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6 Crucial Decisions To Make About Your Inbound Campaigns

6 Crucial Decisions To Make About Your Inbound Campaigns

As tempting as it can be to jump into content creation anytime a great idea comes along, creating effective inbound marketing campaigns that draw new leads to your website and harness the power of both marketing and PR requires strategic thinking and advanced planning.

One way of using this year’s remaining marketing budget is to carefully plot out next year’s campaigns, answering 6 vital questions along the way. (Already set for next year’s campaigns, but still have spending authority to use? Maybe one of these 13 Ways to Use Your Year-End Budget is the right project for your brand.)

Here are the decisions you need to make as you plan your inbound marketing campaigns:

1. Inbound Marketing Campaign Goals

One of the first steps we take on any project is to do the math (see How We Do It for more details on what that entails). That means determining what each campaign is designed to accomplish:

  • Expand reach into a new market?

  • Increase lead generation through social media?

  • Improve conversion rates for leads generated by blogging?

  • Reach a specific sales or revenue goal?

Without knowing what you want a campaign to accomplish, you can’t plan an effective strategy or determine the success or failure of the campaign.

Use SMART goals (specific, measureable, actionable, relevant, time-bound) to create targets for your inbound marketing campaign.

2. Inbound Marketing Campaign Topic or Keyword

Because inbound marketing is based, at least in part, around drawing visitors to your website, often by means of an internet search, you will want to focus each campaign on a particular topic or keyword your customers are likely to search. This could be broad or specific, but should involve a problem your customers are looking to solve for which you have a solution.

Perhaps your campaign is based around “how to (insert your topic here)”—think about the various keywords and phrases your customers might search, the types of materials or resources they need to solve that problem, and how you can guide them toward your solution with useful content.

You could organize campaigns around specific products, but remember that a product may not be the term your customer is most likely to search.

3. Inbound Marketing Campaign Audience or Buyer Personas

Each campaign, which includes a series of content pieces intended to guide leads through the sales funnel from awareness toward a purchase decision, should be targeted toward just one or two specific buyer personas. While your products may be marketed overall to a number of personas—say CEOs, CFOs and CIOs—each of those groups may have a different perspective on the problem and your solution.

For a CFO, improving cash flow may be the primary concern, while the technology team is looking for ease of implementation and how well a software package integrates with what is already in place. You will want to create separate campaigns for each of those personas.

(Find more about creating and using customer personas here.)

4. Inbound Marketing Campaign Timing

As you plan your campaign, there are two different aspects of timing you will need to consider.

First, is the time of year. Consider whether your topic and the personas you are targeting is best suited to a specific time of year. If you offer small business accounting software, and are targeting CFOs and CEOs, chances are year-end and tax filing seasons aren’t the best time to reach them. They don’t have time in December, January and February to think about changing their systems—they just have deadlines to meet. Instead, target the time just after tax filing wraps up with a campaign that highlights ways your solution could ease their pain next year. (Our Campaign Planning Calendar Template can help you sketch out a year’s worth of inbound marketing campaigns, focusing on the times of year each topic is most relevant.)

The second timing decision you will need to make is timing within the campaign itself. Each campaign should include one or more automated lead nurturing workflows, which begin with a visitor’s interaction on a landing page on your site to access an offer. Once the lead nurturing workflow is triggered, the lead will receive an automated series of emails linking to additional relevant information or offers to guide them toward a sale. Timing here refers to how much time passes between each contact or email.

The first email, of course, should be immediate when the visitor fills out a website form and is converted to a lead. From there, consider how quickly your industry moves and what your targeted buyer persona’s tolerance is likely to be for contacts. Most lead nurturing emails are staggered a few days apart: enough time to not overwhelm the lead, but frequent enough so that your brand is still fresh in their mind and they remember why they interacted with your website in the beginning.

(Use a form such as our Nurturing Workflow Template to plot out the specific timing between emails. )

5. Inbound Marketing Campaign Content Types

Next on your list of decisions: What types of content will you create for your campaign?

Some of your previous decisions will impact what content you create. For example, some topics may require longer, more in-depth content. Some will be data-filled, leading to the need for more visuals and charts, while others will lend themselves naturally to video.

Regardless of what specific types of content you create, you will want to include sometime for each stage of the sales funnel.

6 Crucial Decisions To Make About Your Inbound Campaigns

An example might include:

  • An introductory video and broad-based blog posts or contributed bylined articles about the problem you are solving for the awareness level. (Strangers in our funnel illustration.)

  • A calculator or template to help prospects address their problem on their own or a checklist of what to look for in a solution provider for the consideration stage. (Visitors and leads in our illustration.) 

  • A case study, free trial or pricing information for leads in the decision stage. (Leads and sales-qualified leads in our illustration.)

Using the Campaign Planning Calendar Template, Nurturing Workflow Template and tools such as our Mapping Content to Buyer Persona Worksheet, you can create a detailed plan for the content that will be included in each campaign and how each will be used to generate and nurture leads.

6. Inbound Marketing Campaign Content Creation Options

Now, who will create that content?

The answer to that question will vary greatly depending on:

  • Amount of content to be created

  • Level and types of expertise required

  • Equipment needed

  • Size of existing marketing, PR and communications staff

  • Budget

  • Timeline

A large existing staff, including in-house designers and experience in video production, and a generous timeline makes it likely you will create the content in-house. But if a shorter turnaround is required and your staff is already stretched to the limit, you may choose to look outside your own department for freelancers or a partner agency to get the job done on time.

A full list of pros and cons for using existing staff, hiring new team members or turning to an agency can be found in our Guide to Resourcing Your Inbound Strategy. If you choose to go with an agency, consider the guidelines offered in our Choosing A HubSpot Agency Checklist. Even if you aren’t a HubSpot customer, most of the criteria you should keep in mind remains the same.

So, you’ve made all of the critical decisions about your next inbound marketing campaign. What’s next? Create, implement, and analyze. Good luck!

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