You set yourself up with an inbound marketing strategy finally.
Good, it’s about time.
But when you put it together, did you know what it needed, or only what you were supposed to do?
If you put the working pieces in place but don’t know what they’re supposed to do or how and why they work, you can’t adjust and improve.
It’s kind of like a race car: just because you have a fast car doesn’t mean you can win the race.It’s kind of like a race car: just because you have a fast car doesn’t mean you can win the race. Click To Tweet
It needs to be built to win.
So let’s talk about the difference between an inbound marketing strategy that functions versus one that’s designed to win.
Having The Pieces In Place Is A Great First Step
I don’t want to undervalue the fact that you’ve put an inbound strategy in place.
The fact that you’ve already begun down this path likely puts you ahead of your competition.
It also means you’re familiar with the work you’ll have to put in to keep things moving.
These are things you’ve got to do and got to know if you’re ever going to have a winning inbound marketing strategy.
You’ve just got to be aware that this is only the first step.
Making an inbound marketing strategy win is about a deep understanding of how and why things work.
It requires you to understand how to measure success.
And you’re going to need to collect a healthy dose of data on every campaign you put in place so you can study and improve.
But now that you’ve got the first step out of the way, putting everything else in place is so much simpler.
The Must-Haves Of A Winning Inbound Marketing Strategy
If you’re going to win the race, you’ve got to build the car right.
Just because it’s running now doesn’t mean it will hold up for the long run.
Your inbound strategy may be moving your marketing along.
It may even get you a few leads.
However, without the essentials, you won’t have the ability to win.
Let’s get to those essentials right now.
Start With A Goal
Every winning inbound marketing strategy starts with a goal.
More accurately, it starts with several goals on several levels.
Always work backward from your ultimate goal as you make these decisions.
What sort of growth would you like to see in what timeframe?
Growth is an important starting goal because it sets up all the directions you’ll need to take your inbound marketing.
It’s also going to help guide your other goals along the process.Growth is an important starting goal because it sets up all the directions you’ll need to take your inbound marketing. Click To Tweet
If you know exactly what growth looks like to you and how fast you expect to see it, you’ll be able to identify when you’re on or off-track and when you need to change something.
What would you like converted leads to do?
Based on your end goal, the next target you need to set is for your converted leads.
You need to determine what end result you want from them that will help feed your goal.
That can’t be as simple as “buy something.”
You need to determine exactly what you want them to buy and how soon after you convert them.
By being specific, you can determine what needs to go into your lead nurturing campaign.
How many new leads would you like every month?
It sounds silly to ask this, but if you don’t, you’ve got no way of knowing what adjustments you need to make to bring in your traffic.
By setting a lead goal, you can work with your numbers to know what kind of traffic you need to generate.
As an easy math example, if 10% of your visitors become leads, and you want 100 new leads per month, you know you need to make sure you’re getting 1,000 visitors every month.
Maybe you’re only getting 300 visitors and need to buy some traffic.
Or maybe you’re getting 1,000 visitors, but they’re coming from the wrong source and aren’t properly qualified.
Setting a goal lets you identify problems and advantages in your strategy.
Know Your Audience
Do you have any idea who you’re writing your content for?
There is an important, yet often overlooked detail about inbound marketing.
The content you create to support your inbound efforts must connect with your intended audience.
If it doesn’t, then your whole strategy is shot.
What does your ideal customer look like?
So, while physical appearance might help if you’re selling clothes, I’m referencing something a little subtle.
You’ve got to identify what demographic your ideal customer comes from.
How old are they? What gender? Does ethnicity play a factor?
You also need to take other factors into consideration.
What kind of income do they make? What career field are they in? Where do they live?
All of these factors can determine whether one of your visitors will buy from you.
Take stock of what matters when considering your product or service.
What problem do they face that you can solve?
As you begin to produce effective content, you need to know what problems your ideal client faces.
The only way to capture their attention and move them into the buying process is to focus on how you can help them.
To get an understanding of the problems your clients face, you’re going to have to pay attention.
