Why Businesses Fail at Inbound Marketing

If you haven’t heard – Inbound works really, really well. It’s effective in every industry, and regardless of whom you’re targeting. The biggest reasons it’s so successful? It focuses on helping people and reimagining how consumers think – not rubbing your brand in every face that comes along.

The old ways of marketing your business or service was all about buying ad space and email lists, then sitting back to wait for leads – most of them unqualified run-off. Instead, an inbound marketing methodology focuses on the creation and distribution of excellent quality content that helps to align your voice with the interests and values of your customer. This mode of naturally attracting traffic isn’t just more effective, but if your business is passionate about what it’s selling – it’s more fun, too.

Let’s look at Inbound from a deeper perspective:

  • Hubspot tells us that 80% of people call themselves blog readers, and companies that blog are able to generate 67% more leads per month than companies that don’t.
  • Inbound costs 62% less per lead than old school outbound practices.
  • Visual content is 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content.
  • Only 16% of marketers agree that outbound practices provide the highest quality of leads.

So, if good content and open communication is the key to boosting qualified leads, why do some companies fail at Inbound? We’ve compiled the top 10 reasons why businesses fail at Inbound in hopes that we can help businesses and organizations like yours see the light.

Content Alone Isn’t Good Enough

Ask yourself: do you watch movies you don’t like? Do you re-read books you don’t enjoy? Do you return to restaurants that serve bad food? The same goes for content. Not all content is created equal.

There’s a general misconception to those new to Inbound that content is all about quantity – and that couldn’t be more backwards. Good content is the heart and soul of an effective inbound strategy, and the reason it’s so integral is that it’s your direct link to people interested in your business/brand/service. When content lacks quality, the voice of the organization will lack authority, as well as the perception of knowledge, expertise, and credibility. Short and sweet: if your audience thinks your content is garbage, it’ll be rather difficult to convince them to do business with your company – they can find others that offer a much more trustworthy voice.

When businesses that have used an outbound approach for years begin exploring an inbound methodology, the biggest mistake they make is continuing the trend of bombarding people with things they don’t want to see. When companies continually publish bad content, the results are much the same. When you create content that’s valuable, people will trust your brand and will want to share it with others.

The Wrong Type of Content

Let’s imagine you’re looking to buy a new vehicle. There’s plenty of available options out there, and many of them are of such good quality that you could feel great about dealing with a few different automakers. So, you head down to a dealership and begin asking about their most fuel-efficient hatchback only to find that the salesperson keeps trying to get you to buy a gas-guzzling pickup. What are you going to do? Chances are, you’ll leave and seek out another dealership that acknowledges your interests and steers you in the right direction.

Again – content is much the same. If your content is continually pushing people into the loving embrace of businesses that cater to the interests and values of a targeted audience, it’s not doing you any good at all and it’s time for a change. This could mean abandoning your beloved email newsletters, a social media platform that has trouble translating engagements into qualified leads, or even a blog that’s failing to retain the right customers.

Still need content ideas? You can read our blog post on types of content you need to be writing.

Not Enough Content

Last content reference, we promise. Most that undertake an inbound approach to marketing find that hiring an old school outbound content producer to prepare and write inbound content material is harder than selling water to someone who lives on a floodplain.

The irony here is realizing that most companies already possess enough great content to consistently release quality material, they just struggle to prioritize content creation because they don’t value it. Kicker is, businesses that succeed do so because they possess expertise in their chosen field – the best way to prove that content is king is to simply stop producing it and watch leads and engagement analytics either remain stagnant or drop-off completely. Consistency in content publication breeds brand awareness and credibility – and companies respond best when they’re shown why they should create consistent content before getting into the how.

 Insufficient Commitment from Management & Employees

Those who do not understand the concepts of Inbound will inevitably struggle to buy-in to its perceived benefits. CEO’s and executives who have climbed the corporate ladder over the years accompanied by the now outdated outbound approach can hurt their businesses by failing to free up enough resources to commit to an Inbound methodology.

Similarly, if a lower ranking employee or marketing professional suggests the inbound model, it’s ultimately up to management to help implement change, meaning that insufficient management commitment is largely about communication and trust – ironically two of the most critical aspects of Inbound.

Similar to convincing management of the perks Inbound can bring, getting co-workers and employees on board can be an equally difficult because people are always weary of change. Big companies in particular can be difficult to change because they prefer to do what they already know.

Employees who resist change can hugely benefit from Inbound training and education. Similar to management, employees can and will respond positively when they begin to see how enjoyable the Inbound process can be, and the success they’ll have by broadening their occupational horizons.

Sales and Marketing Teams Can’t Get Along

The bi-polarization of sales and marketing teams in modern business structures can have detrimental real-world effects on customer satisfaction levels, as well as inter-business communication. The unwritten consensus is that both teams have different goals and therefore have trouble supporting one another – when, marketing and sales have very similar goals and work rather closely together.

Inbound innovators at Hubspot recommend a hybrid approach based on an Inbound approach affectionately known as SMarketing. This is realized through encouraged open conversation, feedback, and understanding of the intricacies of the other’s position – real kindergarten stuff when you think about it – sharing, talking out your problems, respecting other’s opinions, etc.

Encourage meetings that help to align the goals of marketing and sales teams and help marketing to educate sales on new product/service features so they can stay up-to-date on changes that are being made. Likewise, encourage marketing personnel to sit in on sales calls so they understand the details of closing deals. Then, when everyone’s gathered around the same campfire, celebrate your successes together.

No Formal Strategy

Developing a plan of attack for a new and different marketing strategy isn’t just a valuable asset to have, it’s essential if your goals are going to be reached. Setting up a formal Inbound strategy is one of the very first steps your team should undertake prior to switching over to an Inbound methodology – why? To be frank, because if they don’t they won’t know what they’re working towards, or what to expect.

Some stats for you:

  • 70% of marketers lack a concrete content strategy.
  • 46% of surveyed executives agree that lack of solid Inbound strategy is a direct cause of its collapse.
  • Only 22% of marketers believe that their companies actively work on strategy.

A strategy is a clearly defined set of goals and expectations – so set a goal! Let’s imagine that you want 50 qualified leads per month. In a nutshell, your defined steps need to include identifying your ideal audience; find out what they do for a living, where they live, how they spend their time, etc. Next is establishing the best way to communicate with that audience by identifying potential problems and questions and tailoring content to their interest and values. Third, implement a content plan that speaks to them and schedule out a content calendar built to engage and communicate with the larger audience.

Without some type of formal, written Inbound strategy, your marketing team is going to feel and act as divided entities all working towards different goals. The purpose of strategy is to help your co-workers or employees to fly under one unified banner.

They Give Up Too Soon!

As the old saying goes, good things come to those who wait. Expecting an audience to appear out of thin air after sharing a few blog posts and changing up your engagement of qualified audiences via social media are just the tip of the iceberg; like a fine wine, a quality Inbound approach takes time to mature and to build authority and credibility in your newly found brand voice.

Our very own Senior Inbound Marketing Team Leader, Michael Bergen, puts it best:

“Inbound takes consistent months of blogging – with the right content –  to see meaningful returns. Often, timeframe expectations are very short, especially with CEO’s, so they expect an immediate return. It’s a long-term play, but the net effect is more valuable than just gunning for only those who are ready for services TODAY.”

Picture of Todd Mumford

Todd Mumford