We have nearly reached the end of 2016, a tumultuous year that most of us will be glad to see shuffling off this calendarial coil. For marketers, that just means an opportunity to get started on better inbound marketing in 2017.
There are countless end-of-year lists, from the humorous (see HubSpot’s holiday content) to the soothsaying (see this nice overview from Entrepreneur). But what we’re most interested in is the work that helps us in our day-to-day lives. You’re of course going to brush up on key trends and research new initiatives, but how can you take what you already do well and turn that dial up to 11?
We have five ways for you to do just that, right after you raise a glass to a brand new year. Here’s to a productive, healthy 2017 for inbound marketers across the globe.
1. Build a content calendar
A surprising number of marketers either don’t build a content calendar or half-ass it, which ensures that their content marketing efforts remain scattershot. Good inbound marketing rests on your ability to create and distribute compelling content on your website, social media, and in email campaigns. But without something to pull all those elements together and track them, you’re just marketing into the wind.
A content calendar doesn’t just organize. It also breeds accountability for your writers, editors, and entire marketing team. Paired with good content planning and a responsible gatekeeper for the calendar, you’ll stay on track in 2017.
2. Get your email lists in order
If you’ve got a calendar, you know when you’ll be sending your email campaigns out. But do you know who you’re sending them to?
If the answer to that question is no, you’re hardly alone, even among the savviest marketers. Email lists degrade in quality over time. You need to be vigilant to learn how prospects and customers interact with your outreach so you can serve them better content and offers.
Make a quarterly appointment to scour your lists for bad contacts, inactives, spam traps, and plain old disinterested prospects, and keep your list healthy and segmented by interests and contact types.
3. Develop—and use—better buyer personas
Anyone with a passing familiarity with HubSpot knows that buyer personas are the way to go. But how many companies have actually developed quality, effective personas? If you have a persona whose name is “Customer Curt,” you’re (unfortunately) not one of them.
Personas actually make email and content campaigns much easier. By building semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer types, and using those insights to inform your content calendar, you’re automatically tailoring your efforts toward their likes and needs. The linked guide above will help you create new personas, or sharpen your existing ones, using best practices we’ve learned through years of matching personas to our clients (and to our own marketing).
Even if you’ve done all the hard work of developing quality personas, it’s a good idea to re-visit them on an annual basis, to make sure your personas (and your marketing needs) haven’t changed drastically.
4. Get better at your event-based marketing
Whether it’s a holiday, a live and informal event in your office, or a massive conference, you can probably up your game when you’re handling events. At Raka, we’re looking forward to 2017 as the year we really tap into video for covering events and delivering our own thoughts, and I’m sure a brief look at your event-based marketing would reveal similar opportunities for improvement.
Marketing events, particularly large ones like INBOUND, come with huge audiences eager to absorb and share best practices. Your ability to produce quality, visual content quickly may determine whether you get in front of that audience or not. (We see you, Facebook Live.)
One particularly relevant tip to keep in mind as New Year content planning looms: Holidays are unique events, there is a unique way to market them, and you should be especially cognizant of that.
5. Build up great analytics and reporting
What are your inbound marketing efforts without robust analytics to back them up? Not very useful, we’d wager.
Fortunately, it’s incredibly simple to build comprehensive, smart dashboards in Google Analytics without needing to pay out of your nose for customized reporting. We conjured these five free reports earlier this year to provide a simple way to up your analytics game. Taking an hour to set them up will help ensure your reporting in 2017 is more streamlined and less scattershot.
These five tips won’t automatically make you the most effective inbound marketer in your zip code, but they will put you on the right path.