5 Reasons Why Your Inbound Marketing Has Been Subpar

Hate cold-calling? Who doesn’t?

That’s why more and more businesses and marketing directors have been switching over to an Inbound Marketing approach.

Lured in by fantastic tales of business transformations, happier customers, and increased bottom line, many small and medium-sized businesses have hopped on this bandwagon searching for this new promised land of marketing utopia.

So you got a blog started, read a few articles, maybe even earned yourself a certification or two, and now it’s time to reap the rewards that are yours for the taking right?

Wrong!

The truth is that even though you might have a good grasp of many of the ideas and theories in isolation, it’s integrating them together into a real-life working framework that’s the hard part.

Don’t fret, here are the top five reasons why your Inbound Marketing efforts have not been to par, and what you can do to change that.

1. You Don’t Have a Solid Content Plan

Having a general idea of what you want to post isn’t good enough anymore. In 2017, over 70% of marketers are saying that they are ramping up their content creation efforts even more! The sea of the internet is getting flooded with even more information, and not having a long term plan for your content is the first problem we should address.

The top three key factors in your plan should be;

a) Your Goal

Having an explicitly defined goal and objective is vital. Do you want more sales, brand awareness, cross-selling? Determining what specifically you are interested in will determine what strategies later on to use, as well as being easier to track whether you are getting closer to your target.

b) Knowing Your Buyers

You need to have an excellent understanding of who your perfect, ideal customer is, as well as their buying habits, personality, needs, and desires. Knowing who your buyers are means you can better specialize and market your content to their needs. Look at your past customers as well to form this ideal picture.

c) Content Distribution Methods

Blogs are the most common method of content distribution but there are others you might want to consider. Podcasts can be listened by while doing other things so they might be a better choice for busy executives (once again comes back to knowing your buyers). Experimenting with different methods can get your different results.

2. Lack of Metrics

Data is essential in telling how well any marketing campaign is progressing, and even truer for inbound campaigns, it’s what allows you to tweak and alter your content for the best results.

Key metrics to keep an eye for include

a) Website Visitors — Helps see how easily your website is being found and reflects on the effectiveness of your SEO. A good goal to set is a 10% increase in readership per month.

b) Visitor Time — Determines whether initial visitors find your content grabbing and relevant. If it’s low, tweaking your design, as well as initial copy, can help in this.

*Hint* The more time the average reader spends on your website, the higher it will rank in Google.

c) Conversion Rates — How many visitors are becoming leads; average is 1%-3%. It’s how effective all your blogs, podcasts, e-mails are at generating leads.

d) Leads — The lifeblood and the ultimate deciding factor in your marketing campaign. Now not all of these leads are ready to buy now and lead nurturing plays a significant role in this process.

e) Close Rate — How many of your leads are becoming customers, critical for obvious reasons.

f) Landing Page Conversion Rate — It’s important to see how well your landing pages are doing. Anywhere from 25% to 35% is a reasonable statistic to converting visitors to leads. If your numbers are small for this one, the copy on the page itself could be the problem.

g) Lead Nurturing Duration — How long does it take for a potential lead to turn into a customer? The average time is a good measure to keep track of to know your customers better and better design your copywriting and e-mail efforts around.

h) Email Open Rates — Make sure your emails titles and subjects are compelling and interesting.

i) Email Click Through Rates — Is the content in your e-mail good enough to get them to check out your site or landing page? This is another important link in the inbound marketing chain that you should make sure is performing adequately.

j) Blog Subscribers and Views — Make sure this number is going up every single day! Looking at the views of your blog each day and compare that to the number of subscribers is a good way to gauge your readers interest in your content.

k) Social Shares — The more liked your content is by your readers, the more likely they are to share it with others. Track shares on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and Google+.

3. Lack of Consistency

Inbound marketing is best seen as a savings account using the power of compound interest. You don’t see a return on your investment after the first year, or the second, or even the fifth. But by the time you are at your tenth or twentieth year your meager investment has multiplied itself many times over!

