An Inbound Marketing Campaign Overview for True Beginners
I’m a transplant from the fiction publishing world where content has quite a different flavor than content for inbound marketing. So the first time I helped plan a campaign, including titles for thirteen blog posts along with meta-descriptions, I was a bit hesitant about the process as well as what value I could bring. What did I know about inbound, marketing or campaigns? To be honest, not much. I fully expected to use that first campaign as a learning experience even if I didn’t contribute a whole lot to the process.
What I didn’t expect was how much fun campaign planning can be, how straightforward the process is and how even newbies can add value and insight. I’m not going to lie; there are moments when planning a campaign can be a challenge, but it’s a challenge you know you can meet because each part of the process builds upon the previous step. And it all starts with your customer.
Step One: The Buyer Persona
At the heart of inbound marketing is the customer. Inbound is all about attracting customers to your website by producing content they want and need; the customer is the bee to your flower so to speak. The very first step is to understand who your ideal customer is and what motivates them to buy from your company. That’s where the buyer persona comes in.
A buyer persona is a representation of your ideal customer. This persona is an accumulation of the proven, common attributes of your customers. Making assumptions about your buyer at this stage can hurt the success of your campaign, and you may find yourself back at square one in your next campaign. So how do you find common attributes, and where can you look to gain insights if you’re trying to reach a new audience? We use a combination of insights gained from our current customers and industry insights on what job responsibilities and duties are expected of people with similar job roles.
Then we really dig into what this person does in their daily job, the pressures they face at work, the responsibilities they carry, their motivations for succeeding and what motivates them outside of work. (And not surprisingly for someone who comes from fiction publishing, this may be my favorite part of campaign planning.)
Here are a few of the questions we ask as we develop our buyer persona:
- How would I describe myself?
- What are my work goals?
- What are my objectives and how do I measure my success?
- What external challenges do I face in my job?
- What strategies do I use to get the job done?
- Who do I work with regularly and how do I connect with these people?
- What causes me to change how I do my job or look for new solutions at work?
- Why would I change the status quo at work?
The more in-depth you see your buyer, the more likely you will be to understand how you can create content that will truly help them in their daily life.
Next, consider questions they’d ask themselves or they’d Google as they’re in the awareness, consideration and decision stages of purchasing. Try to put yourself into your buyer persona’s shoes. What questions would they have when they’re trying to find a solution to a problem? How would they ask those questions? The language they use is important because this is where you’ll start building keywords and long-tail keywords, which will inform your campaign theme that includes your advanced offer as well as your blog content.
To complete the persona, find a picture of your ideal customer and give them a name! Now that you have a comprehensive buyer persona and a list of keywords, you’re ready for the next step: the offer outline.
Step Two: The Advanced Offer Outline
Without a doubt, you and your team probably tossed out at least a few different ideas for a helpful resource while building your buyer persona. It’s those moments of “wouldn’t it be cool if they had this” or “we could do this for them.” Those ideas that give you a little buzz should be explored because if you’re excited about offering that resource, your ideal customers will be excited about using it. Not only is this offer a resource your audience will want, but it’s the way you turn unknown browsers into leads. Your offer should be gated behind a landing page, that requires browsers to supply you with some basic information (i.e. first name, last name, email), which you can use to contact them for your marketing efforts.
But don’t be hasty. Planning an advanced offer takes time and consideration. Without a fully developed theme and the resources to back it up, the offer will fall flat and fail to grab and keep the attention of your audience.
Start by looking at the questions your buyer persona asked during the purchasing decision stages. Do you see a common theme running through the questions? What can your company provide or do to answer those questions? Your resource should be the answer to more than one of those questions, and it should be specific in purpose while being broad enough to encompass many subthemes. For instance, here are two offers you could gear towards marketers:
- Marketing to the Modern Consumer: How to Turn Marketing Qualified Leads into Sales Qualified Leads
- Marketing 101: Everything You Need to Know to Plan Your Next Inbound Campaign
Once you have a theme and a broad offer title, it’s time to outline. Some people love outlining (me); some don’t. This is a time when making a detailed outline can save you lots of time and effort. We outline our offers in detail and find resources before we start writing. Outlining is a potential blog post all on its own that I won’t cover, but here is a list of apps that can help you outline your ideas if you don’t share my love.
So, now you have a comprehensive buyer persona, keywords, a campaign theme and an advanced offer outline, you’re ready to develop your content plan.
Step Three: The Content Plan
The final step is to develop the content for your campaign. We keep track of our content plan in a shared excel sheet, which includes:
- Blog title
- Blog description
- Production Date
- Publish Date
We map out one 1200 word blog post per week for three months. To be honest, this was the part I dreaded most. Coming up with titles and the descriptions seemed daunting. I wasn’t sure I could plan for three whole months, but even though I’m still a bit slow at thinking up good blog titles, I can, because all the information I need is in the buyer persona, keywords, theme and content offer.
Search your offer outline and buyer persona for ideas or themes you can dig into with more specific blog posts.
For the “Marketing 101” example from above, you could blog about:
- What Is Inbound Marketing and Why Should You Care
- Sticking the Landing Page: Inbound Marketing’s Quest for the Gold
- How Inbound Marketing Produces Content that Attracts the Right Audience
Make sure to include your keywords and long-tail keywords in the titles and the descriptions of your blogs. This will help build up your SEO the right way.
Beginning Your Inbound Marketing Campaign
And that’s an inbound marketing overview for beginners by a beginner. I’m still learning, but one of the great things about inbound is that while it’s a very logical process, it’s also agile and constantly adapting to meet the customer’s needs. For more tips, check out our “How to Plan Your Next Marketing Campaign Like a Pro” where we go into more depth on campaign planning, themes and keywords.