We recently checked in with Michael Reynolds, president and CEO of digital marketing firm SpinWeb, to find out what new inbound marketing tools he’s most excited about these days.

He pointed to HubSpot’s new CRM and a trend toward integrating inbound sales into the big picture.

“Too many organizations think inbound marketing is magic and that it means they won’t have to sell,” he says. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Read on for more about SpinWeb and inbound marketing:

Can you tell us the story behind SpinWeb?

I founded the company in 1996 while a junior in college (Ball State University). A few friends and I were teaching ourselves HTML and decided to launch a company providing website design services for others. The name “SpinWeb” came from a Unix command that configured a user’s Unix account to be a web server. Seemed like a good name, and the rest is history!

What services do you offer and who should be using them?

We are a full-service digital agency. We help our clients with website design and development service and we help them generate leads and website traffic through SEO, social media and inbound marketing. We also offer application development services like custom database-driven solutions or website integrations.

What sets SpinWeb apart from other digital marketing firms?

The No. 1 thing that sets us apart is the depth of business understanding that our team has. While other agencies (that may not have been around as long) get marketing strategy, they don’t always understand the business challenges and complexities that our clients face like compliance, security, etc. Because of this we are really good at working in sensitive industries like financial services, government and health care.

Another thing that sets us apart is our design. There are lots of agencies out there creating mediocre websites while we produce stunningly beautiful websites that are a joy to use. That also translates into revenue for our clients.

What are the most common errors or oversights you see brands making from an inbound marketing perspective?

Oh boy, where do I start. One common “oversight” would be that many organizations are looking for a quick fix. They want to just throw a few tactics out there and then when they don’t get instant gratification in a few months, they give up. Inbound marketing, SEO, social media and any similar approach can take over a year or even years to start to gain traction. However, once you do gain traction, the rewards can be tremendous.

Another error is not letting the marketing team do their jobs. Whether it’s an in-house marketing team or an outsourced agency, a lot of CEOs get too hung up on trying to force an approach that feels good to them but doesn’t follow the strategy recommended by the experts. For example, a lot of CEOs like to see lots of “all about us!” content go out in a very aggressive way, but this is not always the right approach.

Another error (in my opinion) is lack of sales integration. Too often, the marketing and sales teams operate in silos, but they need to be in close contact to ensure the program is running effectively.

What brands do you think are thought leaders when it comes to inbound marketing? What can we learn from them?

HubSpot is by far the market leader, but they sort of invented it, so that’s to be expected.

Aside from them, I would call Ramsey Solutions (Dave Ramsey’s company) a clear leader in this space. Dave Ramsey’s persona is all about financial education. He has a radio show, books, a nine-week class, a great blog, great online resources, and a massive content library that all lead toward products to go with all the education. Dave Ramsey is a tremendous example of inbound marketing done right.

What major components should brands be considering when developing an inbound marketing strategy?

I think the easiest way to think about an inbound marketing strategy would be to ask:

1. How will I get people to know about me?
2. How will I get them to “test drive” my content?
3. How will I stay in touch with them?
4. What will convince them to consider buying from me?
5. How will I close the sale?

If you approach a strategy with these questions, you can then fit tactics into these stages.

What metrics should brands be monitoring to determine the effectiveness of their inbound marketing? Which numbers have you found aren’t as useful to study?

I like to keep it simple:

1. Is my website traffic growing?
2. Is my CRM growing?
3. Am I closing sales?

If the answer to these questions are all “yes,” then you’re on the right track.

Some metrics that I don’t think are all that useful include:

1. Facebook likes
2. Email open rates

Or really any “vanity” metric like this.

What do you think causes consumers to leave a website? What makes them stick around?

Things that cause them to leave:

1. If the website is not responsive (if they are on mobile)
2. If the website is slow
3. If the content is organized in a confusing way
4. Pop-ups and “squeeze” CTAs that interrupt the reader
5. Sites that are so full of ads and external code that they slow down navigation

Things that cause them to stay:

1. Clean, simple design
2. Well-organized content
3. Responsive design
4. Fast load times
5. Compelling content that brings them deeper into the site

What are some of your favorite marketing tools or resources?

Some of my favorite tools are:

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