Mar 6, 2014 9:52:00 AM
When you’re just stepping out with a inbound marketing campaign, it can all feel a bit overwhelming. What needs to be done first? Where should you be directing your attention? Fortunately, there is a systematic approach you can borrow to keep your campaigns progressing, without missing any important elements.
Take it from a trusted inbound marketing agency, here are 7 steps to building out a marketing roadmap that can guide the rest of your efforts:
1. Start With SMART Goals
If you want a good map, you need to know your end destination. SMART goals help you define what it is you need your marketing work to accomplish and define the outcomes you’re looking to achieve. The criteria includes:
- Specific – “We want to do better” is a terrible goal. At what? What specific areas need improvement?
- Measureable – You need to be able to tell if your marketing is working. This is where you define the metrics for measurement that will tell you when you’re moving in the right direction.
- Achievable - It’s good to dream big, but your goals should reflect the reality of your business. It might help to set solid goals and stretch goals; always giving yourself something to reach for.
- Relevant - Make sure your goals tie back into a business objective and an outcome that actually matters. Earning more traffic is an attractive goal, but how, exactly, will it impact your business? Make sure the things you’re shooting for have outcomes that matter.
- Time-Bound – The difference between a goal and a wish is a timeframe. Give your goals realistic time frames and use time as a benchmark to gauge your progress.
2. Develop Buyer Personas
With your goals in place, it’s time to turn your attention to understanding your customers inside and out. After all, achieving your business goals is going to rely on your ability to understand and market to an audience; fail to know them well, and you may wind up sending all the wrong messages across all the wrong channels.
Some of the things you need to know about your customers include:
- Demographics - Where do they live? How old are they? What kind of jobs do they hold?
- Psychographics - What do they value? What holds their attention? What do they believe? What do they care about? What are they interested in, outside of your niche?
- Communication Style - How do they talk? How do they interact with one another? Where do they go for information? Who do they look up to and trust?
- Pain Points – What events create awareness of their need for your product or service? What problems are they looking to solve? What frustrations do they have with that process?
- Buying Cycle – What are the different stages the customer goes through? What pressures do they experience at every stage? What are the questions they’re asking as they progress through that cycle?
The difference between a successful campaign and a failed one will be your ability to send a message your consumers expect, understand and want to digest. Don’t skip this part, whatever you do!
3. Develop Your Brand Voice
Once you’ve defined your audience, you should have a clear idea of how to speak to them. It’s time to create a brand voice that is consistent and matches the language, style and expectations of your market. Spend some time documenting your brand’s voice and tone into a style guide, answering questions like:
- If our brand was a person, what would their personality be like?
- Are we funny? Authoritative? Conversational? Cute? Note that documenting what you aren’t is just as important as what you are. Get everyone on the same page.
If you’re not sure how you ought to be speaking, listen in to your customers – and listen in to the chatter around your office. How do you talk to your customers on the phone or in meetings? How do you talk to one another? These are excellent places to begin.
4. Conduct a Content Audit
Now it’s time to define what needs to be created. Begin by mapping out your customer’s buying cycle and assigning the different pain points and questions they have to each different stage in that cycle. Next, take a look at your existing content – all of it!
Do you have content that answers the questions at every stage of the cycle? Do you have content targeted people at the top of the funnel (just becoming aware of their need) and the bottom (ready to buy)?
Take stock of your content and note where there are gaps that need to be filled. This is going to be invaluable for making the next step in our process more effective.
5. Schedule Content Creation
Having defined what needs to be created, it’s time to set about actually creating the content. To do that, you’ll want to create an editorial calendar. The calendar should have all of the following information in it:
- Publishing date
- Targeted persona
- A proposed topic or title
- A description of the content to be created, including the format (e.g. Infographic vs. Video vs. Blog post)
- Keywords & themes to integrate
- Key promotional channels you will leverage
- The content creator responsible for the piece
- The manager or administrator overseeing and assuring content quality
Make sure that you’re not committing to a publishing schedule that is too strenuous or outside of the scope of what you can afford to produce. Then, stick to the plan – but be willing to be flexible on the fly when new opportunities present themselves and the data helps refine your approach.
6. Refine Your CTAs
Creating a lot of content is great, but not if it doesn’t help move the customer closer to the sale. Calls-to-action are responsible for helping to nudge your audience into the next stage of the funnel. As such, they’re critical pieces of your marketing roadmap worthy of their own entire step.
Analyze the content you’re creating, and plan out several calls-to-action appropriate for the stage of the buying cycle that the content is in. You’ll need to test these CTA’s against each other for effectiveness, so now is the time to take stock of how and where you will test them.
Plan out a testing schedule, being sure to allow enough time to collect statistically significant data.
7. Polish Your Workflows
Your internal workflows need to mirror the customer buying cycle. Before you wade out into marketing, make sure you’ve got the resources at every stage of that cycle to nurture the customer and get hands-on when you need to.
Remember that your marketing efforts are going to be delivering sales-qualified leads; do you have the infrastructure in place to manage those leads and close the sale when the time is right?
Take a hard look at your processes and determine where things could fall through the cracks. Before you dive headlong into your marketing effort, patch gaps, streamline workflows and make sure everyone in your organization knows the role they need to play at every step of the way.
Not as Daunting as it Sounded, Huh?
Sure, there’s a lot that goes in to planning a marketing campaign. But with the right structure and a systemized approach, it needn’t be as overwhelming as it might seem at first blush.
You can handle it – and an inbound marketing agency can help!
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