9 Inbound Marketing Questions You Need to Answer

Posted by Hunter Liptrap on Jul 16, 2015
Hunter Liptrap

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Improving your website doesn't have to be difficult, but it does require some thought.

That's why creating a killer website that generates traffic and drives leads doesn't happen overnight or by accident.

It's time to go to school and answer 9 inbound marketing questions that can help turn your website into a machine. In most cases these questions will provide actionable tactics to achieve results.

Bonus: Download our What is Inbound Marketing Guide as a PDF. Easily save it to your computer or print for reference anytime.

1. Why Should I Start Inbound Marketing?

There are two types of websites out there...

Those that practice inbound marketing and those that don't.

First and foremost, if you aren't doing any form of digital marketing, it will be hard for anyone to find your website. Even if you have the prettiest and most well designed website in the world, but are not marketing it correctly or optimizing for search, it won't do you any good.

Here is 10 more reasons why moving to digital marketing could be the right move for you...

  1. More cost-effective than traditional marketing
  2. Delivers conversions
  3. Helps generate better revenue
  4. Encourages interaction with your target audiences
  5. Caters to the mobile consumer
  6. Builds brand reputation
  7. Earns your customer's trust
  8. Provides a better ROI
  9. Entices people to take the action you want
  10. When done correctly it ensures online survival

The key to using inbound marketing correctly is this...

Don't transfer old school megaphone marketing tactics to the web.

Megaphone

Image credit: Megaphone

Instead, use a "pull" method. This is achieved by bringing a customer to you by showing them that your company is so good at what you do, and they could not possibly miss out. This is commonly known as Inbound Marketing, and hopefully you've heard this phrase before.

Using digital marketing will help your website generate more leads, but you don't want just any leads. You want the right leads. The type of leads that will make you money, not waste your time. That's where inbound marketing comes in to play.

The rest of this article will answer questions with actionable advice to help you set up your website the right way, for the results that you want.

2. What is the Goal of My Website?

First ask, what are the types of goals that your business wants to achieve?

You need to focus on objectives that translate directly into ROI for your business.

Your goals might include things such as brand awareness or reinforcement, lead conversion and nurturing, and customer conversion.

The goal of your website should not be to make it look cool.

Starting with how you want your website to look is a mistake that many companies make, and it is a mistake that leads to a lack of success on the web.

The look and the feel of the website is a result of the goal, not the other way around.

To select the right goals, you need to take the following three steps:

  1. Identify your customers’ needs
  2. Identify your business’ needs
  3. Connect the dots so that your company and customers are aligned

To help set your goals, try using the S.M.A.R.T technique.

Meaning your goals should be...

  • Specific – Set real numbers with real deadlines. Don't say, "I want more visitors."
  • Measurable – Make sure that you can track your goal. Don't hide behind buzzwords like "brand engagement" or "social influence."
  • Attainable – Work toward a goal that is challenging but possible. Don't try to take over the world in one night.
  • Realistic – Be honest with yourself, because you know what you and your team are capable of. Don't forget any hurdles you may have to overcome.
  • Time-bound – Give yourself a deadline. Don't keep pushing towards a goal you might hit "some day."

Using this technique you will be able to create tangible goals that can have a direct impact on the layout of the website.

Now, write down the goals for your website using this model, and designate how much time you need to dedicate to each goal, on a weekly or monthly basis, in order reach them.

You won't be able to triple your leads in 6 months if you are only willing to put in 1 hour of work a week. Understanding how much work is needed to accomplish a goal is a critical part of the goal setting process.

3. What is Our Brand's Story?

Connecting with other people is what makes business work. Both online and offline.

So, approaching your website like it's designed to please a search engines isn't going to achieve results.

Your website should be an extension of your business offline. A positive one at that. Think of what your company does on a day to day basis.

You are solving customer problems, alleviating pain points, and providing a delightful experience to your customers. If you want to be successful on the web, and generate revenue, you need to tell a story.

Storytelling is a powerful online marketing technique that will help you build relationships with your visitors.

Let's take a look at how NOT to use brand storytelling from Neil Patel, he's kind of a big deal. This is what brand storytelling is NOT...

  • A long-winded, 5-paragraph essay about your company
  • A blog post
  • Something isolated
  • A fragmented view into your company
  • Something reserved for the marketing team only
  • A PR stunt
  • A viral video
  • A tool to manipulate customers and prospects
  • Boring
  • Artsy

Now that we have dismissed some common misconceptions on what storytelling is, we can take a look a what brand storytelling actually is...

  • The reason why your company came to be
  • What motivates your team to wake up and come to work everyday
  • How your product came to be
  • What types of customers find value in working with your brand and why
  • A transparent view into the people behind the company
  • A relationship-building tool
  • More subtle than you realize
  • A concept that underscores your entire web presence
  • Something that your entire team, at all organizational levels, embraces
  • A look into who you are as a company
  • Direct

A lot of that sounds like it is going to be about you, you, you but it isn't. It's about showing your customer why they should be working with you.

