Tuesday, January 15, 2013

6 Reasons why Inbound Marketing is not a Stand-Alone Marketing Strategy

Even though inbound marketing offers an alternative to traditional forms of marketing, it’s not a stand-alone solution to capturing the attention of today’s buyer. Here are 6 reasons why inbound marketing is not a stand-alone marketing strategy:

1) Your aim is too wide. Inbound works by “carpet bombing” the Internet with content in the hopes people will find you. When confronted with too many low-level leads, many marketers scramble to run more of these same “carpet-bombing” campaigns, and then wonder why they don’t produce better results. To connect with prospective buyers – and move them along the path to purchase – you need to switch from ‘air-war’ tactics and focus on highly targeted ‘ground-war’ programs that break through the clutter. This means delivering high-quality content to the right people in an engaging way and doing so across multiple channels including direct mail, email, and phone.

2) Some prospects may find you, but many don’t know you exist. There are two things happening here. First, some people don’t realize they should or could seek you out. Think about it: If you don’t know about something, you can’t search for it. An example of this is a company using an in-house CRM system instead of an online one. The company may be spending millions upgrading software and dealing with on-site technicians, but the ultimate decision maker may not know about online solutions. As a result, this person doesn’t search for an alternative.
Second, you may not be sharing the right type of content or sharing it in the right place for your prospect to find it. For example, you might create white papers and host webinars about your product, but if prospects are searching on terms related to their problems and you only talk about your solution, potential buyers probably won’t find your content. Or perhaps you’re only posting content to your site and prospects early in the research phases mainly turn to YouTube for information. You may never cross paths.
The key takeaway here: content developed for inbound marketing should be more focused on your prospects’ problems and concerns than on your product or solution. After all, those in the early stages of the buying cycle are looking for educational (i.e., non-promotional) information.
3) Others may know you exist, but don’t understand what you do. Think about all the companies whose blog posts you read or Twitter accounts
you follow. Do you really know what each of them does? And, even if you do, do you know if their product is the right fit for your organization? If you answered no, you’re not alone. That’s because the educational content that is produced for inbound marketing often doesn’t supply these answers. And it’s why you often need to pair marketing automation with inbound marketing.
You must share your content where your prospects spend time, taking into consideration industry- and location-focused sites and other venues, and even less popular social media sites. The key is to understand where your prospects spend time and then to establish a presence there. And don’t be afraid to ask others to share your content, whether bloggers, prospects, or partners, as they will often have a broader reach than you do. You can encourage pass-along by adding social-sharing buttons to your content, landing pages, and emails.
4) Sometimes you can’t break through the noise. Many times companies pour lots of effort into their inbound marketing around big events such as trade shows. Unfortunately, that is the hardest time to get noticed. The same goes for jumping on the bandwagon with Facebook, LinkedIn groups, a blog, 
or other social channels. 
The solution to too much noise is not to make more noise, but to sound different! And there are plenty of ways to stand out from the crowd. Create content that is unique, with a fresh point of view. Or, commit to trying
a different format from the rest, so while everyone else is blogging, you write a book that gets the attention of your audience.
5) Sometimes there isn’t any noise. Other times you may find there isn’t enough noise
to even create a sound. This happens when companies sell into verticals that are not receptive to inbound marketing, such as those concerned with privacy or industry regulations, or those who are just slow to adopt online channels. Regardless of the reason, if there few or no people to consume your content, it’s not efficient to create it. Instead you must focus on other outbound marketing channels.
6) Inbound marketing has a diminishing return. What does this mean? Wikipedia defines diminishing returns as a “decrease in the marginal (per-unit) output of a production process as the amount of a single factor of production is increased, while the amounts of all other factors of production stay constant.” In the world of marketing, this means 
there’s not a direct correlation between what you put in and what you get out. 

Let’s say, for example, a company publishes three blog posts per week and signs up 20 new subscribers per week. If it saw an increasing return (or profiting return), you would expect that six blogs posted per week would net 40 new subscribers, but this is not typically the case. In other words, increased output is not directly linked to a greater number of leads or customers or higher profit. You need to strategically determine where to spend your time – especially if you have a limited amount of resources. This doesn’t mean that the posts won’t have a long-lasting effect; it just means that each additional inbound marketing effort may not yield as much return as the previous effort. 

My next post will cover how some companies make inbound marketing work.

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