Was an Inbound Marketing Strategy Unsuccessful for Your business?
If your company has recently implemented any inbound marketing techniques, you’re not alone. Studies show nearly 85 percent of companies use at least some aspect of inbound marketing. With such a ubiquitous system, you’d assume it must be wildly successful for anyone who attempts it. But that’s not exactly the case.
Inbound marketing isn’t easy, and it’s not a quick fix. Without the proper expectations, you can become disillusioned with the time required to successfully grow and nurture this system. Inbound marketing requires patience and forethought—not only in implementing the individual elements but then letting those elements have enough time to work.
If you’re not using the right processes, systems, and strategies or properly aligning your marketing and sales teams, it’s very easy for this powerful tool to do little (or even nothing) for your business.
If any of this sounds familiar or if you’re at all frustrated with the results of your current inbound marketing efforts, this article is for you!
What Causes Inbound Marketing Strategy to Be Unsuccessful for an Organization?
1. Unclear or Undefined Inbound Marketing Strategy
A lot of businesses that don’t have the desired success with their inbound efforts have fallen into the same trap. They heard how powerful inbound marketing can be for a business, and they jumped into implementation without the proper forethought. That’s akin to leaving for a very specific destination without a map. If that’s your approach, you shouldn’t be surprised when you can’t find that destination—or it’s much more difficult than it needs to be.
The first step any serious inbound plan requires is a clearly defined set of goals and objectives. What exactly are you looking to get out of your inbound efforts? Be specific here. Don’t think revenue. Think how much revenue in exact dollars over an exact time frame. Don’t think lead generation. Think how many leads.
Like anything, inbound marketing is a tool, and it can be used effectively or not. If you understand how and where you want to grow revenue for your organization, inbound can do much more for you than a company without those defined parameters.
Also clearly define and understand your target market and how you’re going to go about marketing to them.
This first portion of this process is particularly strategic and should have the input of all major company stakeholders—from C-level executives to salespeople to marketers. The alignment and agreement of your sales and marketing teams is particularly important, and going about this properly can have a large positive effect on the success of your marketing efforts.
2. Unclear or Undefined Buyer Personas
A buyer persona is essentially a fictional representation of your ideal customer.
- Is there just one buyer persona?
Depending on your business, you could have many personas that you’re marketing to. Certainly start with one, and remember that one well-researched, accurate persona will do more for you than many thrown-together, vague personas.
- Why are buyer personas important?
Clearly defining your personas is a process that allows you to think through the type of people who are looking to purchase your product or service. By identifying those groups, you know much more clearly and effectively what kind of content to create and how to go about promoting that content in a way that will attract people who are likely to become your customers.
Without putting in this detailed work to determine likely demographics of your customers, you won’t be able to identify their concerns, needs, and problems. That, in turn, means you can’t create the targeted and valuable content that addresses and answers those concerns, needs, and problems.
Ignoring buyer personas means you could be spending a lot of time, effort, and money on creating content that doesn’t speak to anybody who’s interested in your business.
3. Lack of Sales and Marketing Alignment
Alignment between sales and marketing is vital to the success of your inbound efforts, but like anything, it has to be strategic and specific.
To aid with that specificity, create a service-level agreement between marketing and sales. This will spell out roles and clearly define goals. A document such as this ensures everyone moves forward on the same page.
4. Ineffective (or Nonexistent) Content Strategy
Content creation should always be about working smarter—not necessarily harder. If your content isn’t producing the results you want, it’s probably not because of a lack of effort, expertise, or quality. Many companies put a lot of effort into making great content, but if it’s not geared toward people who are likely to buy your product, it could end up meaning a lot of wasted time and resources.
You must create content based on those well-defined buyer personas. Use your content to:
- Answer questions those personas would likely have.
- Create interest in products or services those personas are likely to purchase.
- Grow revenue in targeted areas of your business.
It’s also vital to understand that a persona’s needs and interests shift as that person goes through the buyer’s journey. You should, therefore, create content not only for each persona, but each persona at each stage of the purchasing process (top, middle, and bottom of the sales funnel). This ensures your content stays relevant and highly targeted to each persona over time.
Without this strategy, you’re just blindly creating content and hoping it appeals to enough people to hit your goals and financial benchmarks.
5. Dependence on Marketing Automation Tools
Many companies get very excited by marketing automation software and its capabilities when they start this inbound process. And understandably so. It’s a powerful tool.
But just like inbound is a tool, it is only as effective as the people using it.
If you expect automation tools to do the heavy lifting for your company, you are setting yourself up to be very disappointed in your inbound efforts.
Software is never a replacement for sound strategy and detailed methodologies. Perhaps the best way to ensure you don’t fall into this particular trap is by always starting with your strategy. Once the plan is in place, you can add the automation tools as a way to implement and enhance that plan.
For example, create your personas and the collection of persona-specific content first. Then you can use your software to automate when that content should be delivered, based on the potential customer’s behavior and progression through the buyer’s journey.
6. Poorly Integrated Marketing Automation Tools and CRM Systems
If the point of inbound marketing is to create compelling, educational content that follows potential customers through the buyer’s journey in order to convert them into paying customers, your automation tools and your CRM system must talk to each other effectively.
If the CRM system doesn’t alert salespeople to the valuable data that signifies where a person is within the sales cycle, it becomes unclear which of that targeted content is most appropriate at that moment. This breakdown in software communication leads to overall weakening of the inbound marketing system.
While inbound marketing was relatively unknown even five years ago, it has become extremely mainstream among businesses and corporations (of all sizes) today. If you’re not very strategic about implementing such a plan, though, you run the serious risk of seeing greatly reduced rewards from your inbound efforts—or even none at all.