10-step, research-supported process for synchronizing search, social and content

STEP 1:  RETHINK END-TO-END ENGAGEMENT

This first step lays the groundwork for your inbound marketing programs. Much of this foundation begins with rethinking how customers currently shop, and why a new approach to marketing is necessary to engage them. Here, you will also learn how to articulate a vision for inbound marketing success, including how to develop a strategic process and plan of action for inbound marketing.

Learning objectives include:

• How to rethink the customer buying process

• Why inbound marketing powers the customer engagement cycle

• Where to focus when developing a strategic process for the planning, execution and measurement of your inbound marketing programs

STEP 2: UNDERSTAND YOUR TARGET MARKET’S BEHAVIORS ON THE PATH TO PURCHASE

It’s not just enough to segment your customer base; you have to put yourselves in your audience’s shoes. Researching and profiling your customers’ triggers and behaviors along the path to purchase are critical components for gaining greater understanding.

To do this, you’ll first work to develop inbound buyer personas, and then consider these personas in light of the customer engagement cycle. This will provide a practical working model to help you generate ideas for inbound marketing tactics, and craft an extensive engagement strategy. Upon completion of this step, you’ll be able to clearly see and appreciate how inbound marketing transforms all stages of the buying funnel.

Learning objectives include:

• How to develop inbound buyer personas in six steps
• How to align inbound buyer personas with the customer engagement cycle
• How to methodically think through ideas for inbound marketing tactics by considering your persona in light of the customer engagement cycle

STEP 3: ESTABLISH SMART OBJECTIVES TO ACHIEVE OPTIMUM ROI

Setting objectives is something we all do, but the best objectives are SMART. This means they are:

• Specific
• Measurable
• Actionable
• Realistic
• Time-bound

In this section, you will identify your inbound marketing objectives, and then use the framework of your personas  to develop details. You will also learn to select the correct set of primary and secondary metrics to drive optimum  performance.

Learning objectives include:

• How to identify and dissect your most pressing inbound marketing challenges
• How to set SMART objectives and goals
• What role your personas play in clarifying your objectives

STEP 4:  ATTRACT ATTENTION WITH RELEVANT AND TIMELY SEARCH RESULTS 

SEO is about how humans behave (query, scan and click) and how search engines behave (crawl, index, process,  calculate relevancy, and retrieve). Understanding both sets of behaviors is important for optimal effectiveness in  your SEO endeavors. Here you’ll learn how to create search results that attract and pull prospects in to your  company.

Learning objectives include:

• Why tactics need to be evaluated with attention focused on popularity, effectiveness and difficulty
• How to identify key characteristics for successful SEO campaigns
• How to approach and execute common SEO tactics

STEP 5: BUILD AND ENGAGE SOCIAL NETWORKS

In traditional outbound marketing practices, you control the information your audience receives – meaning your  brand “is what you say it is.” With inbound marketing, the control of information received shifts to your audience.  Social media – and the exchange of information – has been a major contributor to this paradigm shift.  The result? Your brand is now what they (your prospects, customers, influencers) say it is. Learning how to amplify this earned media, and then leveraging what’s said on your behalf for greater influence, is the secret to success  with social media – and the central point of this chapter.

Learning objectives include:
• How to engage your audience on social networks and organically increase your reach
• Which practices work best for engaging the vocal minority and pitching the social authority

STEP 6: CREATE AND SHARE ENGAGING CONTENT

Sharing content is a critical component of inbound marketing. The secret to creating contagious content is to  educate, or even solve the reader’s problem, without explicitly selling your product. When you move away from  focusing on just a product or service, and towards helping the consumer, you will generate better content ideas.  Original, repurposed and user-generated content all have a place in your content marketing plans.

Learning objectives include:

• Which types of content perform the best, and are worth the time and effort to create
• How to conduct a content inventory audit to uncover where you are content rich or poor
• How to pick content topics using the customer engagement cycle

STEP 7: CONSTRUCT AN INBOUND MARKETING ARCHITECTURE FOR SYNCHRONIZING CHANNELS

When all three programs operate in synchronicity, you will see powerful results. In this section, you will learn how
to purposefully construct an inbound marketing architecture that connects search results, conversations, and
content to conversion points.

Learning objectives include:

• How a “hub-and-spoke” architecture systematically directs lead capture and customer conversion
• What percentage of marketers agree with the importance of integration – rather than practice it
• How to roll out an inbound marketing architecture with a plan and purpose

STEP 8: GATHER ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS AND INTELLIGENCE

Gathering data is not synonymous with gathering intelligence. While data collection simply involves pulling together information, gathering intelligence on your inbound marketing programs means you measure, understand, control and improve performance … and then repeat the entire cycle.

This step is characterized by evaluation and reassessment, representing two elements added to SMART objectives to make them SMARTER. Here you set the feedback loop in motion. Evaluating and interpreting results within the framework of your objectives increases your understanding and shows you areas to improve. After you’ve implemented plans for improving performance, you then reassess, paying particular attention to the new or different factors you’ve put into play

 Learning objectives include:

• How to methodically evaluate your results and reassess your plans for action

• Which inbound marketing metrics are most revealing

• What organizations turn to for analytics and monitoring solutions

STEP 9: BUDGET TIME AND MONEY WISELY

On average, online marketing comprises half of total marketing budgets. Of this, companies put almost half of  online marketing dollars into SEO, social and content marketing programs. With these types of budgets at stake,  it is important to plan your programs with ROI in mind from the outset.

When you quantify the outcome you expect from your marketing investment, you can then determine exactly how  you will measure the program against those goals and position yourself to achieve them.

Learning objectives include:

• How to forecast your budget, in terms of ROI

• Which expenses should be factored into your budget requests

• What to consider when deciding whether or not to outsource inbound marketing management

STEP 10: COMMIT TO ONGOING IMPROVEMENT

Inbound marketing is a dynamic field. Though many overarching principles will remain the same, new  developments, practices and applications will continue to come along. In this section, you will learn to develop a  plan for continued learning and improvement – a plan that focuses on creating connections and delivering a  great experience.

Learning objectives include:

• Why you need a growth mindset
• What approach to learning is best suited to inbound marketing
• Where to go for good resources

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