As we watched and analyzed the implementation and noteworthy success of inbound marketing programs throughout 2013, many business owners now have their sights set on launching their own inbound marketing program for their business in the New Year.
However, for most owners or marketing executives, it’s not always about when to start an inbound marketing program, but where and how.
To help you jumpstart a highly targeted inbound program for 2014, we’ve outlined the two, critical foundational tactics to get started with to ensure your inbound marketing program generates real, measurable, results.
1. Lay the Groundwork: Building A Strong Marketing Strategy
No matter if it’s a single tactic or a comprehensive campaign – always start with strategy. Without a specific plan in place, you’re leaving all of your marketing efforts to chance; greatly increasing the probability of your audiences perceiving your marketing initiatives as nothing more than an interruption.
To get started with an inbound marketing strategy, start with the foundation: your target audience. Who precisely are you marketing to? Take the time to actually outline this specific person – don’t just categorize them into a general group. Create an actual persona and document every detail you know about this person. Where do they live? Is this person male or female? How old are they? Do they have any common personality traits?
And most importantly, what common problems are they dealing with that your business’s product or service helps solve?
To collect this information, be sure to collaborate with your team on the “front line” who work with your customers on a daily basis – they’ll typically be able to provide specific insight into who your customer base really is.
Once you have this strategic foundation, you’ll be able to build a solid marketing strategy and create much more focused marketing tactics that connect with your target audience and cause them to take action.
2. Support The Buying Process With Useful Content: Creating A Dynamic Content Map
Content marketing is the heart of inbound marketing. But where many business fail is by focusing on quantity rather than quality, and misaligning content with the customer’s actual buying process and real interests.
To get started with content marketing, consider the typical stages of the buying process your target persona (the person you’ve outlined in your strategic foundation) goes through before purchasing your product of service, and the corresponding questions or challenges they're experiencing during each stage.
For example, what’s the initial problem that causes them to search for a business like yours? Do they go through a lengthy research process before making a decision? If so, what specifically, are they researching during this stage? Do they assess multiple competitors in your industry? What types of questions or concerns do they have when determining which company to do business with?
Depending on the product or service you’re selling, your buying process could have many stages, or just a few; either way, it’s important to outline this process in detail.
When the individual phases of the buying process are outlined, with your customers’ common challenges or apprehensions at each phase, you will have a comprehensive content map to reference when considering topics for blogs, whitepapers, webinars, etc.
Remember, the best content not only speaks directly to your customers' interests, but also assists them in making the perfect purchase - offering useful information, answering questions, and continuously guiding (not pushing) them to the next stage of the buying process.
Ready for more inbound marketing education? Check out our free eBook, Inbound Marketing 101: Understanding and Implementing an Effective Inbound Marketing Program.
All the best,
Sarah D'Andrea is an Inbound and Content Marketing Manager at Stream Companies, a Philadelphia area advertising agency.