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January Blog 1 Inbound

Jan 3, 2022

How to Create an Inbound Marketing Strategy in 7 Easy Steps

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by Megan McGinnis
Creating a B2B Inbound marketing strategy may seem to some like a complicated, overwhelming process, but it doesn’t have to be.
We’ve simplified the main steps to creating an Inbound strategy to get your campaign up and running smoothly, efficiently, and effectively. We’ll cover these 7 steps in-depth:
  • Step 1: Find the problem, identify the solution

  • Step 2: Who are your target audience and buyer personas?

  • Step 3: Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

  • Step 4: Premium content concept, research, and creation

  • Step 5: Build your promotion strategy

  • Step 6: Measure, analyze, and pivot accordingly - and test continuously 

  • Step 7: Optimize, optimize, optimize

Ready. Set. Let's dive in!

Step 1: Find the Problem, Identify the Solution

Before starting any Inbound marketing campaign, it’s wise to stop and think about the pain points your potential clients have, and not only the solution you have to offer.
This might involve doing some research and a look into your competitors. Read reviews and other articles online about your industry. Maybe even ask your customers directly for their feedback and reviews.
Once you have identified the problem or pain points, you can identify your solution to offer to your target audience and move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Identify Your Target Audience and Buyer Personas

Millions of marketing dollars are wasted every year because companies haven’t clearly defined their target audience or buyer personas before launching an Inbound marketing campaign. It’s especially futile if analytics and reporting aren’t being performed either, but more on that in Step 6.
Who is your target audience?
A target audience is a group of people who you want to see your Inbound marketing campaigns. Actually, these are the people who need to see your campaigns because your product or service is the solution to their problems, which you’ve identified in step one. By defining your target audience you can craft messaging that will make them feel you’re providing information and answering questions specifically for them, through the channels they use. 
For example: if you sell custom orthopedic walking shoes, your target audience may be older than 60, so launching an ad campaign on TikTok or Instagram may not yield the best results, since those channels’ users are (generally) younger.
What are buyer personas?
 You may be asking, “Isn’t a target audience the same as a buyer persona?” In short, the answer is, well, yes…and no.
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Think of a as a singular fictional person who lives within your identified target audience. This character represents your ideal buyer to whom you want to customize your messaging.
Your target audience is a large-scale map of people you’d like to reach collectively, while a buyer persona is a zeroed-in person located within that map. To use the example of orthotic walking shoes again, your target audience may be men and women in the age range of 50-80+ who live in very active communities with lots of walking trails, but your buyer persona is ‘Retiree Walking Walter’ who is 67 and is recovering from heart issues so he walks every day around the lake by his house with his wife and his two Pomeranians.
Gathering together as much information on the demographics of people you’d like to reach before launching your campaign can help to alleviate misguided ads that get lost to an audience that doesn't need or want what you’re offering.

You can't have inbound marketing without a powerful CRM to back it up!

Not 100% on what a CRM can do for your business? Watermark is offering free self-serve training videos to guide you on how a CRM can enhance your sales and marketing teams.

Step 3: Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Of course, your goal is to actually have your Inbound marketing campaigns do what they’re intended to do: increase your ROI and bring in qualified leads. But are your goals
This acronym stands for:
  • Specific: You’ve already gotten pretty specific in steps 1 and 2, so now’s the time to take your target audience and buyer personas and incorporate them into very specific and direct goals that you want your ad campaign to achieve. More leads? More conversions? Higher CTR? The more specific you get, the easier it will be to create an Inbound campaign and workflow around these goals.
  • Measurable: Every goal you set must be measurable and provide data in order to progress to your goals or show you the areas in which you need to pivot your strategy.
  • Attainable: Creating big, lofty expectations for your business that might take months or years to achieve is not only unrealistic but can be detrimental to the morale of your sales and marketing teams, as well as ROI. Setting goals that are specific, measurable, and attainable/ realistic can actually create momentum towards your bigger long-term objectives.
  • Relevant: Make sure your goals align with your company’s values and mission and are timely for your target audience and buyer personas.
  • Timely: Setting hard deadlines for campaigns will make sure that nothing slips through the cracks or gets pushed aside. Inbound marketing strategies take time and effort, but done correctly, its pay-off is worth it.

