How To Set Realistic Inbound Marketing Expectations


An image of all inbound marketing tactics and different content forms, including emails, videos, chat, and targeted ads/content.

image credit: g/Tartila/

Setting expectations for your inbound marketing activities is crucial, but it is even more important that these expectations are realistic. If you set expectations that you cannot reach or measure, it will not do you or your company any good. Along with these expectations you need to set goals, create and deliver high-performing campaigns, measure engagement, manage the expectations of senior management, identify the most important KPIs, and set benchmarks for your inbound marketing strategy. You need to understand your current content production capacity and where you should direct your efforts as well. This is a lot to handle, so keep reading to learn more!  

What do you want to achieve from inbound marketing?

In order to determine what it is exactly that you want to achieve from your inbound marketing activities, consider these questions with your team:

  • Why are you doing what you’re doing?
  • How do you keep attracting new leads? 
  • Are these new leads enough, or do we want our current customers to become returning customers as well?

Your inbound marketing campaigns and business goals and objectives should always be 100% aligned. The purpose of inbound marketing campaigns is to help reach your business goals, so they must relate. Why would you want to waste resources with content marketing that does not connect to the main purpose of your business? Furthermore, your sales team, customer service team, and marketing/content creation team should work together to ensure this. 

Here are some questions to discuss with all the teams involved:

  1. Who are you currently attracting?
  2. How can you reach the leads who are eluding you? 
  3. Are they using the marketing channels you expected? If not, what channels are they using?
  4. Which content are people responding to, and at what stage of the buyer journey
  5. Where are the content gaps? What content does your sales team need to convert those leads?
  6. Do you currently have the production capacity?
  7. Are there any content marketing materials that you can repurpose or update?
  8. How are you measuring your inbound marketing activities in the short and long term?
what is your current content production capacity?

Understanding your content production capacity is key to setting realistic marketing expectations and creating an effective inbound strategy. 

The first step is to conduct an audit of the content produced over the past year. You can break it down by multiple aspects, including the content format, the time it took to produce, the budget, ROI, and the external support required. This will give you a better idea of how much content your team is producing and where your time is being allocated. Then, you can analyze all of this information to learn where to optimize the process to produce more content assets efficiently.

how much inbound marketing content do you need to produce?  

Examine your capacity and your KPIs, and this will help you understand where you are and how much content you should be producing in order to be the most successful.  

While the quality is more important than the quantity of your content, you must have enough content available to your audience to keep them engaged at each stage of the buyer journey. If you do not have enough content or content that can resonate with every audience member, then you will lose your potential clients. Here are some goals and content posting strategies that can help you reach them:

  1. Boost organic traffic: try to post 3-4 new posts of short content and 4-5 posts of repurposed or longer content a week.
  2. Increase brand awareness: post 1-2 short blogs and 3-4 longer articles a week.

These are just recommendations, but if it is not manageable or effective for your company, then find a new strategy that will work. Consistency is important, so make sure to create a strategy and schedule and stick to it.  

Thanks to social media, short-form video is the go-to way to deliver content or information. The short-form videos are better at keeping attention and allowing the audience to learn quickly. On the other hand, long-form video content is still very important and successful when it comes to webinars, discussions, debates, or providing a larger amount of information. When you just want to provide something simple and easy for the audience to get the basic idea of, short-form videos are more successful.

How do you measure inbound marketing? 

Keeping track of your inbound content marketing strategy and making sure it is effective and helping your company reach its business goals is something you should always be on top of. Here are some things to measure, in order to check in on your inbound marketing

  • Organic website traffic and engagement (e.g time on page, scroll depth, links clicked).
  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), offers that have been accepted by sales, and deals from organic sources.
  • Conversion rates (downloads, links clicked, newsletter signups, contact forms, calls to the sales team, and so forth). 
  • SEO rankings.
  • Bounce rates. 

Once you understand these KPIs and what they tell you about your audience and their behavior with your content, then you can use these metrics to improve your inbound marketing strategy and make sure your goals are realistic.  

Benchmarking your inbound marketing

Benchmarking your inbound marketing will give you a sense of where you are with your marketing efforts. The benchmarks show you what successful content looks like and where you should aim to be. You can use these benchmarks to analyze past performances and set new goals. 

You can get these benchmarks from your own company, or also your industry if you want a more widespread estimate.

How to communicate inbound goals and progress with senior leadership

Communicating inbound goals and progress with senior management is important. You want everyone to be on page with the content you create, so make sure to explain your goals, process, and ideas. You can even discuss the metrics with the senior management or key stakeholders and offer any other information they may need to better understand the content results and your ideas. Here are some tips when presenting the information to them:

  • Lead with the best metrics.
  • Focus on results, over all the details of how you got there.
  • Frame report around the business’s goals.
  • Show progress over time.
  • Only present metrics that provide a clear understanding of the success of your content.   
the power of playing the long game

Inbound marketing is a long-term strategy. You will not create the best strategy and see the best results right away. Rather, it will take some time and a few experiments to find what works best for your company. Keep an eye on your goals, your audience, your market, and your available tools. These can change at any moment and you must be ready to change your strategy accordingly. 

Remember to use inbound marketing as a way to grow your business and reach business goals. Hopefully, this blog taught you how to create inbound marketing expectations that are realistic, but if you need more help, reach out to Thinkdm2!

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