Are You Ready for Inbound Marketing?
inbound marketing

Most businesses that contact us are looking for guidance on how to get started with inbound marketing.  They know what it is, or at least have an idea, but they aren’t sure where to start or have greatly underestimated the time commitment and complexity of managing a fully executed inbound marketing plan.  If your a marketer or agency owner you know this all to well especially the underestimation of the time commitment.

Business owners are hearing the buzz of content marketing, social media marketing, and inbound marketing along with SEO and they know they want to get into the game, but don’t want to invest buy hiring an internal team or an agency and do it on the cheap.  This is where the problem starts because if you are going to dip your toe into the inbound/content marketing pool you better prepared for the water to be ice cold.

Wait until the end of September and slowly walk into your pool.  The water will be freezing. Dive in and start swimming around for a few minutes and your body will start to acclimate the temperature and the water will feel much warmer after time. This is what happens with 60% of new inbound and content marketers as it takes time to build up momentum if executed correctly.  If not executed correctly you are dead in the water from the get go.

1. What are your goals?

Goal setting is often overlooked because your not sure what to expect prior to starting, but goals are critical as you need to set a benchmark for success.  These goals need to be a specific as possible and tied to specific components of your the strategy your going to implement.

  • Increase organic visitors by 25% in Q1
  • Convert 100 leads in Month 1, 200 in Month 2, 300 in Month 3
  • Qualify 25% of the leads each month
  • Acquire 25 customers in the first 90 days post launch
  • Decrease cost of customer acquisition (COCA) by 30% in first six months

The goals you set will be different than these, but they need to be in place and specific to your business model.

2. Who or whom is going to execute?

You are going to need to cover a lot of skill sets from writing and editing to social media and graphic design.  Let’s not forget about coding, website design, and a great understanding of your sales cycle/process and customer personas.

This is not a question to take lightly as a typical recent college grad (no disrespect to millenials) is not going to have all the skill sets you need to be achieve your goals and this is where most businesses fail as they hire on the cheap and think there new marketer can learn on the fly. Not to say this can’t be done, but it is very uncommon.

You need to identify the specific requirements needed and hire accordingly rather be an agency or employees.  You will need the following:

  • good writers
  • social media marketing (having a personal Facebook & Twitter account doesn’t qualify)
  • graphic designer
  • sales experience to manage workflows (lead nurturing campaigns)
  • project management skills
  • search engine optimization for your content, web pages, blog, and landing pages
  • coding skills (at a minimum basic HTML and CSS)

3. How are you going to source this person or team?

If you don’t have these skills covered already your going to need to recruit new talent which isn’t easy unless your located in a major city filled with young digital marketers. Using social media is the best way to recruit viable talent as anyone worth their salt is actively monitoring for available positions to apply for, but if your not active on social yet then use the following resources:

  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook advertising
  • Twitter (use hashtags like #inboundmarketing #internship #jobs)
  • Recruiter (Robert Half has a division called The Creative Group that specializes in IT and digital marketers)

If you are hiring anyone with at least a couple of years experience I highly recommend that you test their skills in the 2nd interview. If your not set up to administer a test then use HubSpot’s Inbound Certification which is available to the public for free via their website.  If your applicant can’t pass this test then they most likely aren’t qualified to run your inbound marketing.

4. How much time are you willing to invest on a weekly basis?

This a big question to answer if your going to implement in-house because inbound marketing is time consuming. If you are going to rely on one person to execute you must plan this being a full-time position.  Here’s why…

  • 2-5 blogs per week / 2-3 hours per blog (research, writing, editing, posting)
  • On-Page SEO / 5-6 hours per week
  • Planning / 2-3 hours per week (marketing plans, content calendar, social calendar)
  • Email marketing / 2-3 hours per week
  • Lead generation campaign / 15-20 hours per month (ebook, landing page, thank you page, form creation, CTA creation, A/B testing, workflow creation, analytics review, iteration)
  • Social media management / 10-15 hours per week
  • Content distribution / 2-4 hours per week

5. What is your timeframe for results?

Patience is not a virtue with inbound marketing.  It is required so plan accordingly.  Having a realistic timetable to see measurable results must be understood prior to launch as it won’t happen overnight. You will get some quick wins via social and email marketing, but it takes a long-term commitment to content and honing in on your buyer personas before you will see metrics start to spike.

If your looking for results in 60-90 days then inbound isn’t for you.  If your willing to invest and commit to 6-12 months and have a solid team in place then you will see measurable results.  Some of the most aggressive and experienced marketers and agencies take 5-6 months before seeing tangible and measurable results, so be patient and give it time.

Focusing on short-term results is why 60% plus of new content marketers quit within the first year. This is great news for people that can and are willing to be patient.

6. Is your website ready for inbound marketing?

This may seem like a crazy question, but if your site isn’t optimized with quality SEO, have a modern design theme that is simple and visual, and have a conversion path designed to drive visitors to your 2nd page (the 2nd page is the most valuable) then your not ready for inbound and may need to consult an inbound marketing agency on implementing a new design before you get started.

7. Will you need a CRM?

If you have a sales team and/or want to implement closed-loop marketing so you can accurately track your ROI then you will need a CRM.

8. How are you going to handle SEO for your site and your content?

Search engine optimization is an integral part of inbound marketing yet many think it is a totally separate tactic.  You will need to optimize your blog posts or you will miss out on hundreds or thousands of visitors.  You will need someone to conduct keyword research to build out your content calendar, optimize web pages and landing pages, and even social media posts.  Yes, social media posts and even profiles need to be optimized to maximize rankings.

Most qualified marketers can handle this, but you may need to look a little deeper for off-page SEO, schema markup, Google authorship, and link building.

Take it from me.  I started doing inbound marketing 6 1/2 years ago when I became a HubSpot customer and didn’t have the answers to these questions.  It was just me and my current COO Pat Owings and it was very tough at the start because we didn’t anticipate the time or fully understand the skill sets we needed.

The good news is we turned a $700,000 business into an $8,000,000 business in less than four years and you can do the same, but you need the right “People – Product – Process” to be successful. There is nothing more gratifying then creating your own case study, just look at Marcus Sheridan who did it wit River Pools and then launched the The Sales Lion.