Everyone makes mistakes. But when it comes to starting and growing a business, these errors can easily mean wasted time, effort, and resources.
While it’s impossible to ever come up with an inbound marketing strategy without even the slightest hiccup, learning the what are the most detrimental inbound marketing mistakes is the first step to learning how to avoid them from happening to in your business.
Inbound marketing mistake #1: Not having a clear inbound marketing plan
Benjamin Franklin said it best: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
Just like traditional outbound marketing strategies, you need first to have a clear inbound marketing strategy for it to work. Yet, only 32% of B2B marketers have a well-documented content marketing plan while 49% of businesses are doing some form of digital marketing without a concrete strategy.
One reason why this is the case is that, sadly, many businesses don’t fully understand what inbound marketing is and what it entails. In fact, many companies that failed in their inbound marketing campaigns believe that inbound marketing is just a matter of publishing a few blog posts, distributing them in different social media channels, and then only sitting back and waiting for the leads to start coming their way.
Another reason is that they have absolutely no clue on where to begin. Inbound marketing is a comprehensive strategy that combines content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing. Each of these can help build brand awareness, generate leads, and convert leads into customers. On top of this, there are many different inbound marketers out there, each advocating one particular inbound marketing facet as the best and fastest way to get results, leaving many business owners scratching their heads in sheer confusion.
Finally, many businesses don’t have a clear and well-documented inbound marketing plan is because they have no clue what they want to accomplish. They view inbound marketing more like another popular tactic that they’d like to try for a while and see how it goes.
How to fix this:
As you may have probably guessed, the best way to solve this is by creating an inbound marketing plan for your business, starting by setting clear, measurable goals.
Saying that you need to build a strong brand online or that you need to boost sales is a good start, but it should not end there. You need to make sure that your goals are SMART goals, meaning that your goals must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. I talk about this in more detail in my blog post on lead generation strategies. If you need help to create your SMART goals, be sure to check that out.
Next, you’ll need to determine who your business’ buyer persona is. Simply put, a buyer persona is a semi-fictional person that represents your ideal customer’s demographics, values, behaviors, challenges, and goals. Since all of your inbound marketing activities should be aligned to attract your buyer persona, it's essential to make sure that you be as detailed about creating your buyer persona as possible.
Once you’ve got your buyer persona, you can now start planning your inbound marketing strategy. You can download my inbound marketing checklist to get some ideas on how to write up your own inbound marketing plan.
Inbound marketing mistake #2: Always going for the shortcuts
Business owners love to get quick results when it comes to promoting their products or services. That’s why it can be very tempting to use a couple of “inbound marketing shortcuts” like buying reviews, social media followers and likes, and email lists, especially if you’re just starting your business. After all, boosting these numbers would make your business more appealing and will attract more leads, right? Wrong!
Although you may be able to initially fool your target customers with your artificially inflated social media followers and engagement, it's only a matter of time when they will discover the truth. When that happens, it can actually deter your potential customers and even some of your existing customers. Worse, this deception can damage your brand's reputation, which can be extremely difficult to repair.
The same thing is true when it comes to buying email lists. Many email service providers like Gmail and Yahoo are exceedingly vigilant in protecting their account holders from companies that are using purchased email lists in promoting their products and services. Most—if not, all—of the emails that are sent to those that are included in these lists are immediately sent into the Spam or Junk folder, and your email’s domain will be flagged by these email providers. That means that all the time and effort you gave to create your email’s content just went to waste.
How to fix this:
Since you’re willing to spend a bit of money, why not invest this instead to outbound marketing strategies alongside your inbound marketing campaign?
It’s true that inbound is more efficient than outbound marketing, that doesn't mean that you need to disregard outbound marketing completely. On the contrary, supplementing your inbound marketing plan with some outbound marketing strategies like sponsored ads, PPC advertising, and display advertising can give you the "quick wins" you need as you grow your business because these will help make your website more visible and easily found by your target market. Once they get to your site, you can then start nurturing them through inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing mistake #3: Your website doesn’t have a blog
Surprisingly, there are many business owners that either blog using another platform like Medium or just don’t blog altogether.
