- Is seen by the wrong people?
- Is rarely shared?
- Is not converting visitors to leads?
- Is not generating customers and clients?
If your answer is other than 'I feel great”, the content strategy you're using may require a re-think.
Sharing is caring and inbound marketing is about creating and sharing content with the world as Content Marketers & HUBSPOTERS will tell you. However, not everybody is your customer. Thus, tailoring your content to attract the right customers should be your #1 goal. Why? well let’s explain.
That's why we asked 41 experienced content marketers an interesting question.
What was your biggest challenge when implementing Inbound Marketing and what would your #1 Tip be to those starting out?
From our perspective their answers are worth far more than money in the bank.
If you find just one tip that could double or triple your traffic, leads and clients over the next number of weeks that would be well worth the ride, don't you think?
Well. We are so confident you'll enjoy these inbound marketing insights that we cannot wait to hear from you (here’s your chance to interact with each other through the blog comments at the bottom of this post). Best comment will be sent a bottle of Irish Whiskey....
Also, if you like what you read, feel free to share this expert roundup with your contacts, fans and followers.
Thank you! – So Let’s here what the experts have to say!
Like a lot of new ventures, you are starting from scratch and this can mean connecting with influencers is a challenge. Mentions from influencers on large websites or social media can do wonders for your website both in terms of traffic and SEO.
Getting the attention of influencers requires time and effort. “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t work these days. You not only need high-quality content, but it needs to get to the right people.
If you’re starting out you need to focus on both content creation and content marketing in equal measure.
The first challenge is knowing your focus. Unfortunately I made a lot of mistakes in deciding what to publish and also how to promote this same content. In hindsight, I simply wouldn't have published some of the topics I was exploring. They just weren't a fit for my audience. I wasted a lot of precious time.
If I could start over, I would have worked more on my strategy from the very beginning. I would have better defined my goals and my mission.
It was only after several years of content marketing that I learned this simple formula for writing a content mission statement:
This is a screenshot from a 3 minute video that gives a complete overview of content strategy. I strongly recommend watching this carefully. Hopefully, this will save you from making a few mistakes and wasting a lot of time!
My biggest challenge when implementing Inbound Marketing was probably tracking all the inbound leads, links, and influencers. Building up relationships with the “heavy hitters” in your niche is crucial when it comes to succeeding.
If you try to do this via email, you will be overwhelmed within days. Imagine you send out 50 emails a week. After one month you are at 200 emails you have to keep track of whether they responded, when you last reached out to them, etc.
That is just not realistic. The best tool I have found for maintaining this chaos is BuzzStream. You can add your contacts to BuzzStream and it tracks follow up times, responses, and even open/click rates of your email!
As any Inbound Marketer knows, content marketing is the key and BuzzStream helps make content promotion to influencers super easy!
I highly advise anyone trying to fight through the noise of Inbound Marketing to give BuzzStream a try. I promise you’ll reach 4x as many influencers with a 1/4th of the work. Work smarter, not harder.
The biggest challenge is creating content for the long term. It's hard to invest the time and money into content development when results don't come for months and months. We've been doing inbound marketing since 2005, when I launched our first blog, Customer Chaos.
Now that we can look back, we can see which topics are delivering additional visitors from SEO, which are converting and which are not performing. Looking at our analytics, we see several kinds of posts:
Eagles draw ever-growing organic search traffic over time.
Dodos are Eagles that don't take off right away.
Icebergs are draw lots of traffic over many months, but eventually melt away.
Burps don't draw any traffic past the initial emails and social shares
Burp and Fizzes draw some on-going search traffic, but don't soar like Eagles
Develop the content even if you aren't seeing results. Don't be quick to judge. You never know when you have a Dodo Bird or a Burp Fizz until some time has passed.
Trust the process.
My biggest challenge working with new clients is obtaining reviews. Reviews not only establish social proof for conversions, but they also play an important role in local search engine optimization.
I mostly work with clients in legal industry and it can be very challenging to obtain reviews due to advertising bar regulations.
My number 1 tip is to make the review process easier for your consumers. Include a pdf guide with instructions in follow-up emails and offer to provide assistance over the phone if needed
The biggest challenge I had was to set up a content machine (I chose a blog) to promote SERPed.net, which is our suite of SEO tools. Setting up a blog is easy... This is something I'm very familiar with, but getting it right is another story.
First, I had to come up with the right name. I was lucky enough to be able to buy the domain Serped.com. The reason we chose to use a different domain, was I want readers of Serped.com to have the full experience, and get massive value from our weekly tutorials, even if they never join or have any interest in joining our 'sister' site.
The plan for the blog (our content machine) is to provide industry leading tutorials and information for everyone, and those who want to manage their own SEO, or have a small agency with clients, they would learn about our suite organically from our content machine, but those who don't still get maximum benefit.
Then another big challenge I had was to find great (good is not good enough) writers.
There are plenty of writers available on the Internet, but only few have the knowledge to write about the topics I want to cover on the blog. In this type of situation, networking is important. I asked a few people (industry leaders) who recommended me a couple of writers.
