5 Essential Elements to Keep Inbound Marketing Inbounds

November 6, 2014 Bill Kerschbaum

482103609It takes coordination and discipline to manage all of the activities of inbound marketing. Between drafting personas, creating templates, writing content, designing graphics, publishing and social promotion, it’s easy to forget what task you’re on and who’s responsible for it.

Small things can easily slip through the cracks and you can fall behind schedule before you get back from lunch.

Your inbound marketing has spilled out of bounds.

Here are 5 essential elements every marketing team should implement to keep inbound... well, inbounds. Adopt these practices and you’ll find yourself enjoying lunch again before you know it!

1) Follow a Recipe Card

The great thing about baking recipes is they list everything you need right at the top, before you even get started. It’s a brilliant organizational tool. You can set up your workspace before you begin and keep all of your ingredients within reach.

Likewise, an inbound marketing recipe gives you space to list all of the ingredients you’ll need during your inbound activities--the keywords to use, the persona to target, meta description, thank-you page URL and more. This puts everything you need right in front of you and you can immediately tell if you’ve forgotten anything.

Your inbound recipe should also list step-by-step instructions for the inbound activity, just like a baking recipe. Easy as pie!

Want some ready-made recipes? Download our Inbound Recipe Cards.

2) Keep a Content Calendar

You know that moment when you realize you’ve got three days of holiday shopping left and you haven’t even thought about what to get your mother? Neither do I. But that’s what it’s like every day you don’t have a content calendar. You’re constantly aware of being behind schedule and you still don’t know what you’re going to write about.

A content calendar lets you strategize your writing by planning out the topics, personas and buying stages to target--even months in advance. There’s some setup time up front, but you’ll stay ahead of the curve. You’ll always know what to write about and when it’s due, and you won’t be in panic mode anymore.

Need some great examples? HubSpot offers a free content calendar template and a new Calendar app. Or, check out these 15 content calendar tools.

3) Document Your Process 

Just about everything in inbound marketing involves multiple team members who all touch the same content at different times. If you don’t have well-defined processes for your marketing activities, it’s just a matter of time before something falls through the cracks.

Chances are, you already have processes. You know what’s supposed to happen. So just document what you do when you do it the right way. Identify the hand-offs and who has what responsibilities each step along the way. Make sure everyone on your team knows where the processes are located, and set up accountabilities to make sure each process is followed. At The Whole Brain Group, we love using SweetProcess.

4) QA, QA, QA

It’s an immutable law of nature that the one time you don’t check your work, something hits a fan. Even the best, most diligent of us will slip up once in a while. Get another pair of eyes on your work before it goes live--preferably two or three times. There’s nothing worse than offending half of your customers because you forgot to remove their competitor’s name from your email (trust me, I know).

Document everything that needs to be checked--not just the content, but the forms and the email recipients and the alt text and hyperlinks. Make sure all best practices are correctly followed. Better yet, document it and create a checklist (here’s our Blog QA process).

5) Automate Your Workflow 

The best way to stop forgetting things is to have fewer things to remember. Automate as much of your workflow as you can. At The Whole Brain Group, we use an application called Teamwork to manage our projects. When one task in a project is completed, Teamwork can automatically notify the person in charge of the next task. The project is automatically moved straight through to completion and no steps are skipped.

Want other workflow apps? Check out Trello and Asana.

Each of these five essential elements takes effort to put in place, but it’s worth it. Pick one, set it up and get it rooted in your organization, then move on to another element. Before you know it, your inbound marketing will be within bounds once again!

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