Getting Started With Inbound Marketing Step-By-Step

We’re big fans of inbound marketing around here.

As the most cost-effective means for small businesses to get new clients, it’s something that fits right into our mission statement.

That’s why we provide our clients with services based on a solid inbound marketing strategy.

When you’re ready to put an inbound strategy in place for your business, you’ve got to understand what you’re doing.

Today, I’ve got a step-by-step guide to get your inbound marketing strategy going.

Inbound Marketing Has A Lot Of Moving Parts

As you go through this guide, you’ll realize there is a lot to inbound marketing.

That means that you need to be ready to put in a lot of work.

However, if you can manage juggling all the pieces, you’ll see just how worth it inbound marketing is.

Because it gets more leads for less money than the traditional outbound marketing you’re used to, it’s the single best option for your small business.

Get ready to get to work because inbound marketing is going to help you grow your business like you never imagined.

Inbound Marketing In Six Steps

The easiest way to digest something as complex as inbound marketing is to break it down into a process.

To make it even easier, I’ve come up with the questions you need to consider in order to complete those steps.

The explanations that follow will help you plan out every detail that’s critical to your inbound strategy.

If you can take the time to answer them as they apply to your business and industry, you’ll have no problem putting an inbound marketing plan in place.

I hope you’re prepared to put in the work because what I have for you is something you don’t want to skip.

Step 1: Goal Setting

Before digging into any marketing strategy, you need goals.

Without a clear idea of where you want your inbound strategy to go, you can’t figure out how to get there.

That means you won’t know what you should be doing with your inbound strategy along the way.

By setting a goal, you can determine exactly what metrics to watch to see how you’re doing. Click To Tweet

Look at your industry, your competition, and your current position in the market to figure out what goals are reasonable for you.

What Kind Of Goals Do You Have?

Time to get together with your team.

If you want to hit reasonable goals, the first place you should go for information is to your company.

Get feedback to help determine who your ideal customers are, what data you should be tracking, what kind of revenue you’re looking for, and what your current sales process is.

From there, you can adjust anything you discussed.

Having your team’s feedback can help you identify strengths and weaknesses that you’ll want to account for as you develop your strategy.

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Who Is Your Audience?

If your inbound strategy is going to work, you need to know who you’re marketing to.

That’s where a buyer persona comes into play.

These are outlines of the traits, interests, and needs that your ideal customers have.

They need to be based on good research or they won’t work.

From them, you should have a way to identify what messages your marketing needs to send.

That’s because each persona should have its own pain points that your company can solve.

Each persona should also have an outline of the factors that they use to make buying decisions.

All of this will provide the direction that your content is going to take.

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How Are Your Competitors Filling The Gaps?

Now is a good time to look around and see what your competition is doing.

In every industry, there are underserved niches.

These niches are awesome opportunities for your business to root into the market.

When you can identify an underserved niche that your business can develop a specialized angle for, you have a chance to grab a market share that everyone else is missing.

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Step 2: Setting Up Your Content

Now that you know who you’re marketing to, you need to figure out what you’re going to say to them.

All marketing requires content of one form or another. Click To Tweet

You need to know what content is going to best reach your audience.

You also need to make sure your audience will be able to find you online.

What better way to do that than to understand how they look for what you offer?

What Terms Are They Searching For?

The best place to start when deciding what content to create is with a little keyword research.

Your goal is to be the company they find when they run their searches.

By inputting a description of what you do into a keyword research tool, it should feed back a list of related keywords.

With them, you’ll be able to see how many people search for it and how many people are trying to optimize for it.

Ideally, you’ll find a highly searched, low-competition set of keywords that you can run campaigns around.

You can also use this information to predict how expensive it will be to add pay-per-click ads around those keywords.

With the right keyword selections, you’ll draw in the right kind of audience.

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Is Your Website Search-Optimized?

If you’re planning on getting found by your audience, you need to make sure you have the keywords you selected listed throughout your site.

There are a ton of other factors besides the keywords that you’ve got to look at, but these are still foundational.

On every page of your website, you have to include at least one of the keywords or key phrases that you want to be found for.

But don’t just include it once, and don’t overuse it.

