7 Tips for Developing an Awesome Inbound Marketing Plan
If you’re transitioning from outbound to inbound marketing, good for you! Unlike outbound marketing, which interrupts people (think television ads and direct mail), an inbound marketing plan is meant to turn leads into customers through an interactive,
engaged and connected experience. Your goal is to interest your audience so that they keep coming back for more. You’re “pulling” rather than “pushing.” It’s all about community.
With audiences more active than ever, it’s no wonder why inbound marketing has become all the rage. This means that companies – as well as marketing agencies like us – must create awesome inbound marketing plans if they want to stand out and get noticed. We’re not the only fish in the sea.
Before I get caught up in the “awesomeness” factor of any given inbound marketing strategy, I’ll tell you one thing you need to do if you want your plan to be a success: know its purpose. You can’t just jump into the waters of inbound marketing without knowing why you’re jumping. Ask yourself a couple questions before you begin to develop a new inbound marketing plan:
- What are my goals?
- What marketing challenges have I faced in the past?
- Who is my ideal customer? How can I attract and engage them?
- How much money do I have to invest in an inbound marketing program?
After you have your answers, you’re ready to start planning for awesomeness. Here are my 7 tips for developing an inbound marketing plan that’ll WOW your leads into sales:
- Remember that you’re earning people’s attention. You need to create appealing content that sparks conversation and promotes sharing. An inbound marketing plan helps people (that are already looking for what you offer) find you online and then delivers value to these people. Without value, people will walk away without ever looking back. Do you inspire, educate? Understand how what you have to offer is going to help your audience.
- Add the human touch. Inbound marketing is so effective because it’s about community. Don’t be afraid to get personal and infuse your own personality into the mix. People engage with content, pictures, information and brands that they can relate to. Show your audience how your products or services relate to their lives, lifestyle, values and beliefs. The bottom line: create to relate.
- Be original in a copycat world. Inbound marketing isn’t a new phenomenon, and you’re not the only one intending to create or refresh an inbound marketing plan. And you don’t want to be different just for the sake of being different. Be different because it makes sense.
- Spread your wings. By this, I mean that your inbound marketing plan should cover as many bases as makes sense for your company: social media, SEO, blogging, PPC, website design. Basically, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Explore the various ways you can interact with your audience and draw them in with interesting content. Not every avenue will make sense for your company’s goals or budget, but find what works for you and go hit a home run.
- Define your driving force. Everything that you do within your inbound marketing strategy should fit with the company’s vision, values and personality. But you also want your activities to be well worth the energy. What are your goals, priorities and main sources of income? Where do you get the “best bang for your buck”? Whatever makes your company unique, whatever drives your company forward, whatever keeps you profitable – make these things be the focus of ALL your inbound marketing efforts. Just don’t sacrifice your values for the sake of more money.
- Understand the commitment. Inbound marketing is an investment. You need the budget or you need the time. You can’t commit to developing an awesome inbound marketing plan if you don’t have one or both of those things. Something that clients often struggle to realize is that an inbound marketing strategy takes time to produce real results, especially if they don’t have a decent budget to fund the activity. It’s important that companies understand the dedication – whatever the time-to-money ratio they’re dealing with – that an inbound marketing plan requires.
- Don’t be afraid to learn through experience. The best inbound marketing strategies are created with the intent to act. Of course you’ll be spending time planning, but most of your time should be spent doing. Create a 12-month inbound marketing approach, and then take action. Always test your CTAs (calls-to-action), landing pages, offers and any other efforts so you can improve as you learn. You will learn by reading others’ successes and failures, but you will be your best teacher.
With an easy-to-navigate website and strong traffic-generating efforts, traffic will turn into leads and leads will turn into sales. As long as you stay on top of your metrics and nurture the leads that you generate, you’ll be working with a recipe for inbound marketing success.
Have I missed any important tips? What inbound marketing lessons have you learned? Please share your own successes or insights in the comments section below… let’s get a conversation going!
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