Trying out this whole inbound marketing thing? I bet you have some questions. Where do I start? What should I know? What are the best practices?

If you could ask a top marketing expert any burning question you have, whether it's about content creation or social media, or perhaps paid marketing or email -- what would it be?

Now, wouldn't it be great if you could just ask a marketing expert and actually receive some ... well ... expert answers? Luckily, you can.

Here at HubSpot, we've got an arsenal of experts at the cutting edge of inbound marketing, and we're here to answer your detailed questions. It's as simple as tweeting us your marketing questions with the hashtag #AskTheExpert

This is a great resource for marketers -- whether you're just starting out and learning more about inbound marketing or knee-deep in the most complicated (and cool) components (such as analytics or list segmentation).

To get started, I asked our own inbound marketers to answer questions they're often asked in their respective areas of expertise (and I even provided an answer to a question I often hear) -- so check 'em out!

5 Expert Answers to Your Inbound Marketing Questions

Q: How often should I blog?

As much as you can. (That sounds flippant, but it's not meant to. Here's what I mean.)

Blogging must be done consistently and frequently to see results. But here's the kicker: You must be able to sustain that frequency. In other words, if you set out to start blogging really great content five times a week, but that's too high a frequency for you to sustain over a long period of time, you're setting yourself up for failure. So, before you settle on a weekly or monthly number to hit, think about what frequency you can actually sustain based on the type of content you're creating.

Now, to come up with that magic number, I'd do a couple of things. First, take a look at what some of your competitors are doing with blogging. This includes not just your typical list of the people you sell against, but also search competitors -- those who appear in SERPs for the terms for which you'd like to rank. See how often they're blogging, and how good it is. If they're blogging once a week or not at all, you can probably start off at a lower pace. If they're blogging aggressively, you're going to need to match or approach their pace.

Usually after I get a question like this, the next item we discuss is content quality. To learn more about that, here are some resources that might help you out:

-- Corey Eridon, Senior Blog Editor (@Corey_bos)

Q: How much of my own content should I tweet vs. content from other sources?

The general rule of thumb is that you should tweet about your brand 20% of the time and about your industry 80% of the time.

This 80% could include your own blog posts about the industry (not about your products/services), content from credible sources within your industry, user generated content, etc. The source of the content is up to you, as long as that 80% is helpful, educational, or entertaining for people in your industry (and not sales-y). The 20% includes more direct information about your products/services, which can be slightly more sales-focused.

If you're just getting started on Twitter, try focusing on following people in your industry and target audience first. Retweet their helpful and relevant content to build up your profile, and give your followers a feel for what type of content you'll be providing.

Once you feel more comfortable, start posting some of your own content, such as blog posts, infographics, or entertaining images and link back to your site. The goal here is to build your following first, gain trust, and make quality connections. Then, build up a solid Twitter content strategy once your social following starts snowballing to fuel your inbound marketing machine.

-- Brittany Leaning, Social Media Manager (@BLeaning)

Q: How can a marketer or marketing team sustainably create content and with ROI in mind?

Strategy and infrastructure. Without these, you'll lose steam after awhile and never see results. So, resist the urge to sprint out of the gate and create content haphazardly. Pause enough to plan and be strategic, set your goals, learn what will actually attract the right buyer, and then start producing content. I promise you'll run faster and longer if you plan first.

In your planning, you first need a buyer persona. If you don't know your ideal customer and what they are struggling with that you can help solve with your content (as well as your product and service), you don't have product-market fit and will wind up creating content that falls flat. (If you don't have a buyer persona yet, here's a free template.)

Once you have your persona built, open a free app like Evernote or Trello that syncs between mobile and desktop. This is your idea pipeline. Whenever ANYTHING hits you (a blog post idea, a stat you hear, a photo you take, anything at all that could be content), you want to save it immediately. This helps you avoid starting your next project from scratch. 