While it’s true that your site’s blog is just one of the many marketing channels to use in your inbound marketing campaign, not setting up a blog on your own website can limit your inbound marketing success.
For starters, blogging on a site like Medium or on social media sites like LinkedIn means that your content is subject to their terms and conditions. Yes, blogging in these platforms can help drive traffic to your website. But if the owners of these platforms decide to take down any one of your posts or close down your account entirely for whatever reason, you lose not just your content, but your ability to drive traffic to your website to generate leads that you can convert into customers.
More important, your blogging efforts are benefitting these third-party sites more than your business’ website. That’s because each time you create a blog post here, you’re providing these sites with a brand new page that Google and other search engines can index and rank while your business’ website starts to become dormant as far as search engines are concerned.
How to fix this:
Transfer all of your blogging activity to your own website. Not only will you have more control over your content, but you're now giving search engines more pages in your website to index and rank. These will, in turn, help make your site easier to find.
You can, of course, continue publishing content to these third-party platforms. However, I would recommend that you use these as a place to post your repurposed content to help your website rank higher in search engines.
Inbound marketing mistake #4: Choosing quantity over quality
Publishing content frequently and consistently is crucial to the success of any inbound marketing campaign. In a study conducted by Hubspot, they found that companies that publish four blog posts per week get 3.5 times more traffic than those that post up to four blog posts per month.
However, it’s important to point out that for you to get these results, the blog posts that you publish must contain quality content. What happens with a lot of businesses is that they tend to focus on being able to release as much material as they can without really taking the time to check the quality of the content they are publishing.
In an article published in QuickSprout, Neil Patel lists down 15 different types of content that will drive more traffic to your website. These kinds of material fall into any one of three major categories: entertainment, education, and problem-solving. These are the kinds of content that people search for when they go online. If the content that you publish doesn't fall into any of these three categories, you'll actually start losing readers, leads, and customers despite increasing the number of blog posts you publish.
How to fix this:
Quality trumps quantity when it comes to inbound marketing. The same thing is true when it comes to consistency. If writing four blog posts a week is hugely tedious for you to do, then reduce this down to three or even two blog posts a week. What's important is that each content that you publish contains quality content that your reader will find entertaining, interesting and, above all, helpful, and that these are posted consistently. You can quickly achieve this by using an editorial calendar.
Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi points out that an editorial calendar is more than just merely a spreadsheet or Google doc that tells you what to publish and when to post on your website's blog. Instead, he describes it as a document that maps out your different types of content based on your buyer persona, where the buyer persona is in the buyer's journey, and what channels of distribution will be used in addition to your blog.
Using an editorial calendar template will also help you brainstorm the different topics to make sure that you’re able to slowly guide your readers down through your marketing funnel so that they will eventually start converting into leads and then into customers.
Inbound marketing mistake #5: Not optimizing campaigns for mobile
We are now living in what some refer to as the Mobile era. In fact, 62% of people living in the US use their smartphones for web browsing. And with the number of mobile users projected to reach 9.038 billion by the year 2020, you can clearly see why not including mobile in your inbound marketing strategy will be an extremely costly mistake for your business.
How to fix this:
One of the easiest ways to remedy this inbound marketing mistake is to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Google has a free mobile-friendly test tool that tests your site whether or not your site easy to use on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
At the same time, it will also tell you if there are any issues on your website when it's viewed using a mobile device and what are these problems. That way, you can immediately resolve this, and make sure that your target audience won't encounter any issues when they check your site on their phones or tablets.
If you’re just planning to start a business and in the process of setting up your website, make sure that you invest in a responsive theme. This kind of theme automatically adjusts itself depending on the sort of device used to view your site to make sure that your visitors won't find it difficult to read your content, navigate through your website, and opt-in to your offers.
