How to explain inbound marketing to your CEO

31 Aug 2015 | by Ian Blake

Learn how you can use KPIs and market data to explain (and convince) your CEO how inbound marketing works.


As somebody immersed in the world of marketing, you probably have a very different understanding of inbound marketing than your CEO. You already know what it is, and results it can bring for businesses in terms of organic, user-oriented growth. The same cannot usually be said for CEOs, who don’t have the time to research inbound in full or compare metrics. 

When it comes to explaining inbound, you’ve got to get down to point: the way inbound marketing can contribute to the bottom line, and expand your business more effectively than other, dated marketing ploys. Web users want exactly what they’re looking for, and they want it now; this is what drives inbound (and in-turn, it’s ROI), and a sentiment you must include when pitching inbound internally.

Do the legwork first

This should come as a no-brainer, but there are certain preparations to be made that you might not realize at first. Beyond jotting down powerful statistics on how inbound marketing, social media and content can help companies grow, do your research on various CRM platforms, like HubSpot, SalesForce and MS Dynamics, as well as what kinds of results your CEO hopes to see not just for your marketing efforts, but for the business as a whole.

Is your company currently more focused on overall sales growth, launching new products or growing brand recognition? These are things that an inbound marketing strategy can complement in different ways, and learning how can be just the motivation your CEO needs to invest in inbound.

Breaking down inbound

Once you’e identified what your CEO is looking to achieve in the coming months, quarters or years, take the time to explain how various elements of inbound can make those goals a reality. Delve a little deeper into what makes inbound “tick,” but refrain from getting overly technical; your CEO cares more about conversion rates than the differences between a white paper and an ebook.

Give some insight into the inbound methodology of attract - convert - close - delight, and explain how things like content offers and blogs build rapport with audiences more effectively than outbound marketing. Inbound marketing is dictated by the user; they organically reach your website out of interest or pre-existing need. What this means is that almost every user that reaches your website is a potential customer. Higher qualified leads means higher returns, something that could convince your CEO of inbound’s worth on the spot.

Bring up relevant KPIs

Don’t be afraid to back yourself up with KPIs and other figures related to benchmarks your CEO wants to reach. Discuss how inbound, and everything it consists of, affects revenue and the bottom line for your business. The following are some powerful KPIs you can focus on to sway your CEO in the favour of inbound:

  • Cost per lead; for every new lead you generate, how much of an investment does your company have to make? Inbound marketing leads can cost as much as 61% less than outbound leads.
  • Site traffic to lead ratio (and other audience metrics); how much of the traffic coming to your current website is marketing qualified? How many conversions are you generating per visit? This indicator can shed light on your ongoing marketing efforts, and highlight how inbound strategies have helped others in your industry find success online.
  • Organic Search Traffic; this includes percentages of leads and customers generated from organic search, and what keywords bring the most highly qualified traffic to your site. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is one of the core pillars of inbound, and explaining how powerful SEO can generate qualified leads for your business could end up tipping your CEO’s scales in favor of inbound.

Customer acquisition cost as well as the time it takes to pay back the investment; the customer acquisition cost is the total sales and marketing cost for your company (everything from project costs and advertising to salaries). Determine what percentage of this is related to marketing, and how long it takes to pay back. If it’s taking your company over one year to pay back this investment, you may want to boost your sales via strategies such as inbound.

Convincing your CEO that inbound marketing is what drives online business in the modern world may take a bit of legwork on your part, but, as your CEO will soon learn, the benefits are not only real, they’re entirely within reach should your business invest in inbound. Remember to focus on how inbound can bring your company new revenue streams, and expand on old ones, to contribute to bottom line growth.

For more information, download the ebook "Intro to Inbound" eBook here.

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