Has someone ever told you that your business needs X, Y, or Z to be successful? Maybe you’ve been told to start a blog — but that raises a lot of big questions. What are you supposed to blog about? How often should you publish? Why should you blog? And how is “content” different from a blog?
Someone else might say you need to focus on social media, from Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and TikTok. But do you really need them all?
And then someone in leadership at your company might want to see more videos to engage prospects.
I’m here to help bring calm to the confusion and give you six steps that’ll guide you through a successful inbound marketing strategy.
What the heck is an inbound marketing tactic?
“Inbound marketing tactics” are another way of talking about the things you do that bring people to you (versus spending time and money going to them). Think less paid media, more organic social, engaging web pages, and content people are actively looking for on the web.
The problem is that all of these tactics are becoming buzzwords. Just this morning, I saw an ad on LinkedIn that offered to help me revamp my website and improve my call-to-action strategy. Both are inbound marketing tactics, but in our saturated marketing world, it’s easy to scroll past anything that has to do with these topics.
I’m here to tell you there’s value in all tactics, including inbound marketing. The key is to know which ones will actually drive leads and conversions to your doorstep and which ones might not be worth the investment right now.
Inbound marketing isn’t black and white
What works for you isn’t going to work for your competition down the street. That’s why we believe the key to success lies in a custom inbound marketing strategy for every business, every time. For every goal you try to achieve, you should have a defined strategy, a collection of tactics, and a plan to make it happen.
Think about it: posting on Facebook doesn’t do you any good if you don’t know why you are doing it, what you truly want to achieve from it, or how to measure if it’s successful.
Think about it: posting on Facebook doesn’t do you any good if you don’t know why you are doing it (or how to measure if it’s successful).
So, now I’m telling you that you need a custom inbound marketing strategy. That’s about as useful as telling you to start blogging — I get it. But, I’m going to tell you exactly how to create your own. And I’ll even show you some examples of real strategies we created and executed for real businesses.
1. Set a goal
Goals are how you prove that you did what you set out to accomplish — and justify that the money you spent doing the work was worth it.
The biggest pitfall we see clients making at this step is setting a goal that’s too lofty to achieve. We recommend looking at where you are right now and making a goal based on that (versus comparing yourself to the competition or setting a goal based on where you’d like to be).
If you’re unsure what the right goal is for you, just remember to make each goal SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely).
2. Get all possible tactics down on paper
Now isn’t the time to box yourself in. This is your one chance to lay it all on the line. Get crazy, think outside the box, and most importantly, don’t be afraid. Be brave, be bold, but be intentional. Think about all the possibilities, from a brand redesign or website overhaul to radio ads or trade shows.
For example, If you know your priority is to get more visitors to your website, you might decide to go heavy on social posts and new blogs to drive web traffic. On the other hand, if you’re trying to show your existing customers some love, you might focus your energy on customized digital experiences or invite-only events.
3. Be realistic with your budget
Marketing can feel like sitting down for a big meal — you probably want more than you can realistically have. At this step, you’ll need to decide how much time and resources you can pour into these specific marketing efforts. This will dictate how many of those tactics you came up with can be completed within your timeline.
For example, maybe you’re going to prioritize blog creation. Even though you’d like to publish a blog five times a week, you might find that you can only afford two or three blogs with the resources you currently have available.
Tip: At Vye, we typically work with monthly budgets. After considering possible tactics, we begin to narrow down how that works with a client’s monthly budget. Honestly, this can really help rule out certain tactics that might not make the impact we need for the cost it would require.
If you are managing your marketing efforts in-house, you’ll probably approach this in terms of how much time you, or your staff, has each week to devote to these efforts.
4. Make a timeline (and stick to it)
Now, it’s time to pull it all together. You have your goal (which should have a deadline defined), your tactics, and your budget. All that’s left is to arrange it in the order that makes the most sense for you to reach your goal. That might look like the following.
Inbound marketing strategy example
Your goal: To generate five new sales-qualified leads for one of your product/service verticals.
Your timeline: Six months
Your chosen tactics: Landing pages with gated, downloadable offers that offer valuable content to your target market
With these definitive steps, span the timeline on which you’ll create each offer and corresponding landing page, as well as the timeline you’ll send nurturing workflow emails using the information prospects provide. Mapping this all out now means fewer mistakes and confusion later. It also gives you the reassurance that you did everything you needed to get the goals you’re hoping to see. (And if the results don’t arrive? See the next step.)
5. Roll up your sleeves and get to work
It’s go time! Get to work.
6. Set checkpoints, analyze, and adjust
While we can do all of the right research and preparation, a lot of inbound marketing comes down to trial and error. After all, we can’t read the minds of our target markets. As you embark on your inbound plan, be sure to schedule in time to review and analyze the progress you are making.
Put reminders on your calendar or in your project management tool that force you to take a step back and look at the impact your inbound strategy is having. Most plans don’t start out perfect; with inbound marketing, you have the ability to dig into the data and identify what isn’t working and adjust on the fly.
Not sure where to start?
While inbound marketing might be new to you, we live and breathe these types of strategies daily. Whether you need help deciding on tactics or need extra hands for tactic execution, we’ll be here to help if you run into any questions or roadblocks along the way.
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