Step 4: Concept, Research, and Premium Content Creation

Because you have already identified your target audience and set S.M.A.R.T goals in steps one and two, you can now craft customized, premium content that addresses your target audience’s pain points AND offers a solution.
However, writing content is , merely hoping to get more clicks and “likes.” Instead, think of content like the rails on a railroad. Correctly executed, your content will guide your target audience from the beginning to the end of the line, leading them right to conversion!
Remember, all content you create is the solution to your target audience’s pain points at every step of the buyer’s journey. In order to clearly define and outline your content strategy, it’s a great idea to spend some time researching your campaign. You may be the expert in what you have to offer, but skipping the research before you craft your content may be a mistake.
Whether that is educational content that sparks interest and conversation via social media channels, more in-depth information and offers in your company’s ungated blog, or even lead-generating premium campaigns such as gated webinars, vlogs, ebooks, and white papers, your content offers the solution your clients are looking for. 
Your content should aim to inform, educate, tell your company’s story, and clearly define what you can do for your client and how you can solve their problems.
Once you have created several pieces of quality content, you can then take this content to re-use for future blogs, social posts, webinars, and blogs.
Content can add momentum to your marketing flywheel.

Step 5: Build Your Inbound Promotion Strategy

You’ve got all the pieces: The problem you’re aiming to solve, a target audience, buyer personas, and content. Now is the time to put the pieces together, build your strategy, and put it into action (promote.)
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Build your Inbound marketing strategy:
If your internal team hasn’t done this already (but why would you be reading this, right?!), now’s the time to think about partnering with a team of Inbound marketing experts; an in-house, all-under-one-roof team ready to execute your Inbound strategy at all angles. This is the team who can:
- Manage campaigns and create premium content
- Design and develop custom digital assets that deliver your campaign
- Optimize continuously
- Manage backend CRM and CMS platforms to help create and nurture leads
Promote—put your Inbound marketing strategy into action:
Now’s the time to let your campaign fly. Using your crafted content you can now place ads, create social posts that link back to blogs you’ve written, gated and ungated content, and the offer you have for your target audience. This isn’t the time to “set it and forget it” and hope it works—the opposite is true as it takes a couple of tries to really get your campaign on the right track. But how will you know what works and what doesn’t? Actually, taking the guesswork out of your strategy is a great segue into our next step!
HERE'S A PRO TIP: A team of Inbound experts can help to seamlessly align your marketing and sales team with the same S.M.A.R.T. goals. Sounds a little too good to be true, but believe us when we say a robust, experienced inbound marketing in-house team managing your campaigns is a much better strategy than piecing your project together with freelancers or internal staff who already have their plates full with other tasks they were actually hired for.
Don’t have time for a promotion strategy? Enlist Inbound experts at Watermark.

Step 6: Measure, Analyze, and Pivot Accordingly—and Test Continuously

What good is a campaign if you don’t know how it is performing and what the ROI is? Inbound marketing isn’t a “wait, see, and hope for the best” approach. Instead, Inbound Marketing continuously relies on data to make sure we are hitting the goals of your campaign–and if they’re not, analytics, metrics, and can get the campaign back on track.
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Step 7: Optimize. Optimize. Optimize. 

Using data and analytics that have been collected throughout steps 1-6, you can now create informed decisions backed by data to optimize and better your campaigns. 
You might discover the target audience is really much broader than you originally thought or that the messaging is not resonating with your decision-makers. Maybe your buyer personas need to change a little. Or maybe you need to add or re-allocate ad placement. 
All of this is normal for an Inbound campaign. As long as you track, pivot, and continue to optimize campaigns you will be successful in reaching your desired audience.
Implementing an Inbound marketing strategy is a lot to think about, but trust us, it will save your company time and money in the long run, especially with an Inbound marketing team of experts at the helm of your campaign.
Ready to give your Inbound marketing strategy momentum? Contact us today for a free consultation to help you discover which strategy is right for you.