Put your business marketing plan to work
We’ve covered the first five steps to company inbound marketing, and now you’ve come to the real “rubber meets the road” steps. In our previous articles, we discussed the first five steps to developing a marketing plan. If you missed any of the first three articles in this series, please review that first, and then jump right into the next steps below.
Step #6: Develop your plan
You can map out your plan with a formalized template, a spreadsheet, or just a document that outlines your goals and the strategies you intend to use to reach those inbound marketing goals. Whichever format you choose to use, follow the steps described in this section of the blog.
Step #1 is selecting your primary goals. You will use them to develop a written plan, which will be your unifying document for your inbound strategies. Include realistic deadlines for each step, make assignments as necessary, and assure that every step focuses on your inbound goals, which should be tied to your company’s vision or mission. Your plan provides you with both your long-term vision and short-term goals that will motivate you to stay focused.
- Start by optimizing your website. If your company website is poorly designed (unintuitive, out of date, not mobile-friendly, not website accessible), then begin there.
- Research your keyword phrases. There are typically a few keyword phrases (common search terms) that are used to drive people to find your website and your particular products or services. Knowing those will help you create content that will increase your site traffic and possible prospects.
- Review and rewrite your website content to include keywords and information you discovered in the buyer journey process. Your company website will be your primary resource in nearly every aspect of inbound marketing strategies. Every page of your company’s website is an opportunity to create useful and informative content (as well as improve your SEO).
- Create branded social media channels for Facebook and Twitter. If you have the resources, add Instagram as well. Some companies show higher engagement from Facebook and Instagram, so don’t hesitate to switch it up if necessary. If you have already set up these channels but haven’t used them consistently, consider a refresh to include images, content, and posts focused on your keywords and selected goals. Schedule posts, link to informative content, be engaging, and think strategically.
- Start a blog. This is one of the most effective ways to add valuable marketing content to your website and draw potential customers to you. It is also one of the best ways to boost your SEO rankings on a regular schedule. And blogs are an excellent way to tell your company’s stories in a personal and engaging way. Oh, and don’t forget to include a call to action (CTA) on each blog post as well, since it is highly likely that your business gets found from one of those captivating blog posts.
- Develop content to share. This can be time-consuming, but having at least one useful download that encourages prospects to share their contact information with you will make it all worthwhile. If you are focused on just one persona, your content will focus on their priorities and needs. If you have multiple personas, you will develop content targeting each persona’s unique interests. You should tie each piece of content to the overall goals of your company.
You’ll begin this task by looking at what marketing assets you already have so you can repurpose them when possible. This will also tell you what new content you need to create to address your persona’s interests. You will also organize and catalog your old and new content so it is easy to retrieve and repurpose. Be sure to catalog each piece of content by title, persona target, buyer’s journey stage, targeted keyword phrases, and content format.
- Create conversion points where your site visitors can take action. This includes website forms to download content, get more information, schedule an appointment, subscribe to your blog, or even buy your product. You’ll also want to create calls to action (CTAs) for those folks who are still in the skeptical stage.
Consider multiple mediums to interact with and help guide your potential customer through your offerings. A video about “who we are” or “how we make it happen” are interesting options. There are so many creative ways to be there with influencing content, but you’ve got to be there.
- Create an email nurturing campaign (segmented by the targeted audience and their needs). You will eventually create relevant content for each targeted persona’s interests and needs by providing content they can use along the way, depending on where they are in their journey.
Step #7: Work the plan; create a workflow
Consistency is the key to inbound marketing success. Create a schedule and stick with it. This can include blogging, social media posts, website content, downloadable content, videos, Facebook ads, and so much more. But, start with the basics and add other strategies as time and resources permit. Refer back to step #6: Developing your plan, where we’ve provided a typical order for implementing and working your plan.
This is where your organizational skills and planning are critical. If your company has done no previous inbound marketing, your plan might begin with updating and creating content for your website and social media that supports your marketing goals. This might mean creating an area on your company website that provides information directed at those in the awareness and consideration stages. One easy way to address this is to add a section to your website for just this purpose. You can create a main navigation area for “Why Choose Us,” and from this landing page, you can link to the topics that prospective clients and customers need to know.
Often you will see the term “workflow,” as it pertains to inbound marketing efforts. It refers to the automated or manual process you create to respond to specific actions taken by any of your prospects. This usually begins with a nurture campaign (which is the term for the steps to bring those interested in your company or the information you provide closer to the final goal). To give you a simplified example workflow for a nurture campaign for your company, the steps might look like:
- Select the ideal customer you want to attract with this campaign. This is usually one of the personas you developed earlier. You must understand their needs and goals to address their concerns.
- Create your free download. This is the information you create to provide your personas with the information they seek. It could be an eBook, a video, an infographic, a checklist, or anything your persona will value. You are doing this to begin building a relationship, so be sincere about your intentions. In other words, it should NOT be a sales pitch for your company. Make sure the title for your download is clear about the information it contains. Concise and unambiguous is more important than clever if you expect them to give you their email address in exchange for your content.
