Inbound marketing is not magic.
What works for one business will not necessarily work for yours.
Gone are the days when you could write a blog post, attach an offer - with a dedicated landing page and watch your site explode with traffic.
We need to be more creative. We need to create our own inbound marketing mix.
However, the principles of inbound marketing are timeless. Marketing that is useful and helpful rather than disruptive.
With this in mind, we are ready to create our first inbound marketing campaign.
Here we go...
Choose your audience
Humans are complicated creatures. It’s no simple task pleasing one individual, need-alone, a multitude.
Therefore, design your inbound campaign with just one buyer group in mind.
Base your campaign around a buyer persona.
Your persona may need an update. If you are a B2B marketer, here’s 3 things your persona could be missing.
“It’s easier to create relevant content – and reach your real audience with that content – when you write it for a single human being.” – Neil Patel
The above quote explains why it is important to focus on just one buyer as you plan your inbound campaign.
It goes further: planning your campaign around one individual. This is why it is essential to have detailed buyer personas that really get into the nuts and bolts of your targeted customer.
Now we need to set some goals.
We’ve all heard of SMART goals and setting expectations, but how will we really know if our goals are realistic and attainable?
We use industry benchmarks and historical data.
There are a number of different ways to go about doing this.
You could toil through Stats.govt.nz and hundreds of industry reports, or you could use some of these nifty tools:
Similar Web enables you to see your competitors’ traffic data, organic vs paid keywords, traffic sources and more (has a free version).
Buzzsumo allows you to analyse how your competitors’ content is being shared across different channels (some free functionality). It also enables you to analyse hot content, authors and social shares based on your desired time frame (last 24 hours, 6 months etc.).
If you are using Mailchimp for your email marketing, here is a comprehensive list of email benchmarksbroken down by industry and company size. Even if you are not using Mailchimp, it’s still a good indicator based on your industry.
If you are planning on running some PPC (pay-per-click) ads then the Rich Media Gallery tool enables you to see how your industry performs with Google advertising.
Now we need to update your website so that its campaign ready.
Get your site ready
Your website will be central to your inbound campaign so it is essential that it is optimised for SEO and provides an excellent user experience.
One way to do this is to complete a website audit.
Below are some things to look out for:
- Optimised links and on-page SEO
- Mobile friendly pages
- Easy to navigate and clear site structure
- Page load times and bounce rates
- Quality and number of backlinks
Blogging is an essential component of most inbound campaigns. We need to make sure that our site has this capacity and is optimised for our targeted buyers.
If you are using HubSpot’s marketing software, then you have a powerful in-built blogging platform that is designed to be SEO friendly. You will also have access to easy-to-build forms, landing pages and CTA functionality.
Alternatively, you can outsource your landing pages to be built by an external agency.
We’ve set the foundations, now we can start creating content.
Are you creating an awareness, consideration or conversion campaign? Or are you creating a campaign that includes all three buyer stages?
Before we talk about creating content: Why are we creating content in the first place?
We are creating content in order to answer questions and provide solutions to problems identified in our buyer personas.
In the awareness stage, your buyers will be searching for answers to a problem that they are yet to identify. You will need to create content that will attract these buyers.
However, while we are aiming to attract our prospective buyers, we should also be qualifying our buyers as they traverse down the sales funnel.
The following table outlines the ideal content for each buyer stage:
Image Credit: HubSpot Blog
Look through the different types of content and identify your own inbound marketing mix.
No doubt it is your first inbound campaign, so keep it simple and branch out later.
Instead, choose a few different content types and do them really well.
Quality content will always win over quantity.
Your marketing mix for a month-long campaign could look something like this:
1x Whitepaper offer
1x Checklist offer
1x eBook offer
1x Demo offer
4x Blog posts
4x Web pages
4x Landing pages
Every piece of content (such as a blog post) should be accompanied with an offer. This is how you exchange value for value.
It is crucial that your offers are useful and relevant to the page your prospects are visiting.
For example, if you have a blog post about organic pesticides - then a free eBook offering a comprehensive guide to organic gardening would be a great content offer to share on the same page.
The purpose of content offers is to lead your buyers' further through the buyer journey while learning more about their intentions and increasing your channels to reach them.
Now that we have created some great content, we can automate a lot of the functions of our inbound campaign.