Converse with existing clients to find out what problems you’ve solved for them.Converse with existing clients to find out what problems you’ve solved for them. Click To Tweet
Use sites like Quora or BuzzSumo to figure out what questions your potential audience may be asking.
The better you understand what issues they face, the better you can respond.
Your ability to articulate how you can help them is what’s going to determine if they choose you over your competition.
Plan The Journey Your Audience Is Going On
Every sale begins as a person who is considering purchasing.
That’s called the “buyer’s journey”, and it’s a simple idea that recognizes the buyer’s path through the process.
It’s a three-stage process, and it’s important you are ready to take your audience on the journey through it.
This is a major component to proper lead nurturing, and without it, you’ll never move your leads forward.
How does your audience become aware of their problem?
Before your potential audience starts on the buyer’s journey, they have to be aware there’s something that needs to be improved.
This is called the awareness stage.
It’s when the buyer first learns about the reason to buy.
Sometimes they learn about it on their own.
However, sometimes they may not realize there is a problem until it’s pointed out.
You need to know which of these applies to your audience.
It will help you determine what content to make and what format to put it in.
That initial realization of a problem is the first opportunity to connect with your audience.That initial realization of a problem is the first opportunity to connect with your audience. Click To Tweet
Your goal is to get your audience to see their problem through the correct content.
By making them acutely aware that their situation could be improved, you help them take the first step on their journey.
To understand this stage better, ask these questions:
- What do buyers say their problems are?
- How do they get the information they need on their problems?
- What happens if the buyer does nothing?
- Are there myths that you need to “bust”?
- What do they use to rank their problem’s importance?
How can you help educate your audience about their options?
Now that your audience knows they’ve got a problem, they’re going to be looking for a solution.
This is called the consideration stage.
Your audience is going to start considering the options they have.
Obviously, they’ve got more than one option to solve their problem.
Those options are called your competition.
And each of you may have more than one method to fix what’s troubling your audience.
You want to be the one to educate them on what they can do.
The obvious goal is to help them decide to use one of your solutions.
You need to be thinking of ways to influence their learning process and lean them your direction.You need to be thinking of ways to influence their learning process and lean them your direction. Click To Tweet
My personal advice is that you share your knowledge.
The single best way to give people confidence that you can help them is to prove you know your industry.
The knowledge you share is the perfect way to show that your option is the right one for them.
These questions will help you figure out how to educate your audience:
- What kinds of options does your audience have?
- How will they learn about their options?
- What kind of perceptions do they have about the options?
- How do they gauge what option is right for them?
How can you help them put a solution in place?
At some point, your audience is going to look at making a purchase.
This is called the decision stage.
During the decision stage, your audience has pretty much decided which method they’re going to use to solve their problem.
The last thing they’re going to do is choose which company they’re going to work with.
This is do-or-die time for your company.This is do-or-die time for your company. Click To Tweet
You need to bring their buyers journey to an end at your doorstep.
At this point, your focus should turn to overcome objections that may arise.
They need to know that what you have to offer is going to meet their needs.
Your audience needs to feel that there is no way anyone could be a better choice than your company.
Some questions to help you prepare for the decision stage:
- What does your audience care about most when deciding who they’ll work with?
- What are the pros and cons they have with your company?
- Are you going to have more than one decision maker? Do they all have the same perspective?
- Does your audience expect to “try before they buy”?
- Are there other considerations, like training or execution?
Develop A Creative Content Strategy
With your buyer’s journey outline in place, you’re ready to produce content.
Content is the actual substance that will help nurture and guide your lead through that journey.
Every step in this process is going to require some form of content to make it work.
From blogs to emails to social media, you’ve got to get ready to relate, educate, and connect with your audience.
The purpose of content is to help your audience like, know, and trust you so they inevitably come to you when they’re ready to buy.
What form will your primary content take?
If you’re going to have any kind of content strategy, you need to decide where you’re going to put the bulk of your information.
That’s what primary content is.
The great thing about primary content is that it can take a form that works best for you.
If you’re a writer, you can start blogging.
Blogs are the most common and least involved way to create primary content.
Feel more comfortable in front of a camera? Vlog.
