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Laurel MiltnerMay 3, 20122 min read

Inbound Marketing Measurement: Builders v. Drivers

builder driverLet’s talk for a minute about inbound marketing measurement and expectations.

One of the key benefits of inbound marketing over traditional marketing is the ability to track and measure real, tangible results that impact the bottom line.

Historically the industry has focused on soft, irrelevant metrics and measures of success—think PR impressions, ad equivalency, sentiment ratings, awards and creative popularity. Savvy marketers today, in contrast, measure results that make an impact—website traffic, conversion rates, lead volume, sales-ready leads and even sales.

This is both a blessing and a curse.

When launching an inbound marketing campaign, you expect results. This is good. However, you may expect—or even need—short-term results. Maybe you’re low on leads, or sales are dwindling, and a quick-hit inbound marketing campaign is your best—or even last—hope to move the needle on the metrics that matter. This is bad.

Why? Because in any marketing program, there are builders and there are drivers. Successful inbound marketing programs relies on both.

Builders set the foundation, and create the necessary platform on which you will develop your brand, differentiate from competitors, and expand your reach and influence.

When building a campaign from scratch, builders will likely be the main focus for the first few months, and even beyond. Though not a comprehensive list, following are some common builders:

  • Create, refresh and/or optimize website
  • Launch or clean up blog, publish foundational posts
  • Create or clean up social media accounts, build reach
  • Provide social media training for key employees, help multiple people get active
  • Publish foundational content piece(s)
  • Develop sticky tools or other linkbait
  • Build or segment email and social contact lists for media, leads, customers, influencers, etc.

Builders are essential, but often difficult to measure in the short term outside of outputs.

Drivers make things happen. These are marketing activities that generate traffic, create inbound links, produce quality leads, make connections, establish relationships and grow your business.

Drivers become a stronger area of concentration once the builders—the foundation—are in place. In many cases, drivers can’t happen without the builders before them. Why? Because you don't have the site structure or strength, community, authority or relationships in place to make your marketing efforts go anywhere. Here are a few examples of drivers:

  • Lead- and customer-nurturing campaigns
  • Guest blog posts
  • Editorial placements
  • Speaking engagements
  • Customer evangelist programs
  • Wildly popular content pieces

A caveat: There will always be outliers to the builders and drivers concept, however, as a general rule it holds true.

Bottom line? Inbound marketing works best when given time to achieve goals, because its success is largely based on building relationships, which are built on trust.

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