Finally, when you're ready to create, start by producing a killer content offer -- this not only ties to your funnel by requiring a business action of the reader, but it allows you to brainstorm tons more content all based from that one single work.
 
-- Jay Acunzo, Senior Content Manager (@Jay_Zo)

Q: I have a pretty limited search budget -- should I spend it on social PPC or Google PPC? Is one better than the other?

This seems to be a big question among marketers who want to try out some paid campaigns but are constrained by budget. It’s tough to know right off the bat which network will be the best investment of your spend, so I’d recommend a few things.

First and foremost, identify your goal and your metrics.

Are you looking to run an awareness campaign and generate as many clicks to your page as possible? Are you focusing on generating leads and aiming to advertise at the lowest possible cost-per-lead? Or are you simply looking to build up your following on social media by increasing your engagement metrics? Once you’ve identified your goals and the metrics you’re solving for, see if you can rule out any ad platforms that may not be a good fit with your campaign or your audience.

For example, if you’re trying to gain more followers for your t-shirt company, LinkedIn ads are probably not the best option, but Facebook and Twitter might do well. Or if you’re marketing to enterprise companies, maybe more of your prospects are on LinkedIn than on Twitter, and you want to focus your attention there.

My best recommendation is to run a small test campaign on each of the platforms. If you don’t have enough budget to spread between them in one month, do one test each month for the next few months. Then do the math! My goal is to generate leads through paid advertising, and by testing each of these platforms, I’ve been able to optimize for the lowest cost-per-lead.

Remember, though, there may be value in advertising on a certain platform even if it’s not your cheapest option. For example, paid search ads can help supplement your organic search rankings, making it more likely that you’ll get found by interested prospects on search engines. It’s up to you to determine what works best for your marketing!

-- Sarah Goliger, Head of Paid Marketing (@SarahBethGo)

Q: What metrics should I be using to measure email effectiveness?

When it comes to metrics for individual email sends and A/B tests, the open rate (OR) of an email send is a vital one to monitor. It's the measurement of total emails opened divided by total emails delivered. Use ORs to A/B test best send times, reactions to the sender name and email, and subject lines.

Benchmarks can vary depending on the segment you send the email to (if you send a relevant email to a few, very specific people, it will have a much higher open rate than if you send an email to a large audience).

The clickthrough rate (CTR) of an email send measures total clicks in an email send divided by total emails delivered. Use the CTR as a way to gauge engagement of a particular email send as well as to A/B test the various components within your email: Was the call-to-action effective? Was the copy persuasive? Was plain-text more engaging than rich format? How did a particular type of content perform?

Now, when it comes to metrics for discovering trends and monitoring collective effectiveness, that's a different story.

Keeping track of the deliverability rate (how many emails were delivered/how many emails were sent) will help you spot an unhealthy list that has old, unresponsive contacts. Prune your lists by excluding unengaged contacts (for example, anyone who hasn't opened an email in over six months).

Another metric, the lead-to-opportunity rate, will tell you how effective your emails are at moving a lead down the funnel. Divide the total number of new opportunities created (marketing-qualified leads, such as those who have signed up for a demo or reached a certain lead score) by the total number of new leads created during a certain time period, such as the last 30 days.

Also, measure your unsubscribe rate (total unsubscribes/total contacts over a time period). A high unsubscribe rate should be a red flag that you need to change your email strategy, because you're clearly not reaching the right audience with the right message. A good benchmark is 2%.

-- Niti Shah, Head of Email Conversions (@nitifromboston)

Inbound Marketing doesn't have to be a maze. You can use us as your expert marketing advisors by tweeting us your questions with the hashtag #AskAnExpert!

And you can even go one step further and enter for the chance to win a 1-on-1 consultation with one of our marketers -- you choose the expert, we'll set it up. You can find the details here!

What are some marketing questions you've been looking to get expert answers for? Tell us in the comment section below. We may even focus a future post around one of your questions or concerns!

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Originally published Dec 17, 2013 12:30:00 PM, updated July 28 2017

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Marketing Advice