Build a reputation for expertise. Create leads.

HubSpot held a free webinar yesterday on “The State Of Inbound Marketing Lead Generation.” HubSpot’s business is helping their 2,500 high-tech clients manage the leads they generate online. Although I don’t think they have many non-profit clients,* some of the research they presented should work for us as well.

HubSpot surveyed their clients, got 1,400 valid answers, and aggregated the results to determine which inbound marketing techniques worked best.

But first, what’s “inbound marketing”?

HubSpot clients had trouble with traditional marketing—TV, radio, print, etc. These channels were becoming less effective (people TiVo out TV ads) and more expensive. On the other hand, the clients were collecting lots of readers on blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media.

Instead of “interrupting people with a sledgehammer” (i.e., traditional advertising), they started creating magnets–attracting people to their sites by providing good information. So inbound marketing is the process of drawing people to your site.  “Market with your brain rather than your budget,” said Rick Barnes.

What Works, According to the Survey

The four most effective techniques identified by the survey were:

  • Google indexing: Monthly leads are related to the number of pages on your site, and there is an abrupt rise in leads when your number of indexed pages reaches 300 or more. Less than 60 pages, you can expect 5 leads a month; at 60-120, 7 leads; from 121-175, 12 leads; from 176-310, 22 leads; more than 311, 74 leads. But how does a small organization get to 300 pages? Over time and/or with a blog. The survey showed that small and medium firms comprise 57% of the sites with 311+ pages, so it’s possible.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): If you have unique and interesting content, you will have more distinct keywords and  will therefore rank higher in Google’s search results. Clients with 26-50 keywords generated twice as many leads as clients with 6-13 keywords, and clients with more than 51 keywords generated three times more leads than those with 6-13 keywords.
  • Blogs: Clients with blogs generated 67% more leads than clients without blogs—8 or 9 leads vs. 15 leads per month. Interesting fact: To get credit, your blog has to be hosted on your own site, under your own domain name. If your blog is on WordPress, the hits are credited to WordPress, not your site. (Oops. Fast Smart Web Design loses out.)  Also, more blog pages (24-51) means more leads per month, probably because Google indexes more pages and you receive more inbound hits.
  • Twitter: Twitter users generate twice as many leads than non-Twitter users. To be effective, you need to get several hundred followers. However, above 500 followers, leads start to drop off. (See the Bradford Report for thoughts on why this may happen.)

Barnes pointed out that, for best results, you have to do all these things, not just one or two. However, not every organization can manage to do hours of social networking every week. He recommends doing 1 or 2 blogs a week, “but it’s better to create a schedule that you can stick to.”

In response to a question about links at the end of the webinar, Barnes said, “Links are the currency of the Internet, but link trading” (i.e., asking other webmasters to link to your site and add their links to yours) “takes time and energy that should be spent on coming up with good value for your customers and prospects.”

What’s a lead and how do you track it?

For HubSpot, a lead is someone who’s filled out a form asking for specific information. He said that, at the bottom every article or blog they publish, HubSpot puts a call to action (“donate now” or “join our email list” are typical non-profit calls to action). If the reader fills out a form, that’s a lead. “You need to test, target, and nurture identified customers or potential customers” once they’ve come to your site, Barnes said, which is where customer relationship management (and HubSpot) comes in.

For more information, see their white papers:


* offers customer relationship management for free or cheap to non-profits. Look for other resources on TechSoup.


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