- Develop a landing page on your website that introduces your gift (informative download for your targeted persona). You’ll want to make sure your website is one you are proud of so their first impression isn’t a big disappointment. If your company website isn’t intuitive, attractive, and informative, you’ll need to create a separate landing page, or contact us and we’ll help you to make that happen.
- Your landing page will contain a page title that is clear and verbiage that lets them know exactly what your download will deliver. Bullet points are easiest to scan, so use four or five bullet points rather than paragraphs. Your landing page should also contain a simple form that requires their name and email address to receive their free gift. You can ask for more information, but you do so at your own risk. If you get pushy, you will hurt your relationship before it ever gets started. It is also smart to remove most other navigation from this page, except for some links to share it on social media (so they can tell their friends about this excellent information you created for them). However, if your company website is well-designed and intuitive, also provide a link back to the marketing area of your website so they can see what you offer your customers.
- Use an enticing call to action. This form, and the information you so willingly provide, is what is called your Call to Action (CTA). You can share this opportunity on other pages of your website where appropriate (do so tactfully, of course). It can be in a sidebar on the marketing area, on a blog page where you are talking about some of your strengths, or even in the footer of your website. Just use a headline for your “button” or a link that will pique the interest of your targeted personas.
- Develop a thank you page. Once your site visitor fills out the landing page information, you will want to redirect them to a thank you page. Ideally, you will redirect them to your thank you page and also email them the download link to their inbox as well. Your landing page tells them how they can get the information (free gift). Usually, that is just clicking on a “download” button or checking their inbox for the link to the download.
Your thank you page might also include the next step in your offer. If you offer a useful eBook as your first download, perhaps you can invite them to listen to an informational and trust-building webinar. The invitation can be included from either your landing page or from the email you send—or both.
- Send your email follow-up. Once they have downloaded your content, they will need a follow-up email. This, as mentioned above, could include the link again to the download (your free gift), and you could also offer the next gift of helpful information. The goal of your next informative content is to build trust.
- Begin the ongoing nurture campaign. You will continue to contact your targeted persona with a gradual email series (often called a drip or nurture campaign). This will give them access to more downloads or send them blogs or newsletters related to their interests or needs. Provide them with useful information, be helpful, and continue to build trust, and you’ll stay front-of-mind when it comes time for them to make their decision.
Step #8: Delighting for retention
All right then, your inbound marketing has brought your outstanding services to the attention of more clients and customers looking for exactly what you provide. You are meeting your marketing goals; you gradually see success. Good work. Keep it up. But now what?
One common marketing weakness many companies ignore is the failure to focus on existing customers. This is a mistake. Perhaps the most effective company marketing strategy is word of mouth. People are more likely to choose a company (or make a purchase of anything for that matter) based on the recommendation of a friend than from any amount of marketing dollars you spend. We trust those who have the same needs and interests we do, so their good experiences make following their lead an easy decision. From a marketing standpoint, it pays to delight those customers who already support your company.
Marketing to existing customers includes providing great customer service, putting real value on strategic communications, and giving customers frequent reasons to feel good about their choice of selecting your company in the first place. We highly recommend that once you have several inbound marketing campaigns set up for your company and the various audiences you are targeting, take a look at retention efforts. We fully believe that the first step is ongoing and effective company communications.
You need to be communicative, transparent, and consistent. Use your website, social media, newsletters, and employees to support retention efforts strategically. Take a look at your company’s customer service. Is your service good or great? Are your potential customers allies or enemies? Then take a look at the various causes retention suffers, and address any weaknesses that exist. Some of these areas of possible weakness might be:
- Client/customer satisfaction
Look at your company and select the priority topic pertaining to your retention challenges and address what you can, then implement ongoing communications strategies for retention. Retention is the true test of customer satisfaction, strong relationships, and trust. Keeping a customer is easier than trying to gain a new one. An additional benefit of happy customers is they will share their satisfaction and sing your praises to others, and you’ll soon have even more sales. What can you do to improve your current retention rates?
Who’s on your team and skill sets you’ll need
Nearly all companies fail to formalize their approach to inbound marketing. They tend to use a reactionary approach and come up with a spur-of-the-moment strategy when there is a crisis that forces them to do so. It isn’t wrong to apply a strategy when there is an urgent need, but with a well-planned, consistent approach, there will be fewer critical needs, so your efforts will be more effective (and so much more affordable than hiring an expensive advertising agency in a desperate attempt to stay relevant).
No getting around it, effective Inbound marketing is a long game that requires you to plan ahead. You will need someone to act as a marketing strategist, someone to develop content (a content writer and a designer), and help from your company website developer. Want to work with Biz Webmasters to market your company? We’ll follow your lead to develop and implement strategies that will achieve your company’s marketing goals.
Biz Webmasters is here for your company. Just give us a call at (888) 750.4556 and ask for Jim or Bonnie. Or, if you want information about how we can implement an inbound marketing plan for your company, complete our Inbound Marketing Assessment form today!