New to Inbound Marketing? 7 Common Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

First-time inbound marketers: We're so glad to have you! 

We know it can be easy for beginners to run into pitfalls and obstacles with their inbound marketing efforts, as it is with any other "first." This is especially true for those of you who've been doing traditional marketing your whole life, or if you're one of the first people on your team to adopt inbound.

You might drink the inbound marketing Kool-Aid and get so excited to optimize every part of your marketing strategy that you get overwhelmed or burnt out. Or, you might be pretty skeptical about different parts of inbound -- what's this whole blogging thing about? -- that you don't take advantage of the key strategies that will boost your bottom line.

Everyone makes mistakes, and we're here to make the transition to inbound marketing success a little easier for you. Check out these seven common mistakes new inbound marketers make so you can do your best to avoid them.

7 Common Mistakes New Inbound Marketers Make

Mistake #1: Trying to do everything at once.

You've read all about inbound marketing, and you may even have taken HubSpot's Inbound Marketing Certification. Now, you want to GO, GO, GO! until you have tons of blog posts and your email lists are perfect and you're posting on your social media accounts at the exact right times.

But resist the urge to take on everything at once. High expectations are definitely a good thing -- you're a go-getter, and that's awesome! -- but to be successful in inbound marketing, you need to tackle your marketing strategy gradually over months and take each step one at a time. Otherwise, you'll spread yourself too thin and won't see results.

So instead of working on everything a little bit every day -- your blog, social media channels, website, and email strategy -- prioritize them. Which channel is performing the best? Which needs the most work? Which can function as is for a while longer while you work on the others? For example, If your social media channels are getting decent engagement but your email bounce rate is much higher than 2%, you should probably focus on fixing your email lists first. 

If you're having trouble figuring out where to get started with inbound, let us guide you with our ultimate guide for your first 100 days as an inbound marketer.

Mistake #2: Not setting realistic, measurable goals.

Without measurable goals, you won't be able to work efficiently or track your progress over time. It's good to set your standards high, but make sure your goals are realistic and SMART. SMART stands for:

  • Specific. Every goal should have a specific metric attached to it. Think "write 2 blog posts per week" instead of "write more blog posts." Set specific deadlines, too.
  • Measurable. Hard numbers are the only way to properly measure your success.
  • Attainable. Reach goals are good, but they should still be attainable. Know and be honest about what you and your team are capable of, and account for any roadblocks.
  • Relevant. Your goals should actually matter to your business. Let's say you're a unicorn food company that has 100 stores that will only accept 10 boxes of unicorn food in their store. In this situation, your goal likely shouldn't be to "increase production of unicorn food from 1,000 per month to 5,000 per month." While it's great you have more product, if no one is going to buy them, why bother? 
  • Timely. Stick to that deadline! If you keep pushing it back, your goals lose credibility and the system falls apart.

Use this free template as a guide to help you set your SMART goals. As you work towards them, be sure to check your analytics continually and adjust where necessary.

Mistake #3: Not making use of what you already have.

One of the most common mistakes we see new inbound marketers make is overhauling their entire marketing materials instead of optimizing what they already have and then adding to it. Even if you've been focusing on traditional tactics, chances are you already have content and resources to fuel your inbound efforts. 

Happy with your website? See which pages you can add spice up for search (without making them look spammy). Want to create your first offer? Set up a landing page for a demo or consultation. Got a brochure already about what your company does? Turn that into your "about us" page. If you need some inspiration on how to make the most of your existing marketing materials, check out this blog post.

Mistake #4: Trying to do inbound without a blog.

When you put off business blogging, you prolong your ability to create a content annuity that continues to delivers value over time. Every time you write a new blog post, you add another indexed page to your website -- and every new indexed page is another opportunity for you to show up in search engines and drive traffic to your website. Plus, Google and other search engines know when you've added another page to your site, and it lets them know your website is active and they should be crawling it frequently to see what new content they might rank.

New blog posts are also new opportunities to generate more leads. Each of your posts should have several calls-to-action (CTAs). For example, banners on the top or bottom of each post, sidebar CTAs, links to landing pages and other posts within your blog, and so on. Check out the business blogger's ultimate guide to mastering lead generation here.

Mistake #5: Creating content in a vacuum.

Once you've learned how important business blogging is to your bottom line, it's tempting to start writing about the first things that pop into your head. But don't! Blogging, like everything else in marketing, requires a strategy. Without one, you're throwing a hook without bait into a big ocean.

Before you go creating content, you need to figure out what content you need to create that will drive people to your website who might want to buy your stuff. You'll need to:

  • Create buyer personas & map out buyer lifecycles. This process is called content mapping, and it's a very important step in creating content. If you sell kitchenware, someone with a family will have different questions, information needs, and interests compared to a college student. Both of these personas may be searching for your products or services, but they'll be looking for them for different reasons. It's important to create content that appeals to each audience.
  • Make a keyword list. If you create content before researching relevant keywords, you risk "keyword-stuffing" your content, which reads unnaturally and can get you penalized by search engines. Here's a beginner's guide to keyword research.
  • Ask your customers. One of our favorite ways of getting content ideas from our customers is running a content survey.

When you create content around topics your audience wants to learn about, you'll have more success driving traffic to your website, subscriptions to your blog and emails, and leads to your sales funnel.

Mistake #6: Not scrubbing email lists.

If you ever bought an email list, spammed people, sent emails to old and decaying lists, or otherwise pushed your message on people who didn't sign up to hear it, know that those days are over now that you're an inbound marketer.

The first step to inboundy email marketing is to check how healthy your lists are, which you can do using this five-question sniff test. Then, it's time to scrub your email lists: Review your lists and remove every single email address that doesn't pass the sniff test.

Then, watch your email bounce rate decrease significantly as you send emails only to people who expect to receive them. Instead of pushing your message, you can draw people in with the amazing, helpful, relevant content in your emails.

Mistake #7: Not measuring results and adjusting accordingly.

As you continue to build on your inbound marketing efforts, it's important that you track the metrics you set goals for and take time to look at how the results compare to your objective. The metrics you track week-over-week and month-over-month depend on what you're focusing on -- if you track too many metrics at once, you risk losing focus (see Mistake #1).

If your focus is writing and optimizing your blog, track blog post views, clickthrough rates (i.e. the percentage of site visitors who clicked on your CTAs), leads generated, and traffic sources. Do people come to your blog from organic search? From referrals? From social media? If you've been working on email marketing, track email clickthrough rates to get a sense of what your audience wants to read by email. For more ideas, learn about the six marketing metrics your CEO actually cares about and the seven metrics we recommend every marketer checks weekly.

When you see something's working, replicate it. When something isn't working, try something else -- the more you test, the more you learn.

For further guidance, check out our Interactive Guide to Inbound Marketing.

free interactive inbound marketing guide