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12 Shortcuts to Launch an Inbound Marketing Campaign in Record Time

Overview

Marketing campaigns don’t always fail because of lack of good ideas.

Most of the time it comes down to execution.

Here’s a quick rundown of 5 critical elements that need to be into every marketing campaign and specifically inbound marketing campaigns, to make sure you’re setting yourself up for the best chance of success.



Fortunately, here’s an inbound marketing campaign roadmap you can get started on immediately.

This is guide will set you down the path of creating your own inbound marketing campaign, from start to finish, in only 3 weeks.

Usually the next question that pops up is… “What if it takes me longer than one week for a section?”

Don’t let it! Strip your elaborate idea down to the core so you can get it out the door as soon as possible.

You have to test and experiment to find tactics that work. And this is just another one. So keep it as simple as possible. Don’t let grand ideas and bold ambitions slow you down during your first campaign.

Give Your Campaign an "Anchor"

Before doing anything, you need to start with a goal.

The goal you pick will act as an anchor that brings order from chaos. And it will simplify your decision making when you need to choose between conflicting options.

The primary goal of any inbound marketing campaign is easy – you want to attract awareness. So if you want to reach the most people possible, then it needs to be free and easy to share.

Here are a few example metrics you can use to gauge success:

 

Links (for SEO)

Given the complexity of the web, links are the road between different pages. Search engines are then able to determine how pages are related to each other. Furthermore, according to Moz:

Thanks to the focus on algorithmic use and analysis of links, growing the link profile of a website is critical to gaining traction, attention, and traffic from the engines. Link building is among the top tasks required for search ranking and traffic success.

 

Shares (for social media)

Salesforce recently released the top 40 inspirational quotes from SEO experts, and Jim Yu, CEO of BrightEdge, mentioned how important it is to always keep social media in mind. Yu states:

Social media marketers should partner with their SEO counterparts and by doing so they will be able to find success by focusing on the content that fuels social media activities, while simultaneously analyzing trends to increase opportunities and maximize impact.

 

Visits & Pageviews (for traffic)

What is the difference between a visit and a pageview?

The moment someone pulls up your website it becomes a visit in Google Analytics.

On the other hand, a pageview is when someone visits your site and continues to a different page within your site.

You get the idea. The important point is to identify – before you even start – the targets you’re trying to hit and then what metrics will tell you if you’ve reached your goal.

But…

There’s another problem we need to address before you begin.

Most people will not want to share your commercial site, commercial message, commercial content, or commercial tool.

Nothing kills social media activity faster than a sales pitch. [Click to Tweet]

But you have to sell at some point! That is your job after all.

So what’s the solution?

The Essential Components of "Shareable" Content

“Shareable” content is the easiest to promote, because the “promotion” part (that usually isn’t thought through until the very end) is baked in from the beginning.

This content must have an interesting hook that grabs people’s attention and keeps them interested. It acts as the “bait”. Then once you have their attention, you can introduce related offers or “sales” content.

Here are some of the qualities your “shareable” content will need:

Insanely Useful / Utility: If it doesn’t provide some use or immense benefit then it probably won’t be interesting enough.

Alleviate Pain Points: Typically, the most useful things solve your customers pain points.

“Evergreen” or Timeless: Don’t waste time chasing new stories or limited content. This should still be relevant for years to come.

Branded: Branding your offering will make it unique, stand out from the others, and improve how people remember it.

Promotable: How easy will it be to promote this idea? Make sure it’s easy-to-understand, valuable and appealing to the right audience.

Frictionless Sharing: Make this extremely easy-to-share by removing every possible step or barrier for people.

Mass Appeal: Finally, you need to broaden your target market and create something that will appeal to a mass audience. These people might not even be your direct customers. But you need to identify the right people who will share you stuff.

The One Thing that Will Have the Biggest Impact on Success

What is your offer or “shareable content” going to look like?

If the idea is good enough, then it can probably take several different forms. But it you choose the wrong format, then it won’t have the desired impact.

Ask how your audience wants to consume this content. And pick a form that supports your idea the best.

For example, infographics usually require a lot of research and data. So if you don’t have either, then an infographic probably isn’t the best format choice.

Here are a few other examples you can choose from:

  • Special report or guide
  • “Viral” article
  • Videos
  • Email series
  • Research
  • Tools
  • Software
  • Calculators

Here are some good examples that are more elaborate:

 

HubSpot’s Marketing Grader

Marketing Grader

What’s your marketing grade? The average grade is 45. Are you better than that? Join the elite 140,000 companies that take the time to grade their marketing efforts.

