successful inbound marketing

It’s been four years since we last posted a blog on what successful inbound marketing looks like and, well, a lot has changed in the digital marketing landscape since then. The basic tenants of inbound are still there but inbound continues to evolve.

Inbound marketing is widely considered the best strategy choice for B2B or B2C companies because it is consumer driven, content rich, timely, and solution based. Inbound marketing brings relevant prospects in by putting out the information that they are looking for.

Major shifts like marketers making the leap into visual content creation and sales teams becoming trusted advisors are happening. The very way people do business has changed and so the way companies reach these businesses much also change and grow to encompass the new platforms leads are frequenting (think Facebook, Youtube, messaging apps, and of course mobile devices).

All the biggest content marketing trends of this year can be implemented with inbound strategies. I’m talking about native advertising, video and visuals, social media, ROI/measurement, email/marketing automation….all the fun stuff! So what does it take to run a successful inbound marketing campaign? Creative experiments, forward thinking concepts, and an openness to learning new technologies and tools.

Here are six steps to running future successful inbound marketing campaigns.

1. Develop a marketing strategy and plan with specific objectives

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: success starts with careful planning. If you hope to reach your goals, you have to first establish them. Planning and strategizing isn’t fun or easy for everyone. But you simply must start with strategy and defining goals.

Figure out:

  • who to target – who is your ideal customer an dhow can you attract them?
  • where customers find you – how will potential customers find your business?
  • what you want said customers to do – sign up for a newsletter? Fill out a contact form? Buy your product or service? Visit a particular landing page? It’s okay if the answer is ‘all of the above.’
  • what your budget is – how much can you invest in your marketing plan?
  • what your ROI goals are – what are your goal numbers for how much return on investment you might generate?

Set up realistic, SMART {Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely} goals to guide all your inbound marketing activities. For example, maybe you are trying to ‘increase organic website visits by 25% by the end of 2017.’

Part of the planning stage also involves identifying your audience. Understanding your buyer personas is central to the inbound marketing process, too. Put together as complete a profile as you can, with personal and professional information, goals and challenges, values and fears, and potential objections (For a more complete guide on creating buyer personas, check out this piece.)

2. Create optimized assets

Of all the digital assets you create, your website and landing pages are your best salespeople. Build a powerful website that is: navigable, professional, search engine friendly, mobile first, and easy to update.

Other key considerations in creating optimized content?

  •  Personalized content – Personalization is very important to reaching customers, including personalized calls to-action and forms.
  • Mobile-first – Smartphone users expect websites to be mobile-responsive, meaning it can no longer be an afterthought but needs to be integral to the overall web development.

3. Increase traffic and build visibility

Increasing website traffic increases the number of opportunities for turning visitors into leads. Once you have an awesome website built, you need to do these things:

  • Get to blogging – Every blog post you publish increases your chances for higher visibility and lead generation. Successful blogging will be linkable, scalable, sharable, and valuable. Blogging is an important piece of most brand’s content strategy and is crucial for establishing thought leadership, brand awareness, and bringing in valuable traffic.
  • Get found on social media – Social media marketing is great for sharing your creative content (such as blogs, infographics, and videos) but also a great platform for engaging in conversations.
  • Get found in Google (and others) – Search engine optimization (SEO) is a must! For starters, optimize your website for targeted keywords and build quality links to your website.
  • Pay for some advertising – Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is optional, obviously, but it’s a surefire tactic to getting found online and drive more quality traffic to your website. Other paid options include display advertising and social media ads.

4. Generate leads

Now that you’ve done the work to bring in lots of visitors to your site, you have to provide valuable information to help them along their buyer journey. How do you convert traffic into leads? With really valuable landing pages and calls-to-action.

A lead generation campaign begins with creating an attractive offer that appeals to potential prospects. Prospects who are looking for information respond to compelling content in the form of ebooks, white papers, case studies, infographics, and more.

First you build landing pages that describe your offer, with a form to collect lead information. Once a user fills out the form, they gain access to the offer (like a downloadable ebook) and receive an automated thank you email. Et voila, they are entered into your CRM system as a lead.

5. Convert leads into customers

This step includes lead nurturing, email marketing, lead segmentation, and CRM integration.

How do you move the buyer through the awareness. consideration, and decision stages? Set up a series of automated emails based on the stage of the buyer’s journey each prospect is in. Then, incorporate personalized calls-to-action on your website. Seeing relevant CTAs will move leads right along. Personalized forms will ensure you obtain new information that lets you segment leads into lists (and then send targeted messages).

Luckily, there are many marketing automation tools that can perform these labor0intensive tasks. (i.e. HubSpot, Marketo).

6. Measure and analyze key metrics

Measure everything, from SEO rankings, content downloads, inbound links, social followers, and number of blogs published! Ask yourself, how engaged are people? Is there any improvement in organic traffic? How many people are taking the action that I want them to take? With the resources I’m investing, am I getting the best results and reaching my goals?

My top three metrics to measure and demonstrate your inbound marketing success are:

  1. month over month growth in organic website and blog traffic and leads
  2. social engagement (not just reach but also comments, retweets, Likes, shares, and clicks)
  3. conversion rates

~ ~ ~

The best inbound marketing campaigns focus on creating stellar content, building great audience engagement, and attracting the right leads. Why spend time interrupting potential customers when you can work to bring the right audience to you while building brand loyalty and brand awareness?

Inbound marketing is for everyone. Seriously, it doesn’t require oodles of money so businesses with any size budget can do it. It just take an investment of time and a splash of creativity.

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