You did it! You made your case to move to inbound marketing and your boss is on board, if still a little skeptical. Your next step is to do a deep dive into your current marketing program to evaluate, audit and plan for onboarding your new inbound marketing platform. In so doing, you will have solid knowledge of each essential aspect of your marketing program to date and be better able to strategize and implement new processes that really work. Here’s a breakdown of what to do to prepare for inbound.
Adopt a Methodology
Inbound methodology helps you define where you need to focus your marketing efforts. If you have loads of visitors and no leads, you need to focus on tactics that allow more visitors to fill out forms. If you have an abundance of people filling out forms and no sales, your opportunity is in either how your sales team is following up, OR the leads you are generating are not qualified. Look at your traffic, leads, and sales numbers to see where you have an opportunity for growth. In any case, as you review your current metrics, it all boils down to your website.
Evaluate — What’s working? What’s not?
Digital marketing begins with your website, the engine for most of your digital marketing endeavors. If you don’t have one yet, this should be your highest priority. If you do, are you getting visitors? What are they doing on your website and how long are they staying? Are they converting from visitors to customers? Is your website optimized for mobile users? And most of all, are you even able to answer these questions?
A website should not be a static or cast in stone, but rather a dynamic, finely tuned and regularly evaluated marketing tool using search engine optimization to draw customers to your website. It should be designed to support your brand, address each visitor personally, provide useful, relevant information and offerings, and ultimately provide leads that result in sales. A good list of things to consider changing and why can be found in our blog “Helpful Steps to Optimizing Your Website Redesign.”
Next, look at how productive your advertising has been, both traditional and digital. Can you calculate return on investment and, if so, how does it stack up across the different channels you have been using? Does your advertising represent your company mission, brand and products? Does it differentiate your company from your competition? Most of all, is it resulting in leads and sales? If you are like many advertisers, you put it out there and hope for the best, often not really understanding how it works, why it works or even if it did work. HubSpot has a great overview of advertising (including a fun history lesson) that can help shape your perspective for future advertising in “The Ultimate Guide to Advertising in 2018.” Additional resources are also available from HubSpot that look at advertising from a variety of perspectives, including the Advertising ROI Calculator.
Now, move on to your social media presence. If your company is active on social media, you already know how much time and effort it takes to produce and post relevant social content. But do you have the analytics available showing ROI and actual social media engagement? You will once you begin inbound marketing, but any information you can gather now will help you fine tune your future social media offerings. Also take a look at social media statistics from HubSpot that define trends and the diverse demographics of different social media channels. If you are not yet using social media, be sure to include it in the mix when you design your inbound strategy.
While you’re looking at social media statistics, also check out the email marketing numbers. They show email to be as or more relevant than ever with 75 percent of companies considering email to have “excellent” to “good” ROI. Whether your past email marketing attempts have failed or succeeded, inbound marketing will help improve your use of email as well as your ability to track email campaigns. Meanwhile, do your best to develop your past email track record so you will be better able to see the before-and-after effects of inbound marketing.
Audit Your Content
As noted above, your website should be constantly changing, in part by the addition and revision of content — blogs, offers (like e-books and checklists), landing pages, pillar pages, white papers — all of the written components of your website. To ensure your content remains correct and relevant, it’s important to audit and assess it. If it’s old, are there factual errors or other information (for example, about products that you no longer offer) that make the piece obsolete? Can you refresh a blog by just double-checking links and updating a little information? Can you group several blogs on similar topics and create a cluster with a pillar page?
One great way to organize your content audit is to create a spreadsheet containing each piece of content by title, topic, status, and format. This will provide the big picture and show you where holes are in your content, what’s no longer useful or valid, potential pillar/cluster blogs, and so on. Keep in mind that when you adopt the HubSpot inbound marketing methodology, you will use this audit spreadsheet as a guide to help you connect with your customers as you develop your inbound strategy.
As you build your content spreadsheet, you will also likely come up with new content ideas that can stand alone (like an e-book) or be combined with other current or future content. It’s a good idea to add these ideas below on your spreadsheet for consideration in your inbound strategy. Keep in mind that according to the Content Marketing Institute , “Content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising.”
Plan for the digital world
Digital marketing is growing more complex by the year as new technologies are introduced, old ones disappear, and changing trends dictate what you should be doing (and how) to stay on game. But there are several steps you should take to create a plan for moving forward with digital marketing. Here are three of the most essential:
1) Define your customers. How well do you know your target potential customers? You can get a feel for them by taking a look at your current customers, but could you be missing something? Probably. That’s why in inbound marketing it’s essential to do a deep dive into the universe of potential customers in an exercise known as “defining your buyer personas.” Not just a list of things you think your customers have in common, buyer personas are researched by talking with customers to develop different “semi-fictional” profiles of potential customers. Buyer personas not only help you target new customers, they help avoid annoying uninterested people with emails and other offerings they don’t want. HubSpot offers a wealth of information about personas including the helpful blog, “How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business,” which includes a free template.
2) Develop a keyword list. Keywords remain one of the most essential aspects of digital marketing because keywords lie at the core of the digital machine. If you’re not sure how to develop your keyword list, here are a few tips from HubSpot to get you going.
- Search for your business using three to five words you think others would use to search for your business.
- Use a keyword planner (i.e., com or Google’s Keyword Planner) to get keyword options based on the words you provide. These tools will provide related search terms but will also inform you how often people use the term in a search.
- Create your list from the results provided by the keyword tools. This list could number in the hundreds or more. Rank the keywords by relevance to your business and by number of searches (volume).
- Break down your list to the top three-to-five highest-scoring words and phrases, and use them in your website’s page titles, URLs, meta data, and of course your content.
3) Build your inbound marketing team. As you begin to build your inbound infrastructure, you will begin to see where you need additional expertise on your team. While your team probably has many of the skill sets necessary for inbound success, here is a brief list attributes you can anticipate needing:
- Email marketing.
- Conversion rate optimization.
- Pay-per-click marketing.
- Project management.
- Search engine optimization.
- Social media creation/management.
- Web analytics and analysis.
- Web design.
- Web development (front and back end).
Your staff can be trained and certified in a variety of inbound areas at HubSpot, or you can work with a HubSpot partner agency near you. Either way, you will soon be on your way to seeing the results of inbound marketing with a new appreciation for the opportunities it offers.
This high-level overview of how to prepare for digital inbound marketing is just an introduction, but it will help you begin to understand the realities of marketing in a digital world. By staying on top of the basics, you can begin to organize your efforts to reach across the channels people use every day, in a way that isn’t intrusive, but rather helpful. That’s something your new customers will appreciate!