Poker players go all-in for one of two reasons: Either their hand rocks and they know the pot is theirs or it stinks and they want to scare everyone else into folding.
When done right, the payoff is big, but it takes confidence, timing, and the will to actually take a chance with your chips even when you can’t be sure it’ll pay off.
The same is true with inbound. Just like sitting around the poker table, it’s hard to win big by playing it safe with little bets here and there. Winners see opportunities and make big, smart moves.
When companies ask “how much inbound” they have to do to see results, the answer usually leaves them a little dizzy. While we all wish pouring ourselves into one awesome blog post a month is all it takes to start making hay online, doing a “little bit” of inbound is like playing it safe at the poker table - you might do okay, but you’ll never win big.
Inbound requires an awareness of your market, your customers, your competition and a willingness to commit to meeting your customers on their own terms by putting yourself out there with the content they expect to find online.
It only works for us when it works for you.
Let’s address the elephant in the room: as an inbound agency, it seems pretty obvious why we’d want to convince companies to go all-in with the very thing we offer.
But in truth, it’s really not in our best interest to push a big fat inbound package on companies that aren’t going to benefit from it - they’ll only end up leaving. For us, the goal is finding those organizations for which inbound is a truly viable strategy, then tailoring a strategy to fit.
The more you give, the more you get.
That said, if something works, you should probably do it well. In the case of inbound, that not only means producing quality work, but a lot of it.
Take blogging for example. Earlier this year, Hubspot gathered data to answer a perennial question on the minds of companies big and small: How many blog posts should I publish every month?
The results were pretty staggering:
Traffic triples for B2Bs when you’re publishing three times per week.
Companies that publish 16+ posts per month saw almost 3.5x more traffic than those pushing out 0-4 each month.
While more posts mean more inbound traffic for B2Bs, there’s virtually no difference between doing one post or ten. You have to publish at least 11 each month to see results, but for those that do, they triple their monthly traffic.
Leads almost quadruple when you’re publishing 4+ times per week.
More traffic is obviously important, but for B2Bs, leads are the goal.
Again, those who went all-in with posting saw massive results compared to those just scraping by.
Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5x more leads than companies that published between 0 to 4 monthly posts.
B2B companies that blogged 11+ times per month got about 1.75x as many leads as those blogging 6 to 10 times per month, and about 3.75x as many leads as those blogging 0 to 3 times per month.
The point here is pretty simple: While the more you do, the more you get, things don’t really start to heat up until you’re publishing roughly every other day - sometimes more than that.
The reason behind the numbers isn’t so clear, but if the sheer noise level of the web is any indication, getting attention online these days requires publishers to be just as loud as they are compelling with their content.
Let’s talk results
Company leadership sees business decisions in dollars and cents, but unlike traditional marketing channels, it can be tough to draw hard ROI numbers from a great Facebook post or tweet.
Fortunately, Hubspot worked that problem out in the form of an ROI calculator anyone can use here. While it’s no crystal ball, it’s a great tool to see where inbound could get you once you take the plunge.
It’s important to realize that no matter how much inbound you’re doing, results take time - especially in B2B. We’re talking months and in extreme cases, years. But once the needle starts moving, it keeps moving:
After lead volume picks up, sales are typically soon to follow:
For a complete analysis of inbound ROI, check out this report from Hubspot and MIT.
Who should go all-in with inbound?
There’s no hard-and-fast assessment to determine where the best opportunities for inbound lie, but when it comes to B2B, one thing is clear: If no one else is doing inbound (or doing it well), there’s probably a massive opportunity to seize upon.
B2B is a weird beast. Long, winding sales cycles, internal pitches, buy-in, budgets, egos - they all stand in the way of the decision-making process when companies decide to make an investment in growth.
If you’ve got something great to offer, and just need a community of customers to realize that, getting serious about inbound can be all it takes to start truly seeing the kind of growth you know you’re capable of.