3 Steps to Aligning Short and Long-term Inbound Strategy

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Today’s fragmented digital landscape makes it harder than ever for businesses to connect with the right customer at the right time, much less distribute the right information. As a result, many companies have developed a fragmented digital marketing strategy. Their short-term strategy produces quick wins: a Facebook contest boosts company page likes, a promoted post drives downloads for a white paper. While these quick wins are great, they don’t always translate into sales. That’s because there’s a fundamental misalignment between short and long-term inbound strategy. What happens when the Facebook contest ends or after the white paper gets downloaded?

While today’s buyers are hyper-informed and aware, they also aren’t talking directly to a sales team until much later in the sales cycle. Instead, they’re busy gathering information and evaluating solution providers. In fact, buyers go through about 57% of the purchasing process before ever talking to sales. They don’t want to listen to your sales pitch until they’re fully informed and ready to make a decision. This is where alignment between short and long-term strategy is so important: once you’ve captured someone’s attention through a short-term engagement tactic – like a Facebook contest – how do you keep that attention and nurture that relationship? Your solution: align your short and long-term marketing into one seamless strategy.

Inbound Marketing: How “Quick Win” Tactics and Long-term Strategy Fit Together

The real value of inbound marketing is achieved through long-term, strategic commitment. Consider the following: a company executive is searching for information about a common industry problem. The executive does a quick Google search and finds an article published by your company on the topic. Your company’s website is at the top of Google’s search results. The executive clicks over to your website where he finds even more valuable content on his problem. A call-to-action gently urges him to sign up for your company email list, in exchange for a white paper with additional detailed information.

After the executive downloads the white paper, he receives a follow-up email a week later checking in on his needs. Slowly, your company builds a relationship with the executive. When he is ready to make a purchase, your business has already established itself as the go-to solution provider. Plus, since your team has an established relationship with the executive, you’re familiar with his pain points and needs. It’s easier to eliminate barriers to decision-making and drive consensus to close the deal. You defined the buying vision in your favor, stayed top of mind throughout the decision making process, and ultimately closed the deal.

How to Create a Unified Inbound Strategy

Are there holes in your inbound strategy? Here’s how to identify common problems and create a unified plan:

  1. Ask “What happens next?” This question applies to everything from social media engagement to content downloads. After a lead is identified, how will your company nurture that lead through the sales cycle? Use short-term tactics to fill your pipeline with qualified leads and then use long-term tactics to keep these leads engaged and convert them into customers.
  2. SEO takes more than on-page optimization. Yes, optimizing on-page elements like title tags, headings and URL structure is important. But that’s just one piece of the puzzle. Google likes fresh content, including updates to existing pages and the creation of new pages. (Check out Moz’s excellent guide to fresh content for a full run down on the SEO benefits.) The rate of new link growth is also a freshness signal. So don’t assume you can tweak a few page elements and call it a day. If you want to rank at the top, you need to consistently produce quality, relevant content.
  3. Identify "lead leakage". Go beyond page views and social media likes and take a closer look at your core engagement metrics as leads move through the sales funnel. How many leads visited your website and then took some form of action (e.g., downloaded a white paper, signed up for a webinar, emailed for more information). Where are you "leaking leads" in your sales cycle? Identify problem places and consider how your long-term marketing strategy can adjust to stop this fall-off. Maybe you need more case studies to prove your value and eliminate barriers to decision making. Or maybe you need a more robust email marketing program to keep in touch with leads. What does the data tell you?

Marrying your short and long-term marketing strategies ensures you always have fresh leads in your pipeline and that you have a plan for consistently moving these leads through your sales funnel. It's the best of both worlds: short-term wins and long-term success.

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Isaac Oswalt

Owner of 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. Futurist in nature, Isaac displays a deep desire to preserve the human element in today's business. Trust being the ultimate currency, his clients appreciate that "new and stronger handshakes" is a success metric in their businesses.

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