A year of inbound marketing: The top three things I’ve learned

lessons from inbound marketing

Oh my, how far I’ve come. From a wee little intern to a badass SEO & Content Specialist, I have called the halls of AGENCY H my home for a little over a year now. And, I’ve learned a lot. So much that I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned with you.

I could bore you to death with the ins and outs of how I perform my job on a daily basis. Instead, I’ll share some knowledge that everyone in marketing — or interested in marketing — can appreciate and apply to what they do. So, without further hesitation and writing more unnecessary words and pointlessly increasing word-count way higher than it needs to be, I present the top three things I’ve learned after a year of inbound marketing.

1. Inbound marketing works

Part of my job is to report monthly traffic of client websites to members of the accounts team, so they can give a status update to our clients on how well they’re reaching their personas. In this position, I get to see how inbound marketing affects this traffic to our clients’ sites.

What’s even better, is that I can see which pages are converting the most visitors to leads. These quantifiable results show how inbound marketing directly impacts the growth of traffic and leads, but reading more into it, I can make a couple extra inferences:

  • Inbound marketing works for anyone. After a year of working in an inbound marketing agency, I’ve seen how inbound works for a variety of industries. AGENCY H serves a diverse range of clients, and inbound has increased traffic and qualified leads for all of them across the board.

    Sure, some business types take a little longer to grow than others, but the end result is the same: clients get more business from inbound marketing.
  • Inbound marketing is going to be around for a long time. Looking at the impact inbound has on these clients’ sites tells me that inbound marketing has a presence that will stick around for a long time. Arguably, as long as the internet exists and people use it to find what they want, inbound marketing will be effective.

    Of course, inbound will evolve as new technology and trends develop, but the principle of attracting a relevant audience, giving them information they need, and converting them to leads will remain the same.

2. Teamwork is essential for inbound to function

A quick look at our team page will show you that we have a lot of people serving in a lot of different areas necessary for a smoothly operating inbound machine: design, web development, content development, search engine optimization, account services, and dogs.

It probably goes without saying that any functioning marketing agency needs individuals who specialize in different areas to get the job done. But, that fact alone doesn’t encompass the idea of teamwork. True teamwork, in this environment, means each department needs to understand how people in other departments handle various situations and how they view projects from different perspectives.

In other words, I can’t show up and simply look at my list of content/SEO related tasks and bury my head in and deliver it to the next person. That’s not teamwork, that’s just doing my job. An example of doing my job as a team player: When I create content, I need to understand how the creative team is going to interpret it and apply it to the site.

Most of the time, setbacks are the result of snags in teamwork; unclear communication creates roadblocks. Much of this can be avoided by simply taking the time to understand your co-workers better and communicate with them more clearly.

3. Outbound marketing is really freaking annoying

I was already tired of the tactics of outbound marketing before working in the inbound marketing industry. Television commercials, radio ads, billboards, junk mail, etc. all invade my daily life, and I can’t remember the last time any of it was actually effective in influencing my decisions.

Now, with an inbound marketing perspective, I find outbound marketing even more loathsome. As a marketer, you can’t help but pay attention to the little details in the medium and the message of advertisement, and with outbound, I’ve observed a lot that annoys me. Allow me to rant.

My three biggest grievances with outbound marketing are:

  • It tries to define who I am. I am a twenty-four year old male. So, according to what I observe from most commercials and advertisements, I should be a spoiled, technology-obsessed, glued-to-my-smartphone, carefree individual who only takes music and video games seriously. If this is you, that’s fine — there are a lot of commercials interested in your attention. However, myself (and many others in my demographic who don’t fit this category) are constantly bombarded with this kind of stuff, and not only is it tiresome, it is insulting to be generalized.
  • It tries to shove itself in my world. Along the lines of outbound trying to define who I am, it boxes in the world it thinks I live in, and then shoves itself into it. Yeah, a lot of millennials detail their romantic visions about traveling on Tumblr, but that doesn’t mean all of us are this way. And it certainly doesn’t mean that those who do like to travel are interested in your $20,000 car to do it.
  • It doesn’t connect with what I need. Since outbound marketers already assume they know who I am and what I want, they make offers that match these presumptions. I don’t think I need to go into too much more detail on how largely ineffective this is on people. Yes, commercials must reach some people or there wouldn’t be any commercials at all, but as far as the best way to connect with your target audience goes, inbound is much more effective.

What’s the point of this rant? Well, first of all, getting all of that off my chest is good for my heart. But, second of all, it shows me (and hopefully you) the value of inbound marketing. I’m a quiet individual who doesn’t like to party, doesn’t spend time on social media or on my phone, and enjoys rock climbing more than any other hobby. You know who markets to me the most successfully? Those who speak to my persona online.

Of course, I’m just using myself as an example here. There are limitless personas and this principle applies to everyone. What are you most interested in and how do you find information, products, and services you need? If you’re one of the 93 percent of people who begin online experiences by using a search engine to find what you need, then inbound marketing is effective at reaching you.

Inbound marketing speaks to the needs of the persona types and allows users to organically connect with the businesses interested in serving them. The volume of people reached isn’t as high as outbound, but this is a good thing. Inbound marketing doesn’t invest money in large advertisements that fall on deaf ears or blind eyes, it invests in useful content that engages interested users who are way more likely to become qualified leads.

Maybe I’m a little too harsh on outbound, but after a year of inbound marketing, I have even more disdain for outbound marketing techniques, and more of an appreciation of how inbound reaches people and how it goes about accomplishing this task.

So, there you have it. After a year of working in inbound, I think these three points are the most important for you to understand. Looking at what I’ve learned, I hope you can walk away with a greater appreciation for inbound marketing.

Do you have questions about inbound marketing and how it can help you attract more visitors to your site and convert them into leads and customers? Learn more about the makings of a successful inbound marketing strategy with our free e-book, An Introduction to Inbound Marketing.