Inbound Marketing Reflecting On The Last 10 Years
Lessons Learned in 10 Years of Inbound Marketing
As Find and Convert celebrates its 10th anniversary this month, I reflect on the lessons we’ve learned of inbound marketing. The phrase “inbound marketing” isn’t 10 years old. But, the concept is at least that old. Here’s a look at the last 10 years in under 1000 words.
SEO Still Rules
Although the SEO (search engine optimization) landscape has certainly evolved quite a bit over the past 10 years, getting found in organic search listings is still the most desirable outcome for most businesses seeking to have inbound marketing success.
As Google continually evolves their search algorithm one constant that will always remain is Google’s interest in delivering results that are relevant to a user’s search. To that end, the number one factor in determining relevant search results is relevant content. Businesses often struggle with this, often delivering a limited content experience on their website. Brands who value and prioritize a relevant content marketing mindset enjoy the most inbound marketing success.
Two inbound marketing Audiences
Since SEO still rules it’s important to recognize that your content assets have two audiences. The most important audience is the ultimate consumer of your content. The other audience is search engines. Don’t misunderstand this point. I am NOT suggesting SEO trickery to game the search engines. No! However, your website must be easy for search engines to crawl. Your content must be well represented in a search engine listing with a well-written title and description tag. Your website’s architecture should be organized so it passes muster with Google’s more than 200 variables in its search algorithm. Any marketer that favors one audience over the other will yield limited inbound marketing results.
Calls to Actions
Creating relevant content and getting found by your target audience is an awesome outcome. But, the true desired outcome for most marketers is an action that leads the consumer to draw closer to becoming a customer, or spreading the love of your brand from your customer’s loyalty. Giving the consumer of your content calls to action that are relevant to them in the moment according to their relationship with your brand, is the way to achieve actionable outcomes.
Another valuable inbound marketing lesson is the emergence of social marketing. SEO success absolutely requires a social marketing element. Businesses whose employees participate in their inbound marketing initiatives through sharing of content across social channels enjoy the widest reach. Google rewards content that has been “+1’d” and otherwise shared. Google uses social sharing as signals to determine the relevance and popularity of your content and uses these signals in delivering search results. The most progressive businesses are a social business with enterprise wide participation among employees.
Last but certainly not least is the importance of measuring the results of your inbound marketing efforts. Marketers need to continuously justify their budget and demonstrate results of their inbound marketing plans. Measuring meaningful outcomes is not an option. In B2B marketing, measuring leads and the sources of leads is one of many important KPIs. In B2C marketing, measuring the impact of communities in various social channels and their impact on sales results is likewise an important KPI. There are many other valuable metrics that measure inbound marketing success. Marketers should discuss metrics with management continually to have two way dialogue about what inbound marketing activities yield the most tangible benefits to the business.
My inbound marketing lessons over the past 10 years are too many to write in one post. However, this summary characterizes the big picture. I can only imagine what’s in store over the next 10 years as social business gets closer to becoming mainstream.