Google has devoted an entire resource page with tips on how to make your website mobile-friendly. Be sure to check that out as well.
Inbound marketing mistake #6: Not regularly monitoring your metrics
Often, this is where many businesses that started strong in their inbound marketing plan miss the mark. Even though data on how their inbound marketing campaign is progressing is fed on a daily basis, some marketers don’t review these until the campaign is over. In most cases, they find not only that they fell short with the goal that they set out to achieve, but also that they could have actually reached their set goal if certain adjustments while the inbound marketing campaign was in progress.
How to fix this:
First off, you’ll need to determine what metrics will you be monitoring based on your inbound marketing plan. That way, you know exactly which ones to review to determine how well is your inbound marketing campaign going, and make the necessary adjustments if necessary.
For instance, if you created an inbound marketing campaign to generate leads coming from the US, then you need to keep a close eye on the blog post views, clickthrough rates, the number of leads generated, the traffic sources, and the demographics of your website's traffic. Even if you have a high clickthrough rate and some leads generated, if the majority of those leads are from the UK, you'll need to make some adjustments so that your leads come from the right country.
Inbound marketing mistake #7: Having too much on your plate
Next, to not having an inbound marketing plan, this is the most common inbound marketing mistake business owners make, especially those that are just starting a business and have read about the success many startup companies experienced by using inbound marketing.
It's not uncommon for a startup business owners to get all fired up after reading several success stories. However, this excitement can be both a blessing and a curse regarding their inbound marketing strategy. On the one hand, they want to start laying out their inbound marketing strategy to get things moving.
The downside of this is that in their excitement, they'd want to do everything at once: blog posts, email marketing, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest…the whole nine yards!
As a result, they end up spreading themselves too thin that monitoring and evaluating the results can be tedious and overwhelming. Many end up with a case of what I like to call "inbound marketing burn-out" where they just become so overwhelmed that they decide to scrap the entire inbound marketing plan altogether.
How to fix this:
If you’re just starting a business, start your inbound marketing plan by focusing on two or three different channels. Again, this is where having a well-defined buyer persona becomes extremely helpful. When you have a clear understanding who your buyer persona is, you’ll be able to pinpoint which types of content will be most appealing. More important, your buyer persona will also point you which inbound marketing channel you should prioritize and focus on.
Also, don't forget to keep a close eye on your data. That way, you can see which inbound marketing channels have the best performance and which ones are not producing that much results so you can make the adjustments accordingly.
Getting to the heart of the problem
Even though I may have given you some actionable tips on how to deal with seven mistakes that can derail your inbound marketing campaigns, this is just half of the equation.
In my experience working with different clients who have committed one, two, or all of these inbound marketing mistakes, they share a common denominator: they’re a huge disconnect between their sales and marketing teams.
Although these two teams are related and interlinked to each other, the animosity between the two is common. In fact, studies show that 87% of the terms these two teams use to describe each other are negative. Sadly, it’s this animosity between the two teams why many businesses commit these inbound marketing mistakes.
That said, you’ll need to make sure that your sales and marketing teams set aside their differences and work together for the benefit of the entire company. Getting both teams to sit together in a meeting without killing each other is the first step. From there, use data from the previous inbound marketing campaigns to diagnose and discuss issues. Doing this will help remove any personal claims and prevent either camp from becoming emotional.
Lastly, allow either team to try to contribute to the other by giving them the opportunity to reverse roles. For example, enable members from your marketing team to handle mock sales calls complete with objections while letting your sales team come up with some blog posts that are optimized for search engines based on the current content marketing calendar. Doing this will, hopefully, make them understand what the other team needs to accomplish to get the job done.
Clear channels of communication are the best way to avoid any kind of inbound marketing mistake. When everyone in your team is on the same page, it will be far easier for you to achieve your set goals and objectives.