Planning season is upon us and it’s time to start working on your 2017 inbound marketing strategy. While you might think it’s more important to focus on closing out the current year, a successful inbound marketing plan takes some time to craft. To ensure success for the year ahead, it’s essential to start planning now.
Get your inbound marketing plan on track for 2017 with these five steps:
1. Benchmark your performance.
Before you identify goals for 2017, you should know how you’re measuring up against set goals for 2016. To get a performance benchmark, take a look at your analytics and dive into your data. Review monthly website visitors, visit-to-lead conversion rates, lead-to-customer conversion rates, and your overall sales performance to date. Benchmarking your performance is critical if you want to set realistic goals for the year ahead.
2. Align sales and marketing teams.
If you’re operating under the belief that sales teams are from Mars and marketing teams are from Venus, you might want to rethink your strategy. When marketing and sales teams are aligned, magic happens. If you haven’t yet, familiarize yourself with the art of smarketing. With smarketing, sales and marketing collaborate to achieve the ultimate goal: revenue. For example, if this year’s primary business goal is to increase revenue by $5M, determine how many customers are needed to achieve that revenue goal. From there, marketing and sales can identify their own goals and work cohesively to reach the primary business objective (revenue goal).
3. Set SMART goals and benchmarks.
Once you have a sense of what is realistic for next year, it’s time to identify your goals. And remember, your goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound). Here’s an example: If the overarching business goal is to achieve $5M in revenue and the average revenue generated from a customer is $1M, you’ll need to close five new customers in 2017—or .42 customers per month. To stay on track and make sure you’re making progress, you’ll also want to establish benchmarks or monthly milestones to work toward along the way. Great KPIs (key performance indicators) to track each month: website visitors, leads, marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, sales opportunities, and customers. Set the number you need to reach each month for each and adjust from there.
4. Determine your strategy to generate more qualified leads.
With all of your monthly lead benchmarks and milestones established, it’s now time to create the game plan to attract the quality leads you’ll need to reach your goals. To come up with a successful lead generation strategy that will help you generate more qualified leads, take a look at what worked and what didn’t over the course of the current year. Review everything from content offers and landing pages to blog posts and social media messages. And most importantly, work with sales to come up with a solid plan to attract better leads (and more of them). The most effective inbound strategies focus on a specific, targeted audience and specialty. Why? You can’t be everything to everyone, so remove the clutter and focus on your most profitable persona. Doing this will not only spice up your content strategy, but it will narrow your focus and make for a more efficient, profitable year.
5. Map out your content plan.
Content is critical to the success of an inbound marketing program. The best way to ensure your content aligns with your inbound marketing strategy is to map your content to your persona’s buyer journey. Determine the existing content you have (that’s relevant) and what content you’ll need to create to fill in the gaps. Once your map is complete, you can create a content calendar that outlines your content and publishing schedule for the year. By laying this out in advance, you’ll be able to create your content in advance and save more time for proactive content in the future.
If you give yourself enough time to build your inbound marketing plan for 2017 and also create all of the assets to go along with it, you’ll be set for smooth sailing come January.