How to Judge the Health of Your Inbound Marketing Program

By Virginia Bussey

How to Judge the Health of Your Inbound Marketing Program image 7038b9a1 84d1 4971 9c89 74382b6b539e

Going to the doctor and dentist every year to get a checkup may be a hassle but is pretty important. It can help you catch symptoms of bigger problems down the road and it can also give you peace of mind knowing you’re doing ok.

Just like a checkup from the doctor, it’s just as important to give your inbound marketing program an evaluation too. And as 2013 is coming to an end, it’s the perfect time to start evaluating so you know what to repeat in 2014 and what to nix.

So whether you are a marketing manager creating your 2014 plan or a CEO evaluating your marketing team’s effectiveness, here are ways to evaluate the health of your inbound marketing program.

Note: This checkup is meant for programs that have had time to begin working. Keep in mind that it takes 6-18 months for an inbound marketing program to get traction.

Website Traffic

Website traffic can be a great indicator of your online marketing success. With a healthy inbound marketing program, you should see an increase in website traffic from one year to the next. This increase should be a result of your company consistently publishing new blogs on relevant and differing topics.

Many companies have a seasonal business where traffic will be higher during certain months, rather than have a steady growth of traffic year-round. You will usually notice this in your sales, as well.

Make sure when you are judging website traffic that you are looking both at previous months and the same month from the previous year. By comparing these you will be able to take into consideration any seasonality in your business. For example, if you’re judging October 2013′s traffic, look at the traffic from September 2013 and October 2012.

Traffic Sources

After looking at your website traffic, drill down into the various sources of traffic to look for the same type of growth. The HubSpot Sources report makes this extremely easy. Each channel should be growing rather than declining but keep in mind any seasonality, again.

Look for indicators of non-qualified traffic like:

  • Un-related search terms from poor image alt text. For example, we were getting traffic for the keyword “mushroom cloud explosion” from an image used in a blog post years ago. This has absolutely nothing to do with our business and therefore would not be qualified visitors.

  • Referral traffic for job postings. Many businesses post their job openings and applications on their websites. These visitors probably aren’t potential leads or customers if they just want to work for you.

These sources of non-qualified traffic are nothing to get your panties in a twist about, just work toward fixing these problems so your future reports will be accurate and make sure to remove these instances from your numbers to accurately judge if your true traffic has increased.

Visitor to Lead Conversion Rate

This percentage is a major indicator of your online marketing program’s health. It can bring to light some major issues. These issues could be that your website isn’t good at converting visitors into leads, your online marketing doesn’t give opportunities for visitors to convert, or that your offers aren’t resonating with your visitors.

So what’s a good conversion rate? It’s going to depend on your industry. I’d say anything below 1.5% should be of concern. There are different reports out there but keep in mind that a visitor to lead conversion doesn’t mean a sales-qualified lead, it’s any information you’ve captured.

You can see your website’s conversion rate on your HubSpot Dashboard or in the Sources report. Also, check out the heat map in Google Analytics to see how visitors are interacting and converting on your site. This may help you diagnose any problems with website conversions.

Leads

Once again, you should be seeing your leads increase year over year, keeping in mind seasonality.

If you aren’t seeing an increase in leads it can be a symptom of a lack of new content, lack of landing pages or it could be something as simple as missing calls-to-action on web pages or blog posts.

Customers

This one should be obvious. You want more customers this year than last. The results, of course, are a result of both marketing and sales. If you aren’t seeing more customers but are seeing increased leads there are really three factors: sales isn’t able to close your leads, you aren’t getting the right leads, and/or your sales cycle might be long.

Have a discussion between marketing and sales about your customer conversion rates. If you have HubSpot and a CRM integration, this will help you see the conversion rate easily. Uncover what sales is experiencing with their leads and maybe look into what content those leads have consumed.

This discussion should uncover any issues you might have. Maybe your marketing team isn’t implementing effective lead nurturing, maybe the content they’re using isn’t related to your product or service, or maybe your sales team isn’t equipped to handle inbound leads.

Landing Page Conversion Rates

Landing page conversion rates are a great way to evaluate your messaging and web content. Your conversion rates should be at least 15%. Here at LyntonWeb, we typically see 16% upwards to 56% on our landing page conversion rates. If you are seeing low conversion rates, you’ll want to check out my other blog article on how to fix your landing pages.

Email Click Through Rates (CTR)

Click through rates are the best way to judge the effectiveness of an email. Since every email should have a call to action (that links to a web page, landing page, blog article etc.) your CTR can diagnose problems with your messaging, list segmentation, and/or frequency.

Your average CTR benchmarks are going to be different depending on your industry. I often refer to this article by mail chimp about email benchmarks. Problems with your messaging, frequency or list segmentation can cause some major problems long-term. You can end up alienating your leads or even worse, your customers.

Social Engagement

Engagement is often the best way to judge the effectiveness of your social media efforts. The more engagement, the better. Engagement can be in the form of likes, favorites, shares, retweets, mentions, or comments. If you’ve been using your HubSpot Social Inbox, you can look at interactions throughout the year. You can also use Facebook analytics to see visibility into various interactions.

You should also see a growth in followers. A decline can show that you aren’t posting relevant, interesting content to your followers. Or maybe you are being salesy instead of using your inbound philosophy.

Inbound Links

Finally, you need to check your inbound links. More is not necessarily better; it’s quality over quantity here. Look and check what sites are linking to you. You want legitimate sites and businesses linking to you. Directories, unrelated sites, and links that give you 404 errors are major problems in bulk. This can be a symptom to a much bigger problem – unnatural link building and Google potentially punishing you on their search engine.

Look in your HubSpot link tool (in the Reports section). And for more information about inbound links in general, check out the Moz blog or Matt Cutts videos.

And there you have it, folks. Some key indicators of if your inbound marketing has a clean bill of health, has a slight cold, or is dying of dysentery. Still not sure how to decipher between good and bad? We’re here to help.

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