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    November 13, 2012 // 2:00 PM

    5 Major Challenges Marketers Face (And How to Solve Them)

    Written by Sarah Goliger | @

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    Every marketer faces different challenges. Although we typically share similar goals, some marketers are stuck on lead generation , while others are having trouble converting leads into customers, and some just aren’t generating the traffic to their site they need in the first place.

    Not to mention all the individual parts of a solid marketing strategy where you might be falling short -- maybe it’s content creation, search engine optimization, or finally figuring out how to actually attract customers from Facebook .

    Whatever it is, there’s always at least one area that any marketer can stand to improve. And hey -- that’s great! Why? Well, it means there’s always room to optimize the various components of your strategy and turn your marketing into an even more effective revenue generator.

    So ... What's Your Biggest Marketing Opportunity?

    To help you figure out where your greatest potential for improvement lies, HubSpot has created a super quick 3-question quiz called “What’s Your Biggest Marketing Opportunity?” Just answer a few simple questions, and we’ll tell you exactly where you should focus your efforts to make your marketing more effective. We’ll even provide you with a customized marketing plan based on your results , to help you get started!

    Curious about what kinds of obstacles other marketers are up against? We took a look at the responses we capture from HubSpot's own lead-capture forms -- where we give marketers the option of identifying their biggest marketing challenge -- and analyzed their results. Here are some of the most common challenges marketers have told us they face ... and their solutions.

    5 Top Challenges Marketers Face

    1) Generating Awareness and Driving Traffic

    Why It's a Challenge: Before you can start generating leads for your sales team to convert into customers, you have to actually get the attention of your audience and get people interested in your business, product, or service. Many marketers face the challenge of not having a large enough volume of interested prospects, while some others just don't know which channels they should focus their efforts on for the highest return.

    Solution: In order to attract a higher volume of interested prospects, you need to generate more awareness through the various channels you have available to you. Are you on the right social networks ? (The right ones are the ones where your  audience is.) Do you have a business blog? Are you creating educational content to provide value to your readers, whether it be to help them solve a problem or teach them more about your industry? Use these tools to widen the top of your marketing funnel, and spread awareness about your business. Then, you can use analytics to determine which channels are performing best , and focus your efforts around those.

    Download this guide to learn more:  How to Unlock Your Marketing ROI With Analytics

    2) Targeting Effectively

    Why It's a Challenge:   Targeting is a key component of all aspects of marketing. To be more effective at targeting, o ne of the first things any marketer needs do is identify their buyer personas to determine who it is they should be marketing to. Let’s face it -- in order for someone to even consider listening to your message or reading your content, it has to offer some sort of value to them. It needs to fulfill a need or desire of theirs, probably to learn or understand something about your industry or alleviate a problem that your product aims to solve. And most importantly, you must make sure that your message and the value you're providing are as relevant to your audience as possible.   It's not easy to pull this kind of alignment off.

    Solution: First, develop a detailed picture of your target audience. The best way to understand your audience is to build buyer personas with these 3 steps: segment by demographics, identify their needs, and develop behavior-based profiles.  Once you have established your buyer personas, determine what each one is looking for and how you can provide value to that persona.  Segmenting your audience appropriately will allow you to target your content more closely to make your message relevant to every individual lead. We've written a detailed blog post and developed a free template to help you research and create detailed buyer personas. Check 'em out!

    3) Using Social Media to Generate Customers and Revenue

    Why It's a Challenge:  Social media was once a shiny new toy. But at first, many businesses hardly knew what to do in social media. They just knew they needed to be using it. That has all changed. Now most companies know there is real business value in social media marketing, but they don't know how to convert social engagement into dollars. It isn't enough to simply have a presence on social media -- there is a science to targeting, engaging, and nurturing with social networks that will allow you to build up a social following that you can use as a quality source of leads for your business.

