If you build it, they will come.
Well, that’s not entirely true for a website.
After you build it, there’s still work to do to attract those juicy views, clicks and conversions.
You’ve got to set the bait.
That’s what inbound marketing is all about—you put valuable things on your website and your customers find you all on their own, saving you time, resources and energy.
Now you just need to know how to set the absolute best bait that attracts the right people. People who are ready to take the desired action—like sign up for your mailing list, download your e-book or spend money.
Done right, inbound marketing is a powerful tool for bringing highly-qualified leads to your website. You’ll start to see a steady stream of clients and customers reaching out to purchase your products or use your services.
How to Plan Inbound Marketing the Right Way
Unfortunately, many companies fail with inbound marketing.
They don’t consider their end goals, making it difficult for them to formulate the right plan. They publish a few blog posts, shoot off some social media posts and sit back wondering why they’re not attracting more attention.
If you’re not establishing clear goals for your inbound marketing plan, you’re only setting yourself up for failure.
For your marketing strategy to be successful, you need to consider what you’d like to accomplish.
Who are you hoping to reach? How much attention do you hope to attract? What kind of conversions are you looking for? Knowing the answers to questions like these can help you create an inbound plan that allows you to reach—and surpass—your marketing goals.
If you’re ready to create a goal-crushing inbound marketing plan, grab a notebook and a pen—or open up your favorite word processor. Let’s take a look at the four-step process you need to follow in order to write a plan up right now. Write down your answers as we go, and by the end of this post you’ll have a solid inbound marketing plan of your own.
How to Create an Inbound Marketing Plan That Reels in Customers
1. Know Your Target Audience
Before you do any kind of inbound marketing, you need to identify exactly who you’re marketing to. Understanding who your ideal customers are will allow you to develop a more targeted inbound strategy, helping you to achieve your goals faster.
Many companies make the mistake of trying to connect with as many people as possible. Instead of defining the exact people who they’d like to work with, they try and attract whatever eyeballs they can get. This means they tend to create marketing messaging that’s generic, flat and easily forgotten.
Trying to attract too many different people usually means that you’ll waste your time attracting non-buyers. They’ll click, read and leave without taking the direct action. While a few low-quality clients may come your way, they’ll often be difficult to work with and you’ll both be unhappy with the transaction.
Creating a buyer persona allows you to identify the people who you think will become your customers. Who will take the desired action? Who wants to receive your emails? Who wants to buy your product or service?
When you know which people you want to attract, you can start creating the exact content you know will get their attention. You can use more targeted language, publish more targeted content, create a better strategy for placing your ads and have an all-around easier time meeting your marketing goals.
Get specific about the buyer persona you create. Include everything from basic demographics like age and gender to more detailed descriptions about their interests, hopes and fears. Write everything down and make this information accessible, so that your entire team can access your completed buyer persona.
2. Establish Your Goals
Goals will give you a direction to move in.
They’ll ensure that everyone on your team is working to accomplish the same things, and they’ll provide you with something to measure your marketing success.
Before you begin creating the content you’ll use in your inbound plan, you need to take a moment and think about what you hope to accomplish. Try to get more specific than only “sell more products” or ‘collect more leads.”
In order to effectively move forward, your goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely.
Think about what action your target audience will need to perform to go through your whole sales funnel. This may include signing up for your email newsletter, agreeing to participate in a webinar or following you on a social media profile.
You don’t need to limit yourself to just one goal for your marketing plan.
While you shouldn’t expect your inbound plan to achieve everything at once, you can hope for multiple outcomes with the strategy you create. Choose two or three goals you hope to accomplish when creating your inbound strategy and write them down.
Once you’re done with that, the next step in a good inbound marketing plan is staying organized and keeping track of due dates—after all, all of your goals should be timely and have a set due date.
Hold yourself and your writing team accountable by using a content calendar like CoSchedule. This can help you stay on track with your inbound plan.
3. Create Your Content Strategy
Content is the center of your inbound strategy. Creating high-quality content allows you to attract better leads and convince them to take some kind of action.
There are various kinds of content that can go into an inbound strategy. From blog posts and social media campaigns to landing pages and videos, you have some freedom to get creative about the content you create.
However, the content you post needs to be working directly towards your inbound marketing goals.
Take a look at the goals you established in step two.
What’s the best way to reach those goals?
If you’re hoping to get more newsletter signups, you may need to create a downloadable piece of content visitors can get for sharing their email address. If you’re hoping to attract new readers to your blog, create informative posts that they’ll be excited to read.
Each piece of content you create should work to achieve one of the goals you’ve established—but only one. When a reader gets to the end of your content, it should be clear what you want them to do.
To this end, make sure to include an appropriate call to action with each post.
Which types of content will combine best with which calls to action? For example, an e-book may be the perfect content to encourage an email signup. A YouTube video could be effective in leading readers to a discount or special offer.
4. Monitor, Track and Adjust
You’ve established your inbound goals and created your content strategy, but you’re not quite done yet.
Laying out what you hope to happen with your new plan doesn’t necessary mean it will happen. You need to be prepared to make necessary changes to ensure you’re moving towards your goals.
Google Analytics, SerpBook and social media analytics can help you better understand if your inbound plan is working. You can track how many people are coming to your website, how they’re getting to your page and whether or not they’re converting. Knowing what to track will depend on your goals.
This is why establishing measurable goals is crucial for the tracking process. If you simply say you’d like to have “more newsletter signups,” you never really know when you’ve accomplished that goal.
Instead, if you say you’d like to have 100 more newsletter signups in the next month, you can clearly see whether or not you’ve reached your target.
Be prepared to make adjustments if you’re far off. If it’s looking more and more like you’re not going to be able to reach your goal, see what strategy shift you can make to get the boost you need. This may include adding more content or even shifting your target audience.
Pay close attention to the changes that may appear when you shift your strategy. Document which content is getting the most attention, which is more or less ignored, and use these insights to create the content your target audience is looking for.
Continuously shift your inbound plan as you learn more about your audience’s needs and expectations.
The right inbound marketing strategy has the power to completely transform the way you do business. When customers are finding your business online, you can save precious time and money you would have wasted on traditional marketing tactics.
But if you’re not sure what you want out of your inbound plan, you shouldn’t expect to see positive results.
At each step of creating your inbound marketing strategy, consider what you’d like to happen. Know exactly what goals you’d like to achieve and frame your plan around the necessary steps to get there.
When you stay focused on your goals, your marketing plan will be even more successful.