Inbound Marketing Myths that Could Leave You Lost
by Matthew Stoffel on 8/25/16
The inbound approach is transforming the marketing game, but there’s still a lot of skepticism out there.
Maybe you’ve heard that inbound marketing is just running a blog or that it doesn’t actually generate revenue. Maybe you believe it can work — just not for your industry.
We don’t want you to get left behind because of rumors and misconceptions. Let’s bust some common inbound marketing myths.
Top 8 Myths about Inbound Marketing
Myth #1: Traditional Marketing Is More Reliable than Inbound
Be honest with yourself: do you enjoy intrusive marketing campaigns?
A smart digital strategy means you can stop bugging people with random magazine specials and commercials featuring some man shouting out deals.
The truth? Inbound marketing gives quality information to those seeking it out.
By comparison, traditional marketing (or outbound marketing) just looks silly. And according to our friends at HubSpot, outbound marketers know it.
Think about it. Running an annoying television ad is like walking into a restaurant and shouting about a discount on the mini fridge you’re selling.
At best, somebody who needs a mini fridge happens to be sitting in that restaurant, and they happen to buy your mini fridge even though you ruined their night out.
Anything less than that, and you’ve made a fool of yourself. Trust us — your audience has either learned to tune these intrusions out, or they find them annoying.
Better yet, HubSpot also found that inbound campaigns are consistently getting higher return on investment (ROI) than outbound campaigns.
So every dollar spent on the gamble of outbound marketing is a buck that could’ve gone to attracting someone actively seeking more information about what you sell.
Myth #2: The Number of Leads We Get Is All that Matters
Either you have a crazy amount of faith in your sales staff, or you didn’t think this one through.
Maybe you have some number in your head — for every 100 leads we get, we’ll be able to get X sales. But it would be much more efficient to narrow the field to those who are most likely to buy.
The truth? Only qualified leads generate sales.
Instead of knocking on every door in a neighborhood, what if you could highlight the houses that are actually in need of the product or service your company provides?
Online, you can target very specifically. If you’re an auto dealer, you can engage people who are not just shopping for cars, but also shopping for the models you carry in the price range you list. You can see which doors are worth visiting.
Better yet? With a great inbound strategy, the leads will knock on your door.
Myth #3: We’re Doing Enough Online Already
The Internet is constantly changing, so get comfortable with staying on your toes. For example, did you know that since April of 2015, websites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices get penalized on Google?
The days when it was good enough to simply have a website with some contact information are over.
Maybe you’ve heard that you just need a bit of search engine optimization (SEO) to cover your bases. Well, that’s a myth too.
In the modern business world, SEO is just the first step. It’s the foundation that needs to be built before an effective digital marketing strategy can take place. (If you haven’t done anything with SEO yet, get going.)
The truth? Having a website means nothing if it doesn’t help you attract visitors and move them through the sales funnel.
Everybody has a website. How are you using yours? Do you know who your site visitors are and what they’re looking at?
Even if you don’t sell your product or service online, that’s where 81% of consumers are doing product research.
Leads aren’t going to wait until they stop by your store to find the information you’ve left off your website. They’re going to visit the company that does list it.
Myth #4: No One Reads Blog Posts or Long Webpages
Snap Agency and others say that the days of the 500- to 700-word blog post are far behind us. Long-form content (over 2,000 words) is getting the most shares in 2016.
Even if nobody reads your entire article, it’s important to have information on your site so that when somebody needs it, they come to you.
Have you ever seen a high school or college kid staring at their phone in a grocery store? Sure, they might be texting or catching a Pokémon.
They also might be frantically searching online for some bit of information they’re embarrassed or reluctant to ask someone about out loud. Increasingly, the web is where people are getting their information.
The truth? If you’ve got useful content, people will find it, some will read it, and Google will love it.
By stocking your website with quality content — that is, content that your leads will actually want to read — you’re setting up the start of your inbound funnel. Your blog demonstrates that you’re an expert in your industry and helps people to advance in their buyer’s journey.
