Inbound Marketing Teams Need The Freedom To Pulse More Quickly
You like the idea of inbound marketing. It makes sense. People buy differently today than they did five years ago. But, how do you turn the idea of inbound marketing into results for your business? The change in marketing is not only about tactics, but also about the expected results.
Impressions, brand equity and getting your name out there is different than driving lead numbers, new customers and revenue. To realize the business results associated with inbound marketing, you need to get your team to cycle much more quickly.
Here are a few concepts to consider as you move your inbound marketing campaigns into 2016.
Create A Cycle Methodology For Your Teams
Left to their own devices, your team (in-house or agency) will create their own cycle. However, that cycle might be highly inefficient, built with workarounds to handle lack of resources or perhaps directed by a poorly articulated mission. To limit this risk, consider a cycle methodology that is more defined, trained and designed to deliver results quickly.
The first step in any cycle has to be: Analyze. There is so much data available in a well-executed inbound program that everything you do is based on quantitative data. No longer are we guessing or making decisions based on opinions or assumptions. Analyze the performance of your program.
Step two: Review the data. This means getting a couple of expert opinions on the data, comparing it to other programs and using your experience with inbound to see where improvements can be applied.
The third step? Respond to the data. Come up with a series of upgrades, improvements or adjustments that deliver the desired program improvements. Prioritize those upgrades based on their ability to drive results and the time it takes to implement them. The top items should deliver the greatest value and take the least amount of time to get up and running.
Finally: Act. The last step is actually implementing the plan. This typically takes a team of people with a cross-functional skill set to create the optimum delivery plan: designers, writers, interactive and marketing people all working collaboratively to implement the necessary changes.
Once this is done, the cycle starts all over again based on the performance of the program with the new upgrades.
Give Them The Autonomy To Do Whatever’s Necessary To Impact Business Results
Sometimes the truth is hard to hear, but what gets in the way of business results the most is your (our clients’) ideas and opinions. When it comes to getting results from inbound programs, the people most equipped to deliver results are the people with the most experience running inbound programs – and that’s not usually you.
This means that once you empower a team to get you results from inbound, you need to get out of their way and let them do what they do well. Your role in that process is to work collaboratively to prioritize the work based on business goals. So, when your inbound team says, "We can either optimize two landing pages this week or redesign your brochure," please let them focus on the landing pages.
If they suggest your messaging might not be resonating with your prospects enough to get them to convert from visitors into leads, take that seriously and let them suggest some more engaging messaging. Then, let them test that messaging to see if it works or not. Their goal is to drive better results, so everything should be on the table for discussing and testing.
Give Them The Tools To Enable Faster Cycling
If your team has the methodology and the approach, the last obstacle to faster cycling and better results is resources and tools. The team is going to need the right software to manage this fast-paced, data-driven prioritization and execution system. The ideas need to be captured, they need to be prioritized, you need to provide input into that prioritization and then those items need to be executed by your cross-functional team in a relatively short time frame.
They’re also going to need the people to deliver those upgrades. As we mentioned briefly above, they need the writers, designers, interactive and marketing people necessary to come up with the insights and upgrades and then be able to execute the action plan in a time period no longer than a week. If you have resources outside of their control or, worse, outside of your company, this execution might be challenging for your team.
Instead, consider building your internal team to have all the key areas covered, or look for an inbound marketing agency partner who creates teams that have all of the resident resources to cycle as fast as you need in order to generate results.
Move To Tracking Key Metrics
One of the biggest changes is tracking results instead of tracking time or delivery of items. Just because someone works 50 hours a week or bills you for 50 hours of work doesn’t mean they spent that time contributing to your results.
Instead, consider tracking velocity and actual business results as a measure of progress. The faster your team cycles, the more you're going to see high-impact work, a greater amount of work and better results.
Don’t worry about soft metrics. Shift your thinking to harder metrics, like website visitors, leads, sales opportunities, new customers and revenue generated. Look at these business metrics monthly at a minimum for the greatest impact.
This entire conversation might feel completely uncomfortable – especially if you’re planning on hiring an agency in 2016 to handle your inbound marketing for you. What we’re suggesting here is that you focus more on the “how” they deliver results than on the “what” they’re doing to deliver results.
After all, do you really care if you get one, two or three blog articles per week? If the business results are present, it shouldn’t matter how many blog articles you’re getting from your inbound team. I could even make an argument that one blog article that delivers the same results as four articles is a better article.
As you start to get ready for your attack plan in 2016, make sure your inbound team is at least considering using some of the ideas represented here. The outcomes are going to be much more in line with the business results you need to justify the investment – and the business results you need to grow your company.
Start Today Tip – If you’re running an inbound program in-house, start working to deploy some of this cycling methodology to your team. Give them the resources they need, and teach them to cycle as frequently as possible. If you’re planning on using an agency, ask the key questions required to fully understand how they prioritize work, how they assign resources and how they use laser-focus tactics to drive your business results.
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