4 Simple Steps to Your Own Inbound Marketing Campaign
So you have decided to start your own inbound marketing campaign. You’ve heard the phrase mentioned everywhere, from websites, to social media, and even at that networking breakfast you went to last week.
But where do you begin?
You begin by making sure you have all of the following in place already:
- A comprehensive marketing plan
- A professional website that is also easy to use
- An up-to-date content audit and content strategy
- A properly managed social network presence
Inbound marketing (without the addition of the word campaign) starts with you having a great website, filled with awesome content, and with you being active on all social networks relevant to your audience. In terms of the traditional sales funnel, basic inbound marketing easily takes care of the top of the funnel (TOFU) consumers.
The vast majority of first-time website visitors are TOFU consumers; they are there for information only, with almost no interest in buying. An inbound marketing campaign is used to move TOFU consumers through the funnel, while also taking care of new and existing middle of the funnel (MOFU) and bottom of the funnel (BOFU) consumers.
Launching Your Inbound Marketing Campaign
Inbound marketing campaigns, like traditional marketing campaigns, work best when they target specific segments of your audience – the personas that you have created to define most of your customers. It is possible to have multiple campaigns running at the same time, each aimed at a specific persona, but this should be guided by your ability to properly monitor, evaluate and measure each campaign.
Start with only one campaign, run over a four week period. At the end of the campaign you can measure the success, and determine which elements of the campaign worked, and which elements need to be dropped, or refined. Using the information gathered from your first campaign, you can then run two campaigns over a similar period, and again measure and evaluate. Keep doing this, always adding one more campaign, until you find your threshold – the point at which it becomes difficult to properly measure and evaluate all current campaigns.
Once you know what your limit is, you can start planning and scheduling campaigns ahead of time. You can then also start varying the length of each campaign, and begin linking some campaigns to specific events such as holidays, seasonal events and even major trade shows.
It Begins With an Offer
All inbound marketing campaigns are built around an offer, and there are three types of offers in inbound marketing:
- The first type of offer is the awesome, general purpose content that is already available on your website. It is all your blog articles, videos, infographics, etc. that are available to any visitor to your website, without any commitment.
- The second type of offer is aimed at MOFU customers, and require some commitment. In exchange for the customer’s information (name, email address, contact number, etc.) you give them access to more valuable content. This can be eBooks, catalogs, buyer’s guides, white papers, webinars etc.
The final type of offer is for customers at the bottom of the funnel; they are ready to buy and maybe need just a slight nudge. These offers usually involve free trials, coupons, demos, meetings/consultations, assessments, estimates and quotations/proposals.
Each type of offer serves a specific purpose in an inbound marketing campaign. The first offer is primarily focused on creating awareness and generating traffic, but it can also be used to initiate the move from the top of the funnel through to the other levels. The second offer is aimed at capturing leads, while the third offer is for nurturing leads, and ultimately generating sales.
Promoting the Offer
Once you have formulated your offer you need to move on to promoting it. While banner ads and PPC campaigns can be used in an inbound marketing campaign, they are only one small part of it. Promoting the campaign also consists of:
- Creating specific landing pages. Using a landing page specific to each campaign makes it easier to deliver a targeted message, and to measure the success of the campaign.
- Calls-to-Action (CTAs) in blog posts. Schedule a series of blog posts to be published throughout the duration of the campaign. Remembering the 80/20 principle, avoid making the posts too self-promotional, settling instead on content that is valuable to your visitors, but can still be linked to the campaign through the use of a CTA.
- Linked social media posts. Much like the series of blog posts discussed above, schedule a series of social media posts on the channels most relevant to the campaign. These should go out in between your regular posts, linking directly to the landing page you created for this campaign.
Bearing in mind that the organic reach of Facebook content has dropped dramatically over the past year, using Facebook ads and promoted tweets and pins in conjunction with banners and PPC can help amplify your campaign.
Nurturing Existing Leads
If you have been quite savvy with your website from its launch, you might have already built up a database of leads through visitors subscribing to your newsletter. If you’ve been very savvy, you have already segmented this according to personas, and hopefully you will continue doing this with all new leads generated by your campaigns.
Using your database of leads, you can also promote your offers through email blasts, but only to those leads that would be most interested, as per your personas. This can only be done if you have already segmented your leads. If you have not yet done this, you can still promote offers through your newsletter, but without making it the main topic of the newsletter. Your newsletter, like your regular blog posts, should still be focused on information that adds value.
The purpose of inbound marketing campaigns is one, or more, of the following:
- Grow Traffic
- Grow Leads
- Grow Sales
so the metrics that matter the most for each campaign are:
- The visit-to-lead ratio. How many contacts, or leads, did you capture as a percentage of total visitors during the campaign. Measured as a whole, and on each marketing channel.
- The cost per lead (CPL). This must be measured on each marketing channel used, not as a whole. You are not only interested in determining the ROI for each channel, but also the overall value and benefit.
- The lead-to-conversion (LTC) ratio. How many leads were you able to convert to customers, as a percentage. This is useful not only in determining the success of a campaign, but also when it comes to forecasting sales.
- The cost per customer. You get better insight from this metric if you have kept track of where each lead originated (social media, newsletter, search, etc.), allowing you to more accurately calculate the cost of each customer.
So while the number of people who shared your content, or forwarded one of your newsletters/emails, is important, it is secondary to the number of newsletters/emails that were actually opened, the number of links and CTAs that were clicked, and the number of leads and/or sales that were generated.
You should now have a better idea of both the purpose of an inbound marketing campaign, and how to go about launching your own. By properly measuring and analyzing each campaign you will not only be able to refine future offers, you will also be able to promote future offers more effectively by targeting the correct marketing channels. Marketing messages are most effective not only when they are aimed at the right audience, but when they also placed where that audience is most likely to see them.
Remember, the success of any inbound marketing campaign depends on how much effort you put in, the perceived value of your offer, and how much you learn from the results of each campaign.
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