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Inbound Marketing Blog

    28 Factors to Determine the Maturity of Your Inbound Marketing

    Posted by Jasmine Henry

    Is Your Strategy Immature?

    What if there were a maturity model for inbound marketers?

    Seriously, I can't be the only nerd that's ever wondered this before.

    The unofficial intro to maturity models is that they’re what happens when a whole bunch of really smart people get together and use dozens of years of academic experience and professional context to trend what often happens. More officially, accrediting body APMG writes that they’re used for organizations to assess their “methods and processes...according to a clear set of external benchmarks.”

    When correctly compiled, these models contain helpful factors like questionnaires and benchmarks. They’re certified and verified by third parties. This blog post isn’t everything you need to determine the maturity of your inbound marketing strategy, but it’s a start. We’ve categorized some criteria that could define a company at each stage:

    1. Immature Inbound Marketing

    Blogging doesn’t mean your brand’s nailed the ins and outs of inbound marketing, even if you’re doing it on a regular basis. Neither does social media, maintaining an editorial calendar, or any other inbound marketing basics. There’s no shame in having a less mature inbound marketing program, but it is dangerous to close yourself off to concepts of improvement. Signs of a less mature inbound program could include:

    1. Occasional or Intermittent Collaboration Between Silos (Social, Content, and Email)

    2. Basic Lead Nurturing Segments

    3. Fewer than 10 Landing Pages and Content Offers

    4. Undefined and documented strategy

    5. Lack of advanced planning

    6. Inconsistent or Infrequent Metrics Analysis

    2. Intermediate Inbound Marketing

    Your business could probably do fine if you stagnate at an intermediate level of maturity, and let’s be totally honest - many companies have. In many cases, maturity models are shaped a lot like funnels, but it anecdotally seems that the inbound world’s got a pretty chunky middle. Signs of this stage often include (but aren’t limited to):

    1. Between 10-15 Landing Pages and Content Offers

    2. Documented strategy that’s typically up-to-date

    3. Multiple research-based buyer personas

    4. Lead Nurturing Workflows for Each Content Offer

    5. Inclusion of Visual Content and Targeted Content Curation

    6. Keyword Research and SEO Optimization

    7. Guest Blogging Outreach and Link-Building Strategies

    8. A/B Testing of Landing Pages, CTAs and Emails

    3. Advanced Inbound Marketing

    There’s really not too many examples of brands who’ve got the inbound marketing thing down so well that it’s hard to find anything wrong with their strategy. ModCloth’s definitely in this category, and so is HubSpot (of course). Betabrand and  AppSumo, are solidly mature, too. If you’re in this latter class, we’d love to hear from you, and about the changes you made to get your program up to par. Signs that you’re passing with flying colors might include the following:

    1. Responsive or mobile-optimized design

    2. Obsessive detail to user experience

    3. Use of 12 or more content marketing tactics

    4. Advanced lead nurturing tactics (accelerated and lost lead campaigns, among others)

    5. Interview-based buyer personas

    6. Ongoing SEO Optimization

    7. More than 15-20 landing pages and content offers

    8. Campaign-themed content and social media marketing

    9. Advanced efficiency measures, including content retargeting and repurposing

    10. Thought leadership among employees, including Google Authorship and Regular Columns

    11. Use of Smart (or Dynamic) Content

    12. Progressive Profiling

    13. Net Promoter Score Surveying

    14. Lead Scoring

    Did I mention that the factors above are by no means an official inbound marketing maturity model? That being said, I think every business can benefit from ongoing and thorough evaluation of whether they’re taking full advantage of their marketing tools, and areas in which they could improve. It’s rare to find an organization which fits perfectly into a single stage of even official maturity models, and the inbound world is no exception - maybe your organization’s totally nailed persona-driven content marketing, but struggling with the lead nurturing side of things.

    I welcome feedback on these thoughts, and would love to get input on other techniques and tactics organizations tend to adopt as they move toward a more mature inbound strategy.

    What do you think are signs of an advanced and well-supported digital marketing program?

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    image credit: stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

    Topics: Inbound Marketing