When it comes to inbound marketing, misconceptions abound. And one of the biggest misconceptions out there is that it takes more than a year to start seeing any results or return on your inbound investment.
You can’t guarantee results of a new approach like this overnight, but you also don’t have to sit idly by for a year or more, waiting for any sign of life from your inbound investment. In fact, by following the process below, our team at Digital 22 achieved tangible results for our clients within six months. Here’s how.
Before you can begin executing your strategy, you’ve got to have a plan in place — one that details your goals, your audience, and your tactics for reaching them. Follow these steps to get started:
1. Host a kickoff meeting: Gather together the team that’s responsible for your inbound success, and lay out your goals. What does success look like to you, and how will you measure it? Aligning your goals and metrics early on will give you a solid foundation for building the rest of your strategy.
2. Define your personas: Without an understanding of who you’re targeting with your inbound marketing, it won’t matter how clear your goals or tactics are. Creating detailed buyer persona profiles will help you focus your efforts on the right audience.
3. Map out the buyer’s journey: Part of defining your personas is learning about the buyer’s journey. What kinds of content are buyers looking for at each stage of the journey? What will help them move from one stage to the next?
4. Conduct a content audit: Using your mapped-out buyer’s journey, audit your existing content: website copy, case studies, guest-contributed articles, etc. What do you have already, and what do you need more of?
5. Write down your plan: Based on your findings, put together a written content strategy. Research from the Content Marketing Institute shows that documenting your strategy increases your effectiveness, so take the time to put it together and store it where your team can access it.
While different strategies call for different tactics, these content projects together will power your inbound marketing, and they’ll ultimately be what attracts, nurtures, and converts leads for your business.
1. Select your marketing automation tool: We use HubSpot, but there are plenty of options out there designed to meet specific needs. Setting up your designated tool will help you automate processes, publish content on your owned channels, measure your performance, and capture leads.
2. Design your site: Once you’ve selected and set up your platform, take the time to design it so it’s easy for your audience to navigate. Your blog will attract inbound traffic, so designing and laying it out well will be important to keeping that traffic on the site.
3. Create premium content: Attracting visitors to your blog is only part of your responsibility; you want to encourage them to download premium content to convert them from visitors into contacts. By creating exceptional gated content and creating engaging CTAs and landing pages, you can do just that.
4. Set up your email campaigns: Email automation setup means you can create workflows and send emails to specific email lists. Using the info you collect by trading your premium content for contact info, enter your contacts into targeted email campaigns to nurture them throughout their journey.
It does take time to set everything up, but once it’s ready, you can start generating traffic. Tactics like PPC and social media ads can have a nearly instantaneous impact on your traffic, but because blogging, SEO, and social media marketing take longer to build, results based on these efforts might take extra time.
Leads will start coming in once you’ve optimized your setup and your traffic-generating channels are gaining traction. Closely monitoring your progress to identify what’s working and what’s not can help you optimize as you go.
The graphs below show what happened in the first six months after a business our agency works with started its inbound strategy:
Although the first two months were slow while we focused on strategy and setup, we can see a steady incline of website visits as time progresses. From the increasing trend, we can see our strategies were attracting a healthy amount of traffic over six months.
While traffic is important, the sign of a truly successful inbound strategy is its ability to generate leads. The strategy was slow to start, but within three months, it generated leads; by the sixth month, that rate had grown substantially.
Six months is the amount of time our agency recommends to see whether your inbound strategy is bearing fruit. We understand investing half a year in a marketing strategy can make you feel a little uneasy, but there are ways you can speed up the process and increase the chances of your inbound marketing campaign becoming a success.
Especially if you or anyone in your C-suite is completely new to inbound, continuous research and education about best practices and new findings can help you make a better case for its investment and give you a vital head start. If you consider yourself more well-versed in the basic principles of inbound marketing, you can get certified by the HubSpot Academy and renew each year for continued learning.
Don’t ever underestimate the value of in-depth profiles of your buyer personas. You should already have persona profiles on hand from your strategy session, but as time progresses, you should be learning more about your buyers and updating their personas with as much information as you can. The more valuable information you include in your personas, the better chance you have of attracting them to your company.
If you’re still concerned that your inbound strategy isn’t going according to plan, seek help from an agency with more experience in inbound marketing. If you can, find an agency that has more than four years’ worth of experience and has worked with companies that execute thriving inbound strategies.
Inbound marketing is a long game, but you don’t have to wait forever to start seeing real results. While it may take up to six months to see your inbound strategy take off, the benefits are often worth the wait.