How to create your first inbound marketing campaign

Posted by Murray Sye

on Fri, Oct 3, 2014 @ 10:07 AM


Are you anxious to take your sales and marketing to the next level?

Creating an inbound marketing campaign will help you do that. But how do you create an effective campaign? That's what we're going to help you with in today's post.

Years ago, running a campaign meant developing creative, writing a cheque, and crossing your fingers that results would follow. As the old adage goes, marketers knew that half of their marketing wasn't working, but they just didn't know which half. Traditional tools, the channels, and the results were all disconnected pieces, so a lot was left to chance.

In the digital world however, a campaign is a special kind of marketing push. It's simply a concentrated effort to attract leads and customers who are interested in a particular topic, or have a specific need.

Let's say your company is launching a new product. Your campaign will focus everything on that one product – aligning every one of your marketing channels and all your content around a single goal and message. But before you start building your campaign, it's important to know how the campaign is structured.

In the diagram below, each component or step is tied to the next step, so it's important to have all these moving parts working together. Not all inbound campaigns are alike, but this gives you good idea of the many potential elements involved.  


Let's review the components that make up a successful campaign.
1) Decide on an Outcome

Before we go any further with your first inbound marketing campaign, you'll need to document your goal for the campaign. What exactly are you trying to achieve? Before you start writing blog articles, crafting offers or hitting social media, you will want to spend some time creating your plan of attack. Goals should also be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound.

For example: your company is launching a new social media publishing tool. Your goal is to generate a ton of activity around the topic of social media to establish your expertise and pull in a specific type of lead.

  • "Generate 5,000 leads who are interested in social media marketing by September 30, 2014." 
  • "Improve rank for the keywords "social media publishing" from 5th to 2nd on Google by September 30, 2014."

You'll notice that the goals for your campaign are specifically tied to social media publishing, which is the very topic that relates to your product launch.

Alright, now that you have your campaign's goal, it's time to identify your campaign audience.

2) Buyer Personas

Your buyer is where it all begins. The work you do here will set the stage for the rest of your campaign. You should have clearly defined personas before you even begin creating a campaign. Once you have your personas in place, decide which one you would like to target first. Having a persona in mind will help you tailor your messaging and create a focused campaign across all channels.

3) The Offer

At the center of your whole campaign is an "offer." Despite how it sounds, an offer isn't actually a discount or sale price, it's a piece of content that educates your audience about a given topic. It is the first conversion point in your campaign and the entry point to becoming a lead. Your offer could be an ebook, webinar, slide share, white paper, a how-to video, or even an infographic. The format that is right for you is the one that your buyer persona will most likely engage with.

Visitors who want to take advantage of your offer will have to pay for the content by sharing their contact information with your company. That currency is valuable to your visitors, so you need to make sure your offer is compelling and is valuable enough for them to give it up.

Preparing an inbound marketing campaign is about creating the right mix of offers. The idea is to create a number of pieces of valuable content that you anticipate will drive conversions. Since this is your first campaign, I'd recommend starting with around 4-5 different offers of varying formats.

In our previous example, our software company is about to launch a new social media publishing tool. Here's a few sample offers you could use to include in your email campaign.

  • A white paper with facts and benchmarks about social media publishing
  • An intermediate-level guide to social media marketing
  • An upcoming webinar on the science of social media marketing
  • An ebook on how to use social media marketing for B2B
  • A series of learning webinars on how to use the software

Each of these offers has a unique value proposition but were tied together by a unifying theme. Don't forget that each of these offers should have its own landing page so you can track the conversation of your offers over time.

Now that you have your offer created, it's time to set up your call-to-action (CTA) and landing page.

4) Calls-to-Action and Landing Pages

In most cases, you'll be directed to a landing page from a call-to-action.

Calls-to-action buttons are how you get people to take a specific action on your website. Also known as CTAs, they will be placed on prominent pages like your homepage. However, CTA's can be placed on every page of your website so long as you have the space. You'll need to craft your CTA copy carefully with enticing language in order to get your website visitors to act. Refer back to your buyer persona and think about the language that your audience will respond to.

5) Drive Traffic

So far we've accomplished our goal and our plan of attack. We've created an offer that we'll build our calls-to-action and landing pages around. 

Now all you need is to start driving traffic to your offers. Right about now you'll need to start developing content to share. Here are a few examples.

If you've got an existing list of contacts who might be interested in your offer, start there. When you craft your email, think about your subject line, that's the first decision point for your recipients. Avoid statements like "Free ebook!" or "Download this white paper." Instead, focus on what your ebook solves for them, for example: "[Topic] Tips for 2014" or "Learn how to [topic] in 3 steps."

Blog Posts
Email is good for alerting your existing contacts about your offer, but what about attracting new ones? The goal of the blog is to attract people interested in the subject matter of your offer, so you'll want it to be on a similar topic and then link to your landing page for a deeper dive. Add a CTA to the end of your blog post that will also help drive people to your campaign landing page.

Social Media
Once you publish your blog, head on over to your social media publishing tools. Post teasers to your ebooks and other offers to your social media channels, and join existing conversation on other blogs and forums. Just be clever with the content and don't repeat the same post again and again. Instead tailor your message for each channel. I may post the same message, but I spread that message out over the course of a 12-hour day.

Paid Promotion
If you have the budget, paid search ads (PPC) aren't a bad way to drive traffic to your offers. Just make sure that what you're offering provides value and matches the message in your ads. To track your ads as part of your campaign, just be sure to create a tracking URL. 

6) Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing using email automation is an effective way to turn a lukewarm prospect into a hot, sales ready prospect.

Remember though, the cardinal rule of inbound marketing is to provide value, not high-pressured sales pitches. Just because someone converts on one offer in your campaign doesn't mean they're ready to make a purchasing decision. Use a series of related emails to incrementally give your leads more and more information, and to nurture them through the sales funnel.

As your lead becomes more engaged in the content and opts to download additional offers, start to introduce them to your product or service. If they aren't interested, don't push a sales call on them. If they do continue to click through on your emails and convert on offers, they may be ready to hear more.

The idea with lead nurturing is that you want to deliver the right content to your prospects at the right time, depending on where they are in the buyer's journey.

7) Measuring and Improving

The final part of your inbound campaign is going to be assessment. You'll want to make sure you're measuring your progress at each step, and improving along the way.

It's time to check against the goals that you prepared at the beginning of your campaign. Analyze your results throughout and at the end of your campaign. You'll be able to see whether you hit your goals or not. Knowing what was effective and what was not will help you as you design and execute your next inbound marketing campaigns.

Over to you ...

There you have it. A recipe for your first airtight inbound marketing campaign. Remember that not all campaigns are created equal. Some may rely on greater or fewer of the elements outlined above, but a well-rounded campaign takes advantage of as many of these steps, methods and tools possible.  

Now it's your turn. Don't be shy, we encourage you to share your comments below.

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Written by Murray Sye

Murray is the CEO and Creative Director with the award-winning
Toronto HubSpot agency partner, WhiteSpace. You can
connect with Murray on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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