Rise and shine! Are you excited to be ridiculously inefficient at the office today, putting in more hours and having less impact, so you can ultimately spend less time with your family and friends and forgo pursuing enriching hobbies that make your life worth living?
And for small business owners, or marketers working in a smaller department with fewer resources, the hours required to be effective can seem daunting at times. So it's no surprise -- albeit unfortunate -- that consistency wavers for many marketers who are drowning in a sea of other tasks that make them take their eye off the prize. And it's particularly unfortunate for inbound marketers , because inbound marketing works best when it's pursued over a long period of time with unwavering dedication.
That's all well and good, but what are we all supposed to do to actually be effective with less time and fewer resources to, well ... be effective? Focus on pulling the biggest levers you can pull in the least amount of time , that's what. This post is going to assume you can carve out only 4 hours for inbound marketing every week -- inspiration taken from Tim Ferriss' popular book The 4-Hour Workweek -- and tell you how to allocate those hours to keep your inbound marketing alive, well, and thriving.
The 4-Hour Inbound Marketing Workweek
Create Blog Content - 30 Minutes
You can create a week's worth of blog content in 30 minutes? No, you probably can't. In fact, it's my profession, and I know I couldn't do it. You can, however, outsource it to someone in 30 minutes. At the beginning of every week, sit down and think of the topics you'd like to publish on your blog the following week. Then send those topics along with some keywords you'd like them to include to a freelance writer. If you do this every week, you'll have found a writer that you like , that understands your business, and you know is reliable. If you haven't ever outsourced content creation, I recommend checking out Zerys -- it's a great content marketplace to get started on!
To save yourself even more time, ask the writer to include internal links within the blog copy. That way, when you get your bundle of blog posts back at the end of the week, they will be optimized and ready to publish after a quick once over from you. Just put them into your CMS, and set the schedule dates so they auto-publish for the following week!
Create an Offer - 60 Minutes
You could outsource your offer creation, too -- if you had a great writer you already knew, you could chat with him or her about the offer and have something ready to go that required 60 minutes (or less!) of your time. More of the author's time, sure, but you wouldn't need to put in more than an hour.
Marketing offers are a big deal, though. They're the crux of your lead generation efforts! Many marketers want to have a bigger hand in the offer creation process, and I get that. So when you don't have time to write a long, elaborate whitepaper or ebook, you should default to some offers that require a little less time to put together. In fact, I've written an entire blog post full of offer ideas for time-crunched marketers . Here are some of the highlights you could easily pull together if you set aside 60 minutes to focus on offer content creation:
- Blog Bundle: Select a theme around which to write (we might choose SEO, for example), and find all of the blog posts you've written on the subject. Then "bundle" them together to form a comprehensive offer that teaches leads about every aspect of that subject matter.
- Persona- or Industry-Driven Offers: Take an existing offer, and tweak it to cater to a persona or industry you're targeting. Continuing with the SEO offer example, we might tweak an existing SEO ebook that talks about the topic generically for all marketers, and edit it to apply to international marketers, edit another to apply to ecommerce marketers, and edit it yet again to apply to enterprise organizations. All of these segments have slightly different SEO problems that require a unique piece of content, but they're not so radically different that you'd have to create an entirely new offer from scratch.
- Templates: Instead of spending time writing, those marketers who aren't wordsmiths may find it easier to create a template that prospects can download to make their lives easier. Is there something you can create in Photoshop, Excel, or even Word that your leads would love to have bookmarked or saved on their desktop to use over and over? Perhaps you're an accountant whose clients could use a simple deduction calculation spreadsheet, for example. I bet you could whip that up in a jiffy, and your leads would go nuts for it! Remember, helpful content comes in forms other than the written word.
You can find many more options for quick lead-gen offer content that you could whip up in 60 minutes or less in this blog post .
Create Your Offer's Landing Page - 20 Minutes
Now that you have an offer, you'll need a landing page to direct traffic to. Landing page creation doesn't have to be complicated -- we use our own tool in HubSpot that lets you literally drag and drop form fields onto your page, and use a WYSIWYG editor to input your copy. In fact, once you've created a landing page you like, you can just clone it and make copy tweaks to align with the offer you're promoting on that landing page! It couldn't be simpler.
If you still find yourself staring at a blank web page unsure of what to write, there's a simple formula you can follow to ensure all the information you need to convey to visitors is taken care of.
First, include a heading that clearly states exactly what this landing page offers -- an ebook on using Pinterest for business , a template to calculate tax deductions, a kit about grooming your unicorn ... whatever. Then include a subheading that succinctly explains what you will learn by downloading the offer; this is critical because it's like the elevator pitch that demonstrates the value of your offer, and why a visitor should give away their contact information to redeem it. Then, go into a bit more detail about your elevator pitch, explaining some of the key pieces of information the offer will divulge. We like to use bullets or checkmarks to do this, as it helps break up large chunks of text, making it more likely visitors will peruse those points of value. Finally, include a relevant image to help make your landing page more engaging and break up the monotony of the text. We usually choose an image of the offer itself, but you could go a different route as long as the image relates to your offer!
