Throughout 2016, I had the chance, along with my team, to work with a dozen clients developing and implementing their inbound marketing and sales enablement strategies. It was a crazy year for us here at IDS - we started the year with 3 clients, and we ended the year with 12.
I have learned a lot from this experience, and I would like to share what I have learned with the world.
Inbound Marketing, when implemented correctly, can be beneficial with demand generation and growing and scaling your businesses. However, If you don't have a good strategy or poorly implement a good strategy, chances are your investment will be in vain, and your Inbound efforts will fail.
Here are my top 9 reasons how Inbound can fail
Having a vague business goal like “ I want to sell more” or “I want to grow my business” is not Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, or Timely .. you need to focus on goals that impact your bottom line.
For example, Francis is the CEO of a SaaS company. His software is sold as an annual subscription for $1000. Francis currently has 1000 active subscribers. His smart goal for 2017 will look like this: I want to increase my active subscribers by 20 - 30% after 12 months of doing Inbound. That means 200 - 300 additional subscriptions, bringing in an additional $200,000 to $300,000 of increased revenue by the end of 2017.
Specific goals have a higher chance of getting reached. This goal can be meaningful to every stakeholder in your business; sales, marketing, customer excellence, product development, and your CEO or board.
If your buyer personas are too generic or just segments focused on demographics, you're missing out on knowing who your customers are. Instead, it would be best if you dug deeper into the behaviors and characteristics of your buyer personas, their goals, values, attitudes, the process they follow to get information, and most importantly, to understand the reason behind every behavior, characteristic, and the mental process they follow to look for information or make a purchase (always ask why?).
Would you please not make the mistake of blogging when you feel like it? Instead, make it part of your weekly routine, encourage all your team to blog, adopt everyone's writes culture at work, encourage your customers to blog or participate in content creation like case studies and eBooks, implement a guest blogging program, and incentives. According to eMarketer, 60% of marketers create at least one piece of content each day. Also, websites with over 310 pieces of indexed pieces of content in Google enjoy 236% more traffic than those with smaller sites.
It would be best to have a solid content strategy that regularly produces fresh content; otherwise, your competition will take up this space.
Producing content for the sake of content will not work. Your content must be in context to your buyer persona and the stage they are in their buyer journey. Your content needs to be of high quality and educational, so it resonates with your buyer personas.
Producing promotional content that talks about your brand are not of interest to your buyer personas - buyer personas want to know the stories behind the brand.
We all like to consume different types of content, and your buyer personas are no different. Sticking to one type of content will not cut it. It would be best to experiment with different types of content such as blogs, webinars, infographics, videos, podcasts, etc. You can easily repurpose a single piece of content into 2 - 3 different types.
The number of pages that Google has indexed grew from 30 trillion back in 2013 to over 130 trillion today. This means that producing content and waiting for your buyer personas to discover it is not an option. It would be best if yInstead, you had a new and well thought content promotion strategy. You need to understand which social media networks your buyer personas use and promote your content there in a non-invasive manner. Also, you need to promote your content over dark social media by engaging with your buyer personas online on sites like Quora and Reddit.
You need to publish and engage with other users on LinkedIn Pulse and Medium. But, here is the most important part - you need to experiment with every new trend and social media network out there, like Snapchat and Facebook Live.
Identify your best-performing content and promote it with social media advertising and AdWords.
Inbound Marketing is no different from many things in life. But, to win, you need two things; an amazing team and a coach with a vision.
Your Inbound team needs a multiple skill set such as; SEO, Inbound strategy, content strategy, digital content production, copywriting, social media, analytics, UX design, and project management. This means that the idea of a "dedicated someone” in your team will not work because no single person can have all these skills sets combined. Also, Inbound Marketing is a time-consuming process, so a single person will not effectively execute all these tasks.
The second thing you need is the coach… this is someone who can create the internal buy-in inside the company pushing for real engagement across the different levels of the organization. The internal buy-in is to neutralize the gatekeepers. For example, when Sales don’t want to share their customer databases, or HR is not adopting employee social media policy, or IT is pushing back on providing the necessary initiatives for integrating marketing automation platforms with their infrastructure .. ownership of leads, etc... This is so common! I am sure you know what I mean.
The reason behind a business investing in Inbound Marketing is to be able to sell more, and this is where sales and marketing alignment comes in handy. The role of marketing is to generate leads, and the role of sales is to turn those leads into customers, therefore maximizing ROI, both in sales and marketing.
Marketing and sales need to work towards achieving the same SMART goal. They need to agree on the characteristics and behaviors of a marketing qualified lead and a sales qualified lead.
It would help if you transformed your traditional sales team into an Inbound Sales team, ensuring that they have the tools to provide them with leads insight, business intelligence, and resources to develop effective conversations.
93% of CMOs say that they are under more pressure to deliver measurable ROI.
Just 21% of B2B companies are successful at tracking the ROI of their content marketing. And 15 percent say they do not track ROI on content marketing at all.
If you are not measuring the right KPIs’, therefore, you can’t really measure the ROI of your marketing. For your Inbound Marketing strategy to succeed, you need to be able to track what is working and what is not working, identify growth opportunities, be able to know at any point of time the cost per lead and cost per customer (CAC), and the lifetime value of your customers (LTV) of your customers.
Not measuring the right metrics is like driving with your eyes closed - it is a stressful and dangerous experience, and without it, you will not be able to present how well you did your job to the stakeholders.
Your website is the touchpoint with your prospects and customers. This is where you need to shift your priorities from a pretty website design with all the colors you like to a website focused on delivering an outstanding user experience - and again, I don’t mean pretty designs. Lots of questions to ask there! I am talking about speed, responsiveness, how easy and trivial it is for your website visitors to find the information they are after, how easy it is for them to complete the tasks they want to do, how well the information is presented, did they leave your website with a pleasant experience, will they ever come back, and will they recommend it or share it with a friend or a college?
To do this, your website must be designed for your buyer persona and not your CMO, CEO, or stakeholders.
Tools like AB testing, heat maps, session recordings, and user testing can help you understand the perspective of your buyer persona and how they behave on your website.
Your website is a living entity that is constantly evolving. However, it is not static, so you should always improve your website experience to improve your buyer personas.
There are my thoughts on what I have learned this past year. To wrap it up, the Inbound methodology is not a failure. It is the new way to market and sell your products or services, and when implemented correctly, it can have a positive impact on your bottom line, but you have to consider the 9 points above to avoid the pitfalls.
I would be happy to learn more about your Inbound experience. Feel free to comment or connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
My name is Izzy and I am a co-founder of CRM Toolbox, an award-winning HubSpot Solutions Partner. I lead our team of consultants who provide professional guidance to help businesses implement the HubSpot CRM platform migrate, integrate their tech stack to HubSpot to create a seamless environment for sales reps to use. There is nothing I love more than solving the challenges that come up when someone wants to migrate an old system or integrate their tech stack with HubSpot - it's like a puzzle!
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