I recently spoke at Demandcon in San Francisco (I'll tweet the slides later today via @jlopin , so follow me there if you want to take a look). I wanted to give three awesome pieces of advice that would really  help people succeed with inbound marketing. The trouble was, what should the 3 things be?

Leading up to the event, I struggled to articulate the essence of inbound marketing in three concise, actionable statements. I couldn't sleep, and I was stressed.

And then I finally remembered that I work with 200 of the most brilliant marketers in the world, and I could just ask them to tell me the answer.

So I fired off an email with the following simple question (and then I went to sleep): "If you could only give three pieces of advice to marketers before you die, what would you say?"

The responses I got from my colleagues were awesome: passionate, pragmatic, and characteristically MITish:

1. Stop thinking like an advertiser. Stop renting your audience. Build your own. Start thinking like a publisher. 

2. Marketing is not about arts & crafts. You need to understand (based on data) what's working and what's not. Then, you need to stop doing the stuff that isn't working (or fix it), and do more of the stuff that is working.

3. You need to get good at converting  your traffic into leads & customers.

The best part of this process was the emails I got back from my colleagues. I've included the highlights below. Click the little light bulb guy and the quote shows up below the table.

  Stop thinking like an advertiser; start thinking like a publisher Marketing isn't about arts & crafts; get g ood at analytics Convert. Convert. Convert.
Brian Whalley "Release all your collateral as content on your website. It&squot;s too easy to forget about internal whitepapers and other collateral, which can be indexed or used for offers on your website or in nurturing campaigns. Don&squot;t hold back!" - Brian Whalley "Data is your friend and can help you tell important stories about your success. Sometimes this may mean changing the metrics or value systems being used to analyze marketing at your company. Don&squot;t be afraid to change metrics or push on how things are measured." - Brian Whalley  
Mark Kilens   quot;Measure everything on a monthly basis to make smarter decisions." -  Mark Kilens "Have at least two calls to action on every single web page." - Mark Kilens
Mike Redbord   "Focus your goals. Do you want more traffic, more non-branded traffic, or more net new leads? Choose ONE goal to focus on at a time for each person on your team. If you are a team of one, laser-focus on one goal for a short period (a month) and set up as much automation and content-production as you can during that period of focus." - Mike Redbord  
Emily Haahr "Stop focusing on on-page SEO; just BLOG dammit." - Emily Haar    
Diana Freedman "Don&squot;t use the fact that you&squot;re &squot;just the marketing person&squot; as an excuse for why you can&squot;t blog about your industry. You probably know more about your business than your website visitors do, which makes you qualified to blog about it. As the marketing person, you also have the talent to spin up copy faster than the more technical &squot;experts&squot; can. Interview or grab lunch with some of your colleagues to find the answers you need. Don&squot;t be afraid to blog!" - Diana Freedman "Tracking URLs allow you to track everything, from clicks/leads/customers generated from banner ads to Twitter tweets. You can even track offline ads by redirecting an easy-to-remember URL such as http://yoursite.com/promo to the tracking URL. Never skimp on using a tracking URL because it adds an extra step. The extra 2 minutes it takes will let you determine which of your marketing campaigns aren&squot;t worth weeks of your time." - Diana Freedman "If you have the resources to have both remarkable content and design, great. But never sacrifice on great content for the sake of design (e.g., &squot;I can&squot;t make my headline convey the benefit of my offer because the extra copy will wrap onto a second line&squot; or &squot;I need to wait until my website redesign is live before I add blog posts&squot;). Website visitors don&squot;t convert because of your formatting or styling. They convert because your content answered the question &squot;what&squot;s in it for me?&squot;" - Diana Freedman
Jeanne Hopkins "You must create content that allows you to get found. It sounds simple but it is not. A simple content audit that allows you to find the remarkable assets that most likely exist within your organization is critical to creating demand for your products and services." - Jeanne Hopkins "You have to measure everything. You have to measure something.  You have to measure anything. Marketers should think in terms of measurement. Many marketers live in the land of &squot;arts & crafts&squot; and do not consider anything beyond some Google Analytics or ESP reports. Marketers often don&squot;t consolidate information into actionable data. The future of marketers&squot; jobs lies in their ability to measure performance. Marketers need to get on the stick and start reporting." - Jeanne Hopkins  
