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5 realistic New Year's resolutions for inbound marketers

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The start of a new year is the ideal time to consider and set your inbound marketing goals for 2016. Setting your objectives means initially reflecting on your performance with each channel in 2015 and then deciding what you want to achieve over the next 12 months.

Download our new worksheet, Setting Inbound Goals, to structure your thinking and record your SMART targets for the year ahead.

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This worksheet was originally part of our comprehensive Planning your Inbound Marketing for 2016 toolkit, which you can download here.

You may want to set a target for all of your channels (blog, content, social media, email and PPC) or choose to focus on just a few of them. For some inspiration, here are 5 examples of realistic goals for your inbound marketing efforts in 2016:

1. Attract more visitors to your blog

Having beautifully written, useful content aimed at helping people (your target buyers) solve their problems and achieve their goals should be your primary goal when it comes to blogging.

But there’s more to blogging than simply blogging. To attract more traffic to your blog, you need to craft an entire promotion strategy around it.

This means developing an editorial calendar, promoting your blog via social media (including comments left on other blogs, guest posts and question-and-answer websites like Quora) and SEO.

Remember to mix up your formats, with lists, how-to posts, infographics and stories. When planning out your posts over the next quarter, look to the likely challenges, questions and search behaviour of your buyer personas.

As well as building an important resource with insider tips and external links, you should always be looking to encourage conversions and interactions with CTAs and internal links.

Above all, your content should be the type you would want to share; easy to skim, nicely designed and valuable.

Your relevant KPIs: Search engine ranking, blog visits per channel and total blog visits.

2. Acquire more ‘sales-ready’ leads via your gated content

Qualifying your leads is a crucial step in turning them into customers. Your ‘offers’ — the gated content you put up for download on your site — constitute a valuable resource for your buyers. They also allow you to collect a buyer’s name, email address, company information (name, industry, size), job title and more.

Collect minimal information from your prospects at first, and progressively ask for more information with each subsequent download or interaction as they become a warmer lead.

The first step is to define the qualities of a ‘sales-ready’ lead (e.g. has downloaded two pieces of content, received two emails and clicked the CTA on both) and to divulge everything you know about the lead to your sales team when passing it over.

In order to then maximise your ‘sales-ready’ leads, it’s important to store and categorise your potential buyers in a database. Segmenting your email list using the information you have means your messaging can be targeted and relevant. Your conversion rate depends on hitting the right recipients at the right time.

This way, you can move your leads through the buyer’s journey and ultimately re-convert and close them, via email marketing or a phone call from your sales team.

Your relevant KPIs: Leads generated by source, total leads generated, visit to lead conversion rate, lead to sales-ready lead conversion rate and sales-ready lead to customer conversion rate.

3. Grow your (engaged) Twitter followers

The sheer number of followers you have on Twitter is not the be all and end all. Following and being followed by the right people, the ones who will engage with your posts and clickthrough to your website, is more important than your overall count.

Develop a social media strategy, including what you will post and how often for each of your social media channels. With time and experimentation, you can identify the best times of day to post, optimum frequency and the types of posts that perform best.

In terms of best practices:

  • Tweet in your own brand voice with a friendly and conversational tone and include images.
  • Research and incorporate relevant, popular and timely hashtags will get your tweets noticed by people who are interested in learning about a particular topic. Use these hashtags alongside links to your own blog and landing pages, being sure to offer your followers something of value with each tweet.
  • Join and start conversations with influencers in your field to build a following of people who will be likely to engage with what you say and share.

Your relevant KPIs: Twitter follower count, Twitter engagement levels.

4. Improve your email clickthrough rate

In 2015, the average open rate for UK SME email marketing campaigns was 22.87%, while the average clickthrough rate was 3.26%.

To achieve more clickthroughs, you will either need to increase the number of opens (by sending to more people and/or optimising your subject lines) and remain at the same clickthrough rate, or increase the clickthrough rate by writing better emails.

You can also try both at the same time, but we recommend focussing on improving the content of your emails to encourage a higher proportion of recipients to clickthrough to your website.

Keep your emails relevant to the audience segments you’re reaching out to. Delivering quality content to the right buyers at the right stage of the buyer’s journey is critical to your clickthrough rate.

Write sales copy that is clean and easy to digest. Create a sense of urgency to persuade the recipient to act now. Include clear calls-to-action like Buy now, Download eBook and See more.

Track and optimise your email marketing performance. A/B test your email subject line, CTAs, send times and layout to identify what works. Then, replicate and improve on your results.

Your relevant KPIs: Email sends, email open rate, email clickthrough rate and unsubscribe rate.

5. Achieve a higher ROI on your PPC ad spend

Running PPC campaigns as part of your inbound marketing and content promotion strategy is a worthwhile investment. PPC will give you instant results, get you noticed in the search engine results pages and can be used to remarket and re-engage your previous visitors.

Our recent PPC and AdWords myths eBook helps quash some common misconceptions about PPC as well as providing best practices for your AdWords campaigns.

Increasing your ROI from your PPC campaigns means lowering your cost per click (CPC) and ultimately your cost per conversion.

When it comes to increasing the ROI from your ads on Google’s Search and Display Network, you should be working towards improving your quality score on AdWords, which is based on the relevance of your keywords and ads. Your quality score affects where on the page your ad will be placed as well as your CPC.

Ranking for the right keywords, providing solid user experience and matching your content to the searcher’s intent will all put you in good stead with Google when it comes to calculating your quality score.

When it comes to improving your advertising ROI, your ultimate goal should be maximising your conversion rate. If your keywords are relevant and your landing pages are doing their job properly, this will be achievable.

Your relevant KPIs: Customer acquisition cost, marketing % of customer acquisition cost, ratio of customer lifetime value to customer acquisition cost, and the amount of time it takes to payback customer acquisition costs.

For more on these and other KPIs relating to the ROI of your marketing efforts, download our eBook 6 Metrics Your Boss Actually Cares About.

    

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