A few weeks ago my colleague Chad published "7 Reasons Why Your Inbound Marketing is Failing". He focused on the mechanical reasons, not creating enough relevant content being the prime suspect. I'm going to focus on some more strategic issues that are often overlooked in understanding why inbound marketing can fail to produce results.
First, let's define "results". How do you define inbound marketing success? Most people think that increasing web traffic and leads constitutes success. Really? How many sales did you generate as a function of inbound marketing? If you aren't generating legitimate sales leads, this is not "mission accomplished". If you aren't producing a positive return on your marketing investment, you aren't there yet.
If it's "broke", fix it. Figure out who your best customers are and why they buy from you. Now adapt your website message and most of your content to focus on that. Make sure your offers and landing pages are tuned to your real target market, not some broad audience that could someday be convinced. Don't waste so much time at the top of the sales funnel. Find your buyers and reel them in.
Congratulations, you're getting a nice steady stream of leads from your content and social media marketing efforts. Do you know who they are and what they want? Do you have any idea what their potential is as a sales opportunity? Are you assigning them to a sales person and organizing sales calls and follow-ups? If you aren't practicing closed-loop marketing by integrating your inbound marketing with a mainstream CRM, you are probably missing many sales opportunities.
Got traffic and leads? Ranking on Page 1 of Google? Great. Does any of that count if it's not generating revenues? Sure, it's a good place to start. You have to have an audience if you want to sell tickets, but after a while, it's the repeat visitors and direct inquiries that bring home the bacon. Focus on communicating with your leads. Try to reach out to them, and phone calls trump emails or tweets every time. Don't wait for a week either. You will win more than you lose if you respond right away.
You've already converted these leads to customers. Why are you ignoring them after your project is complete? These are your best sources for new business and referrals. Reach out to them early and often. Send them valuable "insider" information and check on their progress. Chances are, you can generate new business and keep them coming back for more.
Let's face it, we're in business to make money, not to be popular. Granted, it's really cool when your video goes viral or your Facebook page reaches its 1000th "like" milestone. It's great to get a bunch of views and comments on our blog posts. We all love to become someone's "trust agent", and this can only help brand awareness (especially your personal brand), but in the end, what does it accomplish? How does becoming famous translate into business success in your industry? If you can figure that out, use it. If you can't, focus on the basics: finding your target market, figuring out what they want and giving it to them in spades.
Yes, inbound marketing should be fun and self-fulfilling, but ultimately it's marketing, and marketing is all about attracting customers. Don't forget that, and you will succeed.
Photo credit: Asthma Helper