There are a lot of rules to follow to create a (near) flawless inbound marketing strategy. But no matter how many things you're doing right, those efforts can be quickly cancelled out by forgetting about the fundamentals. Before getting to work on your next inbound marketing campaign, make sure you're not setting yourself up for dismal results by ignoring some of the inbound marketing musts. Let's take a look at eleven easy ways you can screw up your inbound marketing, making that hard work all for naught.
11 Ways to Screw Up Your Inbound Marketing
1.) Not aligning your inbound marketing strategy with sales goals. Sales and marketing should align not just on quantity of leads, but quality, too. Who can the sales team close? Who has the shortest buying cycle? Who has the highest lifetime customer value? Identify who these prospects are together so content can be created to address their needs. While the term "engagement" is thrown around a lot in marketing (and for good reason!), the sales team engages with these prospects every single day. It's a huge miss not to ask them about the conversations they're having, prospect pain points, and learn who the best prospects are and how to market to them.
2.) Spending more time and money on design than content creation. Sure, visual cohesion is an aspect of establishing your brand, but it’s not anywhere near as important as great content. You know why? Because your readers don't really care about it. As long as your design efforts don't distract visitors from reading, sharing, or interacting with your site, your design is fine as it is. Today's web surfers are far too savvy to be tricked into liking you because of bright lights and fancy designs.
3.) Writing tons of mediocre content instead of less frequent, but remarkable, content. Google's Panda updates taught us that writing for crawlers alone won't get marketers too far. If you don't create content that is helpful to real life people, you'll lose ranking positions, traffic, and leads fast because no one will link to you, share your content, or convert on your landing page. While your publishing volume should certainly remain competitive for your industry, keep the quality of your content up too, or you'll be penalized in the SERPs and your analytics.
4.) Not making content available on social media networks. People like to interact with brands in tons of different ways that don't include your website: email, RSS feeds, and you guessed it, social media. Make your content available on social networks not just because it's where many people prefer to interact with you, but because it exposes you to your followers' networks in a place where sharing your content is literally one click away.
5.) Publishing a ton of content, and then abandoning ship. Inbound marketing is a marathon, not a sprint; short spurts of productivity just won't yield consistent gains. Crawlers will query your site less and less because they don't expect you to publish anything new, and readers will stop visiting under the assumption you probably haven't posted anything new. Even for blog subscribers, your credibility as a thought leader is still shot, because it looks like you’ve missed out on the happenings in your industry. You don't have to publish a novel, but maintain a consistent flow of quality content to keep everyone's ears perked to what you're saying.
6.) Neglecting basic search engine optimization. SEO can be a complex beast, but following some basic best practices means the difference between being found and getting lost in the shuffle. If you've already sketched out a keyword strategy, banging out the best practices takes 5 minutes tops, so just make it part of your publishing routine. Ensure your URL architecture makes use of important keywords, the body of the content includes short and long tail variations of the keyword where appropriate, and that your keywords are in your header tags, page title, meta data, anchor text, and image alt text.
7.) Having bad or no calls-to-action. For most businesses, driving traffic is not a revenue-generating activity; that traffic needs to take an action that gets them closer to becoming a customer. A flimsy call-to-action like this Contact Form, however, doesn't offer any clear benefits to the reader. Actually, more than anything, it says "give me your information so I can spam you!" Make sure your calls-to-action offer something compelling and helpful to the reader, and describe it with language that reinforces over and over what they'll get if they fill out your form.
8.) Not giving explicit instructions on landing pages. We’re smart people, but we get dumb online. If you have fewer than 3 seconds to orient someone before they push the back button, skip the flowery language and just tell them exactly what to do on that landing page. The easiest way to do this is starting your headline with a verb, and adding an explanation. For example, changing a heading that says "Free Whitepaper" to "Download Your Free Whitepaper About Unicorn Breeding" will tell people what they can do on that landing page.
9.) Neglecting the middle of the funnel. Just because someone filled out the form on your landing page doesn't mean they're ready to talk to your sales team. Instead of contacting every person who fills out a form, consider how the lead's behavior aligns with the past behaviors of leads who have turned into customers. For example, if people who attend webinars are more prepared to purchase than people who download whitepapers, put that prospect into a lead nurturing campaign that lets them know about webinars related to their interests. Nurturing your leads this way will move them organically from the top of the funnel through to middle of the funnel and finally to the bottom of the funnel, instead of scaring them away before they're prepared to speak with a sales rep.
10.) Not A/B testing landing pages (and everything else, for that matter). Test headlines, test offers, test calls to action, test form length, test button color, test page layout -- test everything! If you have advanced landing page testing abilities at your disposal like in HubSpot's software, executing these tests takes just a couple minutes. Testing landing page components is an easy way to figure out what resonates with your audience, and unlocking that insight gets you one step closer to more leads. And don't stop at landing pages in your A/B testing. You can test and improve a slew of marketing tactics, including email marketing, calls-to-action, social media, etc.
11.) Not tracking inbound marketing efforts with an analytics tool. Not tracking and analyzing your inbound marketing campaigns means not only can you not identify and remedy mistakes, but you also can't capitalize on success. You should be tracking everything you do online in an analytics tool that shows traffic, traffic sources, leads, social media reach, page views, inbound links, and all the other juicy data that lets you stay agile.
Some of these inbound marketing mistakes can keep a campaign from succeeding, and some can keep them from succeeding as much as they should. If you're seeing any of these mistakes infiltrate your inbound marketing strategy, take the reins now to keep them from ruining one more day of your campaigns.
Image credit: Stevendepolo