Inbound marketing connects interested customers to the content—and, ultimately, the products or services—they need. At the crux of this strategy is your company’s website. For inbound marketing to succeed, your company, marketing strategy, buyer personas, and your website must all be in alignment. If your website isn’t designed to fulfill the needs of your customers and your marketing objectives, even the best inbound marketing campaigns will fail.
If your website isn’t the efficient, customer-converting inbound marketing tool it should be, or if you’re creating new content with a new campaign, run through this inbound marketing website checklist to stay on top of industry best practices and ensure the best results.
The Inbound Marketing Website Checklist
1. Inbound Marketing Website Checklist Pre-Planning
To spend your time and budget most effectively, the first step in your inbound marketing website checklist is prioritization. Keep your goals in mind while you map out your inbound marketing website and decide which items on the checklist are essential now, which ones are needed at a later date, and which ones you’d like later if you have the resources.
If you’re reworking your website to improve usability from an inbound marketing perspective, decide which elements you need to add, change or improve most according to estimated ROI they can deliver. As you go through the checklist, number the items as priority 1 (essential now), priority 2 (needed later), or priority 3 (desired later). Ask and answer these questions about each item to determine their priority for your inbound marketing website.
- How does this feature help you reach your inbound marketing goals and objectives?
- What data do you have to justify the need for this change or feature?
- Who on your team can implement this feature?
- How long will it take? What additional resources will you need, if any?
2. Inbound Marketing Website Checklist: Keystone Content
Keystone content is what customers look to in order to get the information they need about your business, such as your homepage, services pages, about pages and more. Inbound marketing is designed to answer customer questions and present your business as a solution, and keystone content plays a pivotal role in this transition. If your site doesn’t provide the right information or it’s difficult to navigate, even a well-planned inbound marketing strategy will quickly become ineffective.
When conducting a redesign or a health check for your inbound marketing website, you may assess existing pages individually or check your entire website for each point. During this part of the inbound marketing website checklist, usability testing can help you see how actual customers view and use your site, so you don’t have to guess. Here are a few changes that can drastically improve your website:
- Refresh outdated content
- Design or redesign pages to flow logically based on buyer personas problems and questions
- Ensure the website is mobile-friendly
- Use redirects for any pages moved or removed
- Make necessary information easily available. (Consider: services, products, hours, contact information, login, location, blog, case studies, news, staff, about us, company mission etc.)
- Consider adding keystone content as applicable to your campaign, such as a new page about a new product or service.
3. Inbound Marketing Website Checklist: SEO
For your website to be an effective part of your inbound marketing strategy, it has to be discoverable by both customers and search engines. That makes search engine optimization (SEO) a pivotal part of the inbound marketing website checklist.
Effective SEO helps to generate organic traffic and bring visitors to your site and content, the first step in the inbound marketing process. Except for functional pages like login pages or contact pages, your site content should target carefully chosen keywords. Choosing strategic keywords for your content and exercising best practices is an important part of SEO, though it is not the only component on the inbound marketing website checklist. Elements of design and supporting code, as well as where your content exists on the web, also come into play. Here are a few SEO best practices for any inbound marketing website:
- Eliminate dated or blackhat SEO tactics that could hurt your page rank, such as cloaking, keyword stuffing, hidden text, gateway pages, etc.
- Organize pages so search engines can read them. Use metadata, descending headings, alternate text on images, and follow/nofollow, index/noindex, or canonical tags where appropriate.
- Eliminate technical problems that can slow your load speed, increase bounce rates, and reduce page rank, such as some types of pop-ups, interstitial ads or chatbots.
- Eliminate duplicate content.
- Build a backlink profile. Consider colleagues, customers, industry publications, syndicated content, bloggers etc.
- Redesign for a modern look. An outdated website is a red flag for many visitors, which will increase your bounce rate and decrease your page rank.
- Organize content around strategic keywords that your site can compete for.
4. Inbound Marketing Website Checklist: Blog
Inbound marketing and blogging go hand-in-hand, but a blog that isn’t optimized for inbound marketing can bring an entire campaign down. Your blog should be organized around sales funnel stages and relevant buyer personas. It should complement your digital advertising strategy and play an active role in web conversions. When addressing this part of your inbound marketing website, remember that your blog, SEO, CTAs, landing pages, and forms (more on these below) are all closely related.
- Redesign for a modern look. Make sure your blog is attractive, easy to read, and easy to navigate, while also incorporating SEO design principles.
- Plan content calendar. Ensure each blog is attached to a topic, keyword, persona, campaign, CTA and author(s).
- Conduct keyword and topic research.
- Previous blogs: optimize blogs for relevant keywords and change low-performing posts.
- New blogs: address topics customers are searching for and research relevant keywords.
5. Inbound Marketing Website Checklist: CTAs
CTAs, or calls-to-action, are the action-oriented component of your inbound marketing website. CTAs are designed to turn website visitors into leads; they are the pipeline between organic search content, like your keystone content or blogs, and lead-converting landing pages and forms. For CTAs to work, they must be well designed and easy to use, but they must also have a strategic place in your overall inbound marketing website between blogs, other webpages and landing pages.
- Design CTAs to suit a landing page, content offer, buyer persona and inbound marketing campaign.
- Use different types of CTAs including; in text, bottom of the page, sidebar, banner.
- Design CTAs with brief, actionable copy and clear, attractive pictures or graphics.
- Test all CTA links and place redirects where necessary.
- Organize CTAs and content for different stages of the buyer’s journey
6. Inbound Marketing Website Checklist: Landing Pages
Landing pages are situated on your inbound marketing website between CTAs and downloadable offers. They include a form to acquire a visitor’s contact information and turn them into a lead, and brief copy describing the offer. Landing pages generally aren’t attached to the normal navigation of the site, but instead to relevant CTAs. They may also be attached to an advertising campaign through Google PPC ads or Facebook ads, among others. There is no magic number of landing pages for your inbound marketing website checklist, but whether you have one or one thousand, they should have these elements.
- Landing pages have all essential elements: downloadable content, thank you page, form, linked to customer database or CRM, CTA. All links are tested.
- Designed with advertising in mind. If the landing page is attached to a PPC ad, social ad, or something else, the content, keywords, and site design reflect it.
- Integrate and test tracking tools. To measure and maximize conversions, integrate with tracking tools to show how many visits the page receives, where visitors arrived from, how many visitors turn into leads etc.
- Form optimization. The form length allows you to score and gather suitable information on leads without driving them away. All forms and attached tracking tools adhere to CAN-SPAM and GDPR regulations.
- Optimize design. The content is brief, but informative and compelling. There are no navigation buttons or other links to distract the visitor. The form and the offer are obvious.
- For existing landing pages that are not performing, try testing pages using an A/B or split test.
Your inbound marketing website is not static; it should evolve and grow as your business and inbound marketing campaigns grow. To keep your site and campaigns current, it’s good practice to readdress the points on this inbound marketing website checklist at regular intervals.