Inbound marketing is made up of many component parts (SEO, social media, CRO and PR for example) and is a very unique approach. This, and the fact that the industry is constantly changing and evolving, means that a unique type of project management is required.
Inbound marketing by its own nature cannot be a one size fits all approach. It is no longer simply a case of choosing 10 keywords, sticking them in your titles and content, picking up a couple of low quality links, signing up for every social media platform under the sun and then Bob’s your uncle. Now it’s all about whether your website looks as if it deserves that coveted top spot ranking. If not, then how can you improve the design and make it more intuitive? Who cares if the customer is signed up for Twitter, Facebook, Stumble Upon, MySpace Pinterest and Bebo if that’s not genuinely where their audience hangs out! Instead think about what platforms best suit the industry and look at what the competition are doing successfully on the social side. Stop being all pre-occupied with the quantity of backlinks (woop! We have 1000 links pointing back to our site from www.i-love-links-4eva.info) and look at quality and relevance instead. Also, think about how you can incorporate a great PR story or piece of super useful link bait to encourage natural linking and social sharing.
The good project manager is one that can manage multiple departments (and in a lot of cases multiple organisations) in order to craft a unique campaign for their client. They know how long it takes to integrate a blog into a website, set up e-commerce tracking in analytics, complete a detailed competitor analysis, perform a website health audit and write a press release – even if they are not the one doing it. This means that they can create realistic month by month schedules for themselves and others.
In a previous job advert where we were looking for a Project Manager we said that it was important that the individual was ‘good at spinning plates’ Those of you who are planning work for multiple client campaigns each month will know exactly what we mean! Having some kind of process is essential.
Identify the need (Boost conversion rate, improve engagement metrics, improve user experience)
Work out how to meet that need (Using analytics to asses conversion funnel, write new sales pages, creating a video or other piece of engaging content, redesign website)
Work out who should meet that need (CRO strategist, copywriter, videographer, designer)
Allocate the work to the relevant individual or department
Keep yourself up to date with its progress & chase where necessary
Collect the work ON TIME and report back to client
I think the whole idea of zero inbox is worth a mention here too. With so many people likely to be involved in each project that you manager your inbox is probably going to get a bit chaotic. At the end of everyday file away every e-mail that has been actioned. If there is an email that may require action from you once someone else has replied then use a tool like Boomerang which will ping the email back into your inbox in a couple of days’ time.
Qualities: Organised, solution focused, adaptable
Tools: Google calendar, Google Drive, Trello, Dropbox, Basecamp, Boomerang
There is a phrase that our MD likes to throw about in our office and despite being cheesy, it is fairly accurate:
“Every e-mail is a wasted opportunity”
If there is a chance for a face to face meeting with your customer then grab it. As fantastic as email and Skype may be it is difficult to build up a rapport when you are limited to emoticons. You don’t need to meet every month, just periodically. I recently met a client for the first time and it is absolutely amazing what it has done for our relationship and overall customer satisfaction. Yes, the 2 hour drive was a pain in the backside but I can guarantee that the relationship has much more longevity now than it did when I was just an email address.
Another thing that will really help your customer relationships is keeping the customer in the loop. As a customer there is nothing worse than feeling as if you have been forgotten about. A quick mid-month phone call or email update really will reap dividends in your long term relationship. Doing the work that you promise, in the time frame that you promise will really help to build trust and respect. Building up this trust will come in handy later down the line when you are trying to convince the client not to rebrand in pink, buy a domain that is hyphenated to death, get involved in that reciprocal link exchange or whatever other monstrosity they are considering.
As well as relationships with clients it is also really important to build strong relationships with your colleagues, freelancers (or anyone you outsource to) and other companies that your clients may work with.
Qualities: Proactive, confidence, knowledgeable, good communicator, friendly
Tools: Rapportive, Google contacts
What with the way the SEO and marketing industries have gone in recent years your campaigns should now be all about the long term. Yes there will be short term goals but they must be part of an overall brand development strategy. Brands that exist in their own right like Virgin, Google and Coca-Cola etc. are the holy grail.
When you start a project you should sit down with your customer and identify a set of goals from which you can then implement a strategy to achieve them. It is really important that everyone is on board with the goals and strategy that you decide upon. It is no good steam rollering a client into doing it your way (it goes back to the building up of trust mentioned earlier) and then wondering why they cancel their contract with you 2 or 3 months down the line. They will have certain expectations and these need to be managed appropriately.
When trying to implement a strategy it is important to conduct competition and market analysis. Look at those companies who are already ranking well for certain keywords, ask customers who they consider as their main competitors and check out industry leaders. What is their website design like? What social platforms do they use and is there much interaction there? What kinds of things do they blog about that get them the most comments? What are the main features of their landing pages and what kind of CTA’s (calls to action) do they have? It is not only the information gleaned by doing this that is important but the fact that the project manager has spent time getting to grips with the market. If you can assign a project manager with a particular interest in a client’s market to that campaign then so much the better!
Qualities: Creative thinker, problem solver, objective
Tools: Open Site Explorer, ahrefs, Google Analytics
One particularly unique aspect for an inbound marketing project manager to get to grips with is the absolute necessity of staying up to date with industry developments and news. Whether that be a new survey on how mobile is revolutionising web browsing, the latest Google algo update, the fact that Pinterest now drives more referral traffic to user’s websites that Yahoo organic search or something else that could potentially be a game changer.
A good project manager should always be aware of where at campaign is at at any given moment. Each strategy should be made up of appropriate tactics that contribute to both the short and long terms goals. By knowing where the campaign is at problems/successes can be identified and tactics quickly amended to rectify the problem or replicate the success.
A true project manager knows that they are ultimately responsible for the success of a campaign and making things happen. They take ownership of the campaign from start to finish and will not pass the buck if things aren’t all rosy. All project managers should take pains in the area of self-development in order to further hone their skills and create a higher quality and more efficient output.
Qualities: Proactive, enthusiastic, practical, open mindedness, flexibility, self-awareness
Tools: SEO Moz, SERoundtable, Search Engine Land, 99U,
Vicky is a project manager at http://www.inbound.co.uk/. She is an avid reader on the subject of project management, two of her favourite books being “Making Ideas Happen” (Scott Belsky) and “Eat That Frog” (Brian Tracy). Both are all about managing projects and achieveing ultimate creativity and efficiency. She currently manages a range of different client inbound marketing projects with her favoruite aspects being content creation and design.