What does it take to craft a high performing inbound marketing plan? To do it right, it takes efficiency in content writing, search engine optimization, social media, conversion rate optimization, website design, pay-per-click and email marketing.
Why the complexity? Well, in order to take all of the different digital marketing tactics and orchestrate them into a comprehensive goal-fulfillment program, it requires multiple channels working in harmony. One-off, fragmented tactics likely won’t produce the same results, because we know that today’s buyers require multiple touch points on multiple channels.
This can feel overwhelming, but we’ve outlined a process which will help you put together an inbound marketing plan for your business, prioritize various aspects of your strategy, build your inbound marketing funnel, and focus your efforts on what generates the best results.
I share this process with confidence because we use inbound marketing as our primary lead generation strategy here at LimeLight Marketing. Four months into implementing our inbound marketing plan, we experienced a 92% increase in organic website traffic and a spike in leads generated online. This didn’t happen by chance or by dipping our toes in the inbound marketing waters. We used this proven inbound marketing methodology, committed to our strategy, executed our plan, and we’re seeing the pay-off in terms of a growing inbound marketing funnel.
Use this roadmap as a guide to your inbound marketing plan:
1) Create Your Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are fictional people who represent your ideal buyers. They are one of the most useful tools a company has when targeting potential buyers because they help you understand exactly who you are marketing to, what matters to them in relation to the problem you can solve, and how they will make decisions.
Within your target market, there are likely several types of buyers. Yet these different buyers likely have different interests, priorities and goals. Taking time to define and understand your ideal buyers will help you create marketing content on topics that will resonate with them.
Related: Read our blog post on How to Write Buyer Personas, which provides deeper insight and a template to help you build your buyer personas.
2) Define Your Marketing Triggers
It’s important to understand what events trigger someone to search for a solution to the problem that you solve. If your ideal buyer is a Marketing Director, you have a huge ocean of leads to target. However, if you have keen insight to understand what specific events trigger a Marketing Director to seek the solution that you provide, you’ve narrowed your target audience to a much narrower niche who are more likely to purchase from you.
3) Make a List of Keywords
It’s important to figure out how your personas search for information about your product or service.
Doing keyword research enables you to gain insight on how many searches are made for certain keywords, how difficult it is to rank for those keywords, and estimate the cost for paying your way to the top through pay-per-click advertising as you build organic ranking. When creating your list of keywords, be sure to include long-tail keywords which may be more targeted and easier to rank for.
For example, a broad keyword would be “CRM solutions”. A long-tail keyword would be “CRM solutions for health care companies”.
When choosing keywords to target, select terms with relatively high search volume and medium to low competition levels. At LimeLight, we use HubSpot and AHRefs as tools for keyword research and ranking insight.
4) Establish Your Inbound Marketing Goals
As with any marketing plan, you should set goals that will help you measure your return on investment for your inbound marketing plan. Identify what you want to achieve, and when you expect to see results.
Use the SMART Goal Frameworkto establish goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
Some good metrics to start with and build from are:
- Monthly unique website visitors
- Number of leads generated per month on your website
- Sources of traffic, i.e. where the visitors to your website are coming from – PPC, blogging, social media, email, organic search, etc.
5) Design Your Content Strategy
At the core of a great inbound marketing plan is high quality, engaging content that attracts your ideal buyers, converts them into leads, nurtures them through the customer journey and delights them as a customer. Content marketing can be a challenge without a conscious plan for what types of content you need and what specific purpose each piece of content serves in the big picture.
You’ll want content that is aligned to each phase of the marketing funnel, from awareness to evaluation to decision. If you already have some content, start there by reviewing and aligning it to your funnel. Think about what your buyers want to know at each phase of the customer journey.
Top-of-funnel content is intended to attract ideal buyers to your website and convert these anonymous visitors to leads. Good top of funnel content includes topics that are broad, and are directed at your buyers’ needs and challenges. Top-of-funnel content is likely to be shared through social media posts, blog posts, video content, GIFs, and infographics. This type of information is easy to cast to a large audience.
Middle-of-funnel content is meant to introduce and position your product or service. Webinars, brochures, case studies and product videos are good ways to introduce your brand and service in ways that provide value.
Bottom-of-funnel content has the job of providing the information leads need to make a purchase decision as they evaluate your product or service. Product demos, free trials, consultations and discounts are some examples of bottom-of-funnel content.
Inbound marketing vs content marketing
We’re sometimes asked the question, “isn’t inbound marketing the same as content marketing?” Well, almost, but not quite. Inbound marketing is the bigger picture – it’s the strategy and tactics you use to generate leads and convert them into customers. Content marketing is one of the ways in which you can do that. As such, content marketing is a part of your inbound marketing plan.
6) Develop A Lead Nurturing Process
As your inbound marketing plan begins to generate leads, not all of them will be ready to purchase, especially if you sell a product or service with a long sales cycle. That’s where lead nurturing comes in. The goal of lead nurturing is to provide answers to questions your buyers may have, and give them reason to come back to your website, re-engage with your content and move down the marketing funnel.
Email marketing is a great way to nurture leads. For leads near the top-of-funnel, provide answers to the most common questions related to the problem you can solve. As they move to the middle-of-funnel, you can explain your product or service with brand specific information. As they progress further down the funnel, email offers for product demos, free consultations or discounts may be the incentive that gets a lead to convert or to raise their hand to be transitioned to Sales.
7) Select & Implement an Inbound Marketing Platform & Team
Much of the work in designing your inbound marketing plan will be in strategy and content creation. However, technology that facilitates this process and enables you to track performance is highly valuable. For our own inbound marketing at LimeLight Marketing, we use HubSpot as our inbound platform, but we help clients across multiple platforms.
Within your inbound marketing strategy, you’ll need resources specialized in writing, graphic design, search engine optimization, website design and development, email marketing and possibly paid search. Assess your internal talent and skill set to assign resources with these skills or identify where you need outside support.
Designing and implementing an inbound marketing plan can feel overwhelming, but if you take it one step at a time and with structured process such as the one above, you can see significant benefits. If you’re considering switching some of your traditional, outbound marketing programs to inbound, we think there’s no better time than now!
We help clients build and implement inbound marketing plans from scratch or enhance their current programs. If you’d like a free discovery call to learn more about inbound marketing and how it could work for your business, let’s talk!