 

PayScale Infographic

The_Social_Media_Salary_Guide__INFOGRAPHIC_

In just 2 years, infographic search volumes have increased by over 800%.

An infographic is an extremely successful marketing tool because 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and over 65% of the population are visual learners. By turning complex information into visual content, your audience is able to easily understand and quickly consume the information that you are trying to explain.

 

New York Times “Buy vs. Rent” Calculator

Buy vs rent calculator

The choice between buying a home and renting one is among the biggest financial decisions that many adults make.

Calculators are a great marketing tool that can be set up to promote your company, while simultaneously answering an important question that your buyer persona may have.
Don’t stress about the quality at this stage.

Just start with something simple, see if people like it, and then invest more if it takes off.

How to Get Started with Your First Campaign

You might already have several ideas. Or you might be stuck because you’re not sure where to start.

Here’s how you should pick the winning idea to move forward with.

Write all of your ideas down on a piece of paper or on spreadsheet. Now give them a grade, using a simple 1 – 5 point system, in the following areas:

  • Cost to Invest (Time, Money, Energy)
  • Difficulty / Time to Finish
  • Usefulness / Appealing
  • Promotability / Ease of Sharing

Ideally, one of your ideas will be all of these things (relatively inexpensive, not too difficult to finish, extremely useful and easy to share).

1-5 scale

 

Next Steps

Start planning and brainstorming the “inbound marketing asset” you’re going to create over the next week. Make sure it will appeal to a wide audience and will be a “timeless” addition to your site.

Soon we’ll discuss how to promote your new offer and gain widespread distribution.

But before we get there, you’ll need to learn how to organize and structure an offer so that you’ll receive the best bang for your buck.

You can’t just put it on your site and hope for the best.

The best campaigns are engineered to succeed from the beginning.

Why Every Marketing Campaign Plan Needs a Solid "Foundation"

Most marketing campaigns fail in the long run.

They get traffic and attention for a few days, and then it fades away – never to be heard from again.

The reason is because people are too focused on the short-term. They’re in such a rush to meet a deadline or come under budget that they sacrifice the “less important” elements (because it may not have an immediate payoff).

But these small elements are what make your campaigns timeless. And you’ll receive value from them in the weeks, months and years to come.

Here are 5 small elements that will give your marketing campaign a “foundation” for success.

 

The 5 Small Elements Every Failed Marketing Campaign Plan is Missing

Inbound marketing campaign plans

Every business can use a inbound marketing campaign to get more traffic and business.

These are “marketing assets” that you invest in once, and they appreciate in value over time.

But they don’t always succeed.

People create a campaign, launch it, and it fails to get attention.

Why?

Because they usually skip a step.

 

Why Every Marketing Campaign Plan Needs a Solid “Foundation”

Many marketing campaigns fail in the long run.

They get traffic and attention for a few days, and then it fades away – never to be heard from again.

The reason is because people are too focused on the short-term. They’re in such a rush to meet a deadline or come under budget that they sacrifice the “less important” elements (because it may not have an immediate payoff).

But these small elements are what make your campaigns timeless. And you’ll receive value from them in the weeks, months and years to come.

Here are a few small elements that will give your marketing campaign a “foundation” for success.

Create a Flat Site Architecture

“Site architecture” is a fancy way to describe how your website is organized.

For maximum SEO value, you want to organize the individual pages in a flat hierarchy. This makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your site. And it’s also easier for users to navigate.

A good rule of thumb is to keep important pages within 3 clicks from the homepage.[Click to Tweet]

But it’s easy to forget about this, and unintentionally bury important pages or posts. For example, a typical website architecture looks like this:

flat site architecture for your inbound marketing campaign

This common tree-like hierarchy has “parent” pages (like About, Services, Blog, Contact), and “child” pages (like individual blog posts).

You can avoid burying your “linkable asset” by putting in a page, not a blog post. And place it just off the homepage as it’s own “parent”, not as a “child” under any others.

Finally, you should also link to it directly from the homepage to make sure both people – and search engines – can easily find it. It doesn’t have to be from the main navigation. But you can use sidebars, body copy and footers to link directly out.

Use a Relevant, Long-Tail Keyphrase with Clean URL

Now you need to target keyphrases that (a) people are searching for, and (b) are relevant to your site.

