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Inbound Marketing

How to Lead an Inbound Marketing Campaign Like a Boss

A fear of poor results could cause organizations to delay launching their first inbound marketing campaign. Even if your graphic design or writing skills aren't up to par, you can launch successfully with knowledge of smart campaign management.

Why Inbound Marketing Campaign Management Matters

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When it comes to campaign metrics, leadership probably matters much more than you think. A well-written or beautifully-designed campaign could get overlooked if you lack planning, strategy, and execution. You've probably heard that success is "80% planning and 20% execution." This law, which reflects the Pareto distribution of inputs and outputs, holds true in inbound marketing, too.

In this blog, you'll learn a high-level overview of what goes into a great inbound campaign. Even if you outsource most of the execution, you'll learn how to control 80% of the results. In other words, you'll gain the ability to strategize like a boss.

1. Plan Your Campaign

The first step towards any successful inbound campaign is creating a concept that's right for your audience. Per HubSpot's Meghan Keaney Anderson, audience identification is the difference between "a generic message that falls flat and a campaign that resonates."

In the campaign planning stages, it's important to understand who you're marketing to, and what they need to hear to convert into leads. If you fail at this initial stage, everything else involved for campaign execution may not matter. Campaign planning should include:

  • Competitive analysis: what are your competitors using as campaign concepts? Will your idea add value to your field?
  • Keyword Research: what are the words and phrases your future customers are using to search? Can you align your campaign with important search trends to drive more leads from Google?
  • Buyer Persona Profiles: your campaign should align perfectly with the preferences and pain points of at least one of your buyer persona profiles.
  • Campaign planning: Are you creating an eBook, whitepaper, or research report? How much supporting content will you create, such as blogs and social media posts? If you are going to be outsourcing writing, design, or social media management, this is the right time to begin discussing those factors.
  • Key performance indicators: What are your organizational goals for the campaign, regarding website traffic, leads generated, and new customers?
  • Proposed timeline: When is your ideal launch date? When will you publish the supporting blogs? While you don't need to build out an entire editorial calendar during the campaign planning stages, having an overview of timelines can be important to planning campaign management.

2. Create Content

High-quality content is the foundation of inbound marketing, as Jeff Bullas writes. Without a fantastic campaign, your company can't position itself as a resource for future customers.

However, if you're one of the inbound marketers who loathes writing or is too busy to create content, you've got more options than just doing it yourself. To create your eBook, whitepaper, or another campaign you could:

  • Write it yourself
  • Get your coworkers involved. Even if your marketing team or a contract copy editor needs to commit some time to revision, "insourcing" can introduce efficiency to your campaign creation process.
  • Hire a freelancer. There are some low-risk platforms that allow brands to connect with effective freelance writers. A few of the most popular include WriterAccess, Zerys, and Scripted.
  • Hire staff writers: Hiring team members or long-term contractors can allow marketers consistent access to subject matter experts.
  • Hire a graphic designer. Unless your writer is a multi-talented inbound marketing superstar, you'll need a graphic designer to create the visual elements of the offer and supporting elements (such as call-to-action buttons).

3. Put Together a Publishing Calendar

Lead nurturing emails. Social media posts. Blogs. Inbound marketing campaigns have a lot of moving pieces, and you need to track all of these elements in a single location. A centralized editorial calendar is especially crucial if you have a large team of people helping you with campaign execution.

Content marketer Nathan Ellering writes that he's been on marketing projects with seven different editorial calendars and scheduling tools before. The result was mass confusion, and "no one" could find the necessary information. You really need a centralized tool that everyone can access, which addresses:

  • How often will you publish blogs, social media posts, and send follow-up emails?
  • How far in advance will you create content or schedule social media?
  • What kinds of content will you be creating? Typically, including a variety of content types will lead to the best results.

4. Plan Content Promotion

If you create a campaign, you can't reasonably assume that your prospects will come running. In fact, running an inbound campaign without a plan for content promotion could mean mediocre results. Your plan could include owned, paid, and earned media.

Ultimately, your buyer personas' internet usage habits should shape how you promote your new campaign. By advertising your offer on channels that they already use, you'll attract the right leads. Here are some common and less common promotion methods:

  • Social Media: Share your campaign and related blogs to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and other social networks
  • Email: Send an announcement about your new campaign to the right segments, and share your blogs with subscribers.
  • Paid: Certain paid promotion opportunities could drastically increase your offer's exposure. The Convince and Convert blog recommends considering StumbleUpon and Reddit Advertising. Paid social media advertising and pay-per-click campaigns are two more options.
  • Forums and Groups: If you are a member of LinkedIn groups or other online communities, you can share your offer in the group. Be sure and check group rules about content promotions to avoid getting accused of spamming.
  • Press Releases: Paid promotion in traditional media isn't for everyone. However, if your brand's buyer personas still read newspapers and magazines, media promotion could be right for you. In addition to press releases, you can consider paid site ads or newsletter placement with media outlets.