A vlog, or video blog, can contain educational content like ours do, or they can document what you’re doing as a business.
Like to talk but don’t like the camera? Create a podcast.
Akin to having your own radio show, a podcast offers you a way to broadcast your voice to people all over the world.
Your primary content is going to be the workhorse that nurtures your buyers through their journey.
How will you support that content?
Once you’ve created your primary content, you need to get people to see it.
The best way to handle that is with micro content.
Text, images, and video shared through social media get people hooked on what you have to say and draw them in.
You need to develop your brand’s style for each of those forms of micro content.
Then you can feed information from your primary into that micro content.
This is the foundation of content marketing.This is the foundation of content marketing. Click To Tweet
By utilizing the information found inside your primary content to flesh out your micro content, you get your message heard in more than one way.
Those bits start to leave an impression on the viewers who are still at the top of the funnel.
If they’re in the right space and you get them to see their problem, you’ll begin to draw them into your lead nurturing program.
What methods of audience outreach will you put in place?
Now that you have decided on the content, you need to consider how you’ll get attention.
If you’re early in your business’ existence, you probably don’t have many social media followers or very much site traffic.
It can be tough to get eyeballs on your content when you’re in that position.
That means you’re going to have to do some outreach.
You need to find a way to find your audience where they’re already at.
That means doing things like commenting on other content in your industry, adding real value.
You can get involved in social media groups revolving around your industry.
And, if you have the budget, you can pay for traffic using Google Ads, Facebook Boosted Posts, and Instagram sponsored content.
Plus, there are dozens of other sites and apps that you can get paid traffic through.
You’ve got to figure out which ones are going to give you the most value for your money.
Open Good Communication Channels
If you want to do a great job of nurturing your leads, that’s going to take good communication.
You’ve got to be able to let them know when there’s something relevant to their buyer’s journey.
There are several great ways to make that happen.
Each of them has merits that will have a different impact on your success.
Do you want to send notifications?
One very simple line of communication you can put in place is the push notification.
Push notifications are alerts that come up at the top of a phone or from an internet browser.
These notifications let your audience know there’s something new for them to see on your site.
Usually, push notifications are very simple to implement.
They also take a single click for your audience to opt-in.
Because they require no exchange of information, your website visitors are much more likely to choose to receive them.
That’s a huge benefit to you for those initial visitors that haven’t shared lead information yet.
Can you set up a live chat?
When your site visitor has a question, they want it answered now.
The proof is in the numbers.The proof is in the numbers. Click To Tweet
That’s bad news.
You need a way to get answers to your customers right now.
That’s where live chat – and a little automation – come into play.
By adding the ability for your visitors to contact a live agent, they can get their answers now.
Adding in automation tactics (for when you have no agents available) can help to pre-empt a lot of objections.
It’s a combination that makes your visitors delight in communicating with you.
Have you built a list of emails?
The most basic and important form of marketing communication is the email.
You should be building a list of as many emails as possible.
You’ve also got to make sure you add as much data to each of the entries on that list as you need to qualify them.
Collect everything you can about the reasons they’re looking at your company, the things they’re interested in, and the stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in.
As you post content and see certain actions on your site, you can trigger emails that will send them a relevant message at the right time.
They’ll feel like you’re talking right to them.
That’s going to give them the confidence that you know what they’re going through and can help them.
Again, trust is huge in earning a lead’s business, and this is one of the best ways to do it.
Just make sure you’re sending emails they want to open.
Optimize Your Website For Qualified Traffic
Everything up until this point has been to create traffic.
However, what are you going to do with website visitors once you have them?
The answer is simple.
You’re not going to do anything if your website isn’t ready for them.
Do your pages direct visitors to the action you want them to take?
When your visitors come to your website, they need to know what you want them to do.
That means putting a clear website path with an easy to identify call-to-action in place.
Notice I didn’t say “calls-to-action.” No, I specified singular.
A fast way to muck up the website path is to include too many options.
Keep it simple and your visitors will stay on track.
However, every page should have a CTA.
There should be no place on your site that they land where they don’t know exactly what you want them to do next.
If there is, you’re missing an opportunity.
