Inbound marketing is a big undertaking. It is a holistic approach to marketing, that starts with a big picture focus, yet relies on pulling together all the small details that drive success.
What does inbound marketing success look like? It looks like achieving the top priorities of most marketers:
- Converting contacts or leads into customers
- Growing traffic to your website
- Proving the ROI of your marketing activities (Source)
So what are the big picture topics and the small details you need to focus on to succeed in inbound marketing? Here is a 30-point checklist — divided into six different categories — of the elements that make up a strong inbound marketing program. See how many you can check off, or download the full Inbound Marketing Scorecard for even more details and helpful links.
Strategy, Planning & Cooperation checklist
These five items are essential to start your inbound marketing program off with a strong foundation. Without these elements to build on, your program will likely falter. If your team can’t confidently answer that these are in place, take time before launching inbound marketing to focus on brand identity, customer personas, and a strong working relationship between departments.
- Do you have a strong brand identity that includes both visual brand elements and key marketing messages?
- Do you have comprehensive customer personas to guide marketing efforts and content creation?
- Does your content and campaign planning include input from marketing, sales and public relations to ensure all are on the same page?
- Are your campaigns planned out in advance, including strategies for reaching all levels of the sales funnel?
- Are your agency partners or other outside resources deeply engaged in strategy development to ensure their contributions match overall company branding, messaging and goals?
Content Creation checklist
Content is often a marketer’s greatest challenge, but also best investment. Consider these figures offered up by Cellimark Digital Marketing:
- More than 34% of marketers surveyed cited content creation as their greatest challenge.
- 72% of marketers say relevant content creation is their most effective SEO tactic.
In other words, content creation is absolutely essential, but it can be very difficult to do well. If you can answer yes to the following questions, then you are probably doing content creation very well.
- Do you have a written content strategy for each campaign message or topic to be addressed?
- Do you create at least one downloadable asset for each campaign?
- Do you publish at least 16 blog posts each month?
- Do you create visual content (infographics and videos) as a complement to your blog posts and downloadable assets?
- Do you submit bylined articles to industry media to build thought leadership authority?
- Are you confident in the quality of your content creation and the skill level of the writers and designers working for you?
Content Promotion checklist
The ultimate success of your content creation efforts also relies on how well you promote that content. With the flood of new material being created every minute, it takes more than just publishing a blog post to your website to stand out amongst the flood. (Here’s a look at what the real-time addition of content to the world wide web looks like: Internet Statistics In Real Time: Are You Keeping Up?.)
Are you doing what it takes to promote your content? How many of these questions can you answer with a confident “Yes!”?
- Do you promote all of your blog posts at least three times on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media channels that you use?
- Are all of your videos shared and promoted on social media?
- Are all of your downloadable assets shared on social media?
- Do you use outbound emails as a complement to your inbound marketing tactics and organic search?
- Do you seek out additional opportunities — both digital and offline — to promote your business blog?
Lead Nurturing checklist
One of the key advantages to inbound marketing, besides its lower cost per lead generated, is the ability to capture lead information and use that information for automated lead nurturing, which can reduce the length of the sales cycle and contribute to higher per-deal revenue. (Check out the numbers here: 10 Stats To Back Up Your Lead Nurturing Efforts.)
If you can answer yes to these five questions, you are likely seeing the positive results mentioned in the infographic linked above.
- Do you use an automated lead nurturing solution such as HubSpot to immediate engage leads?
- Do your lead nurturing emails provide leads with usable content that fits the lead’s stage in the sales funnel?
- Are progressive forms used on landing pages to incrementally build a customer profile that can be passed on to sales?
- Have you defined the characteristics and actions that qualify a lead to be passed on to sales?
- Are your lead nurturing workflows reviewed and updated periodically to include new assets and blog posts?
Sales Enablement checklist
As I mentioned earlier, inbound marketing is a holistic approach. Rather than focus strictly on one aspect (for example, an advertising campaign to increase website traffic), inbound marketing encompasses everything from initial brand awareness through the sale, with an emphasis on understanding how it all works together. One part of that is bringing the marketing and sales teams together to find ways that marketing can contribute to sales’ success.
Are your teams taking these steps toward sales enablement?
- Is lead intelligence from automated nurturing and landing page forms passed along to sales when leads are transitioned?
- Are sales team members kept informed of new marketing materials that could be useful for their leads and customers?
- Does marketing assist in creating sales-specific materials such as product guides and comparison charts that maintain key messaging points?
- Are sales team leaders included in periodic content and campaign planning to offer insight into the types of content created?
Measuring & Reporting checklist
Even after you’ve planned, created, launched and executed your inbound marketing and lead nurturing campaigns, there is still one more set of tasks to complete. If one of your priorities is that third one listed at the very beginning of this post—proving the ROI of your marketing efforts — you still need to measure results and report them to the C-suite.
Here’s what you should be doing.
- Do you have specific goals in place to measure against to gauge progress and success?
- Do you track and review content-specific metrics such as website traffic, blog hits or social media interaction?
- Do you track and review performance-based metrics such as email click-through rates, landing page conversion rates, and lead-to-customer conversion rates?
- Do you track and review revenue-based metrics, such as cost of customer acquisition and customer lifetime value?
- Do you use those metrics to determine the ROI of marketing efforts in order to secure needed budget and buy-in from the executive level?
How does your checklist look? Are there more empty boxes than you would like? Or just enough that you still think there is room for improvement to capture more opportunities?
Download the full Inbound Marketing Scorecard to take a more detailed look at each of the items and see where your biggest challenges and opportunities lie. The Scorecard includes links to more than 20 blog posts and resources that address specific strategies and tactics with tips for improving your overall inbound marketing success.