Inbound Marketing isn't a linear strategy, but rather an ongoing cycle. Learn how to master every aspect of that cycle.
As Inbound Marketing becomes more and more important for reaching your audience on the web, it’s important to note that it isn’t a rigid, linear strategy, but rather one that regularly evolves. In fact, an inbound marketing campaign often functions as a cycle, leading a potential customer through several touchpoints as you attract them to your site, show them how your products or services can solve their problems, and convert them into customers. Let’s look at the different components of this cycle and see how each of them provides value for your audience:
Premium Content Offer
Creating content offers for your audience is vital to your inbound marketing success. This is a common touchpoint for your audience, and it is likely to be the first way they will find you. Content can include: blogs, ebooks, webinars, tip sheets, etc. Developing a campaign around each of these pieces of content is important for your inbound marketing game plan. Even if your audience doesn't follow a linear path and consume the entirety of the campaign, it is vital to provide a "next step" that shows where they can go to find more information from each touchpoint. The actual content that you create is the meat and potatoes of the inbound cycle, but you also need to focus on the different ways your audience can find that content and what you want them to do after they consume it. We’ll look at those additional touchpoints below.
Landing Page + Call-To-Action (CTA)
The landing page and CTA are a dynamic duo in inbound marketing campaign creation, and they are an essential part of each campaign. This is where your audience will take the plunge to offer some of their information in exchange for your knowledge. These CTAs should be placed throughout your website, with each one leading to a landing page with the corresponding offer. In addition, after a contact inputs their info on a landing page to receive a content offer, they should be sent to a thank you page with the actual content. Each part of this conversion process is important, and it will help you understand where and why people might drop out of the cycle. If you have several contacts who click on a CTA but never convert by actually inputting their information on the landing page, I would recommend sprucing up your landing page to start optimizing for more content conversions from your audience.
Lead nurturing can mean a lot of things in the marketing world. Many people define lead nurturing as following up with your leads via email. The best way that I can explain my thoughts on lead nurturing is by taking a step back from the specific actions and looking at the term itself. In my opinion, lead nurturing consists of actions that help to educate your lead further in an intelligent way for each lead.
With that being said, many of the touchpoints that we’re discussing today could be considered lead nurturing. So let me explain further: lead nurturing must be done in an intelligent way. This might mean the smart CTAs that you place on your website in order to give the leads who have downloaded your eBook an additional offer on the same topic. It could be an intelligent email that is sent to leads that have filled their shopping cart on your ecommerce site but haven’t completed their purchase. It can consist of reaching out individually to connect with your followers on social media who have liked a certain piece of content but haven’t downloaded a complimentary offer. In some of these scenarios, you can use sophisticated programs to help you achieve this lead nurturing goal, but other scenarios might require some grunt work. No matter how you accomplish these tasks, lead nurturing comes from intelligently providing value to your contacts to help move them through the marketing funnel.
As mentioned above, your emails can include follow-up information for specific scenarios, or they could be used to let specific contacts know about new content offers that they might be interested in. Additionally, your email touchpoints may include monthly or weekly subscription emails. No matter the frequency or reasoning for your email, it should be well thought out and crafted specifically for that audience segment. These are great touchpoints that can also be tracked throughout the inbound process to confirm interest from your audience and be included as a piece of your inbound marketing campaign.
It may feel like you have heard this a million times by now, but I am going to say it too: if you’re not blogging, you should be. This is a vital piece of the inbound marketing cycle. Additionally, this platform provides a place for you to educate and inspire your audience about your company’s areas of expertise. Your blog’s posts are incredible ways to increase organic traffic and help your audience find follow-up content offers from your company thought leaders. If you are not utilizing this avenue to communicate and engage with your audience, you are most certainly missing out.
Social media should follow a rule of 80/20: 80% content related to your industry by others and 20% your own content. With that being said, there are many touchpoints that will direct your followers to your own content, and this may be how new contacts find you online. This is also a great way to connect with current leads and deliver them your new content as it becomes available. By using intelligent software, you can track the engagement levels with your content and follow relevant conversations about your company and industry. Leveraging this ever changing and incredibly powerful platform is a great tool for fueling your inbound marketing campaigns.
Analytics are quite possibly the most important part of an inbound marketing campaign. It is absolutely necessary to follow-up and analyze your metrics before, during, and throughout your marketing campaigns. With inbound marketing campaigns, this is particularly important due to the agile nature of the campaign. Unlike traditional marketing campaigns, in the event that you want to make changes and continue running a similar campaign, this can be done relatively easily. However, while you have the ability to make changes throughout the campaign, I would caution you to only do this under extreme circumstances and with solid confidence in the changes you are making.
Additionally, with the complexity of inbound marketing campaigns that having so many flexible touchpoints, it is necessary to follow-up with a concise and exhaustive analytical report on all these areas. HubSpot has a great campaign tool which allows you to essentially tag all these touchpoints with a certain campaign name for easier reporting when all is said and done. If you do not utilize HubSpot, reporting on all the moving pieces can become quite the task, but I encourage you to do so no matter what solution you use in order to continue learning where, when, and from what content your audience is coming to you.
Not a singular linear path
As you can see from the image above, these touchpoints form a circle. This is not only representative of the never-ending aspect of an inbound campaign cycle, but also the fact that your users can be introduced to your campaign at any point. Some contacts may first find out about your informative content from social media, while others may find your content from an organic search that leads directly to the corresponding landing page. Some contacts will download your content on their first view of your social media message, and some will be reminded to download this content when they see your social media message again several weeks later. The point I am trying to make is that although it's your content, you cannot exactly define each way all your contacts will interact with this content. You must make this process flexible and easy. The control is in your consumers’ hands today more than ever before. Instead of fighting this, embrace it. The easier you make it for your audience to interact with your content on their terms, the better off you'll be.
Creating a flexible and impacting inbound marketing campaign can be an extremely tricky balance. If you are having trouble deciding where to start or where to refine your marketing campaigns in order to cater to your audience, don't hesitate to reach out and connect with a Marketing Specialist. We are more than happy to help guide you in your marketing efforts.
Have questions or comments about this post? We'd love to hear from you.
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