5. Create an Effective Lead Generation Offer

Writing your campaign is just the first step in marketing execution. Before you go live, you'll need to create supporting elements to promote your offer on your website and other owned channels, such as your Facebook or LinkedIn page.

You don't need to create all supporting elements before you publish your offer, especially if you'll be publishing relevant blogs and social posts for a month after your offer. However, you definitely should complete most of the following:

  • Create CTAs: With the help of a graphic designer, build call-to-action (CTA) buttons for your blog, website sidebars, and homepages. These buttons should include A/B variants for split testing. Many organizations find that it's most efficient to simultaneously design the offer and buttons.
  • Build offer pages: Your CTAs should link to a landing page, which will redirect new leads to an offer thank you page. While details can vary depending on your marketing software or CMS, you will also need to build a custom form.
  • Schedule social media: While your content promotion efforts are likely to continue for several weeks after your offer goes live, it's important to schedule at least your initial social media announcement and other major forms of promotion.
  • Get your blogs rolling: Regardless of whether you are blogging, in-sourcing or outsourcing, you want to begin creating and scheduling your blog content for the month.
  • Create an announcement email: Create an announcement email that shares your new offer with relevant segments of your contacts database.
  • Build a lead nurturing workflow: To educate and keep in touch with your new leads, you'll want to build a series of automated email messages that will be sent at regular intervals after the offer is downloaded.
  • Test internally: Any experienced inbound marketer can attest that putting, at least, a second and third set of eyes on your new offer and workflow is critical. Enlist your most eagle-eyed colleague to evaluate your offer, landing page, thank you page, and emails for any lingering errors.
  • Create a schedule for assessment: Marketing campaign managers should plan to gather their team on a regular basis, such as every other week, for assessment. Use these huddles as an opportunity to review metrics, lead feedback, and other success measures. If you work solo, scheduled assessment is still important.

6. Measure, Learn, and Improve

After you launch the offer, you should give yourself a huge pat on the back and exhale. While launching an offer is a major accomplishment, a campaign manager's work is far from done. Over the next weeks and months, you should evaluate your offer metrics on a consistent basis.

Use the knowledge you gain from your offer analytics and feedback to learn more about your buyer personas and their buyer's journey. Apply this knowledge to your future campaigns for even better results. Your campaign measurements and key performance indicators could include:

  • Visitor-to-Lead Conversions: Analyze the percentage of landing page visitors who convert into leads to evaluate the strength of your offer concept and landing page.
  • Lead-to-Customer Conversions: The percentage of leads who become sales-qualified leads or customers indicates your campaign return-on-investment (ROI). This can reveal the strength of your lead nurturing workflow, buyer persona targeting, and sales team.
  • Conversions by Source: By analyzing the percentage of new leads who come from search engines, social media, and other promotion methods, you can shape your promotion strategy for future campaigns.
  • Social Media Metrics: Evaluate the performance of your campaign and related posts on social media.
  • Blogging Metrics: Analyze the analytics of your supporting blog content.
  • CTA Metrics: By running split tests, you can learn about the conversion pathways that convert.
  • Email Marketing Metrics: Apply intelligence from your announcement email and lead nurturing workflows to improve your segmentation and future email communications.

7. Don't Panic if You Miss Targets

If you miss your campaign key performance indicators, don't panic. Once your campaign is launched, you're able to continue promoting your content. We recommend against improvising to drive better results. Stick to the plan to the finish line, and then approve your approach on the next campaign.

Sticking to your strategy matters because you're able to develop an end-to-end viewpoint of your campaign. By keeping things simple, you're also keeping things measurable.

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Campaigns That Work

Never underestimate the importance of strong campaign management and strategy when it comes to inbound marketing success. Even if you're not able to solely handle the execution of writing and graphic design, by setting goals and staying organized, you can significantly improve your chances of success.

Content Repurposing Toolkit

Written by Jasmine Gordon / December 16, 2015

Jasmine W. Gordon is a copywriter at Lean Labs. She's written for digital audiences for over 5 years, and her background includes agencies, tech startups, health care, big data analytics, energy, and more. Jasmine loves new marketing statistics, optimization studies, and live music.

Articles by Jasmine Gordon