Who is leading the pack in new client/customer acquisition in your market? Their secret probably is that they are using some form of inbound marketing to attract that new revenue. Studies show that B2B and high-end B2C companies that still rely on old models of marketing and sales are losing market share to those that have implemented inbound marketing.
A successful inbound marketing campaign drives new leads, nurtures them through the buyer's journey and results in delighted customers.
Here is an outline of how to build your first inbound marketing campaign:
1. Identify and develop your buyer persona.
Buyer Personas are critical to inbound marketing success. A successful inbound marketing campaign is narrowly tailored to persona.
Let's back up and define a persona:
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
Customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations and goals are all factors to consider when developing your inbound marketing customer persona.
Here is how you can you develop your own buyer personas:
- Review your database of current desireable customers or clients. Look for trends on how they found you.
- Ask for feedback from the people in your organization that regularly interface with the customer or client - usually the sales team or customer service team. Ask them what your customers or clients have in common.
- When developing new leads through your website, make sure to add persona related questions to the appropriate website forms.
- Interview your current customers. Find out why they chose you.
2. Set goals & benchmarks for your campaign
Your inbound marketing campaign's goals should be follow the SMART goal model:
- Specific - Don't be vague.
- Measurable - The indicator of sucess should be easily measurable in terms of new customers, or new revenue, or new leads.
- Assignable - Someone is in charge of it and they are accountable.
- Realistic - The goal can't be unreasonable. Start with current performance and then propose a reasonable improvement upon it. Do not just pull a random goal out from-where-the-sun-don't-shine.
- Time-related - The goal should have a deadline at the end and benchmarks along the way.
Inbound marketing goals vary depending on situation, but some example goals are:
- Add $240,000 in new revenue from January 1 to March 30.
- Add 16 new clients by December 31st.
- Generate 60 new leads in the month of June.
- Increase monthly site visitors to 12,000 in the month August.
Please notice that all of these goals have different primary metrics. Your campaign's primary metric is simply what we are measuring to evaluate the success of the campaign. Inbound marketing primary metrics can be:
- Revenue (or new revenue)
- New clients
- Site visitors
More advanced inbound marketing campaign goals can be super specific, like:
Increase monthly leads generated via organic search from 30 per month to 50 per month in the 90 days ending on August 15th, 2016.
For most readers contemplating their first inbound marketing campaign, this kind of goal is neither appropriate nor necessary.
Understand the Buyer's Journey
The buyer's journey is a term that refers to the path that a person takes from being a stranger to a customer/evangelist.
There are three buyer stages:
- Awareness - "I think that I might have a problem."
- Consideration - "I definitely have a problem and I can name it. However, I am not quite sure which method to use in order to fix it."
- Decision - "I have a good idea of how I want to fix my problem, but I still need to decide on resources and partners."
You might sometimes hear these three buyer stages as TOFU, MOFU and BOFU; top-of-the-funnel, middle-of-the-funnel and bottom-of-the-funnel.
However you choose to call them, what really matters is that you are aware of them when developing your inbound marketing campaign.
3. Create your first offer and landing pages
How To Create the Inbound Marketing Offer
Your offer should have a clear value proposition. The point of a gated inbound marketing offer is to provide value to the user in exchange for implicit permission to begin a business relationship.
An excellent inbound marketing offer is persona-centric & buyer-stage-centric. It is not product-centric: product brochures and videos are NOT inbound marketing offers. A good offer is something that is high quality and valuable to your persona during the buyer stage that they are in, and it should address the needs and problems of your persona. Developing the offer should rely heavily on the information gleaned from persona development.
How To Create the Landing Pages
Don't overthink your landing page. It needs to be simple, easy to understand, and naturally lead the visitor to fill out the form and take the offer. The user usually makes a decision within a few seconds.
- Use a visual representation of the offer on the landing page.
- Remove navigation from the page.
- Use your messaging to build trust, for example, leverage social proof by referencing current clients or customers.
- Make sure that your landing page reassures the user that their personal contact information is safe with you.
- Balance the perceived value of the offer with the length of the form. More fields on a form will require more perceived value. Additionally, the deeper a lead has traveled through the buyer's journey, the more form fields that they are likely to tolerate. A person in the awareness stage is less likely to fill out a long form than someone in the decision stage.
- Leverage tools such as HubSpot's progressive profiling and smart fields to gradually obtain more information about the contact.
Lead nurturing is the deliberate process of engaging potential new customers by providing content that is relevant to their persona and buyer stage. Effective lead nurturing will position your company as the best and most trustworthy choice to help them reach their goals.
"Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales at 33% lower cost." - Forrester Research
The lead nurturing process moves prospects (those that have already taken one of your inbound marketing offers) through the buyer's journey. It uses a combination of marketing and sales tactics to make it easier to control and predict new revenue growth.
Email is the primary (but not only) media for lead nurturing. However, it is not a so-called "email blast." After all, "blasts" aren't really all that nurturing.
The blueprint for lead nurturing follows a process of four basic functions:
- Educate your potential customers with your unique perspective on their problems and goals.
- Show them how to get closer to their goal.
- Engage them with content that is relevant to their persona and buyer stage.