Think of every time you are posting a piece of content as making a deposit in your Inbound Marketing savings account. If you publish consistently twice a week over a year, the results of your efforts are going to blossom over time, but you should not expect immediate results! By having the budget and foresight to know that you will see the fruits of your labor towards the end of your planned campaign.

This again brings up the importance of why it’s essential to have an effective content plan mapped out. You want to be able to produce content over the course of a long period consistently and planning out ideas and strategies in advance is key to do this.

Don’t make this up as you go along!

4. Proper Message for the Proper Person

Now that I have talked about knowing your customers and tracking your metrics, we can move on to mention that not all customers are equal.

You don’t want to send the same message to all of your customers. Proper segmentation and personalization is key to creating great results from your inbound marketing.

Ever heard of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey? The idea is that all great stories and narratives follow as similar structure of events, it’s a structure that all great stories across history seem to follow.

In a similar way, customers have a Buyers Journey, and according to where they are in this journey determines what kind of content and message you should provide.

First, comes the Awareness stage;

Buyers are figuring out the problem or opportunity they want to learn about, whether it’s something that’s worth their time.

They have no idea about who you are and your company right now.

If you have a new reader on your blog, for example, and they are at this stage, you could write content such as;

“15 Ways to Tell if Your Company Needs a New Marketing Team”

You want content that focuses on identifying your customers need or pain point. Your product or brand is irrelevant right now.

Second comes the Consideration stage;

Buyers now know what the problem is and then find a potential solution.

They may still have no idea about who you are and your company.

Let’s say a new reader comes to your blog and is in this stage right now, a piece of content addressed to this reader could be;

“The Ultimate Guide to Outsourcing Your Marketing Team Without Hassle”

You want content that provides a solution to them that they can use, but without mentioning the specifics about who you are just yet.

Third comes the Decision stage;

Now they know their problem as well as a potential solution, they need to decide between several businesses who can do that for them.

Now is the time to mention who you are and how you are different from your competitors.

This is where inbound marketing can shine, as long-time readers of followers of your content as well as a proper lead nurturing campaign can build a level of trust that makes you the go-to provider of your reader’s problems.

And especially since we have not been focusing on who we are and our products, instead focusing on identifying their problems and solutions that they can use, we don’t give the impression of that self-oriented salesperson that nobody likes.

Content at this stage could be;

“A Comparison Between Different Outsourced-Marketing Solution Providers”

Whatever you’re content distribution platform is, blogs, emails, or anything else, you should have content at caters to each stage of the buyer’s journey.

5. Don’t Forget the Follow-up

Your work isn’t over after you have made the sale, in fact, in many ways it has just begun!

Keeping a customer happy and engaged well after the point of purchase can make the difference between a satisfied customer and an evangelist of your product or service.

Someone who loves your product and service will recommend you whenever they have the chance. The extra mile you go into your follow up can have disproportionally greater returns for you in the future!

However,

Over 60% of consumers surveyed said they would cut ties over a single poor customer service experience!

Screwing this up even once can cost you big-time!

Some methods to help you improve your follow up and delight your previous customers include;

  • Welcome Emails and pages
  • Future content and products at discounted prices, or at an earlier release date
  • Early access to content
  • Exclusive content
  • Personalized thank you messages
  • Surveys
  • Special access to exclusive portions of your site (an exclusive, members only forum for example)
  • Excellent deals and discounts that you can give for other services they might be interested in
  • News and Information they would be interested in

And most importantly, ask yourself “What are the rest of my competitors doing?” and go one step beyond that.

Imagine you have a car mechanic, and after every time you bring in your car to the shop he leaves a personal, hand-written thank you note and a box of chocolates in the glove compartment?

How would that make you feel?

I would be pretty touched. I would keep going to this mechanic forever!

A 15-minute investment in time, as well as $20 of chocolates, is all it took for him to get an impressed customer.

I want you to imagine what would be the equivalent of that for your customers in your business.

These are the five most common areas that cause Inbound Marketing campaigns to fail, and by keeping these fundamentals in mind as well as the tips that are offered here, we have no doubt that you will find the success you’ve been looking for.

Until next time,

Mark