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Supercharge Your Pipeline

How to Run an Inbound Marketing Campaign in 9 Steps

April 25, 2014

By Matt Farber

inbound_marketing_campaign_how_toBy now, you’ve heard about inbound marketing and how critical it is to drive ROI for your company.   However, when it comes to launching a specific campaign, you may have some questions on doing so.  There are many tools, methods, and tips to follow, but which one actually works best?  How do you create an effective inbound marketing campaign that drives leads and show results?

The first thing to understand is that an inbound marketing campaign centers around one offer. This offer can be an ebook, white paper, tip sheet, webinar, free templates, consultation, or anything else your personas might need. The components of the campaign should tailor messaging to the target persona.

Secondly, you need a foolproof plan to execute the campaigns each and every time without a hitch. Once you have the steps needed to execute a campaign, it can be repeated time and time again. Setting up an inbound marketing campaign can be broken down into the following nine steps.

1)  Brainstorm Offers with Your Team

Before you can launch a campaign you’ll need to establish the offer, so the first thing you should do is brainstorm the offer. What is the reason you are creating this inbound marketing campaign? 

In order to decide on which offer you need to deliver next, you should ask yourself and your team the following questions:

  1. What pain points do our personas have?
  2. Which offers have been the most successful in the past?
  3. Which offers have been the least successful in the past
  4. What offers do we currently have in place?
  5. In our content matrix, what part of the marketing funnel do we need offers most?

The questions above will help you to determine if you need an attract stage, consideration stage, or close stage offer. It will also help you determine which questions you currently answer with content and which you still need to answer for your personas. Additionally, the questions above will also require you to look at historical data and pull from successes or learn from mistakes, in turn helping you to come up with the best offer yet! 

2)  Decide How to Target Your Personas 

Once you’ve come up with the offer, it is important to consider the needs of each of your personas. By segmenting your personas and understanding each of their needs, promotional messaging will be easily tailored thusly ensuring your click-through-rates, visit-to-lead conversions, and other marketing metrics show success.

Example of Persona Segmentation: If you are a company that offers carpet-cleaning equipment, your personas could range from a stay-at-home parent to a full-fledged home cleaning service company. The needs of these two personas are very different.  The stay-at-home parent needs a reasonably priced, compact, and easy to store piece of equipment while the cleaning service needs something that is fast, efficient, and effective (regardless of size).  Once you understand your persona needs, you can establish the offer based on their needs.

3)  Establish the Goal of the Campaign

Now that you’ve considered your different personas it’s time to set a goal for the inbound campaign.  When setting your goal keep in mind that the goal should be S.M.A.R.T. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely

Below are examples of SMART goals and not-so-SMART goals:

SMART GOAL: Generate 10 carpet cleaning equipment leads for our B2B persona within 2 months of launching of the campaign

Not-so-SMART GOAL: Increase total marketing qualified leads for carpet cleaning equipment.

Do you see the difference? One gives you a goal that you can track and report on. The other is too general.

Setting a SMART goal will assist you in keeping your focus on what you’re trying to accomplish.  It was also help you in executing the remaining steps in running your inbound marketing campaign.

4) Create the Campaign’s Offer

Now that you have established the campaign and it’s goal, it’s time to move on.  If you are launching a new product, crafting a white paper that discusses the advantages of the product is a great way to educate potential buyers on what problem(s) the product can solve.  Make sure to give yourself a deadline for finishing the white paper. The deadline should be based on your campaign goals.  This will help you in keeping your campaign on track and in focus with what you’re trying to accomplish. 

Other potential offers you could create are an eBook, a template, or industry case study.  All offers should be educational in nature, which will help in showing your company as an industry leader.  Once the offer is created, it’s time to create a conversion path for the offer. Meaning you will collect contact information on anyone who downloads the white paper.

5) Create The Conversion Path

The conversion path is your golden ticket to getting visitors on your website to convert into leads. There are four critical components to conversion paths that will maximize your campaign’s success.


The call-to-action (CTA) is the first part of a conversion path and the first touch-point someone connects with around the offer. When creating a call-to-action for your offer use similar language to that of the offer.   Whether you’re launching a new product or wanting to gain traction around an older one, creating a call-to-action and placing it on your homepage will help people find that offer. 

Pro Tip: Make sure the text of your CTA is enticing and specific. Saying something like, “Want Cleaner Carpets? Download the free carpet cleaning checklist now” is much more enticing and specific than “Free checklist!”

Creating the Landing Page

I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of landing pages before whether it was for a webinar, downloading a specs sheet, or even registering for a trade show.  It’s time to create your own.   The landing page is where someone is going to land after they click the call-to-action.  Be sure to use similar language as used in the call-to-action to ensure your traffic they’ve landing on the right page. 

Pro Tip: Always remember to include the 3 “Bs” on your landing page: Brief text, Bulletpoints, and Benefits. Need to better understand landing pages?  Here are some Landing Page Best Practices

Creating a Thank You Page

A thank you page often goes unnoticed or skipped in this process.  One great reason for creating a thank you page is that is allows you to share MORE offers and keep the lead engaged on your website.  You can also literally say thank you to someone for downloading your asset and giving them a direct link to the piece of content. 

