A pumping inbound marketing pipeline is a little bit like getting a perfectly toned body in time for summer. Everybody wants it, but only the very committed will achieve the desired results. The rest of us once again postpone our goals until next year and drown our sorrows in Golden Gaytimes.
If you’re running a business, chances are that you’ve thought about adopting inbound marketing for your business. You might have even dabbled in content marketing and set up a business blog, but so far the results are falling short of expectations. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. At Brand chemistry we often get enquiries from business owners who are struggling to make their efforts work or to understand where they should start their inbound marketing journey.
More often than not, we find that the issue is that inbound marketing is adopted half-heartedly and is not fully integrated with the rest of the business. This means that results are falling short of the 4:1 ROI that is achievable within the first year. It goes to show that just like reaching your health and fitness goals, a functioning inbound marketing pipeline depends on you going ‘all in’. And that means swapping your soft drinks for water, not just Diet Coke. So does your business have what it takes to go all in with inbound marketing?
Show leadership commitment
Imagine you signed up your whole family for a half marathon, but you’re the first to swap the trainers for the remote control after only one week of training. What do you think the chances are that the rest of the family is going to actually compete in the race? Pretty slim, right? If you fail to show leadership commitment for your inbound marketing efforts, they will soon suffer the same fate as your marathon ambitions.
Creating content that your audience actually wants to read requires the input of your senior staff members and technical experts. Often it can take some convincing to get them involved in the process and support it wholeheartedly. But if you can’t find the time to contribute, why should they?
Focus on the customer
Successful inbound marketing hinges on a complete understanding of your customer. What are their goals and needs? How can you help them achieve this? This insight will ensure that you’re producing content and marketing material that your potential buyers actually care about. This is the equivalent to understanding your personal fitness goals before coming up with a training plan. The approach will look very different if you want to participate in a fun run compared to a 251km race in the Sahara Desert.
If you’re not prepared to adjust your business plan and product development to suit the needs of your customers, your inbound marketing results will be moderate at best.
Allocate budget and resources
You won’t lose those last two kilos unless you’re willing to spend a little more on a healthier lunch option or invest the time to prepare the meals yourself at home. Similarly, you need budget and resources to keep your inbound marketing pipeline pumping.
Creating content is time-consuming, but the efforts of content distribution can’t be underestimated. It takes a lot more than the occasional social media update to get the attention of your target audience. As an experiment, just try to get one backlink to your blog this week. You will get a much better appreciation of how much effort goes into seemingly small tasks.
Make sure you read the fine print
Lastly, there are a few things you need to be aware of before getting started with inbound marketing (much like the T’s and C’s of any gym contract).
1. Inbound marketing is not a quick-fix
If you’re looking for quick sales to boost revenue for this quarter, inbound marketing is not for you. Creating content that addresses all stages of the buyer journey and distributing it effectively to be seen by your target audience does take time. And even if people are signing up to receive your company newsletter, they are still most likely a fair way off from buying your product. To put it in health and fitness terms, inbound marketing is a holistic approach, not some cure-all diet pill that promises weight loss without eating less or exercising.
2. It won’t replace outbound marketing methods
Contrary to some voices in the industry who herald that outbound marketing methods such as direct mail, Account-Based Marketing and advertising don’t just work, they are also still necessary. Especially while you’re building up your content and online credibility, you will need to supplement your inbound marketing efforts with other activities to ensure you’re still meeting your sales goals. You will also need to invest in advertising to get your content in front of the right audience.
3. It also won’t replace salespeople
Inbound marketing does not replace salespeople. In fact, in the face of ever increasing competition, the tailored response of your sales staff is an important differentiator. However, your inbound marketing will help reduce the need for some of the most time-consuming aspects of sales such as prospecting and pre-qualifying leads, so your sales guys won’t waste their valuable time doing demos with tyre kickers.
A final word
Inbound marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re expecting too much too quickly chances are that you will be disappointed or even abandon your attempts before it’s time to reap the rewards. Succeeding is a lot more about commitment, patience and resources than it is about committing every marketing dollar to inbound straight away. So take it steady and don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Ready to get started? Download our quick-start guide to inbound marketing for technology companies to learn how.
Brand chemistry is a strategic inbound marketing agency that goes the extra mile to deliver results for our b2b clients. Our inbound marketing specialists are HubSpot certified and use the latest techniques to provide our clients with a steady stream of relevant new leads.