Crafting Inbound Marketing Strategy

It seems like everyone considers themselves a marketing expert these days. Throw in some buzz words like “SEO”, “Organic”, “Engagement”, “Synergy”, and “Influencer”, and you can own your own agency, right? Someone throws the word “Inbound” at you and you can already see the dollar signs in their eyes like Scrooge McDuck, right? Not quite how it works. In today’s crowded marketplace, what does it really take to be considered an expert inbound marketing company? Well, I can tell you one thing; it takes a whole lot more than spitting some overused marketing lingo. It takes practice, discipline, and most of all, a lot of strategic planning.

Our agency has spent years refining our processes and we are continuously looking to improve and make these processes more effective and more streamlined. Through experience, we’ve found that, by far, one of the most important processes any marketer can (and should!) refine is campaign strategy for proper campaign execution.

It’s easier said than done, and getting caught in the whirlwind of administrative duties, death by meeting, and distractions in the office (Cornhole, anyone?) can hinder your abilities to execute and thus, see those oh-so-important results. What’s a marketer to do? We’ve done the work for you. Here are 6 tried and true steps that never fail when crafting strategy for a campaign to hit those SMART goals like a boss. Cheers to sustainable results!

  • 1. Live in Q2

    No, Q2 isn’t the new hot city to move to. (On second thought, yes it is, move to Q2 – quit moving to Denver, people! The rental rates are savage right now.) In an effort for our team to continuously grow and improve as both people and marketers, we have really bought in as an organization to Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. I recommend every marketer give it a read, but for the purposes of this article the gist is everybody’s goal should be to spend their time in Q2. Q2 is where you’re the most productive. You’re not spending all of your time putting out fires, trying to catch up, wasting time on tasks that won’t drive results, and putting Band-Aids on crises. How can you achieve this? Planning. It’s all about planning. Plan ahead, get out your crystal ball and look into the future. When all of the moving pieces are so interconnected and dependent upon each other in a fast-moving marketing campaign, it’s crucial not to let something slip through the cracks and derail your entire plan. Get two steps ahead of where you think you should be. To achieve this, it takes a lot of practice and self-discipline. But when applied to your marketing campaign, you’ll be amazed at how much more organized you are and how much more time you can spend on things that actually matter.
  • 2. Big Picture Planning First

    Planning a year in advance seems overwhelming and excessive. But it’s worth it. We go through an extensive onboarding process with our clients where we build big-picture campaign strategy that we will refer to and integrate throughout our entire campaign. It’s crucial to lay the right foundation first. Once our individual strategy is built for each area of the campaign, we put it together in a final marketing plan that lays out proposed timelines that are centered around scope of work, SMART Goals, seasonal trends/events, etc. so we have a solid plan and idea of what we need to target throughout the campaign to be effective and when we need to plan for it so we’re ready when the time comes.
  • 3. Do Some Research

    On a monthly basis, about mid-month, I begin diving into analytics and doing research in Google Analytics, HubSpot portals, and scoping competitors. How are our numbers looking? Do we have some lofty numbers to hit next month? Where are we at on scope deliverables? What are the hot topics in the industry? These are just some of the items I dig in on to begin planning strategy for the following month. It’s tempting to not spend the time upfront getting down and dirty in analytics and trends, but you’ll suffer later if you don’t, trust me. This is really the first step I take when planning ongoing monthly strategy for a campaign to ensure I’m making sound and strategic plans for execution moving forward. Bottom line: we need to ensure that we aren’t just spinning our wheels and checking tasks off our list. The things we spend our time on need to drive bottom-line results.
  • 4. Connect the Dots & Fill the Holes

    Next, after doing some research, I refer back to our initial onboarding strategy and final marketing plan that we created in step two. Do we need to adjust the timeline? Maybe we planned to execute a nurturing campaign next month but after looking at where we’re at with results I realize we’re not at a spot in the campaign where we need nurturing yet and we still need to focus on building first, so I adjust activity to reflect that. It’s a balancing act that I’m constantly performing as a strategist. I also take a look at our funnel and overall content library. Are we missing crucial pieces for one of our most important personas? Have we been ignoring one sector and focusing too heavily on another? This is where content mapping and building editorial calendars comes in handy. (See next step).
  • 5. Build an Editorial Calendar

    Having direction for execution based on research and strategy is absolutely key. I’m a very visual person and I also sleep a little better at night knowing I have my shit together and can have a physical plan to refer to where I’m able to organize my thoughts in an easy to follow, understandable format. On a monthly basis, I build an editorial calendar with proposed blog topics connected to specific keyword strategy, target persona, and connected premium offer we are promoting. This also includes emails we’re planning on sending connected to a specific campaign as well as any projects we are planning on completing such as workflows, homepage redesign, integrations, paid advertising, etc. This is all pulled from the research I did, analytics, scope of work, initial marketing plan built during onboarding, and SMART goals. To aid in building an effective editorial calendar, content mapping is absolutely critical. Download our Buyer’s Journey Content Map (below) or I will literally be so disappointed in you. I use it all the time. It helps to ensure the blog topics I’m picking, premium content we’re building, etc. align with our personas and that we are completely covering our bases effectively and not leaving any gaping holes that will come back to haunt us later. (Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda, right?)

Map your content strategy

  • 6. Make Room for Agility

    By now I’m sure you’ve noticed the overall theme of planning and being organized. “Keep our shit tight”, as our fearless leader Eric Pratt would say. That doesn’t mean that the big-picture plan you build or the editorial calendars you build on a monthly basis are set in stone. In fact, it will hurt you if you look at it in such a black-and-white way. Make room for agility. It’s so important to be able to roll with the punches and make adjustments to be effective and drive results. By planning ahead, you actually are able to be more agile in a campaign by having the ability to make small tweaks when necessary that are well thought-out and strategic.

When you take the time to plan your marketing actions, you see better results. It's as simple as that. We work hard as marketers, and it's a damn shame to feel like you're doing so much work and seeing little in return. Some of us have learned this the hard way, but now you don't have to. Follow these six steps (and download that Buyer's Journey Content Map for the love of God) and you're on your way, kid.

 

smart marketing goals template

Topics: Inbound, Strategy

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