The Inbound Marketing Blueprint

The process of attracting leads and then nurture them through their buyer's journey

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The Inbound Marketing Blueprint: Overview

Those of you new to inbound marketing should think of it as a marketing process that attracts prospects to you rather than you seeking them. Much of this depends on the quality level of content for starters.

It's not just about creating evergreen content your demographic wants to read. Inbound techniques require a detailed, step-by-step approach to achieve the ultimate conversion goal.

What you need is a good blueprint. Take a look at our whitepaper overview of how to achieve a perfect inbound marketing plan.

What Are Your Baseline Sales and Marketing KPI's?

To build the foundation of your inbound path, you need to look at your baseline sales and the KPI's you need to improve. A good way to start is to use HubSpot's Marketing Grader tool to determine what you're doing right or wrong on your website.

This should help you determine six different things related to traffic attraction and conversion metrics:

  • Measuring unique visitors your site receives per month. You need to measure how many distinctive individuals request pages from your site during given time periods. Tools like Google Analytics help you determine how many people visit your site during the times you want to measure.
  • Look at your traffic-to-lead-conversion rate. How many people take advantage of content offers on your site? To properly calculate this, you need to divide the total number of conversions that occur by the number of visitors your site receives. Conversion tracking is easily done using Google Analytics.
  • Where is your website traffic coming from? By using a sources report in your metrics, you can determine whether most of your traffic occurs organically or through paid traffic. You'll also find out if they come from referrals, social media, email, direct, or other.
  • How many people opt-in to your emails? Focusing on building your own email list is imperative to do inbound marketing correctly. Buying email lists is one of the biggest mistakes you can make since you won't know if those people are really your intended demographics.
  • Analyse how much engagement you're generating with your emails. Some of this has to do with quality of content, though other factors apply. If you're not engaging your audience, you may start experiencing higher bounce rates.
  • What is your revenue from conversions? Is it directly related to inbound sources you're using? Look at whether your ROI is larger than the marketing capital you've invested.

Your marketing KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) are another thing to look at to plan what you'll accomplish with them. Some KPI's to consider as you set up your inbound plan:

1. Find out how many leads you're working on in a given month.

2. Where are the above leads coming from?

3. Determine your lead to customer conversion rates.

4. How long is your typical sales cycle?

5. How many customers do you attract per month?

Don't forget to measure your customer acquisition and retention rates.

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Create Buyer Personas

To target the demographics you want to attract, you have to create personas to understand who they are and what their motivations are.

When you create buyer personas, you're basically formulating a fictional character based on metrics you already have about people who've visited you. Forbes noted last year how important buyer personas are for ultimate targeting. Without these, you're basically going in blind about how to structure your marketing content.

Your best way to start buyer personas is to ask questions of the people you want to attract to your site. You could do this by sending them surveys in marketing emails.

Some things to scope out in your personas:

  • What the ages and incomes are of your demographics.
  • What are their favourite hobbies and pastimes?
  • Their neighbourhoods and the activities they partake in.
  • Personality traits.
  • How your company can help your prospects reach their goals.

You'll want to do a deep-dive on your personas and understand them from every conceivable angle.

Understanding the Buyer's Personal Journey

Customer journey maps are an essential component to inbound marketing. In a way, this is an extension to your buyer personas to find out more personal attributes. For instance, you'll want to understand what their emotions are, thoughts, and general feelings.

These all determine what kind of things they might buy and what kind of content they'd prefer consuming.

A few things to keep in mind as you build a customer journey map:

  • Create an illustration to give a visual sense of what a customer goes through before they decide to buy something.
  • Map out each touchpoint a prospect makes in the journey. This starts with awareness and eventually leads to communication with your sales team or customer support.
  • Study when your customers are most receptive within their buying journey. Knowing this helps your marketing team know when the best times are to send marketing emails or to post content.

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Study Your Competition

If you've ever read Sun Tzu's "Art of War", then you know the famous line "Know yourself, know your enemy, and you shall win a hundred battles without loss." While you don't want to consider your competitors enemies, you still want to know what they're doing before you implement your inbound marketing plan.

Go visit their websites and see what kind of content they're producing. Take a look at a number of things to give you an idea of how you'll approach your own content strategy:

  • What kind of blogs are they writing? Are they blogging at all, and is it popular on Google search results?
  • What kind of content are they writing about? Is it shared often on social media?
  • Do they have an overall large social media following?
  • Are they using email marketing effectively?
  • Do their websites have valuable backlinks?
  • How do they attract web traffic?

Using sites like BuzzSumo can give you more in-depth analysis on all these key points.

Set Your Sales and Marketing Goals

Do you have a set of goals in place before you start creating inbound content? One good method to use here is the SMART strategy. SMART is an acronym for "Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely."

For Specific, you'll want to measure real numbers on what you want to accomplish rather than be overly general on wanting more visitors. Measurable means making sure you're truly capable of measuring your goals during the campaign.

Attainable is going to mean staying in reality and knowing what you can realistically accomplish. Realistic is self-explanatory and hones in on transparency and honesty on what you're capable of doing. Timely means setting a realistic time frame on when you want to start seeing results.

Check out HubSpot's more detailed look at how to set up SMART marketing goals.

