The World Wide Web exploded the traditional dynamic between B2B buyers and sellers.
Buyers were longer dependent on sales people for information about problems, solutions, and products. Buyers could educate themselves before engaging with sales.
In response, B2B marketing organizations gradually adjusted to a world where buyers control their education. They realized that they had to focus less on finding leads and focus more on helping leads find them.
They added inbound marketing to the marketing mix.
The operative word being “marketing mix.” You cannot rely on inbound marketing alone to find, win and keep customers at a maximum rate.
Recently Marketo published an article on how to multiply the effects of your inbound marketing program. In it they outline inbound marketing mistakes that B2B marketers are susceptible to make.
But first, what exactly does Marketo mean by Inbound Marketing? Here is their definition:
The process of helping potential customers find your company — often before they are even looking to make a purchase — and then turning that early awareness into brand preference and, ultimately, into leads and revenue.
At its core, “inbound marketing is about creating interesting, informative, and even entertaining content and optimizing and distributing it across online channels so it can be found by — and hopefully engage — prospective buyers.”
So what could be wrong with relying too heavily on inbound marketing? What are the common inbound marketing mistakes?
1. Your aim is too wide. You reach a wide audience and create interest with too many people. While at the same time you don’t create enough interest with a smaller group of the right people you need to reach.
2. Some prospects may find you, but many don’t know you exist. People may be unaware they have a problem, or that other ways exist to how they do things. Consequently, they don’t search for an alternative.
A key takeaway for inbound marketing is to focus content creation on buyer’s problems and concerns, not on your product or solution. You can break it down further by creating content that addresses problems and concerns at each stage of the buying cycle. Buyers at earlier stages are mostly looking for educational information.
3. Others may know you exist, but don’t understand what you do. Just because someone reads your blog or your twitter feed doesn’t mean they know what you do. That’s why you need marketing automation to give buyers an opportunity to signal further interest and to respond to their interest with further material.
4. You aren’t reaching the decision makers. Decision-makers for B2B products — senior executives — are unlikely to be the audience for your content. Few of them spend their time reading blogs and following twitter feeds. If you put too much emphasis on inbound leads, if you don’t fully qualify them, and you don’t find ways to reach the decision-makers, your competitors may reach the decision-makers first.
5. Sometimes you can’t break through the noise. If you put too much of your effort into getting noticed where everyone already is (e.g. trade shows, or jumping on the latest social media bandwagon, or trying to rank for very competitive search terms), you will be invisible.
Instead of making a louder noise, find other ways to stand out from the crowd. Create unique content. Take a different point of view. Use an alternative format from your competitors.
6. Sometimes there isn’t any noise. Perhaps your audience adopts online channels slowly to get answers to questions. Or it works in an industry that deals with privacy or regulations. They may not look to online marketing for answers to their questions.
7. Inbound marketing has a diminishing return. If you simply put out a steady stream of blog posts and amplify them with social media, after a while the increase in the number of new visitors and subscribers will diminish.
You would be forgiven for feeling a little discouraged by the time you get to the end of this list of inbound marketing mistakes. Does inbound marketing work?
Of course it does. It meets a genuine need of buyers who want to educate themselves before engaging with a company to talk about specific products and services.
Inbound marketing just doesn’t work all by itself.
To make inbound marketing work for you, you need other components in your marketing mix. Marketo calls these components the Inbound Marketing Multiplier:
- An outbound marketing strategy
- A corporate communications strategy
- A nurturing or marketing automation strategy
Marketo spends the rest of their article explaining how to incorporate these multipliers into your marketing mix.
The methods of inbound marketing are relatively new. When something is new, we tend to get excited about it and ignore how it fits into the other tools in our toolbox. This article from Marketo pulls us back to earth and shows how to create a healthy marketing mix — a balanced combination of outbound and inbound marketing.