It’s a good opportunity to take advantage of an optimization tool to find out what you need to do and make it work right.

WooRank has a great free one that you can add to your Google Chrome Browser.

This is one of those things that never stops.

SEO is a constantly fluctuating job and your results can change daily.

You’ll need to continually optimize your existing pages and make sure all your new ones start as optimized as possible.

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When Are You Going To Publish Content?

Blogging and social media are a huge part of inbound marketing.

However, before you get started with that, you’re going to need a plan of when and where you’ll be using them.

Here’s where the editorial calendar steps in.

An editorial calendar is a way of both knowing when you need to plan content for and knowing what content is already scheduled.

You can use it to keep track of what goes out on which day and who will be creating it.

It’s also great for adding in reminders of things to capitalize on, like upcoming product launches or lesser-known holidays.

Ultimately, it will become a foundation for discipline when running and updating your content.

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What Kind Of Blog Will You Be Producing?

If content brings visitors to your site, then blogs are your gold.

With great, relevant blog content, you’ll bring in the kind of traffic you want to turn into leads.

But what makes great, relevant content?

Start with the topics that your target market cares about.

Remember those pain-points we discussed in your buyer personas?

These are the topics your audience is looking for information on.

Also, do your best to be entertaining when you write about them.

Nobody likes boring content.

Make sure you blog often enough that people pay attention.

The recommendation is at least once per week.

However, if you can do more without sacrificing quality, your traffic will go up.

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Will You Be Paying For Traffic?

Paid traffic campaigns can be a great source of relevant traffic.

Head back to that keyword research you did earlier.

Remember how we talked about highly-searched, low-competition keywords?

These are going to be your most budget-friendly options to get great results.

With a little strategy to your bids and a whole lot of creativity when producing your content, you can get amazing results.

Plus, you’re not limited to search engines anymore.

The cost-to-results ratio of social media advertising is disproportionately advantageous.

You’re going to get a ton more traffic for your dollar than you will with Google.

Though you shouldn’t ignore Google if you don’t have to.

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Are You Going To Grab Social Traffic?

Nearly all content consumption starts with social media exposure.

It’s where most of your audience is, regardless of your industry.

Social is also where most people get initially exposed to the content they consume.

Figure out which social channels you need to be sharing your content through, then figure out how to optimize those shares.

Think about the demographic that you want to reach and the social network that most accurately serves that group.

When all else fails, fall back to Facebook where, contrary to popular belief, most people are still engaging.

With more users than any other social network (by a huge gap), you should have a Facebook Business page.

Add in others – Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat – as they make sense.

At some point, nearly all non-search web traffic originates in social media.

Make sure yours can too.

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Step 3: Bringing In The Leads

By the time you have the previous steps under control, you should be seeing some reasonable traffic.

But what are those website visitors going to do once they get done consuming your content?

You need to have a system in place for converting website visitors to leads.

Otherwise, all that traffic is going to go to waste.

Do You Have Content Worth Trading For?

If you’re going to make visitors into leads, you need to give them a reason to trade their information.

Gated content is a great way to do that. One of the best, in fact.

Gated content is simply something you offer in exchange for some basic contact information.

What that information entails will depend on the value of the content you’re trading.

For example, a downloadable guide or checklist will rarely require more than a name and email address.

However, a consultation, quote, or customized exchange will require more information.

Your visitors know the difference, and they won’t trade more information than your gated content is worth.

With the right value proposition, your audience will fill out the form for access, making them into a pre-qualified lead.

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Where Are They Going To Land?

Your gated content has to live somewhere.

A landing page is, in some cases, that somewhere.

Landing pages isolate the site visitor from any distractions, allowing them to see the benefits of your gated content and decide uninterrupted.

It should be something that catches their attention and guides them through the lead capture form.

A well-designed landing page will have a great success ratio with the right site visitors.

In other cases, you may want to put the lead capture mid-content.

Like we do here.

By reducing the number of pages to get to the download, you kill off some of the laziness factors.

It’s not the right choice in every scenario, but it can be a game changer if it is.

Either way, the right choice will drive up your leads.

That’s the goal.

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How Will Your Audience Know What To Do?

