A conventional (outbound) marketing plan requires you to present and promote your business to prospects. An inbound marketing plan allows your prospective audience to find you. The inbound marketing process typically begins with attracting your target audience, converting them into customers, and establishing solid relationships for repeat business.
One of the most common mistakes made is blindly sharing content before you have identified your target market. Without properly identifying your ideal clientele and knowing how they consume media, it’s almost impossible to create engaging content. Over time, a complete inbound marketing plan will help to increase website visitors, convert that traffic to leads, and convert those leads to customers.
- Analyze your current efforts. Before you can even think about moving forward, you need to evaluate your current marketing efforts. How much traffic are you currently driving to your site? How much of that traffic is converting? How many visitors have found you through referring sites? A detailed analysis of your current marketing efforts is necessary in order to understand what needs to change with your new strategy. If you own a new business or have never attempted to market your business online (either outbound or inbound), this step can be skipped.
- Identify your customer. Inbound marketing campaigns start with knowing who your target audience is. Who are you trying to sell to? How does your target customer differ from other customers? By having these buyer personalities, you won’t waste time and money on unqualified leads. Beginning every campaign with a strong audience understanding will ensure your that your brand will resonate with these prospects and lead them to take action to buy, use, and promote your products and services.
- Deploy a website designed for conversion. Websites should be developed with inbound marketing in mind. Naturally the design must support your brand, but it must also guide your prospects to the content you wish to share. Attention spans run short so website speed and page loading times are critical considerations as well. To be efficient, you will want to ensure your site contains calls-to-action (CTA) and various landing pages. The call to action and landing pages are your website’s checkout lane and cash register. Without a CTA, your website visitors will struggle to find your landing pages and without landing page conversions, inbound marketing campaigns will struggle to show a return on investment.
- Establish your desired action. Once you have analyzed your past efforts, identified your ideal audience and set your website up for conversion success, you will need to define your offer. What you are offering has to be of equal or greater value for the information you are asking from your leads. Depending on your goals, this could include making a purchase, subscribing to an email list on your website, a free white paper or case study download in exchange for an email address, sharing your marketing content on social networks or a combination of a few offers.
- Devise remarkable content. Inbound marketing is really just another name for “content marketing” and content is precisely what you need to generate inbound leads. Without question, one of the most effective way to generate content for your website is to use a blogging platform. In order to determine which content will resonate best with your target audience, it is important to first define and set the type of content you will create. Does your target audience respond better to videos, blog articles, white papers or webinars? Regardless of the medium that you use to provide your content, it’s important that you publish consistently and frequently for optimal success.
- Drive traffic. Having a website is useless if you cannot be found. In order for your content to reach your audience you will have to share your content. Social media is one of the simplest and most effective inbound marketing tactics to share your content and products. The most valuable aspect of social media is conversation – you will not build a following by just sending out messages and never responding to interactions. Another great way to share your valuable content is to submit your blog posts to sites like: StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, Slashdot, and Newsvine.
- Measure your conversion rates. There are hundreds of possible marketing metrics to measure and keep track of. There’s everything from SEO rankings, inbound links, content downloads, reach, comments, retweets, ‘Likes,’ shares, clicks, traffic, leads… and so much more. Measuring your inbound marketing efforts on a consistent basis will help you analyze your strategy – and ultimately whether you are having any impact on the metrics that your company cares about.