Does a lack of inbound results mean that inbound marketing doesn't work for your industry?
If you're new to inbound marketing and haven't yet seen return on investment, there's probably a few other factors at play. Like many other disciplines, inbound marketing carries its fair share of "rookie mistakes" that can severely inhibit growth. If your lead generation is mediocre, your sales aren't rising, or you're not gaining traction, it's important to perform a self-assessment before you jump to any conclusions about inbound marketing.
If your goals for the year to come include more website traffic, leads and sales, ensure your inbound marketing strategy is bulletproof. In this blog, you'll learn seven of the most common inbound mistakes that even experienced marketers make.
1. You Don't Know Your Audience
If your knowledge of your buyer personas is thin or lacking, you'll struggle to create relevant content. Irrelevant content means you're not being found on Google or social media. It means you're not converting leads or customers. If you don't know who your customers are, you can't solve their problems.
If your marketing team's knowledge of your idea customers is lacking, make customer education a priority. Even if your marketing team isn't traditionally a customer-facing business function at your company, you can improve your knowledge through:
- Social listening
- Customer interviews
- Working with sales or customer service
2. You're Not Promoting Your Content
If you're not distributing your content on the right channels, your customers may have problems finding it. In an age of information abundance, a content promotion strategy is critical to gaining notice. However, the right distribution methods for one agency may look drastically different than the right approach to promotion for a health care company.
The key is knowing where your audience looks for information. When coupled with solid SEO and social media, innovative and persistent content distribution can help you build an audience. Examples of creative content distribution can include:
- Internal and external newsletters
- Guest blogging
- Native advertising
3. Your Content is Mediocre
Perhaps you're doing almost everything right, except you're not putting quite enough effort into making your content shine. We get it. Creating high-quality, original content that engages is incredibly time-consuming. If you don't have the time, it may be wise to consider scaling back on your publishing schedule or hiring a content marketing consultant.
Jonathan Morrow of Copyblogger cautions that you may be suffering from mediocre content if:
- Your average time on site is two minutes or less
- You're spending less than an hour on most of your content
- You're more focused on SEO than your audience
4. You Don't Have the Right Talent
For many small or mid-sized organizations, assembling the right talent to begin inbound marketing can be tough. Unless you're lucky enough to score a multi-talented inbound superstar for your team, you need multiple personnel. If you've found yourself struggling to "do" inbound despite a lack of content, graphics, or SEO experience, you're far from alone.
While experts disagree whether or not there's actually a digital marketing talent gap, two things are pretty clear. First, it takes a lot of different types of talent to effectively launch an inbound campaign. Second, some of these talents are difficult or expensive to hire. If you're trying to do inbound without a copywriter or graphic designer, you may be seeing poor results. In that case, it can pay dividends to hire an agency with the right personnel on-staff.
5. You're Not Thinking Like a Marketer
Far too often, companies that are new to inbound get really excited about providing value to their audience. They pour their efforts into creating a high velocity of quality content, and forget all about their lead generation KPIs. The result of this can be a spike in website traffic, without the lead generation to match. You may be also looking at a large volume of poorly-qualified inbound leads.
Regardless, it's important to understand that you're marketing. Your job is to help your prospects through the buyer's journey, until they're ready to speak to sales. This means that it's critical to create content for all stages of the inbound marketing journey, and focus on converting the right prospects. You may be more focused on the "providing value" than "marketing" aspects if you are guilty of any of the following:
- Poor offer creation efforts
- Little attention paid to lead scoring or lead nurturing
- Insufficient or inconsistent user experience (UX) improvements
6. Your Conversion Pathways Need Work
Perhaps you've created stellar offers, but no one is converting on them. If this is the case, you could be suffering from poor conversion pathways.
Simply defined, conversion pathways are the journey a prospect takes on your website to convert into a lead. It involves calls-to-action buttons (CTAs), landing pages, forms, and thank you pages. If these pathways aren't optimized for efficiency and ease-of-use, you may be losing qualified leads.
For more information on this topic, we recommend SMM's recent blog: The Marketing Manager's Guide to Optimizing Conversion Pathways.
7. You're Not Working with Sales
At companies where sales and marketing are "highly aligned," revenue grows 32% on average annually. Truth be told, working with your sales team on a regular basis is critical to achieving inbound marketing success. Scheduling regular meetings, creating joint metrics, and investing in the right marketing and sales tools are just three ways your marketing team can improve their alignment with sales.
If you're not in constant communication with your sales team, you run the risk of losing touch with your customers. You may miss out on crucial feedback on whether your content is meeting your customer and prospects' needs. You won't understand the frequently-asked questions your sales team navigates on a daily basis. The best inbound marketers think of their sales teams as a direct line of communication with their customers.
Have you ever been guilty of any common "rookie" inbound marketing mistakes? Share what you've learned in the comments!