How to Conduct an Inbound Marketing Campaign
Many small businesses are turning to inbound marketing as a business growth strategy. An inbound marketing campaign is a series of interconnected processes designed to promote a product, service or line of business. An effective inbound marketing campaign will attract visitors to your website, convert website visitors to leads and pass along marketing-qualified leads to your sales team to close. Many businesses implement some elements of inbound marketing, but are disappointed with their results. Their disappointment usually stems from the fact that they are not conducting all elements of inbound marketing in an integrated fashion. This article provides a step-by-step process to help you conduct a successful inbound marketing campaign.
Prerequisites to Your Inbound Marketing Campaign
Prior to conducting your inbound marketing campaign, there are two prerequisites to consider. First you need to optimize your website for targeted keyword phrases that support your campaign. Secondly, you need to define your ideal customer profile and buyer personas to optimize your content to sell. To learn more about these prerequisites, click through the links above for blog articles covering the two prerequisites.
Develop a Premium Content Offer to Educate Prospects
The first objective of your inbound marketing campaign is to fill the top of your sales funnel with leads. Website visitors become leads by providing contact information (usually an e-mail address) in exchange for your premium content offer. A premium content offer is an eBook, whitepaper, video or webinar that educates leads on the problem that your product or service solves. It is not a sales pitch – it is designed to educate your leads and position your company as a trusted advisor that could potentially help the lead solve their problem. At this stage of their buying process, the lead knows there is a problem to be solved and is gathering information to evaluate how they might solve it.
Advertise Your Content Offer with a Call-to-Action and Convert Leads with a Landing Page
A call-to-action is a button on your website that advertises your premium content offer and directs the website visitor to a landing page where they can access your content offer in return for contact information. The call-to-action should clearly indicate what the content offer is and how the visitor can get it (by clicking through to the landing page.) The landing page should spell out the benefits of your offer and describe how it can help the visitor solve their problem. Most of the businesses that are disappointed with their inbound marketing results do not include calls-to-action or landing pages in their campaigns. You may be blogging and attracting website traffic; but if you don’t have a means to contact them, it’s impossible to sell to them. There is a call-to-action immediately below this paragraph and you will see a landing page if you click through it. If you complete the form on the landing page, you can download my social media content offer.
Use E-Mail Marketing to Promote Your Content Offer and Nurture Leads
Now that you have your content offer and a means to promote it and add leads to your marketing database, you can e-mail the content offer to your existing marketing database. You will note that I said e-mail the content offer, not the content. Your e-mail should include a call-to-action so that your contacts can download the offer by completing the form on your landing page. This lets you measure the interaction your contacts have with your marketing process.
Lead nurturing is a sequence of e-mails designed to provide appropriate content to your leads as they progress through their buying process. A December 2010 study by Gleanster concluded that more than 50% of website visitors aren't ready to buy when they first access your content. Lead nurturing helps you stay with your leads as they move through the buying process.
Matching Content Offers with the Buying Process
Blog to Attract Visitors to Your Website
Google's Penguin algorithm update places increasing importance on websites that publish content relevant to the keyword phrases searched that is updated frequently. The best way to do this is to publish blog articles relating to the problem that your product or service solves. Blogging is a critical element to your inbound marketing campaign. Here are some best practices for blogging:
- Blog at least weekly – the more you blog, the more web traffic you’ll get
- Blog articles should be between 600 and 800 words
- Break up your blog with images, bulleted lists and numbered lists
- Use targeted keyword phrases in your blog titles and articles
- Always include a call-to-action linking to a landing page in your blog posts
Use Social Media to Promote Your Content
There are may objectives for social media; but in the context of the inbound marketing campaign, social media is used to promote your blog and content offers. A good rule of thumb for social media promotion is to use the 10:4:1 rule, developed by Kipp Bodnar and Jeffrey Cohen in the B2B Social Media Book. Simply stated, for every 15 social media posts:
- 10 should promote other people's content and position you as a trusted advisor
- 4 should promote your blog posts
- 1 should promote your landing page
Use the 10:4:1 rule to promote your content without seeming like a late-night TV pitchman.
Measure Your Campaign for Improvement
The beauty of inbound marketing is that you can measure virtually every aspect of your campaign. With marketing automation software (we endorse HubSpot), you can determine which elements of the campaign are working well and which aren't. You should do more of what's working and improve those elements of your campaign that are under-performing.
To summarize, a properly executed inbound marketing campaign will give you an inbound lead generation source to complement your other sales channels. To optimize your results, you need to do all of the elements described above in an integrated fashion. Consider hiring an inbound marketing agency to maximize your ROI.
John Beveridge is the President of Rapidan Strategies, an inbound marketing and social media agency and HubSpot partner located in Fairfax, VA. Please feel free to contact John at email@example.com with any questions on this article or any other inbound marketing and social media issues.