Inbound marketing encompasses a lot, can improve your bottom line and drive revenue. In fact, think of Inbound marketing as everything you do that you don’t pay media for including all your customer acquisition and engagement efforts…
Email marketing, SEO, content creation and distribution, landing pages, social media, influencer outreach, lead nurturing, prospect development, customer development…
Yep, inbound marketing encompasses them all. It’s a complete game changer for most brands whilst some organisations have been doing it for years without realising it. With so many moving parts and tactics to consider, you need to have a plan. With so many leads to generate and customers to engage with, it’s easy to lose focus on the prize of what you’re trying to achieve when you’re knee deep delivering activity, executing tactics and running campaigns.
You need a detailed, SMART inbound marketing plan. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed) Here’s the inbound marketing process I’ve implemented with four brands that helps inbound marketers remain customer-focused, prospect-warming, boss-pleasing, finance-friendly and advocate-loving. You can even bridge that divide between sales and marketing and rally your business behind shared goals. It’s an inbound multi-channel marketing strategy that’s simple to follow and straightforward to execute.
I’ve doubled leads on equivalent budgets following this process, as well as improving engagement, directing content to ease prospects pain and bring people further down the buyer’s journey or your sales funnel. You can gather data using hidden fields that helps the sales guys when calling prospects, building context for their outreach that improves the quality and effectiveness and helps drive revenue.
1.Create Accurate Personas
Inbound marketing is all about your customers – you have no business without a clear idea of who your customers are… if you focus your plan around any other tactics, tricks or channel, your inbound marketing will fail, spectacularly. The first step of your plan should, therefore, focus on understanding what makes your customers click, tick and get engaged and excited. Get to the heart of your ideal customers’ thoughts, behaviours, problems, pains, needs and desires and create detailed, accurate, tested, fully defined and true-to-life personas. Then match that against a random sample of customers that you know just to make sure you’re right. Then check these are your ideal customers… you might be a little off at the current moment in time and missing your ideal customers all together! Worth checking you’re not missing any water under bridge. Usually, 3 or 4 personas is about right. Creating accurate personas for your inbound marketing:
- Allows you to stay focused on your buyer’s needs and wants
- Enriches the emotional impact of your content and creative
- Guides your overall digital marketing strategy and which channels to use
- Improves your user/buyer experience, website design, navigation and copy
- Helps you personalize and tailor content and emails to nurture more effectively
- Helps you understand (and solve) problems and pain from your audience’s perspective
Use HubSpot’s (free) Make My Persona Tool to create personas worth referencing and rolling out in the business. Your entire inbound marketing strategy should be built around your personas. If you map your ideal on boarding journeys, plan your content delivery, optmise elements consistently, tag your contacts with the right information and have the marketing tech stack to execute against that, then to deliver capture that data you’ll storm ahead of your competition if you consult these ideal customers at every stage of your marketing and business planning process. This includes when you’re creating blog posts, crafting email campaigns and conducting data driven keyword research – planning events or writing social posts. You should use these routinely in meetings to add real insight and depth to your ideas. Then test and measure them.
2. Identify Triggers For Ideal Customers
Pain – You must understand your customer pains and how you can make them better. Be their nurse, their wise uncle or guiding light… nudging them along the buyer’s journey, helping them to get better, learn and understand. They’ll begin to interact, engage consume and buy, then ultimately become an advocate. You do this by tailoring sequences, delivering the right content, at the right time, to the right customer, in a format that resonates in a layout that works for them. The 4 P’s of marketing still apply – it’s just with automation, you can do it at scale. By identifying the pain points your customers’ experience, the problems they encounter when you solve their smaller problems, they’ll trust you with their big problems and want to buy your product or service simply because they trust you.
Think about it – by identifying your customers’ pain points enables you to target people with both reason and emotion at a time that they’re looking for that information. It makes sense to them then and there. That’s great context for your great content. You’re basing outreach on real solutions rather than assumptions. Using cookies, you can see what pages they’ve read, the material they’ve downloaded and emails they’ve opened (real time)… It’s this authenticity that resonates so well with your prospects and means your sales teams can genuinely help them. It’s awesome and effective.
Match needs for with different buying journey stages – You need to match your content with the context and the point where your buyer is at on their journey. Your leads and prospects are all different with different pain, different needs and expectations. put your pain points it’s essential to add context by considering the needs and desires of your different customer types at each separate stage of the operation.