Are you giving them a reason to give you contact information?
Hopefully, your goal is to drive traffic towards some kind of lead capture.
If it’s not, maybe you have other things to worry about.
For most, however, every path through their website is meant to end in the visitor offering up their contact information or making a purchase.
Since only about 2.4% of people will purchase on the first visit, getting contact information from the rest is important.
But here’s the real question: why would they give you their contact details?
Now, you might be able to come up with some justification based on your visitors’ desire for information.
However, when’s the last time you wanted endless emails from a company that otherwise gave you nothing?
You need to incentivize your visitors with attractive gated content and downloads.
Put something they want behind the lead form.
Have them pay for it with their name and email address.
When it becomes a value exchange as opposed to yet another ask, you have way more success with it.
Have you created a user-friendly experience for them?
We’ve all visited websites that suck and are impossible to navigate.
They’re absolutely infuriating.
And, unless they’re the only place to get a certain product or service, they lose our business.
My advice is to make sure your site isn’t one of those.
You want your visitors to have an easy time navigating your site and making its functions work.
They should be able to find all the information they need in one or two clicks.
Menus should be easy to understand, as should any branded language.
Most importantly, they’re going to need to know how to contact you, which means you should keep that as simple as possible.
If your site visitors enjoy the experience or at least have no trouble with it, they’re more likely to convert.
Analyze And Improve To Convert Visitors
Speaking of converting, you need to know how well the things you have in place are working.
You ought to know why they’re working and why they aren’t.
And most of all, you have to figure out what needs to be changed and how to change it.
None of the pieces you put in place can stay static.
That is unless you know they’re working perfectly.
Are you collecting data about your website?
The only way to know if your site is working perfectly is to collect data.The only way to know if your site is working perfectly is to collect data. Click To Tweet
While that may seem obvious, there are far too many companies that don’t even know how many visitors they’re getting per month.
If you aren’t currently collecting data, not only can you not tell if your site is doing its job, but you also can’t tell where it’s failing.
Knowing that a great lead funnel narrows your leads to the most qualified, you can expect to see a drop off in the number of people in the funnel from top to bottom.
However, that drop should fall within a reasonable curve.
By analyzing the data, you can find out which phase of your lead funnel is negatively outside the curve, so you can correct it.
You can also see what’s positively outside the curve, so you can replicate what’s working.
The traffic, site action, conversion, and sale data are all going to help you rank the components of your inbound strategy to find the areas that need to be improved and the areas that need to be duplicated.
Which marketing campaigns are working and why?
Now that you have the data, you need to scrutinize it.
Examine what’s happening across your lead funnel and your marketing campaigns.
Find out what areas are having the success you expect, and which are having abnormalities.
The data will lead you to every answer you need.
The most important thing to establish from the data is why it’s doing what it’s doing.
If you’re having an unexpectedly large segment loss at a certain phase, why?
In the event you’re having a spike at another, what’s causing it?
By figuring out what’s working and what’s failing, you can identify what needs to be changed and what needs to be reused in future campaigns.
Studying the data across multiple campaigns will help you figure out longer-term strategies.
When you can see what several campaigns have in common, you’re looking at a better dataset.
That’s going to dramatically help you understand the correlation between what you did and the results.
What changes will you need to make things better?
Once you know what’s working and what’s not, you can look at what needs to change.
Especially after analyzing the larger dataset from several campaigns.
At this point, you should be able to hone your strategies to better attract the leads you want them to.
Each of the ideal customers you want to attract based on your buyer personas will be impacted by the same information.
They should respond the same way to the same things.
That means you can be even more targeted with your marketing, allowing you to speak to each persona directly.
That incredibly targeted approach will earn you better-qualified leads, higher audience loyalty, and more sales over the long run.
A Winning Inbound Marketing Strategy Needs Consistently Tuned
Back to the race car analogy.
After every race, the car gets repaired, adjusted, and re-tuned.
Your inbound strategy needs the same.
Fix what’s broken, adjust for performance, and make sure everything works together.
That kind of thinking will keep your inbound marketing strategy winning time and time again.