Inbound Marketing, the concept of gearing your marketing strategy toward guiding potential customers to your website and generating leads, continues to grow in popularity. According to a 2013 report by HubSpot, 58% of all companies embraced inbound marketing, a number that rose to 90% in a recent Ascend2 survey.
The numbers support common sense: directing potential customers to your website means guiding them to a place where you can control the message and educate them about your product’s benefits. But, as is the case in any marketing concept, inbound marketing brings with it significant obstacles. Chief among them, according to the same Ascend2 survey, are the absence of a coherent strategy (reported by 46% to be the chief obstacle) and the lack of quality content (41%). Let’s examine these two obstacles and their potential solutions in more detail.
Absence of a Coherent Strategy
It’s a mistake that many businesses are prone to make. Inbound marketing has been a buzz word for the past couple of years, so marketers in many companies were quick to jump on and implement the concept without the necessary planning.
The result is ineffective marketing, in which resources are spent without getting results. The solution here is quite easy, if somewhat time consuming: begin with your strategy from the ground up. Examine what digital marketing efforts you are currently undertaking (social media, blogging, email, SEO, marketing automation). If you are committed to inbound marketing, they should all help drive people to your website.
Next, set overarching goals for your inbound marketing, such as web visits and lead generation per month. Then, set specific goals for each of your inbound marketing channels. After setting the goals, brainstorm specific tactics to achieve these goals. Maybe you want to increase web visits by ranking higher on a specific keyword. Or you want to increase leads by blogging about a specific offer. A targeted social media campaign may work towards more people reading your blogs. These are just a few possible goals you may set yourself.
Finally, keep referring to your strategy to stay on track to reaching your goals. If you don’t succeed, analyze what may have went wrong, and where you could do better. If you do, don’t be afraid to aim higher.
Setting goals, creating and executing tactics and analyzing results are the three most integral parts to your creative plan. Doing so should ensure that you don’t face the number one obstacle of inbound marketing.
Lack of Quality Content
The solution to this problem is more difficult than the first. Setting goals and creating tactics can be done comparatively easily, but without quality content, you won’t succeed. Research agrees: the Ascend2 survey cited 54% of marketers considering content creation to be the most difficult aspect of inbound marketing. How can you make sure that your content helps you reach your goals?
- Assign roles. Creating content for email, social media, SEO and blogging can be a daunting task. Putting everything on one employee’s shoulders can be overwhelming, and leads to a decrease in the quality of content. Rather, create a small inbound marketing team, which each member handling one or two aspects of the process. Frequent meetings ensure that the message stays consistent.
- Develop a schedule. Rather than beginning every day trying to think of what you should work on now, create an inbound marketing schedule that pre-assigns publication dates for emails, blogs and social media, along with deadline dates for SEO projects. Doing so ensures that you spend less time thinking of what content to create, and more time actually creating that content. It also helps in ensuring your potential customers don’t get message overload for a week before not hearing from you for a month.
- Integrate your message. Social media messages should not be one-to-one copies of emails or web content. Ensure that each time your audience is reached through a different channel, they get a different bit of information about your company and product. At the same time, be sure that the message across the channels stays consistent and never contradicts itself. Frequent meetings (see above) can help with that.
- Outsource. If the budget is available, don’t be afraid to outsource your work. The growing popularity of inbound marketing means many agencies can help you in content creation. When you do so, be specific about your goals and the message you want to permeate.