You need an indicator on your site of what you want your visitors to do next.

A call-to-action, or CTA, is exactly that.

CTA’s direct your audience at the landing pages you’ve set up when you use them.

When you don’t use landing pages, the CTA should contain your lead capture form.

Either way, the CTA should fit your website’s brand, assuring that they don’t break your site’s user experience.

With that in mind, they should also catch attention.

A great CTA should compel your site visitor to take the action you want them to.

Think of it as a mini-billboard that sells the gated content you’ve got behind it.

If you can, be sure you A/B test your CTA’s around your site and find out the nuances that improve your conversions.

When you continue to refine them, your results will keep getting better.

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Step 4: The Road To A Sale

Now that you have leads, you need to get them to spend money.

That means its time to focus on guiding those leads to the sale.

This is where your inbound marketing content shifts to the sales process.

To do that correctly, you’ve got to align the sales and marketing departments.

You need everyone on the same page. Click To Tweet

This is typically where most companies fall apart, losing leads to a poorly formed plan.

But if you get this right, you’ll see a huge jump in revenue.

Are Your Teams Aligned?

During the lead capture process, you gathered information about your leads.

That information should include what they looked at on your site before they became a lead as well as the information collected on the lead capture.

Any external information you can collect will also provide value.

The best way to make sure this information gets to your sales team is by integrating a great CRM into your website.

A great CRM will automatically track this information and keep it in one place.

When your sales team accesses it, they’ll have all the data they need to stay one step ahead of the sales call.

With site activity, email response, and social media actions all included in the lead profile, your sales team has everything they need to know to effectively sell the lead.

This allows them to identify and prepare to sell the right product or service to your leads.

It also allows you to gather information from the sales team that you’ll use later to better identify leads within your target market.

All of that allows your company to build on the trust that you’ve already established with your leads.

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Can You Communicate Within The Lead’s Lifecycle?

The information you’re gathering in your CRM allows you to get to know your potential clients.

That lets you create a lifecycle content plan for your leads revolving around your sales funnel.

By using that data to segment your leads based on the phase of the lifecycle they’re in, you can better decide what content they should receive and when they should get it.

Group leads based on who they are, how much they’ve interacted with you online, and how interested they seem in each of your services.

From there, design a content plan that delivers them the right messages at the right time within the lead funnel.

Timing is everything in sales, and you need to understand how that plays out for your leads.

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How Will You Nurture Their Buying Process?

If you want to move your leads towards a sale faster, you need to nurture their needs.

That means sending the right communication at the right time.

The best way to do that is through automation.

At critical moments within the lead’s lifecycle, you can trigger an automated follow-up email or email series that sends them the right communication.

This allows you to continue their education process so they take the right next step.

It also prepares them for the sale before they ever talk to a salesperson.

Imagine what would happen if your lead received a buying email right after checking out the pricing page on your site.

They’d be far more likely to act at that point.

With the right messages at critical moments, your leads are more likely to become clients at a faster rate.

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Is Your System Automated?

Lead nurturing isn’t the only system you need to automate.

Lots of common marketing processes can be updated and handled automatically with a great automated workflow.

Marketing emails can be sent automatically, contact details can be instantly updated, and internal communications can be handled.

This keeps the marketing and sales teams up-to-date, letting them know when to act.

With this in place, your team can stay on top of what’s going on and what’s working, allowing them to get the job done more effectively.

Your marketing team will be able to develop better inbound marketing content by understanding what’s working, and your sales team will be better equipped to reach out on time.

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Do You Understand What’s Working?

With leads and sales coming in, you will wind up collecting a ton of new, valuable data.

You’ll know where you’re getting the best leads from.

The leads that don’t pan out will have similar features as well.

That data can be used to help build your strategies in the future.

By understanding what’s working and why it’s working, you can create more effective inbound marketing campaigns in the future.

You can better select what sources you want to focus on, develop more meaningful content, and improve the sales processes dramatically.

All of this will help you improve your closing ratio and increase your revenue.

That’s the kind of difference that makes growth happen.

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Step 5: Keeping Your Clients

Your relationship with your customers doesn’t end at the sale.

