We live in a world where people crave information as much as they crave their favorite foods. This quest for information presents a unique opportunity for you to connect with your audience by both engaging them with information they care about, and by providing them with valuable knowledge through content. In order to take advantage of this opportunity, businesses must create and execute an effective inbound marketing strategy.
We’re talking about a marketing approach that is focused upon the creation and distribution of valuable, relevant content with the purpose of generating leads. Here are 6 steps you can take to create an effective inbound marketing strategy for your business.
Determine Your Goals
Before you can begin planning and executing any sort of strategy, you need to nail down what you are trying to accomplish. Your goals must be specific, or SMART. It’s not helpful to say, “I want more customers for my heating and cooling company.” Instead, you need to decide your target. Do you want to increase your revenue for Q4 from the services side of your business? Are you wanting to see an increase in customers who call you for new installations in a specific location? Is your goal to be more proactive with customers, and encourage them to service their units before the winter season? Each of these goals would require different content, so you have to know what you want to accomplish before you start publishing.
Know Your Ideal Customer
Once you you know your goals, you need to do everything you can to determine your ideal customer. By taking the time to know who your ideal customer is, as well as the problems they want solved, you will be able to create content that they find valuable. The best way to identify your ideal customer is to build out buyer personas. Remember those from Chapter 3?
Conduct a Content Audit
Take the time to evaluate the content you may already have. Even if it was created before a strategy was put into place, could it be reworked to suit your goals? A content audit should also explore how any existing content was received by your audience. If you wrote a blog previously, how did it perform? Could it be expanded on to develop a larger eBook? Once you have a good idea of the current state of your content, what you can rework, and what types of content have performed the best, you can begin to take steps to build out your content marketing plan.
Build a Content Marketing Plan
Content marketing is one of the largest pieces of the inbound marketing pie and it takes a lot of time, especially if it is going to be done well. Before you jump right into writing and creating content, you need a way to manage your content. Who will be responsible for managing your content and what systems or software will you use to manage it? If your team is limited, will you need to hire for this role or should you consider outsourcing? Once you’ve decided how you plan to manage the plan, you’ll need to build it. Because this content strategy exists as part of a greater marketing strategy, you need to know what kind of content you’re going to create in order to attract visitors that will become leads. In order to accomplish this, you will need some of the following types of content: blogs, offers (such as eBooks, guides, checklists), and social media posts to attract people to the blogs and offers. You’ll also be able to decide what photos and videos you will need within your content marketing. Our team prefers to plan out our content at least a month in advance. This doesn’t mean that all of our content has been created a month ahead, but that we know the plan a month in advance. You might want to start with a week or two weeks at a time, and then work up to a monthly strategy.
This can be as simple as an excel sheet, but here are some of the things you will want to include:
Because you’ve taken the time to establish your goals, audience, and lead generation strategy, and to do your research, you are well prepared to begin creating your content. Make sure that you allow time within your plan to edit this content, so that everything you share is high-quality.
Once this content is created, you need to share it with the world. Post it on your social media pages, share it in an email to your contacts, or create a digital ad for it. The purpose of this content is to generate leads for your business. As you’re planning the best way to distribute the content you have created, lead generation needs to be at the front of your mind. If you just publish your content online without it being part of any sort of plan, you will lose out on effectiveness.
Analyze Your Data
When it comes to inbound marketing, you can never stop analyzing your performance. Which blogs drive the greatest number of visitors? How can you change your landing pages or forms to see maximum conversions? Which email subject lines have the best open rates? The process of analyzing, testing, improving, and analyzing some more will help you to get the greatest return possible for the content you create.