Of course there are other things on this landing page that are important. Social sharing buttons, for example, will help increase the reach of this landing page. And we didn't even include the form in this screenshot, though certainly you need to include a form on a landing page (how else would you capture that lead intel?). But if you include those four components in your landing page copy along with, of course, your form, you'll have an effective landing page on your hands that takes very little time to whip up. To learn more about how to write effective landing page copy, read our blog post, " The 7-Point Checklist for Powerful Landing Page Copy ."
Create Your Offer's Call-to-Action - 15 Minutes
Now that you have that stellar landing page, how do you think anyone's going to get to it? You'll need a call-to-action to help drive traffic there from other pages on your website, particularly your blog posts (where you'll undoubtedly be promoting this offer, right? Right.)
Here's the thing about calls-to-action -- they don't need to be complicated. In fact, it's better that they aren't complicated; the simpler they are, the easier they are to understand, which means more conversions for you. Some businesses simply use text as their calls-to-action, which is a-okay, but we like to create visual CTAs for our website so they stand out a bit more.
What do you need to do to create them? Well, we use HubSpot's CTA-generator to create simple buttons with compelling copy; but we also like to play around in Photoshop, PowerPoint, and even Paint to create CTAs sometimes! And when you boil CTA creation down, it's really nothing more than a background color, a contrasting text color, and an image -- all hyperlinked to go to a landing page on your website. So go ahead, pop into your favorite image editing tool and create a CTA image of your own! If you've never tried it before, you'll be shocked how simple it really is. And you can use our ebook about creating effective calls-to-action to guide you through the process.
Do Some Email Marketing - 30 Minutes
You can get more leverage from your lead gen offer if you incorporate it into your email marketing. After all, there are certainly leads in your database that would be interested in reading your latest offer, and sending it to them via email will help aid in more reconversions. Simple take an email template -- most ESPs, like HubSpot , have email templates at the ready that are friendly to all email clients and look good, too -- and write a short bit of copy that explains why your offer would be interesting to the recipient. In fact, you can take much of the copy straight from your landing page, where you explained the offer's value proposition already! Why reinvent the wheel?
To make your time spent creating this email worth your while, you really need to spend some of those 30 minutes segmenting your email list. Remember, email is most effective when it's properly targeted, which ultimately boils down to sending your message to the right audience. In fact, emails sent to segmented lists result in better open rates for 39% of marketers, lower opt-out and unsubscribe rates for 28% of marketers, and increased sales leads and revenue for 24% of marketers , according to eMarketer . We've written a blog post to walk you through how to properly segment your email lists if you're unsure of how to get started. And if you decide to set up an entire automated email campaign , not just do one email send, rejoice! You only have to put in the work once, because you'll have set up a workflow that runs on autopilot based on the triggers you've set up.
Set Up Your Social Sharing - 30 Minutes
You've created all this great content that's poised to generate tons of leads for your business ... but how are people going to hear about it besides email? Through social media, of course! Now that you have your blog content, your offer content, and your landing page all set up, you have the information you need to create your social media content for next week. Simply craft updates for each social network to promote this new content, and pepper it with other interesting links and status updates to keep the right promotional balance. If you're using a social media publishing tool , you can simply input these updates (using a link tracker like bitly to keep track of the links in your updates) and schedule their publish date.
Boom! You've just set up your social media content for all of next week! Pretty easy when you just set aside a few minutes to bang it out, eh?
Monitor Your Social Presence - 25 Minutes
Now that you have content set to publish, you'll have to check in periodically to ensure the conversations taking place on your social networks are going smoothly. Divide this up into periodic checking every day -- check in a few times a day for a few minutes, and you'll be able to respond to questions, triage customer service issues, and engage with followers in a friendly manner. You don't need to troll your social media accounts every second of every day; people understand that you're not glued to your Facebook page, waiting to respond to a comment at a moment's notice. If you're using a social media tool that lets you filter for important keywords, you can make your life even easier by setting up alerts for mentions of those keywords so you know when you need to check back in.
Analyze Your Marketing - 30 Minutes
Take a few minutes each day, and once at the end of the week, to see both the daily and weekly analysis of which marketing activities are moving the needle. If you're using closed-loop marketing software , you can easily take a quick look at your dashboard to see a snapshot of your performance, and identify any performance anomalies can be drilled down into for further analysis.
For example, if you saw an increase in leads from your blog on one day -- or during an entire week -- you can drill down into what kind of content you published (and then publish more of that type of content). Remember -- part of being an effective 4-hour-a-week inbound marketer is pulling the biggest levers you can pull with the least resources, so you need your marketing analytics to identify those levers. What has the biggest impact on your bottom line? That's where you should be putting your limited time and resources!
What do you do to make your inbound marketing activities more efficient?