I’ve officially been an inbound marketer for almost a year to the day now. I initially thought I knew what I was getting into, but it only took about a week for me to feel left out as the inbound marketing veterans here at the Weidert Group put me in my place. Luckily, I’ve been able to tap into their knowledge over the past year and become quite proficient with inbound marketing and how it absolutely, truly works for businesses. Here’s a look at a few things any newcomer to inbound marketing should know.
Study How People Search For Information
I quickly found out the way people search for business-related information has rapidly gravitated towards Google searches and posting questions on sites such as LinkedIn. In order to be an effective inbound marketer, you need to have a pulse on how and where your prospects search for information on the web.
You must have a grasp on human behavior (luckily we have an anthropology major on the team) from a high level and then apply those thoughts to your industry. You might already be doing this naturally, but you shouldn’t just be looking at what social media sites your prospects are active on. You must ask why they’re active on the sites they’re on. Then you can predict with more certainty how their searches might change and where they may go as social networks evolve.
Know Your Prospects & Create Personas
It’s much easier to create content for a prospect you fully understand. It’s easier still if you’ve created some personas for your team to keep in mind.
You can’t possibly create personas by pulling thoughts out of your head, however. You need to actually interview and talk to these people with the purpose of creating a persona. Talk to people who love and maybe don’t love your brand to get both sides of the story, if possible.
Focusing your marketing efforts and inbound campaigns around these personas is much easier and more effective than blasting your message out to a general audience. Whenever you create a new piece of content, you should be asking which persona it appeals to. If it doesn’t make sense for any of them, then it’s back to the drawing board.
Use Data To Make Decisions
There shouldn’t be a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attitude when it comes to inbound marketing. Yes, it’s exciting because things can happen fast, but you shouldn’t make decisions solely based on gut reactions.
Use all of the analytics you have access to whenever possible. Do you want to change up your landing pages? Great, but first take a look at how your current pages are doing. You should have a Google Analytics account at the minimum but you should have a license with a company such as HubSpot in order to see data down to the individual contact level.
Your data won’t tell you the whole story, so that’s where your fine tuned skills come into play. Data can get you to the 10 yard line but your experience will get you in the end zone.
Learn To Write
I’m still working on this one and will be for the rest of my life since anyone’s writing can always be improved. You might wear many hats as an inbound marketer when it comes to writing content, but you should be adept at writing landing page copy, emails, social media posts, and definitely blogs.
Know Your Weaknesses
You can’t be amazing at everything and will probably be not-so-great at a few things. Writing can be a challenge for me and I would rather leave that up to one of our more qualified writers on staff because I know they will be able to do a much better job than I ever could.
Once you figure out your weaknesses, you can hone in on your strengths and find out how those complement your team. That’s when you can find your niche and really deliver some serious value while working more efficiently as a group.
You’re not going to hit a home run out of the gate so you need to be realistic with your goals as an inbound marketer. This stuff truly works but your expectations need to be within reality in order to not be discouraged and quit after a few months.
Try to find any stats from within your industry to compare your performance to. You shouldn’t just arbitrarily set goals for yourself if they’re not realistically attainable. For example, you might want a click through rate on your emails of 20% but in reality your industry only averages around 3-5%.
Also, you’re not going to make a piece of content that goes viral overnight. You don’t need the whole world to see what you’re offering. You just need the correct people to see it and those are the people who will eventually bring dollars your way.
Keep A Pulse On Trends
Take a few minutes out of your day to browse some popular blogs and see what’s happening on social media. You can’t be caught weeks or months behind on trends happening with inbound marketing, technology, and culture in general. Your prospects will see your outdated approaches and will probably turn towards one of your more “hip” competitors.
Learn To Fail
I’ve totally botched some things over this year of inbound marketing but I’ve made an effort to learn from my mistakes. Everyone will make mistakes somewhere down the line but it’s your ability to learn from those mistakes that makes the difference. I’m sure you’ve heard that before but it’s true.
Inbound marketing can be an uncharted territory at times since it hasn’t been around for that long; things are also constantly changing. Feel free to go crazy and try something you’ve never seen done before. If it doesn’t work, that’s okay. Just make sure that you’ve learned something from your experience.
My Two Cents
You just need to dive into inbound marketing and surround yourself with all of its nuances if you want to see success in a timely fashion. You can’t just dip your toe in the water and see what will happen because, frankly, nothing will happen. Don’t get discouraged, and remember that it may take a few months in order to start seeing some serious results. Keep at it though – you will get there.