Follow the Leads: Figuring Out the ROI of Inbound Marketing

Website Design
A Business Approach to Website Design: Sell the Sizzle – Not the Steak
September 29, 2015
Business Blog
5 Reasons You Need A Business Blog
January 28, 2016

Inbound marketing involves many moving parts associated with short-term objectives and long-term goals. It's understandable that tracking the Return on Investment (ROI) of inbound marketing is daunting to some businesses. While some metrics are relatively easily measured, the finer points of ROI need to be carefully understood.

 Inbound Marketing

Here are some ways to measure the ROI of Inbound Marketing.

To understand user behavior and audience engagement metrics, take a glance at our case study:

We helped a nutritional supplement company with their inbound marketing strategy for a year. The results are impressive. The company experienced 100% increase in traffic growth. The company also experienced a drastic increase in engagement and a 141% increase in referrals. We helped the company achieve a 148% increase in organic traffic from search. We're also proud to report the company had 69 keywords in its content rank highly in search.

In terms of social media activity, the company achieved 2,996 net new fans and followers. It also experienced 5,840 interactions with the brand. The company also enjoyed 4,117 visits to their site from social media.

The results of inbound marketing projects can sometimes be seen immediately, and sometimes can take months or years. While some businesses may be antsy to see immediate results, it's important to have some patience so that campaigns can fully take hold.

How do we measure ROI?

Take a glance at some ways to track and measure ROI of inbound marketing over time:


One of the main points of inbound maketing is (usually) to generate more traffic to a website. Therefore, it's necessary to measure website visits, bounce rates, clicks, and other activities on your site as your business uses inbound marketing tactics.


Page views on social media and on your sites are also useful information for understanding overall audience interest in your brand. Measuring views on social media often involves measuring which posts gain the most page views, engagement, and clicks. It's also possible to measure posts that gain lots of page views, but not interaction.

Tracking these metrics helps businesses understand audience preferences, and why engagement happens. Keep in mind that you don't have to get too picky about day-to-day fluctuations. It's not necessarily possible to always meet your engagement goals. Many businesses enjoy success from some very popular posts (like promotional posts) mixed in with some less popular - but still viewed - posts.


People tend to share information they like or they think others will find useful. If they don't share certain types of content with others, it's not necessarily worrisome. As long as they are viewing the content, you are getting somewhere. It's a good idea to have a variety of content for your audiences to consume and consider sharing.

While increases and decreases in user engagement on social media may occur, it's crucial to balance the potential benefits or drawbacks of the approaches you discuss with your marketing team.


Make an effort to track where new or recurring sales leads came from. Where did they click online to respond to a "Call to Action"? Strive to understand the series of clicks or browsing actions that led someone to engage as a lead. As discussed on Hubspot, it's common for businesses to have a pretty small conversion rate to sales from their site visitors.

New Customers

An important part of measuring ROI of inbound marketing is keeping track of new customers. What's their stage in the buying journey? What brought them to your site? What are their needs? New customers indicates interest in your brand, so try to find out what encouraged them to contact your business.

Audience Sentiment

Some results of inbound marketing may also be intangible or unmeasurable, such as overall audience perception changes or belief changes. However, surveys or various qualitative research approaches may uncover some of these subtle aspects of marketing. User sentiment can evolve or change as your inbound marketing methods evolve.

This blog article on Hootsuite discusses sentiment and why it's a critical part of a brand. The article suggests measuring audience tone, responses, or emotion when interacting with a brand online. Understanding your audience sentiment can help you compare how your company is performing compared to competitors.

Lifetime Customer Value

Another beneficial aspect of inbound marketing is lifetime customer value. This refers to the value of a customer over their lifetime of purchasing or buying behaviors. The KISSmetrics blog offers helpful advice about calculating Lifetime Customer Value. It's helpful to calculate how much a customer spends per visit to your business, and how many visits they have per day, week, or month (for example). Use this information to help you calculate how long a person remains a customer, such as over a period of years.

New visitors, new customers, customer retention, and customer loyalty are all factors to consider when employing inbound marketing strategies. Partner with a marketing company to measure the overall lifetime customer value, and how to maximize this to the benefit of your business.

Balancing Performance with Perspective

This is just an overview of some of the ways to measure ROI on inbound marketing. Other factors to consider include how your business has disrupted a marketplace or experienced disruption. Additional indicators of success may include an increase in brand awareness, more mentions online, and increased word of mouth. It's also helpful to balance ROI results with performance indicators in your industry, performance of your competitors, and the overall economic climate.

Talk to marketing professionals about the latest tools for measuring user behavior and engagement. To learn more about developing an inbound marketing plan and measuring results, contact us.