When inbound marketing was the new kid on the block, everyone wrote their 500-word blog posts weekly and slapped a form in front of an eBook, and that worked - for a time. Nowadays, the same old inbound cookie-cutter approach doesn’t quite “cut it” anymore, but many marketers are still learning about early success and thinking those same old strategies get results. Are you making the same mistakes?
1. Sidelining your SMART Goals
Goal-setting is arguably the most important part of any marketing plan, but if you can’t measure, analyze, and adjust them, those goals are more like wishes. Goals like, “increase Twitter followers” or “have more people visit the website” are easy to say, but once you’ve begun your campaign, how do you know if it’s succeeded? If you gain three Twitter followers in two months of targeted efforts, your goal has been met, but have you really succeeded?
That’s where SMART goals come in. Standing for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely, SMART goals are a little harder to set for yourself, but a lot easier to track. By analyzing the results of your past efforts, you can set SMART goals that push the envelope just a little bit. For example, if you do want to have more people visit the website, frame your goal in a SMART way: “This campaign should increase website sessions by 10% in 30 days.” This way, you should be able to show exactly how your efforts have paid off using tools that help you track web traffic and sources, such as HubSpot or Google Analytics.
2. Putting off Personalization
Personalization: it’s one of those things that you know you should do, and maybe you’re already incorporating it into your marketing efforts, but what exactly does it mean? If all you’re doing so far is adding customization tokens to your email marketing (which, by all means - you should definitely be doing that) you’re probably not taking the idea of personalization far enough.
People in the digital and inbound marketing world often use the comparison of a billboard: they might be funny, or emotionally impactful, or informational, but they’re designed to relay a short message to a huge number of people who may not have very much in common. Inbound marketing takes the model of the billboard and flips it almost entirely on its head. You’re no longer casting a wide net, you’re delivering targeted content to bring people to you. When executing an inbound strategy, the need for personalization is almost a no-brainer.
So why aren’t people doing it? Like SMART goals, truly personalized efforts require some work before you can actually write that whitepaper or send that email. You’ll need to start by knowing your target audience by way of Buyer Personas - and not just how they shop and spend. Take some time to research your ideal customer, either by reaching out to current clients or conducting some market research of your own, and determine an average age range, profession, salary range, and even hobbies or non-business interests. The more you know about your customer, the better you can personalize your content to make it more attractive.
You should also be customizing your content to different stages in the Buyer’s Journey. Someone who is just looking for more information about a problem that your product or service can solve probably isn’t interested by a case study or a free demo, and coming on too strong can actually drive them away. Be sure to tune your content to your personas, sort your contacts by those personas, and move them smoothly through the buyer’s journey. (And don’t forget your email customization tokens!)
Want more tips on improving your content? Check out our free webinar, Tips for Getting Your Content Seen in 2018.
3. Tuning out the Competition
Whether your company is just starting out or is well established in your industry, it’s important to always keep an eye on your competitors' marketing efforts. It can be tempting to tell yourself that as long as you’re creating and distributing great content, the customers will come to you. In today’s world, that’s no longer exactly true, and there’s no guarantee your competitors aren’t thinking the same thing.
While copying a competitor’s marketing strategy is almost always a poor practice - after all, two different companies should have distinct goals - you can learn a lot about your industry’s target audience by seeing where they place ads or how they’ve designed their website without actually investing the time and money into A/B testing, for example.
4. Sticking to the Sales & Marketing Status Quo
We understand - sales and marketing just don’t always get along, but besides being bad for company morale, when sales & marketing don’t work together, you could be missing out on valuable information and leads. Sales & marketing alignment and sales enablement may seem like the latest in a series of short-lived marketing buzzwords, but companies who have done the legwork to get the two departments on the same page have been able to refocus revenue goals, buyer personas, and marketing strategies for better results.
One good first step is to figure out how to close the lifestage loop - classifying contacts as marketing qualified leads (MQLs), sales qualified leads (SQLs), customers, as well as any precursors or murky in-betweens. This way, marketers can deliver better, more qualified leads to salespeople, refine their SMART goals to facilitate better deals, and have a better ROI that is easier to prove.
5. Missing the Mobile Train
Making mobile a priority is another one of those things that you know you should be doing, but haven’t quite started. Maybe your desktop website shines with all the bells and whistles, but your mobile site works, at best. Over three-quarters of all Americans own and use a smartphone, and if you’re not thinking mobile first, you’re already falling behind. From responsive sites to mobile-optimized email templates, make it as easy as possible for your customers to interact with your brand - wherever they are.
If you find you’ve been making one of these inbound marketing mistakes, don’t sweat it! The time to start improving your strategies is always now. Even at ManoByte, where our business as an inbound marketing agency is inbound, we’re always analyzing our results, making changes, and trying new things. Interested in coming along for the ride? Click that blue box below and subscribe to our blog, where we always share our latest tips and industry trends.