But you need to find the sweet spot that will bring you traffic, but also aren’t too competitive. (Most small or new sites can’t compete for the most popular keyphrases.)

The easiest, free tool to use is the Google Keyword Planner. You simply enter in some phrases that describe the page, and it will recommend other ones to choose from.

Note: Please understand that these numbers aren’t very accurate. So you’re looking for relative positions, not absolute data. And make sure you switch from “Broad Match” to [Exact Match] so it’s more accurate.

Look at the “Local Monthly Search Volume” column to find long-tail keyphrases that are longer and more descriptive phrases. These less competitive keyphrases will be easier to rank, but you’ll also get more targeted traffic because these people are searching for that exact phrase.

Here are some good rules of thumb I’ve found, depending on the size of your website or blog. These are just rough estimates, but they should provide a good range of possible keyphrases to choose from.

  • New/Unestablished: You should look for keyphrases with around 0 – 500 local monthly searches.
  • Established/Growing: You can look for the 500 – 1,000.
  • Big/Popular: You can target even keyphrases 1,000+

 

Optimize the Page with Your New Keyword

Optimizing a page or post refers to strategically placing the keyphrase in specific places. Here are 7 areas you should start with:

#1. Title: When crafting your headline for search engine purposes, try to fit the keyphrase in towards the beginning. You need to balance the best headline with being as descriptive as possible.

#2. Meta Description: The meta description is the brief intro to your article, just below the headline, in the search engine results. Keyphrases in the meta description don’t help you rank higher. But when people use that keyphrase, it’s given extra emphasis. You should also use good copywriting in the description to try and increase your click-through-rate (CTR).

#3. URL: Use the keyphrase in your URL to give a clean, informative URL structure for both people and search engines. Try to keep it as simple as possible, and avoid unnecessary words or number strings.

#4. Sub-Header Tags: Use sub-headers to break up the text or differentiating other sections. So you would write it as: < h2 >Keyphrase… < /h2 >

#5. Internal anchor text linking: You should always internally link to other posts/pages on your site. When doing this, it is “best practice” to use the specific keyword phrase as your link.

#6. Tags: Tags are what your users are searching for within your website. So it’s smart to put the keyphrase there as well. You can also include any other related words that may be appropriate for your user’s searches within your site.

#7. Image ALT attribute: Always use images in your posts. When inserting an image, you should put the specific keyphrase in the “ALT Attribute” section.

If you’re using WordPress, then here’s a cheat sheet we created for more information (click to enlarge):

SEO blog post optimization

Optimize the Page with Your New Keyword

Optimizing a page or post refers to strategically placing the keyphrase in specific places. Here are 7 areas you should start with:

1. Title: When crafting your headline for search engine purposes, try to fit the keyphrase in towards the beginning. You need to balance the best headline with being as descriptive as possible.

2. Meta Description: The meta description is the brief intro to your article, just below the headline, in the search engine results. Keyphrases in the meta description don’t help you rank higher. But when people use that keyphrase, it’s given extra emphasis. You should also use good copywriting in the description to try and increase your click-through-rate (CTR).

3. URL: Use the keyphrase in your URL to give a clean, informative URL structure for both people and search engines. Try to keep it as simple as possible, and avoid unnecessary words or number strings.

4. Sub-Header Tags: Use sub-headers to break up the text or differentiating other sections. So you would write it as: < h2 >Keyphrase… < /h2 >

5. Internal anchor text linking: You should always internally link to other posts/pages on your site. When doing this, it is “best practice” to use the specific keyword phrase as your link.

6. Tags: Tags are what your users are searching for within your website. So it’s smart to put the keyphrase there as well. You can also include any other related words that may be appropriate for your user’s searches within your site.

7. Image ALT attribute: Always use images in your posts. When inserting an image, you should put the specific keyphrase in the “ALT Attribute” section.

If you’re using WordPress, then here’s a cheat sheet I created for more information (click to enlarge):

Write "Attention-Grabbing" Headlines

It doesn’t matter how good your content is if no one reads it.

Your headline or title is one of the most important aspects of your content. It may sound simple. But it can make-or-break you. The difference between a post that goes viral, and one that falls flat on its face.

And in a few months from now, when people scan the search engine results, your headline needs to grab their attention and get them to click through.

The best headlines need to emotionally connect with your audience.

