It’s admittedly trite but undeniably true: In today’s world, things move faster than ever. And like nearly everything else since the dawn of the Internet, traditional marketing strategies are being turned on their head, too — by inbound marketing (or, how Mashable so accurately refers to it, “Marketing you won’t hate.”)
Inbound marketing is all about bringing customers in to your business through attractive, valuable content that serves to benefit them. This runs opposite to outbound marketing strategies, which are all about reaching out to potential customers through things like ads and cold calls, basically serving as little more than mediums through which to say, “buy our stuff!”
With digital consumers evermore in control of what they consume, the marketing landscape is fast evolving in the direction of inbound marketing. But amid all this change, there is a constant. Planning is still an essential part of inbound marketing and with that in mind, following is a digested version of the key steps to any successful inbound marketing campaign.
Lay The Groundwork
There’s no getting around the groundwork. Just like a traditional marketing plan, it’s critical to first establish an audience profile including the following characteristics: core demographics, key values, personal challenges and solutions (related to your business), current perceptions (of things related to your business) and common objections.
Next, you’ll need to form objectives by finding the current traffic to your site as well as the leads and customers generated by similar previous campaigns. You’ll use these benchmarks to set XYZ goals for your campaign, like “Generate X [number] of leads focused on Y [topic/product] by Z [date].” And after you’ve made some goals, you’ll have to choose keywords to optimize your campaign’s SEO strategies around. HubSpot has a pretty helpful and thorough guide for finding the right keywords (and just about everything else related to inbound marketing.)
Lastly, you’ll want to create a tracking URL to measure all your traffic and goals. For beginners, we typically recommend Google’s URL builder in conjunction with Google Analytics since they’re the easiest and most-used SEO tools.
Create Quality Content
Now comes the fun part — creating quality content! …And also the hard part — creating quality content.
For this, you’ll need to get in your customers’ shoes, so it’s critical that you have a robust and thoroughly developed audience profile to refer to from the first step of your campaign. Once you’ve brainstormed as many topics you think your audience may be interested in related to your business, it’s time to get crackin’.
And regrettably, at this point I must digress for this step. A whole blog post could be devoted to creating quality content, and there are plenty of online guides that serve the same purpose. For longevity’s sake, following are all solid articles:
- 8 Ways to Instantly Improve the Quality of Your Marketing Content – HubSpot
- 11 Ways to Write Quality Copy for Content Marketing – Kuno Creative
- 11 Tips To Provide Clients With Higher Quality Content – Social Media Today
Share & Interact
Who doesn’t love to share online? It’s easy, satisfying, and everyone’s doing it. This step in the inbound marketing strategy is easy enough to understand — in order to get your content to your audience, you’ll have to share it with them. Luckily, the Internet makes this incredibly convenient. Through social media accounts and audience email signups (if you have them), share your content and be sure to respond to everyone who provides worthwhile interaction.
A simple “Thanks, we’re glad you enjoyed it!” is often enough to someone who compliments your content via Twitter, but it’s also critical that you maintain these relationships and know how to respond to unexpected responses from your audience. At the end of the day, interaction is a key part of your brand and overall business when it comes to inbound marketing.
Evaluate, Learn & Adapt
We’re all human, and we’re all learning. Sometimes your inbound marketing campaigns might be grand successes, other times they may be complete flops. Whatever the case, it’s crucial that you learn from your successes and your mistakes, and that you adapt your strategies accordingly. Data analysis is key for answering questions like “What works?” and “What doesn’t?” but inbound evaluation doesn’t stop there. It’s possible that some nuanced aspects of your campaign might just be too subjective to quantify and in those cases, more qualitative research methods such as focus groups and surveys may be necessary next steps.
Make no mistake about it — carrying out a successful inbound marketing campaign is hard work. The foregoing steps are shortened to be more accessible, but the whole process is still undoubtedly intimidating. As a business owner, why worry about all this on top of everything else when you could seek out professional inbound marketing assistance?
Hayden Lewis is a writer at Lift Division, an inbound marketing company located in Columbia, Mo. Lift Division has a proven track record of successful inbound marketing campaigns that lift business’ online profiles and elevate leads and profits. For more of Hayden Lewis’ writing, visit his Google+ page.