How to Distinguish between a Website Grader Assessment and an IMA

By Scott Anderson Miller

Recently, a popular trend is for marketers to grade their websites through various website grader tools. Although it’s not as comprehensive as an inbound marketing assessment (IMA), a website grader is a good starting point for assessment because your website functions as the powerful engine behind inbound marketing.

The figure shows a website grade from HubSpot’s marketing grader. A website grader in itself should not, however, be the end game in your baseline assessment.

An example of HubSpot's website grader. [Credit: Courtesy of HubSpot]

Credit: Courtesy of HubSpot
An example of HubSpot’s website grader.

Your website is only one part of the inbound marketing process, so after you measure the effectiveness of your website as the hub of online connecting, you should look beyond your website to make connections between your efforts to attract and convert. You can do that with an IMA, which should include a diagnostic report of your website performance.

The difference between a website grader and an inbound marketing assessment is a bit like the difference between a written repair estimate for the engine in your car and a certified diagnosis done on your entire automobile. The website grader assesses only your website, whereas the IMA assesses all your inbound marketing efforts. The first gives you valuable and useful information about one part of your vehicle, but the second tells you in-depth information about every aspect of it. For more about this, see the following table.

Comparing the assessments of website graders and IMAs
Website Grader Inbound Marketing Assessment
Tactical Strategic
Grades your website Grades your digital marketing and your website
Singular in focus Holistic focus
Reports website statistics Reports attraction and conversion statistics
Focuses on technological metrics Focuses on business metrics
Company-centric (usually) Customer-centric

When your inbound marketing is firing on all cylinders, it can become a Conversion Machine — because a well-designed inbound marketing program acts like a well-oiled machine. A Conversion Machine powers sales through an automated system that attracts visitors to your website and provides a frictionless navigation path for visitors to become leads and eventually to become customers.

This machine is powered by an inbound engine, also known as your properly designed inbound-purposed website. But this machine also consists of other parts, including all of your Internet-related activities, such as blogging, social media, and email marketing. Each of these parts, or input factors, affect your conversion factors in the purchase path. Each of your digital marketing initiatives, offsite and onsite, is a link in your Customer Conversion Chain.

Because all these initiatives are interrelated, each of your digital marketing efforts affect not only each other, but also the end conversion result, which, in most cases, is defined as a sale. Any marketing initiative that causes a positive input factor positively affects the other links in the Customer Conversion Chain as well as the outcome, or end result. Likewise, a marketing initiative that causes a negative input factor negatively affects the other links in the Customer Conversion Chain and the outcome.

When all of these efforts are coordinated and documented within a highly organized and integrated attraction and conversion methodology, the result is your strategic inbound plan. Your IMA is the first part of your strategic plan.

So you can start by looking under your digital hood with a website grading tool. Diagnose your website “engine” because it powers your online activity and is the hub of all the rest of the moving parts. After you’ve fine-tuned your website, you can look at an IMA performance report. Performing an inbound marketing assessment looks at the engine, too, but it also looks at the transmission, the exhaust, the brakes, the tires . . . you get the idea. Your IMA is a full-service diagnostic and anyone wishing to build a Conversion Machine needs one.