It’s easy to get excited when starting a new inbound marketing program, especially if you’re working alongside an agency with a reputation for getting results.
The harder part is maintaining enthusiasm for the long haul, especially when commitments to your inbound program require work from subject matter experts (SMEs) and others who have less direct involvement with marketing.
And yet, everyone can probably agree on what you want from an inbound program: more and better leads, shorter sales timelines, more customers, bigger deals, and ultimately, business growth.
The good news is you can achieve these results with disciplined work and commitment. The flip side is obvious: without a sustained commitment and the outputs to match, it’s foolish to expect results.
So what can a client-side inbound marketing manager do to keep an internal team on task and an inbound plan on schedule, to move you closer to your marketing and sales goals?
These do’s and don’ts can help sustain your inbound momentum and support a successful outcome.
How Working With an Agency Can Give Your Team an Edge
In any inbound marketing program, the outcomes you achieve are the direct result of the concrete work you complete: SEO strategies, editorial calendar management, blogging, social media promotion, advanced content creation, website updates, analysis and adjustments, and more.
And because all the components of an inbound plan work to support one another — and improvements are incremental — it can quickly become a complicated set of projects. Plus, the more you dig in, the more complexity you’ll find.
If you’re working with an agency, be confident; your consultant and agency team are looking out for your best interests, managing deadlines, and always monitoring results.
But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for contributing to content development, SME interviews, reviews, and approvals. As your company’s inbound champion, your time and effort can make a measurable difference to your results, so set up your team for success over the long haul and avoid some of the most common inbound marketing mistakes by following these best practices:
1. Set and share clear goals from the start
Why is goal setting important to inbound marketing success? People can have short memory spans when it comes to past pain points, especially when their time is in demand for new content and they’re focused on day-to-day responsibilities.
It can be helpful to point to the data that persuaded you to invest in inbound, so you can refer back to past performance (or lack thereof) and remind the team why their efforts matter. When new people come on board, read them in on the goals, too.
RELATED: What Does Organizational Buy-In Have to do With Inbound Results?
2. Track and promote inbound successes internally
When a blog has a positive impact on traffic or a new landing page starts converting visitors, make sure the whole team hears about it. Recognize contributors, thank them for their hard work, and use data whenever you can. This shows your team that the efforts they commit to the program really can make a difference.
3. Embrace an iterative mindset and process
Continuous improvement is part of so many industrial manufacturers’ cultures, and it’s easy to embrace with inbound. In fact, knowing you’ll circle back later to refresh a web page or optimize a high-performing blog post can help you be more willing to try new concepts and formats on your first go.
Measuring performance and making adjustments along the way are normal expectations with inbound. This supports constant learning, professional development, and cross-functional collaboration.
RELATED: Growth-Driven Design — A Continuous Improvement Approach to B2B Websites
4. Understand how components integrate
Don’t make the mistake of viewing blog posts, advanced content, off-page SEO strategies, social media promotion, etc. as discrete elements on your team’s to-do list.
In an inbound program, it’s important to hit all of your output goals in order to achieve your desired outcomes. There’s a symbiotic relationship between channels and tactics within your plan and if one domino falls, it affects others.
For instance, if you fail to publish a blog, you’ve also lost the opportunity to distribute and promote that blog to your email and social subscribers, and you’ve lost the addition of a relevant page to your site that Google and search engines will see to drive organic traffic your way.
In addition, just because you see excellent metrics in one area (let’s say, advanced content downloads from an email campaign), don’t assume it’s wise to throttle down on another (such as social media) and expect similar results.
5. Don’t leave new content sitting in your revision queue
When you leave marketing assets incomplete or waiting for approval instead of deploying them, that’s like making the investment in equipment and not turning on the new line. Idle resources have no way of earning a return on investment.
6. Don’t fall prey to the perfection trap
Inbound marketing is a practice, and it’s important to understand that, while your content needs to be high quality and helpful to your target audiences, the quest for perfection can derail your plan. Regular blogs don’t need to be perfect, and most often they don’t require multiple reviewers before publication (ahem, see #5 above).
7. Onboard your sales team early
Sales enablement is a key part of a comprehensive inbound plan, and your sales team members are a great source of insights into your target personas and their pain points, expectations, and need for helpful information. And remember, without sales, all those carefully nurtured leads will never be converted to customers.
Since most businesses see sales as revenue and marketing as overhead, you need close collaboration between these teams. A service level agreement can help clarify responsibilities and make cooperation easier.
8. Think of your agency as your partner, not a vendor
Establish a regular cadence for team communications. Clarify points of contact. Work on the relationships. You’ll likely find that as you build strong working relationships with your agency team, they’ll have an even easier time getting to know and understand your sector, your business, and your customers. Those insights translate into higher quality content, and that can impact your results for the better.
9. Prioritize your inbound program
It’s important to understand the time commitment of an inbound program, both in terms of the length of time it takes to build it out and the day-to-day time commitments of your team members who contribute to content and serve as reviewers. Once you understand the time requirements, facilitate success by demonstrating your inbound program’s place in the hierarchy of work.
If you need help prioritizing inbound, just go back and review #1 on this list.
On Your Own or With Agency Help, Make the Most of Inbound
Whether you’re leading an internal team as an inbound marketing manager or you’ve decided to get the outside help of an agency, every inbound marketing program offers abundant opportunities to increase outputs, improve outcomes, and increase sales. Get started identifying your best opportunities for growth and generating fresh ideas for program enhancements by visiting our dedicated page, How to Improve Your Inbound Marketing Efforts. Just click the link below to check it out. Now go hit those 2022 goals!