image076One of the interesting things about putting together a successful inbound marketing plan is that it’s harder than you might initially think. Usually, there are two good reasons for this: First, lots of business owners and executives know that there’s a lot to try, but aren’t sure exactly which pieces they need to throw into the mix. And secondly, even if you already have the major elements in mind, there’s the question of the best way to put them together, what realistic expectations and timelines are, and so on.

Figuring out the answers to these questions can be tough. In fact, they can prevent some companies from getting their online marketing plans off the ground in the first place, or having success with them when they do.

In order to help you avoid making the same mistakes, we would like to offer four important steps that you should consider before you put your internet marketing plan together. None of them are complicated, but having them in place will make everything you do later more focused… not to mention help you achieve a better return on investment for your activities.

1. Have A Clear Goal You Want To Reach

A surprisingly high number of businesses start out with the goal of marketing online to “find more customers.” That’s a decent starting point, but how can you measure success with such a vague aim? How do you know if your plan has been successful enough to keep spending money on it?

The solution to both problems is to set a hard target for your inbound marketing plan. Ideally, you should be looking for some sort of revenue growth, or another easily measurable indicator that will tell you if your plan is working, and whether or not it’s paying off in a bottom-line sense. These numbers might change over time, but having them as a starting point can keep you from moving aimlessly from one activity to the next.

2. Create A Schedule Of Activities And Responsibilities

Like most plans in the business world, those having to do with inbound marketing are susceptible to delays and setbacks. This is especially true when you consider that, with the exception of startup companies, most companies have to balance marketing with other, more immediate concerns.

That’s why your overall plan should be broken down into individual tasks, each one on a schedule that is realistic and assigned to a specific person. It doesn’t matter whether these people are inside your company or not; what’s important is that everyone knows what their part in the inbound marketing plan is, when their work is due, and who to come to if they have questions or concerns.

3. Monitor ROI And Other Important Indicators

Obviously, your inbound marketing plan ultimately has to generate more revenue than expenses for it to be successful. That means that keeping a close eye on your return on investment is important. In most inbound marketing situations, however, there are going to be other lead generation steps – like newsletter subscriptions, page views, social media referrals, etc. – that happen first.

Monitoring these on a daily or weekly basis will allow you to watch your progress in a meaningful way and get a sense of how your marketing efforts are going over. Additionally, they will give you the knowledge and insight you need to make changes as necessary and stop small, temporary mistakes from becoming bigger, expensive ones.

4. Make Adjustments To Your Online Marketing Plan

If your inbound marketing plan works perfectly, and you suddenly find yourself with more new customers than you know what to do within a matter of weeks, consider yourself lucky. If it takes longer than that, or if you find that there are important adjustments to be made, then consider yourself a resident of the planet Earth.

The point is that, despite all of the hard work you and your marketing agency put into it, there are very likely going to be adjustments and revisions that are going to have to be made on the fly. That’s just the way it goes. The important thing isn’t that everything works perfectly from the beginning, it’s that you’ve got a definite revenues goal to work with, have a team that’s committed and accountable, and keep an eye on the relevant indicators and statistics.

With those tools in place, making adjustments to your inbound marketing plan – and ultimately being profitable – gets a whole lot easier than it would be otherwise.

For more information about Inbound Marketing, visit our home page and request Instant Access to our free eBook: The Essential Guide to Digital Marketing.

Are you developing strategic marketing plans for your company? Or is it mostly budgeting? Please share your comments.

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