Here are some amazing examples from Headline Hacks by Jon Morrow.

  • Threat – i.e. The Shocking Truth about (blank), How Safe is Your (valuable person/object) from (threat)?)
  • Zen – i.e. The Minimalist Guide to (Aggravation), Can’t Keep Up? 11 Ways to Simplify Your (blank))
  • Piggyback – i.e. The (world class example) Guide to (blank), What (world class example) Can Teach Us about (blank))
  • How-To – i.e. How to (blank) without (objectionable action), How to (blank) — The Ultimate Guide)
  • Mistake – i.e. Do You Make These 9 (blank) Mistakes?, Don’t Do These 12 Things When You (blank))
  • List – i.e. 7 Ways to (do something), The 5 Laws for (blank))

Use a CTA to Get People to Take Action

Finally, the Call-To-Action is what you want someone to do. It’s the “next step” you want them to take.

Why are you doing this inbound campaign in the first place?

  • If you want awareness, then maybe you want people to share it with their friends, or embed the content on their own site.
  • If you want leads, then you should include opt-in forms and talk about the benefits or incentive to join.

You should always emphasize one primary call-to-action for the best response rates.

You can more, but don’t overwhelm people with too many calls-to-action because it actually backfires. Studies have shown that too many choices turns people off.

Here’s an example from software company HubSpot, and their Marketing Grader. Notice that they actually have three CTAs, but they use sizing, placement, and emphasis to prioritize your choices.

HubSpot Marketing Grader CTA Example

Next Steps

We discussed how to create a an inbound marketing campaign that will appeal to a wide audience and get you more traffic, links and leads.

And now you know the 5 small elements that will cement your long-term success. So your campaign will actually gain value over time and your marketing ROI will soar.

The final section will discuss how to distribute your campaign and promote it to reach the widest audience possible.

Marketing campaigns don’t just “go viral”.

And you can’t just slap promotion on at the end and expect excellent results.

In fact, all of the hard work should be done before you even try to promote your campaign.

Success should be engineered from the beginning.

And then when it’s time to launch, all you have to do is get the message out.

Here’s how.

Why Would Someone Share Your Content?

People don’t share something because of how good you are. They share it because it benefits them in some way. (That’s why your campaign has to be “shareable” in the first place.)

But don’t stop there. You need to give them an offer they can’t refuse.

How?

With an incentive.

Common marketing campaign incentives

But the type of incentive should match your business.

There was an article a few years ago about how the Ritz Carlton hotel brand refused to offer discounts or price breaks a few years ago during the height of the recession. They said they would rather go bankrupt because it would be better than killing their brand value.

But on the flip side, price-conscious customers probably won’t care about things like “priority access” or “exclusive content”.

And your marketing campaign plan should make sharing easy and frictionless. So when you’re ready, then it’s time to take action.

The Only Promotional Strategy You Need to Launch Your Next Campaign

Marketing campaigns don’t just “go viral”.

And you can’t just slap promotion on at the end and expect excellent results.

In fact, all of the hard work should be done before you even try to promote your campaign.

Success should be engineered from the beginning.

And then when it’s time to launch, all you have to do is get the message out.

Here’s how.

Serendipity is NOT a Promotional Strategy

Serendipity is a great way to get traffic, links and social media mentions.

People love your content so much that they feel compelled to share it on their own.

But you can’t just hope for the best.

In advertising, there’s a concept called media planning:

The process of selecting media time and space to disseminate [advertising] messages in order to accomplish marketing objectives.

So in other words, you need to take specific actions to push your messages out.

You identify, ahead of time, how and when you’re going to promote your new campaign. It’s easy to plan with Google Calendar, a spreadsheet, or Basecamp if you’re working with a team. You can coordinate each action to build on the last, so you’ll get the maximum results for the minimum effort and investment.

And you should always start by seeding your campaign.

How to "Seed" Your Campaign

The goal of seeding your campaign is to reach enough people at the beginning so you’ll reach a tipping point and your message will spread itself.

Here are 4 different ways to seed your next campaign.

1. Use Your Existing Resources

First, start with your own marketing assets.

How many people could you reach right now if you promoted the campaign to your:

  • Website traffic
  • Email database
  • Social networks
  • Offline methods (foot traffic from your location, promotional materials, etc.)

This might sound obvious. But you can’t assume that there’s much overlap between these channels.