They are expensive, but they know their stuff, and that's exactly what I'm looking for. We brainstorm topics, I tell them my thoughts, they write it up and then I edit it to fit our views.
This ensures we can output 1 killer piece of 'mind blowing' content each week, while I still have the time to focus on my side of being a CEO.
To send traffic to SERPed.net, I also created a couple of ebooks that we give away, in exchange for an email address. The topics of these ebooks are some of the topics of interest of my target market.
Obviously, this is key. We not only mention my suite of SEO tools in those ebooks, but we also email those people when we open SERPed.net to the public (it's closed most of the time). We generally send a teaser email first, and then open for 2 to 3 days, every 6 weeks or so.
So my tips would be: be prepared to spend a bit of money (and don't be afraid to), make sure you find the right persons to work with you and remember it might require a bit of work before you come up with the right strategy.
Free yet valuable content (give away content people would actually pay for) and scarcity are always a good idea.
The biggest challenge when implementing Inbound Marketing is creating content that is not only informative, but also useful.
People tend to put out content without doing the research needed to make sure that it is useful and usefulness is key.
My advice would be to take your time and make sure that you are putting the best quality of content out and taking the time to research and make sure there is a need for it.
A successful inbound marketing campaign is definitely not the easiest thing in the world to pull off but at the core, it's pretty achievable with the right things and a great plan in place.
The biggest issue for me in most cases is "buy-in" since companies tend to have different departments (or people with different views) for certain things. Getting their cooperation makes a HUGE difference to the outcome of the campaign.
I wrote a piece about inbound marketing (leapfroggr.com/what-is-inbound-marketing/) back then to better explain my view on it.
I've been pointing my clients to that page ever since and I've increased my "buy-in" success rate. Some do tend to take longer to get on-board.
We use Cyfe (cyfe.com) as a dashboard to track most of the important things for us but in other cases, Google Analytics with goal tracking and proper filters work just fine for us.
My biggest challenge was, knowing exactly how to do it, how to start. I wanted to do outreach and guest posting, as well as the usual content marketing methods, but I just had no idea what the best thing to do was. Not only that, I was petrified of people rejecting me (other bloggers in my industry etc).
My number 1 tip to those starting out would be to treat it like having coffee with people. Go and read their content and blogs (if you’re doing outreach) and comment on them, become their friends.
Most other website owners want to help you and be friends with like-minded individuals, so don’t fear rejection.
Also, focus on what is working for you (whether it’s paid ads, outreach, keyword use) and hammer that home before trying to move on to the next thing.
I started this blog in 2009 right after I was laid off my job at a software company, and right after the start of the big recession. I was hoping to use my blog to promote my new consulting practice I started.
I was blogging in Spanish for a Latin American audience, and making steady progress. But I wasn’t getting any inbound inquiries or subscriptions.
Then a friend of mine recommended that I write a free report and publish it on my blog to get subscribers. I dismissed the idea for several months, but he kept insisting in a gentle but stubborn way.
I finally relented and I spent the whole weekend writing The 5 Steps to Entering the U.S. Software Market (in Spanish).
I created a landing page, put a form to capture names and email addresses in return for the 20 page PDF, announced it on my blog, on Twitter, and in various LinkedIn groups that specialized in helping Latin American software companies who want to sell into the U.S. market.
At first, I only got a trickle of subscriptions and inquiries, but then after a few weeks my subscriptions started exploding. I went from only 100 subscribers to 600 subscribers in a matter of months, and I received about 3-4 direct inquiries on the “contact us” form from software companies from Mexico all the way to Argentina wanting to know about my services.My advice to Inbound Marketers Starting Out
My advice is to write an initial report, eBook or white paper. But this has to have a lot of value: original research for your industry, giving away your secret sauce, teaching somebody how to do something they really want to learn how to do, with lots of steps, detailed instructions, diagrams, etc.
This eBook has to be your opus magnus, your piece de resistance, your heart and soul. And it doesn’t hurt to hire a PR firm to promote your work to media outlets related to your industry.
I refer to this initial piece of content as your Content Cannonball, and it will really make a splash in the market by attracting links, attracting press, and attracting subscribers. It also helps you to focus your blog.
One of our biggest challenges was at the Closing stage.
Given the fact that most of our leads were coming from the outskirts of the country, it is one big factor that hindered those we've attracted as leads to become our customers. We saw it. Our closing stage at that time was dismal.
In order to solve it, we used DRIP marketing tactic in order to nurture our leads by letting our brand grow with them. We engaged them to consume our content relevant to their specific needs via our email marketing push.
By using this simple email marketing automation technique, we were able to increase our leads to sales conversion rate. Currently there are a lot of available tools out there but we currently use Drip and it is delivering the package for us.
The most difficult part in inbound marketing is really to know what to do next and what will bring the most to your campaign or business objectives.
This market is overloaded with information and the fact is, you are always limited in terms of time and resources and most experts you will look up to don't or can't take that into account for various reasons.
My solution to this is to drastically increase the amount of time you spend planning.
I would say 10 - 20% Of your work time at least should be spent planning and processing the information you have on one side (blogs, training courses etc) and process them / filter them to make sure they are contributing to your objective.
