Are you Sabotaging Your Inbound Marketing ROI?

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Are you Sabotaging Your Inbound Marketing ROI?


KunoLogoEmblemWe’ve done quite a few inbound marketing projects in the last year. It’s pretty much all we do. So we wanted to share 5 common causes that can make these projects go over budget and beyond schedule. Hopefully these tips will help you avoid the same pitfalls.

Cause 1 - Not staying focused on getting leads for the long haul

Stay focused with Inbound MarketingIt’s easy to talk about the weather or dream up new outrageous marketing campaigns for short-term results. Most of which require significant outbound advertising dollars, big risks, and sleepless nights. Why not stick with proven methods that work for capturing leads? Attract new customers by creating great content that slowly but surely builds your brand and wins new business. Keep coming up with compelling offers, calls-to-action and lead nurturing tactics. If you let distractions dominate your thought process all of the time, you’ll never get anything done and 6 months from now, you’ll be in the same place.

Cause 2 - Bad timing for Inbound Marketing review meetings

Let’s form a committee to review this first, get everyone’s input, eventually come to a consensus, and then start. Huh? Do you really think the brainpower of an internal group of people is going to tell you more than the brainpower and preferences of your actual customers? Analyzing A/B testing data for CTAs, landing pages, and lead-nurturing emails should be what you care about. Share data with the group and expand off of it.  Without it, spending a ton of time theorizing about what may or may not happen, and every possible approach is a huge waste. Think about the timing and avoid exploratory and unnecessary meetings when possible.

Cause 3 - Spending too much time on design vs content

Let’s tweak and then retweak that design, that picture isn’t right, that font could be different, etc. =  a huge waste of time. “But our branding is so important; we’ve invested so much time to get it just right.” I’m sorry, but that fact is – your customers don’t really care. Sure, you should be consistent with your image, but your audience, not you, defines your brand. It’s possible that the super-polished image you’ve painfully protected might even be a detriment. Chances are you’re fooling no one, how they feel about you is emotional and based on their engagement with your product and services. If your customer service stinks, your customers won’t care how pretty your ads or website might be.

Cause 4 - You tried to teach someone Inbound Marketing 

We just hired someone new so let’s have a meeting so we can explain the methodology, costs and ROI. That makes about as much sense as saying you’ve decided to build your own house and would like the architect, general contractor and all subs to show up at the job site to explain the whole process and convince you that you’re getting a good deal. Wouldn’t it be better if you took the time to read the blue prints, floor plans, and then study all the manufacturers’ catalogs for the available upgrades? Don’t try to teach someone Inbound Marketing. Send them links to blogs, white papers, case studies, and videos. Encourage them to subscribe and connect and follow new content and conversations for a period of time. Then have review sessions with them and collect input and answer questions.

Cause 5 - Busted trying to game the system

If you think you can go into a studio for one day and make dozens of videos that will carry you for a year - or if you think you can leverage a content farm to purchase bulk content at a discount rate, you’re missing the point. The “pay a reasonable chunk up front and then coast for the next year or more” mentality doesn’t work and you’ll look silly. It’s about forming relationships. If you go on a blind date, get married and adopt kids all in one weekend how would that turn out? There are no shortcuts if you want to do it right and get results.

Photo Credit - C.P. Storm


Great stuff, Chris! We're a relatively new VAR that is thrilled to be able to learn from your experiences, so thanks much for the insightful observations you've made along the way. Your learning is benefiting lots of appreciative inbound marketing professionals.
Posted @ Thursday, August 11, 2011 10:07 AM by Greg Linnemanstons
haha love the line "Busted trying to game the system." 
I think that that's where most people not in the know fail with all digital media efforts. They think they can go through a set routine and do the "leg work" of inbound marketing. They just don't understand the true effort it takes.  
Posted @ Thursday, August 11, 2011 10:28 AM by Matt Report
Great post! I'd like to add one more if that's ok. . . 
SEO - Many, many clients want to focus all of their energy on keywords, backlinks and on-page sculpting. In fact, I've seen it completely paralyze a project and waste a hundred hours plus. 
By executing your recommendation with tried and true techniques the SEO will come. Research and due diligence is still important, but it's only a small part of a much bigger picture. 
Posted @ Thursday, August 11, 2011 10:29 AM by Chad H. Pollitt
Chris, I especially run into point #3 -- spending too much time on design. Which is funny, because I come from an ad agency background, and have worked with great designers and expect great design. As marketers, we need to understand the role of design in our overall marketing program, while never losing the real focus of creating lots and lots of great creative.  
My advice: Understand that your personal preference for design does not trump design's strategic role. Design can be important, but great content even more so.
Posted @ Thursday, August 11, 2011 10:33 AM by Barrett Joseph Rossie
All of these used to be major issues with all my clients. After some specific sales training, I have been able to identify those who have these weaknesses and if I can not get them to move beyond these, we typically don't work together. 
That being said, these pitfalls are a natural inclination and ones that we have to always be aware of. I think that the most destructive one is design before content. It is the biggest time waster. Not to say design is not important- it very much is. There is too much emotion involved with the design to make logical decisions. We actually do design (colors, graphics, typeface) LAST. Then it acts as the icing on the content cake, making it all that much sweeter. It also takes half the time a normal design takes because we use customer persona modes to guide the design. Then it is not about what color the CEO likes, egos are taken out of the equation when you can say "What does Jane our customer like? How will she see it?" 
Great post, glad I am not the only beating this drum.
Posted @ Thursday, August 11, 2011 10:57 AM by Carole Mahoney
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