Plus, search engines love long articles that share worthy information. In 2016, posts with more than 1,750 words get up to twice as much organic traffic as shorter posts. So get typing, and the bots crawling your website will reward you.
Jumping off of that . . .
Myth #5: Quantity Is More Important than Quality
Think of the last really bad website you saw. How long did you stick around? Or how quickly do you hit the “unsubscribe” button when a company pelts you with lame promotional emails?
A bunch of bad articles or emails will drive people away and undermine your company’s reputation.
The truth? Quality content is vital to a strong online presence that converts.
To be the expert and win customers over, you need to demonstrate real value. If you write a piece about how often you need to wash your car, that piece better have the answer.
If it does, the satisfied reader will remember you. They might even fill out a form or visit a product page right after reading.
If you’re going to produce content, take the time to do it right.
Myth #6: Just Creating Content Is the Same as Inbound Marketing
Look, it’s great if you’re generating quality content — it puts you a few miles ahead of the companies that are still interrupting people on TV and radio.
But convincing readers that you know your industry is just a piece of the puzzle.
The truth? Inbound marketing is a process, taking someone from stranger to customer to advocate for what you do.
You need to combine that process with several other components, like SEO and smart email marketing. If you can automate parts of the lead nurturing process, your job will be a lot easier.
We breathe inbound at 9 Clouds. Just take a look at the services we offer to see how far beyond content creation we go.
Myth #7: You Can’t Tell if Inbound Marketing Leads to Sales
This is probably the most widespread of the inbound marketing myths. In order to understand why, let’s revisit the difference between inbound and outbound marketing.
Traditional outbound approaches to marketing have been around so long that we hardly question them, and we’re naturally skeptical of the “new kid.” But remember, outbound intrudes on a somewhat random audience. Inbound provides information and demonstrates value to those who actually want it.
The truth? When you want marketing that proves its value, inbound has two major advantages: long-term influence and measurable ROI.
The blog posts, landing pages, and other content you make form a permanent spiderweb. With each piece, you can attract the right people hours, weeks, or even years after it was created. You don’t need to continue throwing money into it, and it’s complete with a clear path of CTAs to guide leads toward a purchase.
By comparison, a print, radio, or TV ad is a net cast into the opaque ocean. You might luck out and snag a few interested buyers — but along with a lot of other people who aren’t interested (and who you just wasted money to reel in). And every time you want to recast your net, you’ll have to pay again.
It will take time to set up, but the long-term approach of inbound marketing is a better, more cost-effective strategy.
Plus, tracing a lead’s journey online is easy with Google Analytics or a lead tracking software like HubSpot. Based on what visitors are doing on your website, you can brainstorm ideas and generate content. You can also measure the effect of each ad, blog post, landing page, and email.
(If you sell products or services online, you can even calculate the ROI of each digital touchpoint a contact interacted with on their path to purchase.)
Even though we’re all used to assuming that traditional marketing works, you can’t measure how many customers were won over because someone yelled at them in the middle of The Big Bang Theory.
HubSpot reported that teams who can prove ROI are twice as likely to increase their marketing budget going forward. And it’s much easier to improve your strategy if you have real data to support your decisions.
Myth #8: Inbound Marketing Takes Too Much Time
Once you get in a rhythm, this inbound marketing myth is easy to write off.
But if you are too busy, or you feel like you’re in over your head, consider hiring an inbound marketing team to lend you a hand.
The truth? Starting anywhere makes a big difference.
Plus, 9 Clouds has free resources to help you craft a well-planned inbound strategy, regardless of your business size or available time.
An agency specializing in inbound can help you sell knowledgeably and will work with you to establish performance indicators that let you know your efforts are working — keeping these pesky myths at bay.
Get some hard data on the effects of inbound marketing by checking out our case studies.
Originally published at 9clouds.com on August 25, 2016.