So, you’ve done your research and decided that an inbound strategy is right for your organisation.
Congratulations! This is an important step towards generating traffic, nurturing leads and increasing your customer count.
If not... you can read more about inbound marketing here.
We’ll soon be discussing the inbound marketing process:
Complete a content audit
Develop a strategy
Develop your website
Adopt a platform
Create & promote content
Track & refine
But first, let’s explain why a change in approach is needed to start with. Buyer habits have changed and marketing needs to change with it.
Recent research suggests that 71% of consumers begin their buyer journey by using a search engine to find new products or services.
This means that buyers are much more educated about their problem, and what you and your competitors offer, before they ever talk to a sales rep.
What this means for you is that you need a presence online and your presence must match your your target customers' needs, or how we like to say - persona buyer journeys.
The purpose? To lead your buyers from visitors all the way to paying customers.
But this will never happen if you don’t have a plan and you don’t stick to it.
It takes time to adopt a new approach; time, commitment and persistence.
However, if you do stick it out; you can reap the rewards later.
Let’s get started.
Who is your team?
Inbound marketing is not a technique; it's not something that can be done half-heartedly. It requires an organisation to adopt the approach from the top down.
However, you need to identify your team and their individual roles. Here’s a list of inbound roles:
social & community manager
Do you have all of the capabilities in-house? If not, consider outsourcing to a certified inbound marketing agency.
Who are your buyers?
Inbound marketing is a user-centric approach. Before you create an inbound strategy, you need to understand who your buyers are. In order to do this, we highly recommend that you develop buyer personas.
Your personas should drive all of your strategic decisions going forward.
And your team and personas make up the foundations of your inbound strategy.
Now we can start building.
Below are the six steps to adopting an inbound approach:
1) Complete a content audit
An inbound strategy is all about creating great content and utilising the inbound methodology. But before you can develop an inbound strategy, it is a great idea to perform a content audit.
This will enable you to map out all of your current content and discover any strengths and weaknesses.
You can read more about performing an inbound content audit here.
Now, we can start with a fresh slate.
2) Develop your strategy
Where to begin? Let’s start with goal setting. Why did you choose an inbound approach? What did you want to achieve? Let’s take those broad goals and break them down into specifics.
Here’s some goal examples:
300 unique visitors per month
30 new leads per month
3 new customers per month
Once you are a month in, you can check your progress and reassess your goals. They will likely need tweaking.
For instance, in order to generate 30 new leads each month; you may need to increase website traffic to 500 visitors and vice versa.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. How are we going to generate this traffic? Increase leads? Gain new customers?
It’s about providing value and marketing that your buyers love. Here are the typical tools that inbound marketers use:
content (blogs, white papers, videos etc.)
call-to-action buttons (CTAs)
The above list is a bare minimum. Outline your own inbound marketing mix and assign tasks to your team (if you are doing it yourself).
Remember, the key with any inbound strategy is to align your content with your buyer’s journey.
You need to ensure that you are catering for the awareness, consideration and decision stages.
Most of all, each customer touchpoint should encourage your buyers further through the sales funnel.
3) Develop your website
Having killer content can be jeopardised if your site isn’t optimised for SEO or offers a poor user experience. Things to watch out for here include high bounce rates, slow load times and the average time spent on your site.
You can access this information through your Google Analytics account.
Another thing to keep in mind is backlinks from poor quality sites. Having a whole lot of links from dodgy sites could get your site penalised or blacklisted by search engines.
There are a number of tools available to check the quality of your backlinks (some of which are free).
4) Adopt a platform
Inbound marketing is a lot easier when you have an integrated platform to help you manage your content and your customers. Below are our top 3 inbound marketing software platforms:
HubSpot provide a sales, marketing and CRM platform. Having basically invented “inbound marketing”, HubSpot’s software is easy to learn and depending on your budget, offers an extensive range of tools to help you make the most out of inbound marketing.
Marketo offers marketing automation solutions including lead management, sales insight, revenue cycle analytics and social marketing. Marketo offers similar features to HubSpot ,however, they don’t have a built-in CRM platform or a blog management feature.
Zoho offers a cheaper and a versatile alternative to HubSpot and Marketo. The advantage and perhaps disadvantage of Zoho is that it is a collection of apps rather than a platform in itself. This means that you can pick and choose between different apps to suit your business. Apps vary from CRM to social applications.
5) Create & promote content
It’s time to draft your content strategy. As mentioned earlier, it is crucial to align your content with your buyer’s journey. The diagram below illustrates this well:
Image Credit: Accelity Marketing
However, it would be a waste of time and resources to attempt to produce every content type.
Go back to your buyer personas. What types of content do they already consume? What content are your team able to produce? What should you outsource to a content agency?
For more information on content planning, read Content planning how to organise your content.
Once you’ve created some content, you need to distribute and promote it.
Your content will not be found by itself...
Once your content is fully optimised for SEO, you need to share your content via owned, earned and potentially some paid media channels.
The key is to use the right distribution channels for your industry and buyers.
For more information about content distribution, read 5 tips to get your content to the right people.
6) Track and refine
Now that you’ve committed to inbound marketing, you probably want to know if it is working or not, right? As we stressed earlier, inbound marketing is the long game. It can take up to 6 months to start seeing some serious results.
But how do you know if it is working?
Let’s re-examine our earlier goals.
300 unique visitors per month
30 new leads per month
3 new customers per month
If you are using a marketing platform such as HubSpot or Marketo then you’ll have access to this data. It’s important to track and analyse your efforts as you go.
Don’t flog a dead horse. If you are seeing zero results from social marketing, but your email campaigns have yielded better returns... focus on email marketing. Adjust your inbound strategy as you go.
Track, analyse and refine your inbound marketing strategy.
Now go forth and conquer!
Inbound marketing requires not only an organisational shift, but a mental shift as well. Instead of pushing out disruptive advertising, you are sharing helpful content, tools and resources. This will take a while to get used to. Feel free to get in touch if you want help with this transition, or you just want to have a chat about inbound marketing.
Ready to launch your first inbound campaign? Get this helpful checklist below: