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Build an Inbound Marketing Campaign Step by Step


I love the word backwards. The Free Dictionary offers as one definition of this word:

(adv) in reverse order, back to front, in the opposite way from usual.

Backwards is a great description for inbound marketing. It reverses the order of traditional advertising and is the opposite way from the usual.  With inbound marketing the customers seek us out rather than the opposite. Inbound turns the marketing model on its head and shakes qualified leads out from the pockets.

Inbound Marketing is Riding a Horse Backwards

To Do Inbound Marketing the Right Way You Have to Work Backwards

Inbound marketing campaign development is also done backwards. We start from the end and work our way forward. Doing it this way is critical to maintaining consistency in a campaign and achieving high CTRs and conversion rates.

Here is a six step checklist for building an inbound marketing campaign backwards:

  1. Envision the hypothetical buyer’s journey (or funnel) toward the desired conversion.
  2. Start with the conversion offer
  3. Make the Thank You Email & Thank You Page
  4. Make the landing page focus on the offer benefits
  5. Make the call-to-action (CTA)
  6. Drive Quality Traffic to the Landing Page
  7. Here are some tips on how to put backward thinking to practice when developing an inbound marketing offer.

How To Build An Inbound Marketing Campaign

1. Envision the hypothetical buyer’s journey (or funnel) toward the desired conversion.

What this doesn’t mean: closing your eyes, leaning back in your chair and conjuring a blurry image. Actually document it. Write it down. Draw it out with detail. Make educated guesses when necessary.  Include all the applicable offers for each stage of the buyer’s journey. Understand where the offer is located in the buyer's journey. 

There are excellent free tools for diagramming such things. We like

2. Start with the conversion offer.

Answer these questions:

  • For which buyer persona is this offer?
  • For what stage in the buyer’s journey is this offer most appropriate?

Then write out exactly how the conversion offer benefits your buyer persona at the appointed stage of the buyer’s journey. The offer must have a compelling benefit to your buyer persona at his or her stage in the buyer’s journey. If you can’t figure this out then you need to re-think the offer altogether.

One of our most popular offers is an ebook entitled “Three Fatal but Common Mistakes in Hispanic Marketing.” It is an awareness level offer targeted toward a buyer persona that is exclusively the owner of an SMB. The benefits of this offer to our buyer persona is summed up like this:

By reading our free ebook you will save money and have more success in the quickly growing US Hispanic marketing by avoiding the three most common mistakes.

The benefits of this offer are clear and compelling to our buyer persona:

  • There is great opportunity in the US Hispanic marketing (...quickly growing…)
  • No one wants to make a stupid and costly mistake.

Now that we know what the offer benefits are then it is time to take a step forward.

3. Make the thank you email & thank you page.

The Thank You Page is the page that the newly converted lead sees immediately after filling out the form.

The Thank You Email is sent immediately (or almost immediately) once the form is submitted.

Both should lead the user to the next step that you want them to take. This includes:

  • Deliver on the offer by providing the download link.
  • Feature an offer that represents one more step toward conversion.
    • In our example above (an awareness level offer), we would feature a consideration level call-to-action, such as a case study, on the thank you page.

Eventually, we are going to come back to the thank you page in order to add conversion codes for the various paid traffic builders that we may use.

4. Make the landing page focus on the offer benefits.

In step two we wrote the benefits of our offer. Let’s get those benefits onto a landing page.

State the benefits using an active voice in a concise and easy to read manner. Use header tags and bullet points to make the landing page easy to read. Follow on-page SEO best practices.

There are many philosophies regarding landing page design. No matter the details of the design it should include the following:

  • The visitor must know intuitively and immediately exactly what the next step is. The form should be highlighted without being gauche and spammy.  Here are fifteen great landing page examples.
  • The perceived value of the offer must exceed the perceived cost of the form. The more fields that a form contains the higher the perceived cost. HubSpot form tools like progressive profiling and smart fields make it easier to gain more useful visitor information with less perceived cost.

5. Make the call-to-action (CTA).

The CTA should be the shortest iteration of the benefit. Five words or less is an ideal length.

The copy should be action oriented, beginning with a word like download or register.

From a design perspective the CTA should visually striking and large enough to be noticed but not too large so as to overshadow everything on the pages where it appears.

6. Drive quality traffic to the landing page.

Quality traffic comes from many sources.  

In the long term, your inbound marketing campaign should be progressively building organic search traffic. In the short term there are ways to drive more directly purchased traffic, such as Adwords, Bing, paid social media and native advertising.

When writing copy for these channels remain consistent with the CTA, the landing page and the offer: state the benefits!

Download Your Free Checklist: How to Run a Successful Inbound Marketing Campaign

No matter what channels that you choose to drive traffic it is critical that we are measuring traffic and conversions for each of these channels. We use two tools: UTM codes and conversion tracking.

How to Track Your Inbound Marketing Campaign

Great marketers use UTM codes

UTM codes are bits of text that are appended to the end of a link that tells our analytics tool (like Google Analytics and HubSpot) information about from where the visitor that clicks on the link originated.

Here is a link (or URL) with UTM codes:

This may look to you like an unintelligible mess, but don’t worry, you will easily understand it.

A URL (or link) with UTM codes consists of three parts:

  • The base URL
  • The UTM parameters
  • The UTM values

The base URL is everything before the question mark.

So, in our example the base URL is

After the question mark are three UTM parameters with their respective values. These parameters are:

  • utm_campaign=Hispanic%20Advertising
    • The campaign associated with this link is entitled Hispanic Advertising. Please note that URLs cannot contain spaces so the character combination %20 is used to represent the spaces between the words.
  • utm_medium=social
    • The medium is social media. Other media could include PPC and email. Setting this parameter allows us to organize our traffic by media.
  • utm_source=linkedin
    • This is the specific source of the click.

There are other UTM parameters that you can set, like utm_term to return the specific keyword in the case of search engine marketing; and, utm_content which is generally used to determine within which content the link is located.

It is best practice to always include utm_source, utm_medium and utm_source on all links.

Great marketers use conversion tracking

When using paid traffic sources such as search engine marketing (like Google’s Adwords & Microsoft’s Bing Ads), paid social media (like Facebook & Twitter) or digital display, it is best practice to include conversion tracking on the campaign.

Setting up conversion tracking is easy. You simply include a snippet of code for each service on the Thank You Page and then assign that conversion to the campaign within the service.

Schedule a Free Inbound Marketing Assessment

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