Experiment, pivot, and revisit

If you want your inbound marketing to thrive, you can't keep doing things the way you've always done them. Instead, you should be taking an Agile approach — testing, experimenting and pivoting based on data — to optimize your outcomes.

Inbound marketing isn't a set-it-and-forget-it mission. Your available data allows you to experiment with real insights behind each move. If you want to generate leads and improve your customer pipeline, you must become an expert in reading and interpreting data. It's these real-time, data-driven adjustments that will ignite your inbound marketing campaigns.

What Is Agile Marketing?

Agile began as a series of software management principles designed to take advantage of continuous innovation. Now, Agile is spreading to many different types of organizations and departments, including marketing.

Marketers use Agile principles to use customer feedback and interaction to respond to change rather than continue down a path that isn't working. Agile requires check-ins and iterations, helping even an enterprise develop faster pivots and customized marketing solutions for audience segments.

To do all this, you'll need data to drive your decision making. Everyone in your organization must become data literate, ready to attend meetings to talk about the data, and how it applies to goals.

How Data Drives Inbound Marketing

When you launch a campaign, you need a variety of dashboards to provide the insights you need. These dashboards use stage approach and measure daily, weekly and monthly insights. You'll have a quick view of your campaigns as well as a historical reference to how certain elements measure up.

When you launch a new campaign, you should have data from previous campaigns to show you what elements performed well with your audience and which didn't. Underpinning these findings will be reasons why certain elements did or didn't take off.

Start with the basic metrics:

  • website visitors
  • conversion rate
  • monthly leads

Expand from there as you need to. These will give you high-level overviews of how your campaigns perform. These metrics drive related metrics like blog views and place everything into perspective within the campaign.

Understand Poor Performance…And Fix It

Data literacy is a vital part of understanding why a campaign or component is underperforming. First, seeing these metrics gives you an early clue that something is going awry so you can fix it. Second, it helps you formulate an overall trajectory of your inbound marketing successes and failures.

When you see a component underperforming, it's time to figure out why and experiment with solutions. If your page views decline over time, find out which posts perform the best and put those up more often. If your leads drop suddenly, the change in season could warrant a special deal.

If your leads aren't turning into customers as often as you need to support your revenue cycle, your sales team needs to update their sales funnel and follow up process. Prospects may need new segmentation campaigns as well.

Small Changes Move The Needle

Not everything requires a complete reformulation. Part of the Agile method is making small, incremental changes and then aggressively collecting data to determine if the results are improved. If your emails' open rate is too low, for example, finding more creative headlines could fix that issue.

Both lead nurturing and email marketing require constant experimentation to uncover precisely what your target audience responds to. The data you collect could even point to more significant trends before you're aware of them, helping you stay at the forefront of the market. Customizing your dashboards to show the results of these small changes helps ensure your inbound marketing remains data-driven.

Failure Is The Best Teacher

It's a cliche, but it's true. Failure can teach you more about what works for your company than your successes will. Failure helps you understand the long term effects of campaigns and how large and small changes add up to significant results over time.

Crafting a healthy relationship with failure is vital in moving to an Agile mindset for inbound marketing. You must be willing to risk failure to find what works for each content piece.

The types of metrics will vary across different components as well. Social metrics are shares, likes, and comments. Landing page metrics could be newsletter signups or filling out interest forms. Blog metrics center around shares because research shows that genuine interest lies in sharing and not in the number of comments.

If your metrics don't show much support for your new content, that's ok. The data could tell you if it's the content itself or outside factors you didn't consider. Make small changes and reintroduce what didn't work to see if it performs better.

You'll slowly figure out your sweet spot for different types of content and consistently produce value for your ideal audience. Data-driven iterations in marketing will get you there faster.

Inbound Marketing The Agile Way

Experimentation is the key to driving your inbound marketing results. With the right dashboards and data literacy, you can use data to uncover insights that move the needle. You'll know how campaign components perform in the short and long term and what to do if something underperforms.

Data can help you nudge your ideal audience to take action and move through the buyer's stages. Don't be afraid to fail because these failures teach you a lot about what to do for your next marketing iteration.

Set up your dashboards, conduct your experiments, and you're ready to create a faster, leaner inbound marketing machine. The data is your key.

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