Nurture with automation
200 senior-level marketers were surveyed and asked about the main benefits of marketing automation. 74% identified saving time, 68% said increased customer engagement and 58% stated that more timely communications as the greatest benefit of marketing automation.
If for no other reason, marketing automation can make your inbound campaign more efficient.
But that doesn’t paint the whole picture. Used correctly, automation is a powerful way to personalise your campaign messaging and nurture leads through the funnel.
As much as you’d like them to; all of your prospects will interact with your campaign assets in different ways. Without automation, this is a nightmare.
Email is an obvious example. Instead of writing a new email every time someone interacts with our campaign material; we can schedule in email workflows.
Here’s what an email workflow looks like in practice:
The purpose of an email workflow is to automate for every possible scenario. When contacts open your emails (when they don't); when they download an offer (don't download); when they subscribe (unsubscribe).
Without automation, keeping tabs of all of your prospects and how they are interacting with your email content is time-consuming and inefficient.
And that doesn’t include how your prospects are interacting with your website, social content, landing pages and CTAs...
If you haven’t already, we highly recommend investing in marketing automation software.
Now that we have created some content and automated for lead-nurturing; we need to promote and distribute our content.
Promote & distribute
Don’t let the initial hard work be wasted. Promoting and distributing your content is just as important as producing quality content in the first place.
Below are some great ways to promote each content type:
- SEO: Keyword research, topic clusters and on-page optimisation
- Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
- Share with influencers, authoritative websites and organisations in your niche
- Re-purposing for podcasts, videos, slideshows
- Promoting via email and email signatures
- Guest blogging utilising multiple distribution networks
- SEO: Keyword research and video optimisation
- Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter
- Share with influencers and organisations in your niche
- Re-purposing for blog articles, podcasts, slideshows
- Promoting via email campaigns
- Embedding on landing and web pages
- Paid social and PPC ads
- SEO: Keyword research, on-page optimisation
- CTAs: On relevant landing and web pages
- Social Media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram
- Email campaigns
- Lead flows and pop-ups on your site
- Social and PPC adverts
For more ideas, check out 5 tips to get your content to the right people.
Track, analyse, refine
Let’s face it, it’s highly unlikely that your first inbound campaign will kick-ass. Which is why it is important to track, analyse and refine your campaign as you go.
Not everything will go to plan and it’s better to make adjustments during rather than after the campaign... before it is too late.
Your campaign will likely have a lot of different URLs. It is important to understand where your visitors are coming from and how they are finding your pages. Tracking URLs are a great way to do this.
There are a few key metrics that you can use to judge your campaign:
How many of your website visitors become leads? If you had 100 visits to your site and 10 of them became leads - then you would have a 10% visitor-to-lead ratio. This tells you how many visitors you need to attract in order to meet your lead generation goals.
Similarly, the lead-to-customer ratio tells you how many of these leads become customers. This enables you to calculate how many leads you need to generate in order to achieve your lead conversion goals.
Email Click-through Rates
Knowing your average open-rates is all fine and dandy, but your email click-through rate is even more important. It tells you that your subscribers are actively interested in what you are offering.
Landing Page Conversion Rates
Some landing pages will always perform better than others. It’s important to analyse your best performing landing pages so that you can emulate the same success on other pages.
However, it is sometimes difficult to work out why a landing page is performing so well (or so poorly). In order to combat this; you can perform A/B tests where you change just one facet of a landing page at a time.
We’ve now discussed tracking and analysing your inbound campaign. The final piece of the puzzle is refining.
Refining largely occurs after the campaign has finished as this is generally when the biggest learnings are revealed.
Take these learnings as well as the important performance metrics and compile them into a report. If you are using Google Analytics and marketing software such as HubSpot or Marketo; then you will have easy report building functionality at your fingertips.
Now conduct an honest review of the campaign. But don’t just review the quantitative data: What did your customers think of the campaign? How did they react to your different marketing efforts?
Now take these insights and let your next campaign reach new heights.
There's a lot of work that goes into planning and executing an inbound campaign. It involves setting benchmarks, optimising your site, creating content, nurturing with automation, promotion and finally: the campaign review.
Hopefully you've gotten some value out of this article and can go forth and create an inbound campaign that achieves your business goals.
Perhaps you need some help with strategy or campaign execution? Get in touch, we'd love to help.
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