Where to Start with Inbound Marketing

I’ve been lucky in my consulting career thus far to work with a wide variety of clients. In most cases, my clients have established businesses with goals already in mind and some sort of handle on how their marketing and website are doing.

Occasionally, however, I’ll get the opportunity to start from scratch, even with companies that have been around for some time. In those cases, often the company was able to make sales and grow to a certain point. But, without knowing a baseline of their numbers, from traffic to conversion rates, they didn’t know what to do next. That’s where I came in.

Starting to revamp the marketing strategies of an established business is tricky. Not only is doing data analysis sometimes a c-level buy-in issue, but there are already processes and habits in place. A company doing the same thing for years with some level of growth is much harder to change than a start-up who truly is starting from scratch.

So, where do I start with a company that needs a marketing facelift?

First up: figure out those baseline numbers. It takes a bit of time to look at historical data for traffic, leads, sales, and sometimes that data isn’t even available. In that case, your only option is to build the structure to capture data, and wait.

Once you have an idea of where the numbers are, then you need to figure out what the actual goal is. Obviously making more sales is going to be the end-goal for the majority of companies, but you can’t just jump straight to that. Increasing the close rate to 100% means nothing if you get little traffic and even fewer leads. You need to start from the outside in with traffic.

The usual suspects go here for increasing traffic: content, content, more content and a bit of social. There are a million posts out there on how to increase traffic, so I’m not going to rehash them.

Once you starting executing on traffic-increasing projects, or the company happens to have good traffic and already publishes content on a regular basis, then it’s all about conversion. Are there landing pages? Do they have guides to answer common questions? Is there an opportunity to make marketing or sales collateral into downloadable content?

If these conversion opportunities exist already, then it’s time to look at the sales and customer service aspect of the business.

One thing I try to make clear to clients is that I’m not a sales consultant. I can’t speak to how to change the way you sell your product or service, but I can speak to how you can better provide customer service for clients who do convert. These folks are the prime target for inbound marketing efforts because they’re the ones who are going to refer others.

I have a client in the situation I outlined above. They didn’t have baseline numbers, but they do publish content and have downloadable guides. What we did together, and are continuing to work on, is figure out where we’re at with analytics. We also try to find out how to better help new customers use the software and new subscribers get the most out of the blog. We’ve done both by using automated email campaigns, aka drip emails or workflows.

Figure out what new clients or new subscribers need to be successful, and give them the info and tools to make that happen.