hubspot has an excellent Excel template for monthly reporting).
The amazing thing about inbound marketing is that it includes the tools to get very granular with data. For example, you can determine which assets are getting downloaded, what blog posts are being viewed and shared, and which pages are getting the most eyeballs by whom and at what time.
Inbound marketing is an ongoing process
There are many steps to launching and managing inbound marketing. It’s a detailed process of creating content, pushing content out appropriately, providing CTAs to gather prospect contact information, and then studying the analytics to determine what is, and what is not, creating prospect engagement. An inbound marketing strategy should include a pre-defined list of metrics to test, as well as the methods used to test them.
Know your goal
In order to effectively test and refine your inbound marketing strategies, you must know why all these analytics and data matter. The endgame for inbound marketing is lead generation, but how do you evaluate the progress in getting qualified leads? Are you trying to attract whitepaper downloads? Do you want more Twitter followers? Are you trying to drive downloads of your mobile app? It is very important to identify the main goal or goals before deciding how to measure your efforts.
Take stock of your “weapons”
What CTAs will you be using to attract potential customers to your content, product, or service? Do you have premium content for which prospects would leave their contact info in order to obtain?
Do you plan to use email campaigns, social media, blog marketing, SEO, or a combination of them all? Make sure that you are aware of how these are being used in order to properly test the ones that are performing well and ones that aren’t. For example, are your blogs aimed at positioning yourself as a thought leader in your field? If so, then the metric that will be important may be social media shares. If you are looking to generate leads, then the most important metric may be CTA clicks.
Identify a unique value proposition
If you already know what you have that sets you apart from your competitors, then you’re off to a great start. If not, then you need to find out why prospects will value your insights and solutions. Most companies can clearly identify competitive advantage, but it’s also important to take the time to look at “perceived” disadvantages. Sit in the prospects chair and list the specifics of why prospects will value both your insights and solutions.
- What do we have to offer that no one else can?
Do you have some expertise or insights that no one else or few others in your field are providing? A brain trust of early adopters that spot trends? An award-winning team of engineers?
- Why is our offer beneficial to our target market?
What advantage will our customers gain by taking advantage of our offer?
- What can we do to make up for advantages that competitors have over us?
For example, if your competitor is larger with more staff, then perhaps the competitive differentiator to highlight is personalized service.
Once you’ve determined value propositions, now you can begin to test them.
Using the “weapons” you listed above to present your unique value proposition, decide how you will be measuring the results.
Focus mainly on the metrics that are relevant to reaching your goal. You can easily get lost sorting through the myriad of data from Facebook alone! Choose only the metrics that have the most direct relationship to your desired goal.
Only manipulate one variable at a time.
Ideally, you have a large enough sample size and enough time to test one variable at a time. For example, to test the best time to email your company newsletter, segment your email list so that there is no distinct difference between the two groups. Then, send the same message, with the exact same copy, but at different times. Controlling for variables and changing the email time will tell you the best time of day to send the newsletter. If you were to change the copy and the time, it would be inconclusive as to the reason why one test achieved better results.
In short, there is no such thing as a “set it and forget it” inbound marketing plan. If you are intent on getting the best possible ROI from your marketing, stay committed to continuous improvement.
Are you ready to take your inbound marketing to the next level? Download our free Inbound Marketing eGuide to jump-start your own plan!
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