    Solution: The future of social media marketing lies in the intelligent management of your social leads: the ability to recognize influencers, segment groups of users based on their social activity and interests, and properly time and manage appropriate follow-up communication. The best way to boost sales with social media is to provide your sales team with social media lead intelligence -- information about a lead's behavior and interaction with your company in social networks. This intelligence will allow a sales rep to begin the conversation with specific, tailored information about that person's activity. For example, "Hi John, Thanks for sharing our latest ebook on Twitter! We really appreciate the support. Did you enjoy the read? Do you have any questions about it that I could help clarify?" Such extreme personalization allows Sales to connect much better with your leads, and convert more of them into customers by beginning the conversation with information that is relevant to them. To learn more about how to segment and nurture your social media contacts, download our free ebook, The Future of Social Media Lead Management .

    Download this guide to learn more: The Future of Social Media is Personalization

    4) Keeping Up With Marketing Trends and Strategies

    Why It's a Challenge:  Marketing has gone through many transformations , especially in the last decade. Our marketing focus has shifted from print media to online media, and we have witnessed the decline of direct mail and cold calling. Why? Because technology has introduced new tools that make our communication with potential customers more efficient and effective. Social media has risen as a dominant platform for two-way communication and feedback collection. These are only a few of the recent changes marketing has gone through, and every day, we're seeing more and more changes -- new technologies pop up, different strategies are developed, new trends emerge. So how do you stay current?

    Solution:  The key to effective marketing is knowing where your audience is, how to provide value to them, and what the best tools and methods are for doing so. Invest some time into reading about the latest developments in the industry from high-authority marketing blogs. Grab some of the free educational content that's out there (HubSpot has an entire library of free resources ), and learn more about a component of your marketing that could use some strengthening. And make sure you keep up with the best tools for making your marketing more effective.

    5) Increasing and Proving ROI

    Why It's a Challenge: With more and more advanced analytics tools available, marketers are being held to a higher standard. It's no longer enough to simply do  marketing -- you must be able to measure and understand the value of each of your efforts in terms of leads, customers, and revenue. You need to prove that your return on investment is high enough to warrant that effort, time, and money.

    Solution:   Effective marketers should be able to tie every single lead, customer, and dollar back to the marketing initiative that created them. T his is how marketers can prove their worth, and understand how to more efficiently reach their audience.  Closed-loop marketing cuts through the widespread vagueness of marketing myths and assumptions and reveals real data about the success (or failure) of your marketing efforts. Use advanced marketing analytics to track which marketing activities are generating leads, customers, and revenue. Then double down on what’s working, and cut out what’s not.

    Download this guide to learn more:  How to Unlock Your Marketing ROI With Analytics

    Top Challenges for B2B vs. B2C

    Those were 5 of the top challenges faced by marketers overall. However, we also broke down our analysis into the top challenges faced by B2B vs. B2C companies. Let's take a look at how these segments compare.

    According to our analysis, the top 5 B2B marketing challenges are:

    1. Awareness/traffic (22.5%)
    2. Lead generation (16.2%)
    3. Social media (6.3%)
    4. Targeting (5.4%)
    5. Branding/brand recognition (4.5%)

    And the top 5 B2C marketing challenges are:

    1. Awareness/traffic (19.6%)
    2. Social media (17.9%)
    3. Targeting (10.7%)
    4. Budget (8%)
    5. Lead generation (8%)

    Interestingly, the most common challenge across both segments is driving awareness and traffic. It seems that many marketers could benefit from starting with  optimizing the top of the funnel to grow their reach.

    We found that the top 10 challenges across both B2B and B2C companies are:

    1. Awareness/traffic (22.5%)
    2. Lead generation (16.2%)
    3. Social media (6.3%)
    4. Targeting (5.4%)
    5. Branding/brand recognition (4.5%)
    6. Converting leads to customers (3.6%)
    7. Keeping up with marketing trends (3.6%)
    8. Increasing/proving ROI (2.7%)
    9. Content creation (1.8%)
    10. Budget (1.8%)

    Here’s a look at the breakdown for each of these by B2B, B2C, and overall:

    top 10 challenges marketers face graph resized 600

    Does your company face any of these challenges? A thorough analysis of your marketing strategy and its current performance will help you discover where your biggest marketing opportunity lies. This will allow you to focus on improving the areas that need the most attention, so you can start making your marketing far more effective.

    Image Credit: jasonbolonski

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