Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Inbound Marketing Plan vs. Outbound
Did you know that when you improve your company’s online visibility (with social media, SEO, blogging, etc.), you’re working in the inbound marketing realm?
Outbound marketing is what marketers (mostly) did pre-internet, but some techniques still exist today. And guess what? They’re typically WAY MORE expensive than inbound strategies!
Since we focus on small businesses, let’s go with the more cost-effective option — inbound marketing!
This post will go over eight tips to consider when creating your next inbound marketing plan! Plus, I’ll include some lists to help break down the many content pieces into more digestible bits.
Creating content for an inbound marketing plan
1. Figure out what your audience wants
How do you do that? By trying out different things (over a set period), tracking, and then comparing those results to what you had before!
Why is it important to do that?
A customer’s needs, want(s), and demands are inbound marketing 101. Unfortunately, the meaning for each of those can get easily skewed. (The trick is to start realizing the differences and have some examples handy when people start asking questions.)
When it comes to figuring out your audience’s wants when it comes to content can be tricky. Keep in mind that the whole point of all of this is to find NEW things that’ll get more people interested in your brand/products.
Sure they might want to buy your product, but that’s not what we are talking about here. Sure, it can sometimes be less of a mystery if whatever you sell directly solves a problem, as these excellent IBM Watson products! (not an advertisement, btw)
However, what if you’re an organic soap company or sell something like sparkling water? How do you get new customers to visit a site, follow you on social media, or even buy your stuff?! By creating quality content that resonates with them! You have to target those sorts of things. Very rarely do things “happen on their own” or “go viral.”
2. Utilize checklists
To help us avoid making rash market research decisions when it comes to figuring out an audience, resort to a good ol’ checklist! Lists can help us to stay organized while at the same time, give us a different vantage point.
To find a checklist that ultimately leads you to where you want to go, but make sure it makes you step out of your comfort zone a bit. Different points of view are excellent! They end up usually leading down paths that we never even consider! Plus, learning something new in any process = ADDED BONUS!
3. After your research, brainstorm and craft ideas based on the findings
Keep in mind that research should be continual and not a one-time thing. When coming up with new content ideas or optimizing older content, only try to test/implement one or two things maximum for a set duration of time. Here’s why:
- With so many moving pieces, it’s easier to track and test 1-2 changes at a time.
- If you change too many things at once, it’ll be hard to pinpoint what worked and what didn’t
- Setting a hard timeline to track how new inbound marketing plans are working (or not) allows you to pinpoint trends easier or “undo” the changes (if necessary) once the next review period arrives.
4. Pay attention to what competitors are doing
If you don’t know where to begin or have ideas but are not sure if they’re sufficient, check out what your competitors are doing. However, make sure to look at more than one! More like three, five, or ten!
Why so many?
The more competitors you research, the more apparent it’ll become on how you can better improve your inbound marketing plan. Why? Ideas in action don’t have to be solely used just to give a reaction! Catch my drift? Take those “in action” ideas and put a new spin on them!
When you implement different techniques into your inbound marketing strategy and track the results, you’ll be able to determine what works best for your business (for the time being) in a much faster way vs. solely learning by trial and error! Once you figure out what you need to pay attention to and what you want to track, it becomes more comfortable over time. Just make sure to mark a reoccurring “competitor review” task in your calendar to keep your research consistent. Then rinse, and repeat! (Pssst: check out Todoist if you’re looking for an intuitive to-do list tool.)
As time goes on, you’ll get quicker at these reviews, and you’ll start noticing trends. The challenging part comes when you need to take what your company does, figure out a way to stand out, and then angle your KPIs and turn them into something your audience can digest.
5. Create a list of content that you need
After you research and brainstorm, you should have a good idea of which sort of content you need to create. However, start small! Jumping into a video series right off the bat might not be the best idea if you’ve never done it before or don’t have the equipment.
Reflect on what your company’s content creation limitations are and go from there. If you already have a website, but not a blog, start one! Need to add images to your web pages, then go for it! Haven’t delved into sharing GIFs or Videos on social media, then give it a try!