3. Set SMART Inbound Marketing Objectives
You will need to determine from the outset which inbound marketing objectives you would like your strategy to achieve. These should support and help you achieve both your digital marketing objectives and your business objectives. For example, if lead generation is the most important objective for your business, your inbound marketing plan should be centred around generating leads. And every tactic you employ should support your lead generation mission.
As with every digital marketing plan, your inbound marketing metrics need to be SMART. That means strategic, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. If in doubt, identify the information your CEO would want to be reported back to him/her in the boardroom – you need to answer the ‘what’, ‘how many’ and ‘when’ of your plan. For example, ‘We’re going to generate 200 new leads in a quarter.’ Each KPI needs to be realistic and achievable based on the success of past campaigns along with the predicted success of your inbound plan.
4. Define Content Strategy & Distribution Channels
Content is an integral part of inbound marketing. You will, therefore, need to create a content marketing plan to form the beating heart of your inbound marketing strategy. This is how you will keep your customers engaged with your brand and nourished with rich and valuable information. This is how you will keep your name on their minds at the point when they’re ready, willing and able to buy.
Your content strategy objectives should be SMART and need to support your inbound marketing objectives. Maybe they’ll be similar. If your inbound marketing objective is lead generation, for example, your content strategy should certainly support this.
The purpose of this phase is not to copy your competitors but to define how you can be better. Research your competitors content marketing and investigate what they get up to on social media using a social media monitoring tool like Hootsuite. Sign up to their newsletter so you can partake in their lead nurturing campaigns and use a tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer to track backlinks and discover how your competitors score on their overall SEO performance.
First it’s important to define how your content will help your customers. Will it educate them? Inspire them? Entertain them? Then you can decide on the types of content you’ll create and the topics you’ll tackle. For example, will you concentrate solely on blogging or will you try video marketing and webinars? Will you create long form posts or opt for shorter but more regular features? Will you seek industry expert opinions?
More questions to consider at this phase include: Is lead generation important for your business and if so will you create gated whitepapers to help you generate new, quality leads? If you have a shoe company will you stick to writing about shoes or will you venture into the area of fashion and lifestyle?
It’s equally important to create a plan for distributing your content. Will you enlist the help of industry influencers or will your trial paid promotion options like LinkedIn advertising, Facebook and Twitter ads or third party platforms?
5. Define Your Lead Nurturing Plan
Sometimes your customers will discover your website when they’re not quite ready to buy yet. Maybe they need more questions answered, maybe they need more time to decide whether it’s the right product/service for them, maybe they want to research competitor offerings or maybe they don’t have the money saved at that point in time. Whatever their reason for stalling, it’s your job to keep them warmed up for the sales team to prospect or until they’re ready to buy.
Automated email trigger campaigns provide the perfect means to nurture leads. It gives you the ideal opportunity to keep prospects engaged with your content, your brand and your mission. You can segment your lead database based on the action your prospects took to give you their details. You can then set about creating a series of tailored and relevant messages.
6. Establish Your Influencer Outreach Agenda
Building quality relationships with key industry influencers is one of the most important components for inbound marketing. That’s because these people hold significant reach and authority in your industry. They have already established trust and have hundreds of thousands of social media followers – followers who look just like your customers.
The Target List – Use a tool like BuzzSumo to help you identify and create an outreach list of potential influencer targets. Then you can set about creating mutually beneficial relationships with these industry influencers. Always give more than you take – offer value and lots of it well in advance of asking for anything back. Once you have established a true connection with these influencers you can ask for a quick quote and a potential share in the politest and most humble manner possible.
Guest Blogging Plan – It’s also important to define your guest blogging approach at this stage. Research potential relevant and influential blogs in your niche and read the submission guidelines. You’ll can create a pitch at this stage if you wish but you will have to make sure it’s customized and relevant for every publication you approach. Read this guide ‘Influencer Cheat Sheet: How to Connect, Engage & Get What You Want’ for more tips on how to perfect your personal approach.
7. Know How to Analyse & Report against success
Now you have your inbound marketing plan in place you will need to decide upon the tools you’ll use to report on the progress of your objectives and the success of your KPIs. Will you, for example, use Google Analytics to track your goals and conversions? Will you use BuzzSumo to track the success of your content marketing and break down your shares by platform? Will you use Moz’s Open Site Explorer to monitor your SEO progress?
Want to reduce your cost per acquisition and increase relevant leads to drive revenue? Thought so. Are you looking to implement Inbound Marketing in your organisation?
Great – I can help.