- Convert them to customers by making it clear how to get started.
There are other mediums that are useful to use for lead nurturing. For example, you can sync contact lists with Facebook advertising custom audiences, in order to serve paid Facebook messages to specific customer segments in your database.
4. Write a blog post .... or five
Blogging is vital to a successful inbound marketing campaign. Among other things, blogging will:
- Drive traffic to your website.
- Help convert that traffic into leads by showing value.
- Establish you as an authority in your area.
- Create long-term benefits.
Contents: Inbound Marketing
How do you come up with topics to blog about? Easy! What questions do your customers typically ask while they are in the sales process? Answer those questions!
5. Share your blog posts and offers on social media
Once you have good offers and blog posts, it is time to drive traffic to them. Social media is a mandatory medium for traffic generation. There are more than two billion social network users in the world. Social networks are ubiquitous. Why not use it to get your blog posts and offers in front of people? Make your content social.
Social media not only puts your message in front of people, it also helps search engines like Google & Bing determine the credibility your website and (by extension) your business. Another plus: your social profiles show up on search results pages, making it easier for people to find you.
Facebook used to be a great place to get free exposure. It was simple: people "liked" your page and then they would begin to see your posts. That has changed - these days, so-called "organic reach" for Facebook pages can be as low as 2%.
Which leads us to our next step...
Consider paid traffic sources
Your successful inbound marketing campaign requires people to visit your site - the more, the better. Eventually, your blogging efforts, social media activity and lead nurturing will result in more quality traffic. However, in the beginning, it can be difficult to generate enough quality traffic for your inbound marketing to be effective.
This is where paid traffic sources come into play. Paid traffic sources include:
- Search engine marketing (SEM) like Google Adwords and Bing Ads.
- Digital display and video display ads.
- Social media ads (like Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, LinkedIn Ads).
- Native advertising.
The easiest and simplest way to generate traffic towards your great content, especially your blog, is something called a Facebook boosted post.
You should always use tracking URLs on any kind of social media sharing and paid traffic sources. Knowing where your most (and best) traffic is coming from is critical when making ongoing decisions about where to dedicate your traffic generation resource.
"In my world, data is truth. Great creative ideas are important as the catalyst to convince people to take actions, but data tells the story. Data trumps opinion. Data verifies genius." - Steven Morvay
One of the most common URL tracking schemes is the UTM code. This is a simple code, appended to the end of the destination URL, that tracks source, medium, campaign name and other optional parameters.
Here is an example UTM code:
The question mark divides the destination URL from the UTM codes. This tracking URL has the three required UTM parameters. They are:
- utm_campaign: Inbound Marketing (note that the string %20 represents a tap on the spacebar in the URL).
- utm_medium: PaidSocial
- utm_source: Facebook
When someone clicks on this tracking link and arrives at your site, the UTM parameters are passed to your website analytics service (like Google Analytics or HubSpot). A click on this particular link will alert us that someone clicked a link associated with our marketing campaign entitled "Inbound Marketing," which was part of a paid social media campaign on Facebook.
There are other optional parameters available in the UTM scheme. They include:
- utm_term: used for paid search to identify which keywords are associated with this click.
- utm_content: a place to put additional details regarding the content that is being promoted. As an inbound marketer, the utm_content parameter can be put to good use.
There is no need to write UTM codes by hand. Use this tracking URL builder or the HubSpot tracking URL tool.
6. Measure, Report and Adapt your inbound marketing campaign
Before you launched the campaign you set a SMART goal and benchmarks. You should measure progress toward your goals on a regular basis, determined according to the amount of traffic coming to the site: the more traffic there is, the more frequently you should go through the measure, report and adapt cycle. No matter if it is quarterly, monthly, weekly or any other interval, it is important to be disciplined and stick to it.
During the measurement process we ask:
- What is our progress on the primary metric?
- How well are our contributing metrics supporting the primary metric?
If our primary metric is new customers, the contributing metrics that we examine would be those that lead to it:
- Number of leads
- Number of visits
If we aren't reaching our primary metric benchmarks and goals, we need to diagnose the problem by examining the contributing metrics. The questions are:
- Are we generating sufficient leads?
- If yes, then the problem is somewhere between generating the lead and closing the deal. This could be insufficient lead nurturing, unqualified leads, or any number of other issues.
- If no, then we work backwards one step to examine number of visits.
- Are we generating sufficient visits?
- If yes, then the problem is in the lead generation process. The course of action in this case is to examine and optimize landing pages and blog posts. Landing pages should naturally lead the visitor to take the offer. Blog posts should have clear and relevant calls-to-action that lead to an optimized webpage.
- If no, then we need to generate more traffic.
There you have it: step by step directions to build your very own inbound marketing campaign. Now all you have to do is roll up your sleeves and get started creating and running an inbound marketing campaign for your product or service. Contact us for a free assessment if you'd like us to take a look at it and suggest other ways to increase your traffic, leads and revenue!
About the Author
Jake Fisher is partner at Bridges Strategies. He specializes in inbound marketing, B2B sales and multicultural communication. He enjoys good food and bad golf. You can follow him on Twitter at @jakefisher