For example, we sent surveyed a client’s email database of 400,000 people. These are the company’s best, most loyal customers. But under 20% even knew they had a Facebook page.

So you can’t assume your existing members know about your social networks or blogs. There’s usually little overlap between different channels, because people have their own unique preferences. Some might like emails, while others would rather use Facebook.

The other thing you could do is use your existing marketing assets as a bargaining chip.

For example, look for other strategic partners who have influence and can help you promote your new campaign to the right audience. Maybe it’s another complimentary business, or perhaps it’s an influential blogger. And in exchange, you will promote them to your own audience. This is really effective, but you obviously have to be careful about who and how you do it.

Because the most vital asset you have is your current customer’s trust and goodwill. [Click to Tweet]

Resources

2. Get Press

The second step is to find journalists and bloggers who will cover your story. And that’s all journalists care about.

If you made your campaign “shareable”, then your story should be easy to find.

So start with online press release distribution services like PRweb. You can also monitor services like HARO (Help A Reporter Out).

Both of those strategies are OK. More of a necessary evil. But they’re passive and not very effective.

So here’s what you should do instead.

A month before your campaign goes live, hire a virtual assistant on Upwork to research a list of bloggers and journalists (this shouldn’t cost you more than $20).

Now go to their websites and familiarize yourself. Follow them on Twitter and watch what they talk about. Your goal is to monitor and interact with them over time.

That way when you finally reach out to promote your campaign, you’ll already have a warm relationship.

And remember that the key to finding interesting content ideas is to branch out and focus on different aspects of your topic.

When you broaden your scope, then you can even target several different verticals. For example, let’s say you want to raise awareness for your hotel’s new campaign.

So don’t just think about travel blogs. Can you come up with a story for mothers and their families? Then look for mom blogs in the area and offer them a free room (in exchange for a review). You can also hold a Meetup for local bloggers in your restaurant, and give them discounts on food and drink.

Just be creative and you can come up with all types of angles, which will help open up possibilities of who to reach.

And you don’t have to stop there…

3. Find Syndication Partners

PayScale syndicated their infographic on Mashable and it received over 2,900 Tweets, 999 Likes, 1,700 LinkedIn shares, and 901 Pins.

Syndicating basically means to let other people have your content for their own site. You can write content specifically form them, let them embed your video or infographic, and more.

It’s a great strategy because it gives the blog or media property great content (that they don’t have to worry about creating), and you can control the message.

But what if you don’t have the internal resources to create new content for several different sites?

Repurpose your existing campaign material.

  • Turn old content into a new format (like presentation to blog post, and vice versa)
  • Compile individual articles into a numbered list summary
  • Mix-and-match different elements of related content to give a new twist
  • Use the “Hub-and-Spoke” method to write follow ups, additions, summarizations on other sites.
  • Have other people add to your content by getting interviews from other stakeholders

So it’s OK if you don’t have a big audience already. You just need to find people who do, and give them a reason to publish your material.

4. Create Your Own Buzz

Finally, you should always try to create your own excitement and press. [Click to Tweet]

One of the easiest, and most cost effective is to use a contest. Use your own products and services (or partner with others to create “bundles”), sign up for a simple tool like Contest Domination, and promote the contest as a way to draw attention to your new campaign.

For example, let’s say you want to design an infographic.

Then hold a contest to find the infographic designer – before you even start the real campaign. That will give you a built-in, engaged audience that will help you share it eventually.

Or you can hold a contest for the official, winning infographic. So you have different designers submit their samples and have your own customers rate them.

And of course, there’s always advertising.

Social media advertising is a great, inexpensive option if your campaign is already appealing.

That means you can get cheap traffic because people will already be interested in your campaign.

And social advertising specifically gives you several unique benefits. It let’s you see exactly what target customer segments are sharing and active, you can get free “earned media” when friends-of-friends discover your campaign, and the increased social sharing and links will improve your campaign’s off-page SEO factors.

Conclusion

If you expose your message to enough people ahead of time, then it will take off.

But you need to be the one who makes the first initial effort.

Because viral marketing doesn’t just happen on its own.

You have to engineer success before you even start.

That means finding your campaign’s story and identifying what makes it interesting or appealing. Then pick the best format to give you more options when you go to promote it. And making sure all the small details are in place so your campaign will be a marketing asset that appreciates and gains value over time.

Then when you finally go to promote your campaign, all of the hard work has already been done. You just need to get the word out.

And it will take on a life of its own.