Let's take a look at one of the best brand storytelling examples, and one of my personal favorites, TOMS.

TOMS was founded by Blake Mycoskie, and in 2006, he took a trip to Argentina to take in the culture. It was there that he got the idea to form his company. As he recalls...

"Yes, I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that poor children around the world often went barefoot, but now, for the first time, I saw the real effects of being shoeless: the blisters, the sores, the infections.

I wanted to do something about it. But what?"

He had found his "why". The most important part of brand storytelling is your "why", that's why it is the first bullet in the list above.

So, he identified that he wanted to do something about it. But what exactly did he decide to do?

"I'm going to start a shoe company that makes a new kind of alpargata. And for every pair I sell, I'm going to give a pair of new shoes to a child in need."

As a side note alpargata is a soft, casual canvas shoe worn by almost everyone in the country of Argentina. Thus, it became the style for TOMS.

Some people will tell you it's the style of TOMS that they love. But if look at the start of TOMS, no one in the States was wearing anything like them, it was the story that got TOMS foot in the door.

American Rag was the first retail customer of the TOMS brand, and from the beginning they realized TOMS was more than just a shoe. It was a story.

Take a look at what TOMS homepage looks like now...

TOMS

They lead with their story, not their product.

The ultimate goal of brand storytelling is to become something bigger than your product or service. However, let's say your company doesn't have a "why" as strong as TOMS, which truthfully, it most likely may not, then what can you do?

  1. Let your customers tell your story for you - Use customer testimonials to show your companies values and stories.
  2. Don't treat your story like an ad - Don't be boring and share only what you are selling. Share your strengths, weaknesses, and how you arrived at where you are today.
  3. Pretend that you’re talking to a new friend over drinks or coffee - Writing for storytelling means keeping it short, and keeping it human.
  4. Develop a message architecture - Transform vague goals into substantive concepts with context and priority:

"A message architecture is a hierarchy of communication goals that reflects a common vocabulary. It might be a concise outline of five attributes, each with sub-bullets that clarify meaning and add color. Those attributes and terms reflect a broader discussion to establish concrete, shared terminology — not just abstract concepts that fall apart outside the hallowed halls of marketing"

MARGOT BLOOMSTEIN, Content Strategy Consultant
via the Openview’s Blog

6. What KPIs are Most Important to Our Business?

The answer to this question can get complex and very involved. But we are going to break it down into 3 common factors to consider when determining which KPIs are important to your business.

First, is taking a look at your business goals. Mark Hayes, Shopify’s Director of Communications, wrote a great article on KPIs in which he provides examples of common e-commerce goals and related KPIs. Let's take a look at a few of them...

Goal 1 – Boost sales 10% in the next quarter.

KPIs include daily sales, conversion rate, and site traffic.

Goal 2 – Increase conversion rate 2% in the next year.

KPIs include conversion rate, shopping cart abandonment rate, associated shipping rate trends, competitive price trends.

Goal 3 – Grow site traffic 20% in the next year.

KPIs include site traffic, traffic sources, promotional click-through rates, social shares, bounce rates.

Goal 4 – Reduce customer service calls by half in the next 6 months.

KPIs include service call satisfaction, identifying of page visited immediately before the call, events that lead to the call.

As you can see, each of the potential KPIs listed in the four examples are directly related to the core business goal.

That should give you an idea of how to tie KPIs to your business goal. However, be wary of tracking too many KPIs. If you are tracking everything, then you are tracking nothing. 

After you take into account your business goals, then review where your business is in terms of growth. HubSpot put together this awesome table to help you categorize KPIs based on business growth stages.

Pre-Product Market Fit Product Market Fit Expansion
  • Qualitative feedback
  • Customer interviews
  • Awareness
  • Stickiness
  • Monthly recurring revenue
  • Renewals
  • Churn
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Cost per acquisition
  • Average order size
  • Lifetime value
  • Number of customers acquired

The final part of determining your business KPIs to focus on is your industry. Also courtesy of HubSpot, the table below outlines a few industry standards.

SaaS KPIs Professional Service KPIs
  • Monthly recurring revenue
  • Churn
  • Cost per acquisition
  • Average revenue per retainer
  • Lifetime value
  • Bookings
  • Utilization
  • Backlog
  • Revenue leakage
  • Effective billable rate
Online Media / Publishing KPIs Retail KPIs
  • Unique visitors
  • Page views
  • Share ratio
  • Social referral growth
  • Time on site
  • Capital expenditure
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Sales per square foot
  • Average customer spend
  • Stock turnover

Obviously choosing a KPI for your business isn't a one size fits all approach, it is heavily dependent on your business. However, the examples above should give you a starting point.

