Inbound marketing is an effective strategy designed to draw your ideal client to you when they are already actively looking for a solution. If you are implementing inbound marketing and are curious as to why you are not seeing the results you expect, you may be guilty of making some (or all) of the following inbound marketing mistakes.
Not developing an inbound marketing plan
Many folks want to go straight to the fun stuff like websites and content creation without first having a solid plan. Without a simple inbound marketing plan, you are more likely to wander aimlessly instead of being focused on what will attract and convert your ideal client. Remember that inbound marketing is about knowing your audience and providing them with the right content at the right time. Make sure you can answer at least the following questions before you begin executing tactics:
- Have you clearly defined your ideal target audience?
- Do you know how to reach them and where?
- Do you understand their challenges so your content will get their attention?
Don’t skip the plan and head straight to tactics. It will waste time and money.
Not setting realistic goals and measuring results
A very common inbound marketing mistake is not setting specific goals you wish to achieve. Without setting goals, it is difficult to examine the effectiveness of each campaign. Reviewing results against your goals helps you to determine whether you continue on with that activity, modify it for better results or ditch it entirely.
For each inbound marketing campaign, make sure you have some way to track the results. Most online channels have some type of analytics capability that gives you the opportunity to understand what is going on and make adjustments.
By tracking and then reviewing your results, you will be able to see what marketing efforts are more effective than others or if something isn’t working at all. Don’t get caught up in the idea that ‘things will get better’. If you keep doing the same things, you can expect the same results and waste a lot of time and money.
Not creating an editorial calendar
One of the most common inbound marketing mistakes small businesses make is creating content haphazardly without an editorial calendar. This practice will most likely result in content that doesn’t have a purpose. Using an editorial calendar enables you to map your content to the needs of the customer, answering questions your ideal clients have so they can make an informed purchase decision.
Included in a useful editorial calendar are the content topics, draft titles, keywords, publish dates, media type (video, audio, text or some combination) plus your channels of distribution and call to action.
Thinking your outdated, non-responsive website is good enough
Whether you are doing inbound marketing or traditional offline marketing, everything you do should drive people to your website. No matter what type of business you are in, people will go to your website to check you out. It must project your best brand image on all devices to make your business look current and professional.
Your website is also the only property you “own” on the Internet. Posting original, useful content for every stage in the buyer’s journey should be on your website first so that you retain control of the content and where and how it gets distributed. Plus blogging helps increase your digital footprint, giving search engines additional pages to index in the search results pages.
But finally, your website must be optimized for mobile viewing so that when your awesome content is found, the visitor doesn’t hit the back button because it is impossible to read on their mobile device.
Hiring an SEO agency that uses cringe worthy tactics
Optimizing your website content is an art and a science. If you see:
- Blog posts ending in with town names and that town scattered throughout the post
- Titles of pages with keyword phrases like an about page that says “Local SEO Company” rather than “About Company Name”
- Links with town names at the bottom of the page linking to duplicate content that only changes its title
- Publishing blog posts that are less than 200 words and don’t say anything
You should quickly take your business and marketing dollars elsewhere.
Content needs to be written for the human and optimized naturally. Low quality, useless content and unnatural search engine optimization techniques are unprofessional and may hurt your visibility in the search engines. You are not fooling anyone as to why the content is written as it is.
Copying your competitor’s tactics
Just because it worked for them, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Review what your competitors are doing so you can learn from them. Find a better way to market your business based on your strengths and resources. Don’t assume what they are doing is working or is the right way to do marketing.
If you choose to work with a marketing agency to outsource your inbound marketing activities, be sure that they develop a marketing action plan that is specific for your business. Too many agencies use a cookie cutter approach to marketing, using the exact same set of tactics for every client they take on. Every business deserves its own strategy based on their vision and goals and what fits into their budget.
Not having the patience to let marketing work
Marketing is not a magic bullet where results happen overnight. Set realistic expectations and understand that results may take 6 months or more to really kick in. People looking for a solution need the time to research and analyze their options before reaching out. If you quit before they have narrowed down their purchase decision between you and your competitor, guess who wins? Inbound marketing is a marathon, not a sprint so plan accordingly. It takes consistent effort and time to see results.
These are common inbound marketing mistakes and can be costly to your business. A solid marketing effort takes a combination of planning, creativity, execution and patience. Develop a creative inbound marketing plan that works your business, execute and measure the right strategies and have patience to let your marketing efforts deliver results.
What inbound marketing mistakes have you seen that small businesses should avoid?