Finally, you’ve decided to become an inbound marketer. Congratulations. So where do you start?
Basically, inbound marketing is not just a marketing strategy. It’s also a philosophy. At the core of inbound marketing, you’ll be turning your point of view from company-focused marketing to customer-based marketing.
In today’s post, we will shared the 100 day challenge to execute a great inbound marketing checklist. Most people get scared by its length, while this is supposed to be a document you use over three months.
However, this challenge isn’t intended to be a complete list of everything you need to know about inbound marketing. Still, it’s a fairly exhaustive collection of the fundamentals. Your company’s plan could be tailored based on the goals you need to achieve.
Are you ready to start?
Day 1 to 33
1. Broaden Your Knowledge
Read a lot of resources about inbound marketing during your first week. Get familiar with inbound marketing terms, key concepts, themes, and methodologies that will help you strategically tackle your marketing goals.
2. Create Buyer Personas
Buyer persona is one of the most important parts of a successful inbound strategy. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on real data. It contains some educated speculations about customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. It’s common for a company to have several different personas.
Buyer personas are the ones you’re creating content for. They are the ones you’re trying to reach, and the ones who (hopefully) will eventually turn into real customers. Creating them and tweaking them over time allows you to better understand your customers’ needs and interests, giving you specific clues where they spend their time online. There are a lot of nuances to buyer personas. They aren’t just job titles, so learn more about them.
3. Set SMART Goals
When creating your new marketing program, setting realistic goals should be a top priority. These realistic goals are called SMART goals. They stand for:
- Specific. Set real numbers with real deadlines. “Having a good marketing year” is not a specific goal.
- Measurable. You need to be able to use hard numbers to measure your success.
- Attainable. You want to set challenging goals, but they should still be attainable. Be honest with yourself. You know what you and your team are capable of. Anticipate and account for obstacles when possible.
- Relevant. Your goals should actually matter to your business. Let’s say you’re a beer company that has 100 stores that will only accept 100 beers per month in their store. In this situation, your goal likely shouldn’t be to “increase production of teddy bears from 10,000 per month to 50,000 per month.” While it’s great you have more products, if no one is going to buy them, why bother?
- Timely. Give yourself a deadline and stick to it. Don’t keep pushing toward a goal you might hit “someday.”
4. Use Content Mapping
Content mapping is a process that helps you identify the flaws in your content. It helps you to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time. Knowing who your buyers are by creating those buyer personas is half of the content mapping equation, so finish it first. The second half of content mapping is knowing where your buyers are in the buying cycle, which is also known as the lifecycle stage. There are three lifecycle stages related to content:
- Awareness. In the awareness stage, a person has realised and expressed symptoms of a potential problem or opportunity.
- Consideration. In the consideration stage, a person has clearly defined and given a name to their problem or opportunity.
- Decision. In the decision stage, a person has defined their solution strategy, method, or approach.
By combining buyer personas with lifecycle stages, you can really hone in on specific segments of your audience and tailor content to resonate with each of those segments.
5. Make a List of Relevant Keywords
Do some keyword research before you change anything on your website or start publishing content. Otherwise, you risk “keyword-stuffing” your content after you’ve already written it, which looks forced and can get you penalised by search engines.
There are some helpful tools out there that will help you choose the right keywords. In general, good keywords are popular industry terms that your buyer personas are searching for that don’t have too much competition. Start with a list of 40-50 keywords to build on over time. You’ll use your keyword list to optimise the rest of your marketing content.
6. Create a Landing Page and a Thank-you Page for One of Your Existing Offers
Do you already have a demo, trial, or free quote service? Pick your favorite offer and create a landing page and thank-you page for it. If you already have landing pages and thank-you pages, redesign or revamp them to be more inbound-friendly.
Your landing page should include a description about the offer and a form for the visitor to fill out with their personal information. Visitors see your thank-you page after they’ve filled out the form on your landing page.
7. Set Up a Blog if You Don’t Already Have One
Consistent blogging is a fundamental part of inbound marketing. Whichever blogging platform you choose, familiarise yourself with it by playing around with the tools on a daily basis. Search for tips online, watch instructional videos on YouTube and meet with anyone you know who’s used that platform before to learn some tricks, tips, and shortcuts in person. Once you get up-to-speed on your inbound marketing, you’ll be using your blogging tool every week.
8. Design and Create Two Types of Calls-To-Action
Calls-to-action (CTAs) is the key to lead generation, and every inbound marketer should be able to design and create their own without relying on our busy designer friends. If this is your first time creating a CTA, don’t let it scare you off. It’s not nearly as complicated as it sounds. In fact, you can create CTAs using Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or pre-made images.
The two CTAs you make should be:
- A CTA for the existing offer you’ve already created a new landing page and thank-you page for.
- A CTA encouraging people to subscribe to your blog. (You’ll also include this CTA in a re-engagement email campaign during your second month)
To analyse the success of your CTAs, you should look at the number of clicks and views each CTA received. Then, look at the percentage of views that lead to clicks and the percentage of clicks that lead to landing page form submissions. If you find that you have a low clickthrough or submission rate, you may need to tweak your CTA design or copy.
9. Brainstorm a Backlog of 10-20 Blog Post Topics
These shouldn’t be just any blog post topics — they need to be ones your prospects would find interesting. Use your keyword list to help you come up with working titles for posts, and backlog them somewhere. Google Docs also works just fine.