Kyle James "Be Your Own Journalist. This means blog. Shoot for multiple times a week and educate." - Kyle James "Do analytical reporting on a monthly basis. Look at the trends and be actionable. If you&squot;re spending all your time looking at reports then you probably aren&squot;t being actionable enough, and if you aren&squot;t spending any time looking at reports then you probably aren&squot;t acting on the right things." - Kyle James  
Arjun Moorthy   "Understand your funnel metrics, relative to your competition or industry standards, to see where you need to improve marketing efforts to meet your company&squot;s revenue goals. Understand the breakdown of your Cost Of Customer Acquisition so that you can contrast the ROI of various marketing initiatives and ensure your spend is correctly targeted." - Arjun Moorthy  
Dharmesh Shah "Recruit and hire great content creators: This one&squot;s obvious, but it still amazes me that marketers continue to spend so much money to avoid creating content." - Dharmesh Shah "Test, test, test: Marketers spend a lot of time and money attracting visitors to their website (and landing pages), but don&squot;t do enough to test what works and what doesn&squot;t. Often, small copywriting changes, layout changes or other &squot;tweaks&squot; can yield significant results." - Dharmesh Shah "Invest in great design:  And by design, I don&squot;t mean obsessing over color schemes and pixel-tweakingand such -- but designing an overall website experience that makes humans measurably happy." - Dharmesh Shah
Lucy Orloski   "If you aren&squot;t using tracking URLs with closed-loop analytics, start. Use tracking URLs anytime you&squot;re pushing traffic to your site from somewhere else -- email, PPC, a banner ad, or an affiliate network. If you don&squot;t know how many leads and customers you got out of that traffic, you have no idea what you&squot;re paying for. In addition, you need to create an organizational culture that&squot;s receptive to failure. A/B testing is necessary to success -- you&squot;ll never improve your metrics over baseline if you don&squot;t change a variable and try something new. A marketer can&squot;t be afraid of running a test that fails. Instead, failures should be viewed as successes; i.e., now the organization knows more about what works (and what doesn&squot;t) than it did before." - Lucy Orloski "Use traffic sources to inform CTA placement on site pages. Having a few global CTAs on all pages of your site is certainly better than having none, but it&squot;s nowhere near as good as examining the origin of traffic to each page and using CTAs that will appeal to that specific traffic segment. Is a software review site linking to one of your product pages? If so, you&squot;ll want to use CTAs like case studies, Forrester WPs, and so forth. Is one of your pages ranking for a specific long-tail keyword? If so, use that keyword in your CTA -- it will engage the searcher much more powerfully when they click through to your page!" - Lucy Orloski
Mike Volpe "Inbound marketing through content creation provides a higher return than marketing automation - your database expires at about 20% per year, so more leads in the top of the funnel really does cure all problems (have an inside team qualify them or use a filter in your CRM system to grade leads), and email is getting more and more difficult to get into the inbox." - Mike Volpe "You need simple reports to tell you what is working and what is not working (like HubSpot&squot;s Sources app)." - Mike Volpe  
Dan Dunn   "First, do closed-loop marketing tracking. It&squot;s not enough to know how many leads you&squot;re getting from each lead source; you have to know how many customers you&squot;re getting. Second, you should track everything: every email, every link, and every email signature should have a tracking URL on it. And finally, you should test constantly. Your market is changing, your message is changing, your competitors are changing, and your product is changing. You&squot;re never done testing." - Dan Dunn  

Note: You can click the names in the table to read their blog articles or subscribe to them by RSS (which is, by the way, an awesome  feature of the HubSpot blogging engine ).

In addition to the advice above, I feel compelled to end this post with two great quotes that just didn't fit into the table: 

"Even if you think you're doing inbound marketing, you're likely not being aggressive enough. You have 10% of your portfolio in a stock that is the best investment ever, and it should be 70%."

-- Mike Volpe

"Stop worrying about it and do it, stop worrying about it and do it, stop worrying about it and do it."

-- Mike Redbord

Now, let me put the question to you: If you could only give a marketer 3 pieces of advice, what would you say?


Originally published Jul 29, 2011 11:00:00 AM, updated March 21 2013