As inbound marketing continues to become the new standard of B2B marketing, more companies are buying into it more quickly. The good news for marketing directors is that it takes less effort to get the CEO to sign on with inbound. But it also means some companies are jumping into the pool without their water wings. And when they hit the water, they suddenly realize they don’t know how to swim yet.

Is your company ready for inbound marketing? Before you make the switch, conduct an honest self-appraisal to see if you’ve got the right elements in place to support the system. Here are the top things you’ll need to have in place before you make the leap to inbound marketing.

Marketing Budget

Winging it just doesn’t fly with inbound marketing. If you want to be successful, you need to plan out what your resource and financial needs will be. Before you make the leap to inbound, develop a realistic budget that will allow you to secure all the tools, staff, and resources you’ll need to create an effective inbound marketing program.

We’ve devoted an entire series on developing a successful marketing budget. Use those articles as a starting point for establishing your marketing budget.

Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are one of the core, fundamental elements of inbound marketing. In fact, you can’t have inbound without them. Personas tell you who you’re targeting – they give every piece of content the focus and direction it needs to get your ideal customers to engage with you and take the next step towards buying from you. Without personas, you’re just shooting in the dark.

Mapped Buyer’s Journey for Each Persona

If the persona is your foundation, the buyer’s journey gives your content direction. Your customers go through a process when they purchase from you. At each step along the way, they’ve got different questions and needs. An effective inbound strategy gives them helpful content that addresses their questions and concerns at each step along the journey.

Automation Software

There’s a lot of moving parts with inbound. Automation software takes the flood of activity and creates a stream of content that nurtures your contacts all the way through the buyer’s journey.

Automation doesn’t mean impersonal or robotic. HubSpot’s software actually makes it possible to increase the personal connection to your contacts, because it:

  • Uses personalization tokens to adapt your content to specific contacts
  • Automates activities for you so you can attend to your most important work
  • Notifies you of key actions that leads have taken so you can follow up
  • Ensures a seamless handoff from marketing to sales

Alignment Between Sales and Marketing

Sales and marketing go hand in hand. But it’s not uncommon for marketing teams to know almost nothing about the sales process or what a sales-qualified lead looks like.

Before you create an inbound marketing strategy, it’s critical to involve your sales team. You need to make sure your marketing activities are targeting the right kinds of leads, and that you’re collecting the right information before you pass leads on to the sales team.

Audit of Online Content and Social Media

Take inventory of all your content. ALL of it: website, downloadable content, sales collateral, social media – you name it. Do a ROT (redundant, outdated, trivial) analysis and a gap analysis to figure out what your current situation is. Then identify your top priorities for content cleanup and creation.

Need a major overhaul? Don’t get discouraged. Just eat that elephant one bite at a time, and focus on the top priorities first. You’ll get there!

HubSpot’s Website Grader can give you a quick high-level evaluation of your website’s content, and where you could improve.

C-level Buy-in

Make sure you’ve got the support of your executive team before you switch to inbound marketing. Inbound won’t impact your bottom line overnight – if you don’t have C-level buy-in, you’ll find yourself defending your efforts early and often.

A Full Marketing Team

If you’re relying on one or two people to determine your budget, align marketing with sales, plan your campaigns, write your content, design your visuals, manage social media, track your metrics, create PPC campaigns, and report to the C-level, you’ll crash and burn within the first quarter.

Inbound takes a team of specialists who can invest their unique expertise into one or two types of marketing activities. Companies that are ready for inbound have the in-house or outsourced resources in place to get the work done.

Ready for Inbound!

So, are you ready for inbound marketing? Chances are, you’ve got some work to do. No worries – there’s always room for improvement. The key is to find your greatest needs and start there.

Need some expert help getting your marketing in order? Check out our individualized inbound setup packages. You’ll get one-on-one help with the specific areas you need most.