It’s important to be realistic in this step. While it’s one thing to push yourself to try and figure out how to make a GIF, it’s a whole different game when taking on a more massive project when you don’t have any small content marketing campaigns happening anywhere else.
What happens when you “go big” without the know-how? The odds of improving your visibility online with sub-par content isn’t promising. Build your skills over time and put yourself out there, but don’t overwhelm yourself and waste time trying to take on something too big, for the time being, of course.
Don’t worry! You’ll get better over time!
6. Come up with a timeline and stick to it
Content Creation Timelines are super helpful before you put together a posting schedule/content calendar! They help you become more aware of how long each piece of content takes to create and all the different steps involved. Once you know those two things, you can choose a content creation project from the list you made in the previous step and break it into pieces. Assign each step a due date (while ensuring there’s enough time to create the article without rushing).
Once you have your content, due dates assigned, and everyone is on the same page, move on to the next step!
7. Based on your creation timeline, come up with a posting schedule (AKA: Content Calendar)
First, jot down the dates when your different pieces of content are due.
Then, take each project and break them down into seven shareable pieces/blurbs for whichever social network you have the most activity on OR whichever channel you’re trying to improve/start. The key here is the context of the social network you’ll be choosing. You want to avoid taking those seven pieces and then sharing them on all of your social networks (it’s spammy). It also doesn’t give a follower any incentive to check out another one of your social profiles.
8. Figure out what you’re using each social network for
If you don’t already know what you’re using each social network for, now is the time to give it some thought! The point of each network isn’t to deliver the same content but to diversify it! Every social network has its context.
In other words, you wouldn’t share the same Meme on every social channel at the same time, would you?
Of course not!
To clarify further, say that you have a Facebook event to push. You’ll probably share the event publically on Facebook and then create a few reminders that you’ll share with that same audience through the week at different times. Now let’s say you also have an Instagram or Twitter account. On Instagram (IG), the live feeds are very different from Facebook (FB), and you can’t share (clickable) links in an actual IG post. (IG profiles allow for one clickable link, and it’s in your bio.)
Here are two examples of how could you promote an event on IG:
- Post an image of you holding a copy of the event announcement and then add a blurb that mentions to “check the link in bio for more info.” (You can change IG bio links accordingly.)
- Create an IG-friendly image for the event, and add a blurb and some relevant #’s! (You don’t have to add yourself in the picture, but it helps to personify your brand better.)
Another example: In the below list, you’ll notice a few differences in how each network utilizes character count and hashtags. Please note, those aren’t the only differences between the two social networks! (Here’s a link to more info on the different social networks and how to choose one.)
Twitter vs. IG
- Twitter feeds differ from IG, but one similarity is that both networks use hashtags.
- However, you don’t want to add 30 hashtags to the tweet like you could on IG (hashtag limit of 30).
- Tweets need to be short and to the point since there’s a character limit!
- You also want to avoid using more than 1-2 hashtags in your tweets because studies show that using 3 or more hashtags in tweets can lower engagement.
The differences might not seem like a big deal initially, but if you tried to use one platform like the other, you could decrease engagement!
Ultimately, when you’re working on a new content campaign, make sure to decide which social network to use. Once you know, you can then plan your inbound marketing plan to fit the social network’s context!
Inbound Marketing Strategies and Content Breakdown:
Popular Types of Inbound Marketing Strategies:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Blogging and Blog Distribution
- Social Media Marketing
- PPC (Pay-Per-Click)
- Email Marketing
- On-Site Content Marketing
- Off-Site Content Marketing
- SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
- Affiliate-Focused Inbound Marketing
Popular Types of Inbound Marketing Content
- Blog posts (long-form)
- Images in blog posts
- Images for Social Sharing
- How-to Articles
- Customized Quizzes/Polls
- Google Polls
- Twitter Polls
Also, here are some neat content creation tools!
So there you have it, a few tips for planning your next inbound marketing plan, the content that goes along with it, and some strategies and resources to help!
If you’re looking for more digital solutions, check out these related posts!
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