Make sure your topics are specific. “How to Fish” is far too broad a working title. You can start your brainstorming session with umbrella topics like that, but make sure your working titles are much more narrowed down: “How to Pick the Perfect Fishing Spot”; “Must-Have Fishing Gear for Beginners”; “The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Bait [Infographic].”
1. Publish 4-5 new blog posts by the end of your second month.
You’ve already learned how important blogging is for getting organic traffic and leads. Next, challenge yourself to write, edit, and publish your first blog post as an inbound marketer on the first day of your second month. Then, write 3-4 more new blog posts during the rest of the month.
After you publish each post, check to see whether your blog traffic has increased — but don’t expect to have tons of new visitors overnight. Building your readership will take a long time, and you need to build a lot of content to increase credibility and up the chance of your posts being found on search engines. This is why it’s important to stick with it and blog consistently, and you’ll see we suggest increasing the number of posts per month throughout these 100 days.
You’ll also want to look at where your traffic is coming from. If you’re getting organic search traffic, it means more visitors are arriving at your site from search engine results pages. If you’re not getting organic search traffic, you may be focusing on the wrong keywords, or your blog may not be optimized for search. For some great blog SEO tips, check out this post on blog SEO and optimizing your posts for search.
To keep an eye on your traffic without getting discouraged by the initial progress, monitor the percentage your blog traffic grows every week and month.
2. Scrub and Segment Your Email Lists
Inbound marketers don’t push their companies or products at people. They pull people toward their companies and products with great content. This means no more sending emails to people who haven’t opted in to receiving your emails. No more spamming or buying email lists. It’s time to significantly decrease your email bounce rate by sending emails only to people who expect to receive them.
Start with a ‘healthy’ email contact lists. In your first month, check how healthy your lists, then review your lists and remove every single email address on there that doesn’t pass the test.
Next, segment your email lists. Remember the buyer personas you created in your first 33 days? There’s a reason you probably have more than one of them. Your buyers don’t all fit into just one category. If you own a fitness club, you might cater to athletes as well as first-time gym goers — and you shouldn’t send both those groups the same exact email. Sending more targeted, relevant emails to each subgroup will improve your clickthrough rate.
There are a few ways to segment your email lists. The first thing you should do is look at the data you already have about your contacts and figure out the most logical subgroups based on the information these recipients want from you, the questions they may have, or their stage in the buying cycle. Once you get the data into an Excel spreadsheet, you can import it to your contacts database and create the different segments.
3. Send a Re-engagement Campaign
You cleaned your list last month while, at the same time, creating some great content for your blog. Now it’s time to reinvigorate the rest of your list with a re-engagement campaign. This is a chance for you to remind the people on your email list that you exist, to tell them about the cool content you’ve been creating and will be sending from here on out, and to urge them to subscribe to your blog. (You’ll need to include that subscribe CTA you made earlier on.) After emailing this out, you’ll remove anyone who didn’t choose to opt in to your emails from your contact list.
To create a re-engagement campaign, create a compelling opt-in email message that gives readers the chance to opt in to your emails. Get creative! For example, check out the re-engagement campaign that increased our email click-through rate by 583%. Use this opportunity to ask for feedback, too, so you can learn how to better customize your email marketing to their interests and needs.
1. Publish 6 New Blog Posts By The End of Day 100
Again, the key to a successful blogging strategy is consistency. As your blog content volume increases, more people will find your site through search and you’ll build credibility. Remember, these posts don’t have to be novels. Know when good enough is good enough. You’ll find it’s much easier to write and keep track of blog posts and ideas when you have a plan. Create an editorial calendar so you know what you’re writing and for when.
Continue tracking blog traffic numbers and sources. As you publish more and more content, start tracking how many inbound links your blog posts are getting. Inbound links are link back to your site from other sites on the web.
2. Set Up and Optimise Your Social Media Accounts
Now that you have your bearings with keywords, blogging, and CTAs, it’s time to focus some more on your social media marketing efforts. The reason you didn’t do this until the third month is because you need to have content to share on social media to be successful, so you needed to spend time getting that all optimised first. Now, you should:
- Figure out which social media sites your buyer personas are using (usually the social networks that are already sending you traffic), and then create accounts on those sites.
- Make your social media profiles look good. Are you using the proper image dimensions for social media profiles and posts? Do your descriptions include a link to your company website? Are you using the right tone and voice for each social media channel?
- Stop buying followers. Instead, grow your following organically by posting awesome, relevant content and putting social media sharing and follow buttons for your website, blog, and emails.
- Grow your reach by becoming really active on social media.
At this stage, track your follower count and measure engagement (retweets and @replies on Twitter; Likes and comments on Facebook and LinkedIn). Message clicks (the number of people who have clicked the link attached to your social message) is another way to gauge how your content is doing.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your social media messaging — tone, voice, offers, photos, and time of day. Test different tactics, measure everything, and then adjust. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
Congratulations, you have made it! You’ve learnt a lot about inbound marketing methodology. You’ve set up a blog and wrote some killer posts. You’ve cleansed and segmented your email list. You’ve designed and created your own CTAs to drive prospects toward certain actions, and you’ve created a gated offer to generate leads. Continue these steps and expand your business.