A marketing plan includes everything from understanding your target market and your competitive position in that market, to how you intend to reach that market (your tactics) and differentiate yourself from your competition in order to make a sale. Your business’ marketing budget should be a component of your marketing plan. Essentially, it will outline the costs of how you are going to achieve your marketing goals within a certain time frame. Is inbound marketing part of your business’ marketing plan?
Many businesses are in the process of planning their growth strategies this time of year and are realizing that they can’t afford to have any reservations about wether their marketing $$ are getting a return on investment. That is why inbound marketing is being highly considered as a solution. While a fairly new concept, inbound marketing is gaining unbelievable traction because it produces measurable results, and for one simple reason: it is the first marketing methodology that takes a comprehensive approach,to deliver what matters most. You see inbound marketing is the most cost-effective way to generate, convert, nurture and close leads into sales.
So even if your current tactics are producing excellent results, you're limiting the potential for them to improve dramatically if you haven't jumped on the inbound boat.Just look at the statistics recently released by the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report , they speak for themselves:
93% of companies using inbound marketing increase lead generation
41% of marketers say inbound marketing produces measurable ROI
Inbound marketers' average website conversion is double the rate of non-inbound marketers
Companies that excel at inbound lead nurturing generate 50% more leads at 33% lower cost
The time is now to set your inbound marketing goals and I have 5 steps to empower you to get there:
1. Self Assessment
This step evaluates what your current marketing activities are and how you are executing on these engagements.
BLOGGING - If you are blogging, then what has been successful? Do you know your buyer personas and are you creating content with those personas in mind? How do you choose topics or titles? How often are you blogging and why...who is doing it? Also, are you tying the subject into a conversion path to create leads?
SOCIAL MEDIA - The big 4 of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. Social matters. It matters to search engines and to your target customers. Are you active in these and do you post in them regularly? Do you engage in conversations often and repost other thought leaders in your industry’s content?
PAY PER CLICK - If you invest in PPC, are you giving the searcher a good experience? As in are you driving the people to related content? Ensure your content is engaging to capitalize on conversion opportunities and also to lower your bounce rate so that Google AdWords will charge you less.
OUTBOUND MARKETING - Finally, what do you do outside the world of your computer? Print Ads, attend events, mailers, cold calling...etc.
Now the big question - How do you know any of these marketing activities are working for your business? Can you assess what works? If you really want to know and stop guessing, start with step #2..
2. Self Projection
To create a great foundation is to create SMART goals. This is essential to your business, to project where you are going.
SPECIFIC- There is no doubt as to whether the goal has been achieved. A goal to increase sales as much as possible is not specific; a goal to increase sales by 10% or by $150,000 is.
MEASURABLE - Sales and marketing goals can and should be measurable, particularly in the case of internet marketing. Your growth goals should always include numbers - either a percentage, a dollar figure or a sales unit count.
ATTAINABLE - Your growth goals should be challenging, but they should be attainable. Setting a goal for 20% growth is a stretch, but in many cases attainable. If you set your goal to double sales growth, you most likely will fail. You should set growth goals that will challenge your team, but will allow them to own the goals because they believe they're doable.
RELEVANT- SMART goals should be relevant and realistic. They should integrate with your overall business goals - individual SMART goals should flow into business SMART goals. They should take into account marketplace conditions, competition and all of the business challenges you face.
TIMELY - The final element of SMART goals is that there is a timeframe in which they take place. Increasing sales by 10% isn't a SMART goal; increasing sales by 10% within six months is.
Project Outward - Make your goals public. Refer to them on a regular basis. Consider checking your marketing goals on a monthly basis. Here's an example of a stretch goal for a business using inbound marketing to gain new customers:
3.Resources and Efforts
With a firm foundation of marketing efforts and SMART goals for your business the next step is to evaluate what you will need to reach your goals and who has the skill set to produce these resources.
In any successful inbound marketing campaign a company must have all the necessary components to build the marketing engine. The engine is comprised of these vital parts:
Premium Blog Content - blogs produced, optimized, and distributed with the right frequency through multiple channels.
Premium Offers - creating a valuable good that your client will consume in exchange for their information to create conversions for lead generation and the landing pages to collect their info.
Nurturing - to convert your leads to customers you must stay in front of them by creating a workflow of emails to guide your leads down your sales funnel to a point of sale.
ROI Analysis - simply put, how is the marketing activity you are doing tracking against the business goals you created?
4. Outline a Process
Now that you have the resources, tools, and talent to equip your company to reach your goals it is time to create the process to strategically implement these items.
The first step in creating a process that will fuel your engine to reach your goals would be to create an editorial calendar. Solidify your top 3 buyer personas and map out content to publish over the next 3 months that is focused on 1 persona per month. Set the frequency of the blogs for your website at 2-5 blogs per week and post with a relevant Call To Action/Premium Offer to capture leads. With your new list of leads you can utilize your Workflows/Lead Nurturing to take your leads through your online sales process or funnel. Plan on allocating at least 10 hours a week to pilot your inbound marketing engine.
This is a very macro view of how to execute on your plan of driving more qualified traffic to your website, effectively capturing these website visitors as leads, and nurturing incoming coming leads effectively to become paying customers!
5. Execute, Analyze, and Tweak
Once you've got your strategy developed, that's really the hardest part now it's time for execution. This is the step where you're actually doing all the work. You need to be consistent. You need to make sure that you're staying focused and following that strategy that you've set. You also want to test things because you want as much data as possible so that you can determine if things are working or not. During execution there are going to be things that come up, emergent things, shiny things, exciting things. So what you'll have to do is weigh whether those things wait for the next iteration in two to three months, or whether you deviate from your plan and you integrate those at the time that they come up.
So once you're through execution, then really what you're doing is analyzing that data that you've collected. You're trying to determine: Should we spend more time on something? Should we pull something? So, analysis is probably the most important part because you're always going to want to be looking at the data. Compare which buyer persona created the most leads, which blogs were the most successful and why….identify trends and base your new strategy and goals on these findings.
So in this whole process, what we always do is try to make sure that we're focusing on two questions, and the most important one is: Where can we add more value? So always be thinking about what you're doing, and if you can't answer the value question, you know, "Why are we doing this? Does this provide value for our customers or something internal that you're working on? If you can't answer that question, it's probably not something valuable, and you don't need to spend your time on it. Go somewhere else where you're adding the value.
Then the last question is where you can make the biggest difference in your business, because that's what this is all about is growing your business. So if you stay focused on goals and providing value for your buyer personas, it's going to be really easy to do that!
Is your website creating the premium content that attracts and converts into dollars for your business?