Create a Value Proposition

This inbound marketing step might sound simple considering it's one sentence describing what value you bring to your prospective customers. Even though it's just one sentence, you have to encapsulate everything you stand for within those words. Obviously, that's easier said than done.

Evidence proves value propositions help with conversion rates. How do you approach creating one?

  • Bring some clarity to your proposition so it's easy to understand and can even become quotable.
  • Avoid using complicated industry jargon. No matter if your products are technical, make your description easy to understand for any average person.
  • Highlight all benefits and results of your products or services. However, don't go on too long with what makes you valuable. Shorter is always better.
  • Let prospects know what makes your business different from everyone else. To stand out, you need to show you're unique and not a copycat.

It pays to create multiple drafts of your value proposition and then select one that's the most concise and meaningful.

Identify Opportunities for Targeted Traffic Attraction

What kind of opportunities can you realistically take on to help attract the demographic you want to target? This ultimately comes down to three big steps:

  • Identify all keywords you can use potentially bringing the most profitability. Many online resources are available to help you with keyword research.
  • Create quality content you know your demographic will love to read. The personas you created above will help guide you to the type of content they prefer, whether it's technical, comedic, long-reads, videos, or infographics.
  • Find the best ways to promote your inbound content. Remember the old axiom: "Spend 20% of your time creating content and 80% promoting it." Locate the best places to promote by knowing where your demographics hang out the most often.

Optimise Your Site for Conversions

No doubt you've done some optimising on your site already, though you'll need to do more after finding out what your demographics are.

You'll need to take several steps to make this work effectively:

1. Use Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) where you use split-testing software to test visitor reactions and adjust your site based on the metrics.

2. Conversion-centred design (CCD) involves using psychological triggers or various directional cues to entice visitors to take a specific action.

3. Conversion-focused copywriting involves finding the most persuasive words, catchy headlines, and using simplified copy.

4. Contextual marketing where you use more personalised content based on the search terms your visitors used.

Focus on a Closed-Loop Marketing Cycle

Gaining feedback on your inbound content should employ a closed-loop cycle that works by integrating various marketing tools. As an example, you'll want to integrate your metrics software with a CRM so you can keep on top of everything through one platform.

You make this easier if your website becomes the center where all the inbound marketing takes place. Connecting your marketing and sales systems there lets you consolidate everything so you can get a more accurate picture of the revenue you're generating. Otherwise, you might suffer from what's known as unsynchronised data, which is usually the result of using outdated software and systems.

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Align Your Sales and Marketing

Further integration should take place to make your inbound campaign well-rounded so you see a bigger picture. Another place to align is your sales and marketing departments.

The goal here, of course, is to generate as much revenue as possible. To get this started, you'll want to create a service level agreement both departments can agree on.

Some steps to create an effective SLA:

  • Create one collective goal your entire company can embrace so you're all on the same page.
  • Define your lead generation terms so sales and marketing both understand the criteria you need for lead qualifications.
  • Outline a process that determines when the sales department hands off leads to the marketing department. Part of this may involve sending unqualified or unresponsive leads to marketing for automated marketing processes.
  • Bring transparent reporting so all departments see your inbound marketing metrics. Be sure sales and marketing both hold progress meetings.

Build an Inbound Marketing Team

How can you build a team in your company to make your inbound plan a reality? Not everyone is going to have the capabilities to take part. Nevertheless, you'll need a reliable team to make sure all aspects of the plan get done correctly.

What's most important is to create titles for each person involved. You'll want a chief content officer, an editor, producer, and strategist. Also look into creating a knowledge manager, a curator, an analyst/researcher, and listener.

For audience and execution, you'll need a content marketer, a crowdsourcer, a community manager, social media manager, writers, visualisers, data journalists, and optimisers.

It's often best to keep your inbound team small if you can. Just make sure they have the expertise necessary to handle each task without making mistakes.

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Find a Budget for Your Inbound Marketing Plan

All marketing budgets vary depending on the size of your company and how much marketing spend you're allotted. To get an idea on what kind of budget you could use, you'll want to analyse your projected ROI for your inbound campaign.

A few things to remember about budgeting:

  • You need to consider budget based on your company's size and the competition you face.
  • Look at whether you've had success before with similar marketing campaigns.
  • Take a careful look at your annual revenue and your organisation's growth goals to determine how much marketing capital is worth spending.

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SEO/Pillar Pages

Your final inbound step is to look at the importance of SEO and the newer concept of creating pillar pages. Otherwise known as Power Pages, it's the new way to look at SEO compared to the old ways you've known. Topic clusters are also a new term you'll need to know.

The way to implement these new SEO principles is to create ungated long-form content. To make this possible, you'll want to link directly to your main domain, write longer blogs, use H2 tags for section headers, and do more social sharing as just a few tactics.

By following this entire blueprint, you'll have a good foundation to implement an inbound marketing plan designed for the coming decade.

Summary

It's a marketing process that attracts prospects to you rather than you seeking them.

  • Inbound techniques require a detailed, step-by-step approach to achieve the ultimate conversion goal.
  • Three phases: Discovery, analysis and implementation plan.

What you need is a good blueprint. You can download this guide in pdf form to keep or print