How to Set Your Inbound Marketing Goals

Posted by Rich McElaney

Last week, we took a look at various ways to determine if your inbound marketing plan is working. We discussed establishing baseline metrics for the key components of your inbound marketing strategy.

If you're just getting started, it might help to determine what these components are by working backwards from the conclusion of a successful transaction. What steps lead up to that point? What metrics can best measure your success at each step? What's your success rate now in any of the traditional marketing campaigns you use? Based on other companies similar to yours (similar size, same industry) what can you expect as a reasonable success rate for your inbound marketing campaigns?    

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Your inbound marketing plan has the same business objectives as a traditional marketing plan. The sales funnel looks, more or less, the same. Except, ideally, with inbound marketing, your time from Web visitor to qualified lead or even to buyer can be condensed dramatically. Traditional marketing can often leave months (or more) between a cold call and a sale.

That's not to say inbound marketing is fast. It takes time to lay the groundwork, drive traffic to your website, and build a culture of trust. But once this groundwork is in place, conversions can happen quickly. It's an economy of scale. A quality blog post that links to an informative, easy-to-navigate website can reach thousands (or millions) of visitors at one time, whereas salespeople can only shake so many hands, make so many phone calls or hand out so many business cards in one day. (And hearing all those “nos” early in the process can also be disheartening, leading to a lower return-on-investment as the day goes on.) Your website, on the other hand, just keeps selling and selling. It doesn't quit on you if the bounce rate is too high or no one converts. (Although you should be tracking this and taking steps to fix it.)

Speaking of tracking... that leads us right back to goal-setting and metrics at each step of the sales process. The conversion process for your inbound marketing campaign will look, more or less, like this: Web visitor --> suspect --> prospect --> lead --> qualified lead --> sale --> post-sale (cross-sell, up-sell).

Some of the analytics you want to measure include:

  • Daily, weekly, and monthly site traffic

  • Number of unique visitors

  • The keywords driving the most traffic

  • Percent of legitimate form submittals on a particular landing page (for a whitepaper, free ebook, free report, etc.)

  • Percent of click-throughs on a direct email campaign

Remember to establish benchmarks for other sites similar to yours or within your industry, so you can set attainable and realistic goals for these figures.

There is other information, such as time spent on the site, blog comments received, and number of pages viewed, that provide helpful hints as to whether or not your content is engaging visitors, but these statistics won't necessarily show whether or not you're moving visitors down the sales funnel.

Ultimately, any campaign comes down to the cost per new customer acquired (or new product or service sold to an existing customer), but interim goals will help you get there without getting discouraged and giving up too soon.

What are some of your interim goals for your inbound marketing campaign? Where do you want to be next week? Next month? In six months? Paying close attention to the “top of funnel” metrics, and adjusting as necessary, will eventually lead to the incremental revenue increases and ROI you want to see down the line.

Tags: inbound marketing ROI, inbound marketing strategy, inbound marketing goal setting