Pro Tip: Include social sharing buttons that allow your leads to share the content they just downloaded. HubSpot makes this super easy to do in their landing page tool 

Creating a Thank You Email

A thank you email functions similarly to a thank you page.  The reason you should create a thank you email is so that whoever downloaded the offer will be able to reference the asset whenever they’d like.  Someone may download the offer on the thank you page but forget to save it or close out of that page in their browser. By sending a thank you email, you ensure an opportunity for the lead to engage with you again. 

Pro Tip: Similar to the thank you page, this is another opportunity to include social sharing buttons and direct recipients to other areas of your website to further education.

6) Tell the World About Your Offer

You’ve established the offer, set your campaign goals, you’ve created the offer call-to-action, landing page, thank you page, and thank you email, now it’s time to get more people to that landing page and convert them into leads.  There are multiple ways you can do this and I’m going to highlight three of them: 

  • Blogging
  • Email
  • Social Media


Blogging is arguably the most important method of driving traffic to the offer.   Before you begin writing your blog posts, brainstorm relevant keywords your personas may be search for.  In the example of carpet cleaning equipment, your keywords could be focused on carpet cleaning equipment in your geographic region.  Here are a couple blog ideas for the carpet cleaning equipment company (based around targeted keywords):

  • 5 Tips You Need to Know About Cleaning Carpets in Los Angeles
  • Carpet Cleaning Equipment for the Stay-at-Home Parent
  • Cleaning Services Should Consider These 3 Carpet Cleaning Tips

You should create the blog posts as you are creating the offer.  You may be able to take some of the content in the offer and repurpose it for a blog post. Offers typically have different sections that discuss different points, use those different points to structure your blog posts.  Once the different posts are written, publish them on your website 2 – 3 times a week. Be sure to include a relevant image in the post and create a call-to-action to place at the end of the post that directs readers to the offer.


Emailing your database of contacts about your new product is highly recommended, as the people in your company database are more than likely interested in your companies products and/or services. However, you do not want to send out the same email to everyone.  Instead you should target emails to each persona. 

The great thing about marketing tools like HubSpot is that you can segment your lists based on your personas and then sends emails from that specific list.  Make sure to leverage the language of each email to suit that of your different personas.  This should result in higher click-through-rates and more eyes on your offer. 

Social Media

Various social media outlets are great allies of yours and should be utilized to get people to your offer.  Once the landing page is created, copy and paste the link and share with your social spaces.  Which social spaces to share with depends on your audience.  There may be a couple great LinkedIn groups in your industry you could share with, but the offer may not resonate with your Facebook followers. If you’re active on twitter, it’s good to tweet the offer multiple times but not too often. 4 – 6 tweets during the range of a couple weeks should do the trick.  Adding an image to your social posts will also help increase click-through-rates.

7)  Nurture and Maintain Relationships with Conversions

Now that you’ve been driving visitors to the landing page and some of those visitors are converting into leads, it’s time to build your relationship with those leads.  This part of setting up an inbound marketing campaign is often overlooked or never even thought of.  Many companies would think they’ve received a list of leads and the campaign is done, not so fast…

Marketing Automation, as defined by HubSpot, is software and tactics that allow companies to buy and sell like Amazon – that is, to nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert leads into customers.  When leveraging marketing automation correctly, you can turn those visitors who filled out the form into visitors who fill out a form that reads, “Schedule a meeting with us today.” This is done by crafting different email messages to be sent at different times after someone filled out the original form.  These email messages should be crafted in a way that continues to educate those form submitters by offering them different content on your site.  Examples of this content could be: 

  • Blog Posts
  • Additional White Papers
  • Ebooks
  • Case Studies 

Notice how all these offers are free and are educational for the reader.  This is going to build trust between your company and the potential buyer as well as give you insight into what content your leads are consuming.

8) Test and Launch

Before you launch your campaign you will need to test out the components of your campaign. Test out your landing pages, thank you pages, and nurturing emails.  Make sure technically everything works, there are no typos, and all images work. 

Once the test is completed and you’ve found everything in working order it’s time to launch.  Make everything live and send those emails and tweets out now!  

9) Report on the Campaign’s Success

Once your campaign has been running for about a month, report on its success. The reports you should consider are:

  • Visit-to-lead conversion rate of the landing page
  • View-to-click conversion rate of the CTA
  • Click-through-rate of the promotional email by persona
  • Click-through-rate of the lead nurturing emails
  • Total unsubscribes from promotional email by persona
  • Total unsubscribes from lead nurturing emails

There are many other reports to consider, but the above should at least get you pointed in the right direction.

There you have it, 9 steps to creating an inbound marketing campaign. Our team at SmartBug wishes you the best of luck in your next campaign launch! Are there any steps we left out?

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Marketing Strategy