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Disappointed By Your Inbound Marketing Results?

By John McTigueMar 22, 2010

We humans aren't known for our patience, but even so, what's a reasonable expectation for inbound marketing? When should we expect to be #1 on Google and start generating positive ROI? Why does it seem like we're spinning our wheels? Well, let's start with the expectations part first, then look for some fixes.

are you diappointed by your inbound marketing strategy?What are your expectations for inbound marketing? Are they realistic? Let's try working backwards from the business goal. For example, I am a widget manufacturer, and I sell 1000 widgets per month at $100 per widget.  I would like to improve sales by 25% this year, so that's an additional 250 widgets per month or $25,000 a month in added revenue. Let's assume my production costs and overhead are $15,000 per month, so we're looking at $10,000 net revenue prior to marketing. In other words, if I spend $10,000 per month in marketing, I'm at break even. My goal now is finding the right mix of marketing that brings in 250 widgets per month while preserving a reasonable profit. Let's say I'm looking for a 10% profit. That means I can spend up to $7,500 per month in marketing, as long as the 250 new widget sales come in each month.

Our next step should be defining a marketing strategy that has the highest probability of success. That means understanding our customers - who they are, what they are looking for and how to reach them. We could easily spend our $7,500 on TV/radio ads, billboards and e-mail blasts, but will they work? Do people respond to those media in our area and industry? You probably already know the answer from previous marketing campaigns. Let's jump ahead a bit and assume that you're already working harder on your Internet marketing strategy - new web site, blog, social media accounts etc. Why is it so hard to make an immediate splash - lots of new sales in a short period of time. You hear lots of stories about viral marketing and companies taking it to the next level in inbound marketing. Why not yours? Here are some things to consider:

  1. You should not expect instant success. It takes time and effort to reach lots of people and convert them into customers. You will find that there's a direct correlation between time/effort and success.
  2. You must build relationships, not numbers. The more time you spend creating interesting content and communicating directly with people, the better your chances of bringing in high quality leads. Concentrate on reaching people with good offers and great service. The numbers will take care of themselves in the long run.
  3. You must be a chameleon. Be flexible and creative. Don't tweak your strategy every day, but keep an eye on your metrics, and be prepared to change your content, your offers and your strategy periodically to improve results. You will know when something is working.
  4. Be patient. You marketing dollars will appear to be wasted at first, because it takes time to build a loyal following. If you keep up a consistent high-quality effort, learn from your mistakes and adapt to changing conditions, your time will come. Give your program at least a year before you pull the plug. Rome wasn't built in a day.

But how long is long enough? If you're committed to your inbound marketing strategy, you should see a steady gain in following, leads and sales over time. You can provide a surge of energy periodically by doing a social media campaign or a special event. Mixing in traditional marketing campaigns can also be very effective when blended with social media. These things cost more money than blogging and other routine online tactics, but they may provide a significant boost in brand awareness and sales. Focus on the growth in leads and sales from period to period and don't worry so much about your Google search results or web traffic. Adapt and adjust your marketing campaign as you go. Remember what the goal is - improving sales over time until positive ROI is achieved. Convert every lead and win every sale - that's your formula for new media marketing.

Still disappointed? There are lots of qualified marketing folks out there who can help. Let's talk... 

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The Author

John McTigue

With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.
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