That aside, let's return to the question at hand, "What KPIs are most important to our business?"

To answer this question, here's what you should do...

You should be tracking anywhere from 4 to 10 KPIs, all of which take into account:

  • Your Business Goals
  • Your Stage of Growth
  • Your Industry

7. What Content, Email Lists, Relationships, etc. do I Already Have?

"It's not what you know it's who you know" is a very popular phrase and while it doesn't always hold merit, it does here.

Having something to work from, whether it's right or wrong, is better than starting from scratch.

Say you already have a website, and you think that it's terrible. Write down how that website came to be. Now you know one approach that is not going to work. That's a valuable resource.

If you have offline content such as brochures, folders, ads, news appearances, etc., that you feel embrace your company story, use those on the web.

If you have an email list that was not purchased, that's a valuable resource as well. The trick here is that the list has to be comprised of people who would actually want to hear from you, that way your emails aren't marked as spam.

What you need to do:

  • Compile a list of your content from on and off the web
  • Find out what is an accurate reflection of your brand story, and what isn't
  • If you have an email list, make sure it isn't purchased
  • If you don't have an email list, take a look at what relationships you have on and off the web, and see if they would be interested in joining your email list. (Note: just because a potential customer follows you on twitter or likes your Facebook page, doesn't mean they want to be on your email list.)

8. Who Should We Be Targeting? Who Should Our Audience Be?

A crucial part of building an effective marketing strategy on the web is understanding who your target audience is.

To properly determine who your target audience is, you need to develop a buyer persona.

When you create a buyer persona you are opening up a window of opportunity for your business to get it right. So, what are the benefits of a buyer persona?

Here's a short list of benefits to developing a buyer persona for your business...

  1. Identify your ideal customer
  2. Know the wants and needs of your customer
  3. Understand how your customers make decisions
  4. Enable you to improve products and services
  5. Release content that identifies with your customer
  6. Spend time on the prospects that are most likely to turn into customers
  7. Generate more quality leads

For more information on buyer personas check out our awesome infographic.

7-buyer-persona-benefits-shareable

Now that you know why you need buyer personas, let's take a look at how to create one.

You may have come across a buyer persona guide that asks you to collect information such as:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Education
  • Occupation
  • Ethnicity
  • Marital Status
  • # of Children

That's not a true buyer persona. That's more of a buyer profile. There's nothing wrong with doing that, but understand it will not have the same impact as creating an in-depth buyer persona.

Here are 5 key components from The Buyer Persona Manifesto by Adele Revella, an essential guide for building buyer personas within marketing initiatives:

  1. Build persona composites that are your competitor’s customers, your recent customer wins, or those that haven’t considered buying because they are unaware of the solution available
  2. Immerse yourself in the world of the buyer persona. Try to see and feel what it’s like to walk in their shoes. What motivates them, what frustrates them, what they value, what they invest in
  3. Include the buyer personas priority initiatives, success factors, perceived barriers, buying process and decision criteria. These have been coined “The Five Rings of Insight” by Revella.
  4. Conduct buyer persona research through interviews. It’s important to get valuable insights from your recent wins, as well as losses. These are people that have made a purchasing decision to either buy from you, buy from a competitor, or do nothing at all, within the last 30 to 60 days. This is an ongoing process that should remain constant, and act as the foundation of your overall marketing strategy.
  5. Use the information gathered from your interviews to develop detailed, accurate core buyer personas. Developing your buyer personas will enable to you to truly understand what matters to your company’s buyers.

9. How Do We Go About Developing a Brand Voice?

Your brand voice should have a purpose. Developing a brand voice is a process, and not achieved by just throwing ideas at a wall.

Your brand voice is conveyed through every piece of content you have. The words you choose, and the style of your writing, is what determines your brand voice.

In order to develop the right brand voice for your business, you need to do 5 things...

  1. Consider your target audience and tailor your brand voice to meet their expectations.
  2. Define your message in 3 words.
  3. Be different, don't write like everyone else.
  4. Speak in a way that allows for engagement.
  5. Pay attention to how your target audience speaks and interacts. (Tip: Check out accounts on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn that match your target demographic)

Conclusion

Answering these 9 marketing questions will tell you how to position your business on the web, what tone you should be speaking in, how to conduct your business on social media, and what kind of content you should be producing.

All of these are an integral part of creating success on the web and generating the right leads for your business.

But don't forget it all starts with "why".

 

Author
Hunter Liptrap

Hunter Liptrap

Creative Director at Modgility
Hunter is Certified Inbound Marketing, Growth Driven Design, and HubSpot Design. He has a passion for the conversion rate optimization process. With 3 years of experience he has designed and built multiple websites across various industries.

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