10 Tips for Developing a Solid Inbound Marketing Strategy

Jen Spencer
Jen Spencer  |  July 16, 2019

An inbound marketing strategy is holistic, data-driven, and aims to attract the right individuals to your brand and convert them into lasting customers.

This type of marketing strategy helps your company grow by using digital channels in an organized and measurable way. While your website and your marketing automation platform are both important players in your inbound marketing campaigns, your success depends not only on the technology you use, but also on the research you conduct and the strategy you deploy.

Inbound marketing strategy tips 

These 10 tips will help you develop a solid inbound marketing strategy to attract, convert, close, and delight your current and future customers. 

1. Target a specific persona

A buyer persona is a representation of your target customer, and this representation goes beyond basic demographics to include psychographic information about the actual people who purchase and use your product or service.

The best way to develop your buyer personas is by interviewing actual customers who have recently made a purchase with you. When interviewing your customers, ask open-ended questions and seek to understand what a typical day looks like for them, how much time they spend at work vs at home, what’s the most frustrating part of their day, and even what accomplishments they are most proud of. 

You can also interview your sales team to better understand the types of customers they meet with, the reasons customers seem to share when they select your business over a competitor, and the most common objections they tend to hear throughout the sales process.

While most companies tend to have 3-4 buyer personas, your very first inbound marketing campaign should focus on your primary persona. By focusing on one persona, this will help you tailor your messaging and create a very focused campaign across multiple digital channels. These channels include emails, blogs, paid search ads, social media posts, and any other content offer you create or communication you develop.

2. Define SMART goals

SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (or timely). SMART goals are crucial to every inbound marketing campaign you run because without them, you have no way of tracking and measuring tangible results to help you plan your next campaign. 

A specific goal is something you could share with a teammate or leader quickly (think 10-15 seconds) that clearly states what you would like to improve.

Measurable indicates that the goal is trackable and numeric. If you can’t attach a number to your goal, you’ll have no idea how far you’ve come and what you have left to do to reach it.

While BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) are great for vision planning exercises, your inbound marketing goal has to be attainable, otherwise you and your team will become demotivated by your inbound marketing strategy.

Inbound marketing goals need to have a purpose — they need to be relevant. How is your inbound marketing strategy contributing to the company’s greater objectives?

Your goal has to be time-bound. Goals have deadlines, and this is important for marketing and sales alignment, as well as budgets and resourcing. 

A great example of a SMART goal for a new inbound marketer is: Increase VTL% from 2% to 3% in three months by creating five new pieces of content with a landing page that converts at 20% or higher.

3. Build an enticing offer

When you’re planning your first campaign as part of your inbound marketing strategy, take stock of all of the various forms of content you can offer to your personas. Regardless of whether your content offers are e-books, webinars, podcast episodes, checklists, or templates, this offer needs to be enticing, which means it needs to be something your persona will find valuable.

Keep in mind that the very best content is going to be educational, not salesy. If your content is focused 100% on you and your company, it likely will not perform well in your inbound marketing strategy.

4. Create an effective conversion path

An effective conversion path consists for a call-to-action (CTA), a landing page with a form, a thank-you page, and a corresponding thank you email. Take the time to really scrutinize your landing page. After all, this is what your target customer will use to determine if your content offer is worth the currency that is their contact information. 

When in doubt, remember the three Bs:

  • Brief: stick to the point
  • Bullet point benefits: why is this valuable?
  • Blink test: can you find the value on this page in two seconds?

Resist the urge to use your marketing automation platform’s “in-line response” feature. Yes, this seems easier than directing the form submission to a thank you page, but you want to continue to engage your buyer persona by serving them the asset they’ve requested, and perhaps offering them other resources they might find valuable. A follow-up email is essential, especially when content is being consumed via mobile devices. 

TIP: Read the fundamentals of email marketing to ensure your email is crafted well. 

That 10-page vendor comparison report your buyer persona just downloaded is extremely valuable to them, so help them ensure they don’t lose track of it just because they downloaded it via their iPhone on the train during their commute. Your thank you email helps deliver that valuable piece of content to their inbox, along with additional information from your company.

5. Segment leads and build email workflows

Congratulations! Your inbound marketing strategy is beginning to work, as you’ve now begun generating leads from your persona-based marketing campaigns. Now that you have these leads, it’s time to follow up in a valuable, educational way.

By segmenting your database of opted-in leads and creating targeted lists that are aligned to either your personas or different stages of the buyer’s journey, you’ll help support your future customers as they educate themselves and identify a solution to the problem you can help them solve.

6. Promote your campaign via email

While it’s great to feature your new content offer in your website’s resource library, your inbound marketing strategy should include a promotional email to the contacts in your database who you believe would benefit most from this new piece of content. The easiest part about this email campaign is you’ve already done the hard work by writing the content and creating a landing page. The copy you’ve written on the landing page, for example, should work well for your email copy.

7. Define your long tail keywords

Blogging is a critical element in your inbound marketing strategy, but before you begin writing, you need to think about what your buyer personas are typing into Google when they think about their problem or when they need help understanding a certain product or situation. Long tail keywords are the three and four-keyword phrases that your personas will use in their search. 

Take some time to explore long tail keyword options and use SEO software to help you find keywords that have a low difficulty level and a high monthly search volume. 

See the Easiest-to-Use SEO Tools →

8. Write share-worthy articles

With your keywords in hand, it’s time to write. Much like the long-form content you’ve created, a solid inbound marketing strategy is dependent on articles that educate and provide value to the reader. The goal for your articles should be to create something so valuable that your buyer persona wants to share it with their peers via email and social media platforms.

9. Promote your content on social media

While your number one goal might be for you buyer persona to share your content on their social media channels, this should not stop you from sharing on both company channels and individual team member channels. Before you share, consider the social media channels where your persona spends their time. For instance, there’s no point in sharing on Pinterest if your buyer persona isn’t spending any time on Pinterest.

Social media monitoring software solutions can help you better understand the best places and keywords for you to engage with your ideal customers. 

See the Easiest-to-Use  Social Media Monitoring Software →

10. Analyze and adjust

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach to a solid inbound marketing strategy. Your marketing automation platform features robust analytics you can use to analyze your inbound marketing efforts so you can optimize campaigns and then create even better more effective campaigns the next go-around.

With these ten tips, you’re on your way to developing a solid inbound marketing strategy. Remember, the beauty of digital marketing is you can A/B test, so don’t be afraid to experiment with content topics, offers, and channels. 

Ensure your inbound marketing strategy is a success by downloading our free checklist to keep yourself on track! 

Be prepared for inbound marketing: Download FREE checklist

Jen Spencer
Author

Jen Spencer

Jen Spencer is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for SmartBug Media™, an Intelligent Inbound™ marketing agency of experts in digital strategy, design, PR and marketing automation. Jen subscribes to the notion that “we’re all in this together,” and that great communication leads to great partnership. She loves animals, technology, the arts, and really good scotch.