Fueling Your Inbound Marketing Strategy: Staff and Budget

So your company is committed to an inbound marketing strategy; in which kind of resources should a CMO invest on a sustainable basis?

Success with inbound marketing will not happen by itself. A baseline of random acts of marketing punctuated by bursts of short-term activity won’t cut it. Like many things, the more you put into inbound efforts, the more you’ll get out, but here’s a good “baseline” for monthly activity for a small- to medium-sized company (e.g. 25 to 1,500 employees) to fuel your efforts. Thanks to Kuno Creative for inspiring this list.

  • Pick a theme to anchor your efforts each month. This should be distinct from your news calendar; the monthly theme should focus on a key customer issue or keyword phrase, not your company or product. As a CMO, you should personally plan on at least one hour a month for brainstorming content ideas and strategies.
  • At least one “major” piece of content to support the theme. This can be a whitepaper / ebook, video, survey, buying guide, webinar, and so on. I call these your “big rocks.”
  • Two to three “minor” pieces of content around the theme. Fill in the content plan with “small rocks” that also support the theme, including infographics, webinars, presentations (e.g. Slideshares), podcasts, and so on.
  • Three thought leadership blog posts per week. Get into a cadence of regularly sharing ideas, tips, best practices, news commentary, and so on with your audience via SEO-optimized blog posts. Some but not all of these posts should relate to the monthly theme, but regardless, the posts should not be about your company; to quote Content Rules, “share, don’t shill”.
  • Regular social media updates (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+). Post regularly to social sites to build your reach, engage with potential buyers, and get the word out about new content. (Also, Google+ is likely to grow in importance even faster as Google relies on it more heavily for search results.) Buddy Media has some great research about how to optimize posts, including suggestions such as length (80 characters or less in length have 27% higher engagement rate), frequency (no more than 2X a day for Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and more often for Twitter), content (photos, videos, questions are good; sharing recent news, awards, and promoting webinars not so much), and engagement (it works to ask people explicitly to share and comment; posts that end with a question have a 15% higher engagement rate).
  • Dedicated time for analyzing and optimizing results. Although a good inbound marketer should be constantly measuring results and tweaking accordingly, it’s also a good idea to dedicate at least two hours a week to dive into this specifically. Without dedicated time, this important optimization can sometimes fall victim to the urgent daily tasks that come up.

Most organizations will want to have staff in-house to deliver on this plan, though some pieces of the content development and design can be outsourced. This means hiring dedicated staff (inbound marketing is all about “brains not budget”). My recommendation is to hire at a minimum one “inbound marketing manager” to provide strategy and manage the overall function and one “content marketing manager” to write, create and curate content. These individuals also should monitor and manage the organization’s social media activity, engage with other influencers online (and offline), own the company blog, and take responsibility or work very closely with the teams responsible for online conversion and search engine optimization.

In terms of what to look for, the ideal inbound marketing manager should be an analytical, socially savvy “digital native” who gets search engine optimization and has experience with social media and a strong understanding of the fundamentals of content marketing. Ideally, they have demonstrated this already by building a strong personal presence online via a personal blog, Twitter, account, etc. Regardless, your ideal candidate should also understand that at the end of the day inbound marketing is not just about pretty content but about leads and revenue. For more details check out Maria Pergolino’s post How to Hire an Awesome Inbound Marketing Manger.

How does your company staff and budget to support your inbound marketing strategy? Have any tips to add?

Jon (@jonmiller) is a VP and co-founder at Marketo. He is the author of multiple Definitive Guides including Marketing Automation, Engaging Email Marketing, and Marketing Metrics & Analytics. In 2010, The CMO Institute named Jon a Top 10 CMO for companies under $250 million revenue. Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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