Most times, clients will need additional products or services in the future.

They’ll also have great things to say about your company.

The best customer is a repeat customer. Click To Tweet

Let’s not forget about the value referrals have for any business.

By maintaining a great relationship after the sale, you can assure that these all benefit your company over the long term.

Are You Continuing To Teach?

Through the segmentation you’ve already set up, you ought to know what your leads-turned-customers need.

Because you know your products and services, you know what you’ve already done for them.

Now it’s time to educate them on the other needs you can meet.

Cross-selling is a huge benefit of customer retention, and you should do what you can to include it.

Use your segmentation to automate future emails that will entice your customers to return for future products and services.

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Will You Send Tailored Newsletters?

You know you can do more than get new customers with your newsletter, right?

Sending a specialized newsletter to your customers is a great way to help your customers see that you are an industry expert.

There are several things you can include in your newsletters that your customers may find helpful.

Industry news and events, press releases, and product or service announcements all make great newsletter content.

The key is to keep them involved with your company so they continue to come to you when they need help you can provide.

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Do Your Customers Send You Referrals?

The second-best customer any business can get is a referral.

They cost less to earn than any other lead and they’ve got a better chance of staying your customer over the long term.

If it makes sense for your business, it might be a great idea to set up a referral program.

In the case of an e-commerce business, you can even set up a referral system that makes promoting your products both simple and profitable for your customers.

If you have products or services that don’t lend well to e-commerce, you can still offer a reward to your clients for the successful referrals they send your way.

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Step 6: Continued Improvements

If you’re going to leave your marketing at “good enough”, you might as well go home.

Marketing can never be good enough and should always be improved.

Your marketing should always be getting better. Click To Tweet

Anything you can do to make your marketing work better, cost less, or make you more is worth your time.

That’s how you keep accelerating growth year after year.

Are You Spending Too Much?

There are a few key marketing metrics you should always be looking at.

The primary one is the cost of acquisition.

Your customer acquisition cost, or CAC, is going to determine exactly how expensive your marketing is.

In other words, how much of your budget does it take to get a new customer?

The second is your average customer value.

You need to know how much you make on average per customer, especially in relation to your CAC.

If you’re spending too much to get customers that don’t make you very much, you’ll want to rethink your marketing.

Looking at these numbers, you can determine how long it takes to pay back the CAC, how many new customers are coming from your marketing efforts, and how much your inbound strategy influenced your leads.

When these all pan out for a benefit, you’re doing something right.

If they aren’t, you’ve got to dig into your marketing strategy and find out where it’s going wrong.

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What’s Going On With Your Website?

Go back over your SEO.

Is it getting you the results it should?

You need to pay attention to how well the keywords you’ve optimized for are performing in search.

You’ll also need to go back to your SEO tools to find out if your site is still optimized the best it can be.

Looking at the traffic and conversion rates from organic search will let you know if you’re doing things right there.

Analyze what’s performing well.

Check your blog content, landing pages, email marketing, and any other site-related performance metrics available to you.

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How Are You Performing On The Web?

Checking on the rest of your web presence is a big deal, too.

You need to make sure your paid search is getting profitable results, your social media is getting attention, and your PPC ads aren’t over-spent on.

When these areas are performing well, you know you’re getting your money’s worth.

Is Your Marketing Doing The Job?

Compare the data you’re looking over with your goals.

Are you on track, or are you off-the-mark?

Make sure you’re communicating the results of your inbound marketing strategy with your sales and marketing teams.

Let them know what’s working and where it could be better.

By keeping everyone in the loop, you never miss opportunities for improvement.

Inbound Marketing Is The Complete Package

As you can see, we’ve covered every base of an inbound marketing strategy.

By answering the questions, you should have a complete understanding of what your business needs to do.

As you implement your new strategy, you should see more leads more often from the internet.

Those leads should equal more sales, customers, more revenue, and of course more growth.

That’s what you’re really after, isn’t it?

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About the author:

Michael McNew
Web developer, marketing innovator, technology enthusiast, and founder of Visceral Concepts, Michael McNew has developed a passion for delivering value to small business, turning his creativity towards image and reputation building for small business owners.