We all make mistakes. Hopefully, the mistakes we make are nowhere near as dangerous to our way of life as these epic failures are to inbound marketing. Luckily, we can all learn from these mistakes that others have made. Maybe then, we won’t have to learn them all the hard way. Check out this epic fails before you dive into your own inbound marketing strategies.

Timothy’s Coffee

Who wouldn’t want a free sample of coffee just for following the company’s Facebook page? Apparently no one. You would think that having a successful campaign like this would be good for the company. But, it can quickly head south if you actually run out of your free samples, like Timothy’s did.

The concept was actually so popular that they ran out of their samples in three days and were forced to revise their offer. Naturally, this isn’t something that went over very well with their fans. In the end, the entire debacle wound up costing them a lot. They issued an official apology as well as an offer to send out free coupons. But, there were still major hurdles to jump over even after all of this.

Whenever you are designing an inbound marketing tactic, make sure you think it through. You should make sure you are able to offer everything to your fans, even if you suddenly develop a few extra on the list. This is something that Timothy’s Coffee is continuing to learn about the hard way to this day.


QR codes are quickly becoming more and more popular. They are a fantastic way for advertisements to draw you online and to their inbound marketing strategies. But, when Buick decided to launch their own campaign based on this concept, they left out one small portion; a call to action page.

Basically, when their users loaded up the QR code, they were left confused and unfulfilled. Why? Because they didn’t know what to do with the information that the QR code was trying to give them. Buick made a huge mistake when it came to their QR codes; they forgot that they actually mean something.

What were their readers to do without any instructions? They simply moved on to something more interesting. We can actually learn a lot from Buick’s snafu. For starters, we must make sure that we always complete all steps in the inbound marketing process. Leaving things undone will only cause issues for you at the end of the day.

Kenneth Cole

Let’s start with the fashion world. In 2011, Twitter was the exciting new kid in town. Facebook had been around for a while, but Twitter had completely taken over in 2011. In fact, as popular as Facebook was, Twitter was more popular.

Kenneth Cole learned the hard way that you have to be careful what you Tweet. While trying to promote their new spring collection, they single-handedly showed they were completely out of touch with the rest of the world. You see, when they made their tweet, they did so forgetting that there was turmoil going on over in Egypt. So, saying that Cairo was in an uproar because of the new Kenneth Cole collection wasn’t well taken.

What does this mean for the rest of us? And, more importantly, how do we stay out of this type of trouble? We pay attention to what’s going on. You can’t live in a silo when it comes to inbound marketing. You have to be in tune with current events and what’s going on with your target market. If you make this mistake, you will be showing that you are completely out of touch with reality.

New York Times

2011 was also a bad year for The New York Times in the way of mistake making. Their big blunder came in the way of an email. For most businesses, email marketing is the most cost-effective form of inbound marketing. It takes very little effort, is very cheap and helps you quickly reach a group of people.

With this in mind, the Times decided to try a tactic to get back some of the customers that had just cancelled their subscription. Being a subscription based item, their subscribers are pretty important to the company and they wanted to keep as many as they could.

Unfortunately, someone chose the wrong list of customers to send the email, which offered a discount if they came back, and wound up sending it to all of their customers. Not really the best way to launch an email marketing tactic, especially when it makes your 8 million subscribers that kept their subscription mad at you. When starting your own email marketing campaign, make sure you double and triple check the list of people you are sending your emails out to.

So, how do you go about avoiding making these mistakes for yourself? The best thing you can do is to develop a plan, know your target market and pay attention to what’s happening around the world. Communication with members of your team is also crucial. Having more than one perception on a given tactic could help you to save some time and money and keep you from being embarrassed.