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Planning Your Inbound Marketing Return on Investment Blog Feature

Ramona Sukhraj

Head of Editorial Content, Strategized Initiatives That Increased IMPACT’s Website Traffic From ~45K to ~400K

May 15th, 2013 min read

Planning Your Inbound Marketing Return on InvestmentAll great investments are largely dependent on one thing only; return on investment.


And depending on how well educated and prepared you are going in to the implementation of any given strategy will dictate the kind of return on investment you’ll be looking at.


While planning your inbound marketing return on investment your want to identify your target audience and understand who your buyer personas are to build a 12 month strategy to achieve your goals.


Identifying Your Target Audience


When it comes to positioning your campaign for success and achieving your business goals, it’s crucial that your working to generate the kind of business that makes a positive return on investment an expectation rather than a hope.


One crucial part of any marketing plan is identifying your target audience. This is done by establishing Buyer Personas.


Buyer Personas are detailed, often times fictional representations of your ideal prospect. By having a better understanding of whom your ideal prospects are and what affects their buying behavior, you can market more effectively to them.


According to HubSpot, an effective Buyer Persona details the following information regarding your target audience:



  • What are their demographics?

  • What is their job and level of seniority?

  • What does a day in their life look like?

  • What are their pain points?

  • What do they value most?

  • Where do they go for their information?

  • What experience are they looking for when shopping for a product?

  • What are their most common objections to your product/service?

  • How do I identify this persona?


Having these answers gives us a thorough profile of who it is we are communicating with and ensures that we are not wasting time reaching out to people who would not be interested in engaging in business with us. They also play a large part in Quality Lead Identification.


Quality Lead Identification


At IMPACT, we narrow down your Buyer Personas even further to identify your ideal quality lead.  In many ways, we create a picture of the perfect candidate for your product or service.


Once determined we can devise “qualifying questions” to include on your landing pages and in forms.


Can they afford your product? Where are they located? All of these factors and more can be identified to better prioritize and further segment your prospects.


The status of a quality lead may depend on a number of different characteristics.


For example, depending on your product, you may look at:



  • Annual Revenue

  • Specific Industry

  • Title of Contact

  • Annual Capital Spending

  • Geography

  • Membership in a trade organization


Understanding your Prospect Buying Cycle


The next step is having a strong understanding of your customer buying cycle, or in other words, the process that your customers go through when making a purchase.


Doing so helps segment your leads further as either Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) or Sales Qualified Lead (SQLs).


Though it varies depending on your industry and product, according to HubSpot, the average Customer Buying Cycle consists of 6 Behavioral/Mental states.


To illustrate, let’s say your consumer is buying a new digital camera:


1. Openness


In this state, the prospect is exposed to a new or better experience, resulting from a pre-existing interest or curiosity, but may or may not be directed at a particular brand.


2. Realized Want or Need


Next, the prospect becomes aware of a particular product, perhaps through an ad or word of mouth.  They also recognize the internet as a useful tool to fulfill the newfound need.


3. Learning and Educating


The prospect enters a research mentality, looking to understand the fundamentals of making an educated purchase.  In our example, they might type into a search engine “new digital cameras.”


4. Seeking Ideas and Inspiration


The prospect starts evaluating offerings across several different platforms. In this stage, our prospect may search “compare new digital cameras” as they look for a significant “players” to be considered in their search.


Also at this point, they are becoming a MQL. They are looking for more information and your content should fulfill this need.


5. Research and Vetting


The prospect shows an inclination to a specific product or solution and gathers information to support this desire.  Our camera MQL searches “Canon Powershot ELPH 320 reviews” or compare prices from various vendors. 


Here is becomes obvious that our prospect has zeroed in on their top choice and are considering a purchase. In terms of qualified leads, they have become an SQL and are presenting an opportunity.


6. Post Purchase Evaluation and Expansion


Having made their purchase, the consumer is now using and evaluating how they feel about it. They may post a review online or share their feelings with a friend looking for the same product.


Clearly, the Prospect Buying Cycle is no longer considered simple and linear. There are many emotions and situational influences that affect how a consumer makes a purchase in today’s world. Once you have an understanding of the different stages and mentalities at each stage you can create targeted content. The goal is to gradually get the prospect to trust in your brand, not force them into an uneducated purchase.


Delivering Content and Resources for Your Prospect


When done correctly, your content will draw your leads farther down the sales funnel (and through their buying cycle), closer to becoming a customer. Using the example from above, if your prospect is in the “Seeking Ideas and Inspiration” stage, offer comparisons or advice for choosing the best camera; if they are in the “Research and Vetting” stage, offer coupons or discounts.


Let’s take a deeper look at how an Inbound Marketer might distribute through the 6 mental/behavioral states:


1. Openness


2. Realized Want or Need


Having become aware of their need, the prospect is looking for solutions. An Inbound Marketer would utilize SEO, Social Media, and Pay-per-click campaigns (PPC) to get your business’ website and content found.


3. Learning and Educating


Once found, a company’s keyword-tailored landing pages, blogs, and offers capture the prospect’s attention.


4. Seeking Ideas and Inspiration


Here it is the website and tailored content’s job to guide the prospect further down the sales funnel.  As we mentioned, an Inbound Marketer may want to offer insightful product comparisons or advice on picking the best option.


5. Research and Vetting


As the consumer zeroes in on their purchase, a company could offer the deals, discounts, or premiums.


6. Post Purchase Evaluation and Expansion


After the purchase has been made, a company should maintain contact with their customers via social media, personalized emails, or occasional personal outreach.


Building Your 12-Month Strategy to Achieve Your Goals


As discussed at the beginning of the chapter, if success is your plan, you must plan to succeed.


Before a client launches a new website or starts tweeting, we look at their current marketing efforts and help them develop what we call a “Marketing GamePlan” for the future. Your Marketing GamePlan should layout critical strategic information and identify benchmarks as well as various activity details for at least 12 months.


A complete Marketing GamePlan should include:



  • Analysis of Your Current Marketing & Brand

  • Outline of Your Business Goals

  • Competitive Analysis

  • Definition of Your Value Proposition

  • Quality Lead Identification Statement

  • Completed Buyer Persona

  • Definition of MQL’s and SQL’s

  • Definition of KPI’s

  • Campaign Development Strategy

  • Drive Traffic Strategy: Blogging, Social Media & SEO

  • Lead Conversion Strategy

  • Grow Sales Strategy: Marketing Automation / Sales & Marketing Alignment

  • Marketing Analysis & Reporting Plan


A good 12-month plan results from analyzing past marketing strategies and their successes. Looking at and tracking old activities will help you better understand where your time, money, and effort should be allocated.


Thinking About Investing in Inbound Marketing?


Check out our newest Ebook! You will learn everything you need to know in order to make a smarter, more successful investment with inbound marketing and get the results you need.


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