Once you are done putting together a plan of action for your next objective, stop reading more content about it, focus on implementing or hiring help to implement (that's the easy part) and archive all the cool content you may receive with a service like getpocket, that will prevent the famous "shiny object syndrome"
Once the implementation is done, get back to a planning session and repeat the process. Inbound marketing is not hard, but there literally is a distraction on your way every 20 seconds when you spend your days working on Twitter, Facebook or your inbox
You need a strong work ethic and a structured methodology if you want to achieve anything.
This in my opinion is the greatest challenge in our industry and the reason why so many people fail.
My biggest challenge when implementing inbound marketing was being able to come up with a regular flow of high-quality content to attract visitors. Initially I had a whole bunch of ideas I wanted to share.
But when those ran out I needed to start working at it. What helped me was to build a profile, a "customer insight map" of my ideal clients where I thought through their goals and aspirations, their problems and challenges and what they cared about.
That told me the big topics I should focus my content on that my ideal clients would find interesting.
For myself, I commonly see the biggest challenge for many being that transition from other approaches to inbound. By taking the time to fully understand who your target audience are, where they hang out and ultimately what they want, you’ll be in a fantastic position to generate engagement at all points of the purchase cycle.
It’s often difficult for many to (at first) see the weight in taking the time to put together buyer personas and work on a strategy which speaks to each of these groups at different stages, however once results begin to be seen, you’ll find that most will never look back.
Granted, inbound doesn’t deliver overnight successes, however as with everything, what delivers the best returns isn’t always the quickest and easiest!
In terms of my number one tip for those starting out, it would be to take the time to put together accurate and in-depth buyer personas. If you don’t know every little detail about your target market, how can you expect to tailor a strategy effectively?
If creating such personas is something of a new concept, my top tip on that front would be to purchase and read ‘Getting Goosebumps’ by Bryan at Ph. Creative.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s the ultimate beginners guide to inbound (yet a great read for those experienced marketers as well) and covers personas in great depth in an easy to understand way.
My biggest challenge was just relaxing enough to be myself. Polished and filtered content belongs on corporate websites, not websites that aim to drive traffic through inbound marketing.
For inbound marketing to work, you have to develop a relationship with people who want what you have to offer.
Overly filtered corporate or formal-speak blends in with everything else out there and won't attract anyone. Nobody feels endeared to a corporate copywriter who over-uses big supposedly-impressive-sounding words like strategic, synergy and boring lists of company accolades.
So just relax, be yourself and realize that attracting people also means repelling people, so be totally cool with the people who don't like what you write.
Biggest challenge for getting an inbound marketing plan going: Getting momentum going in the beginning. It's daunting to think all the up-front work and testing that's required to attract traffic.
You don't always know which traffic channels will be the best with respect to ROI, so it's a bit of trial and error. However, once small successes are achieved, scaling up is fairly easy because it's a matter of ramping up what's working.
Biggest tip for a successful inbound marketing plan: As much as you can, have an inbound marketing plan from the start. Each niche is different so research where other websites in your niche/industry gets traffic.
Chances are those same sources will work for you.
I love Facebook for B2C niches; it works great. However, it's not the best source for B2B.
While it's great to experiment, if you have a plan that provides direction when starting out, it makes building up a successful inbound marketing plan easier.
I do a lot of research when starting a new website.
I analyze everything about the bigger players in the niche including where they get traffic from and the type of content they publish. Spending a week doing this saves me an enormous amount of time to get traffic flowing fairly quickly.
Most people, when they begin their inbound journey, have a fire within them to create content. Unfortunately, most people skip the step of creating a 'buyer persona', begin writing for the wrong audience and don't have a goal for each post. Instead of writing for sales, they write for visitors.
I fell into that trap from the beginning.
For example, when I began blogging, I began writing about anything that I thought people wanted, regarding business.
One post I wrote took close to 8 hours and has generated close to 65,000 visitors, hundreds of shares, and over 2,000 email subscribers from calls to action in the post. (See below)
Unfortunately, the typical reader was a freelancer. Our target audience is small to medium sized businesses that generate $1 million+ annually.
If you want to maximize your nbound marketing efforts, you must:
- Develop your buyer persona (Great guide HERE)
- Create a content calendar
- Have a goal for each post (I recommend pushing them to a free ebook to grow your email list)
If you include all 3 of those in your Inbound marketing strategy, you'll win in the long-run.
The best-inbound campaigns are driving potential customers who know, like, and trust you, which is why having an effective content marketing campaign can be so effective.
Whether you're in their inbox, e-reader, or earbuds, you have an opportunity for them to connect with you in a way that building an outbound sales team can only dream about.
Our highest-value in inbound marketing has come by sticking to a long-term, value-packed content marketing strategy that actually connects with our readers, listeners, and customers.
One of the biggest challenges with implementing Inbound Marketing is being able to accurately measure results so you know:
- What's working
- What isn't working
- Where to allocate more spend
- Where to allocate less spend (or kill spend altogether)
Far too often, we being working with clients who aren't sure if the money they're spending on Inbound Marketing is producing any sort of return or not.
They don't really know if traffic is converting, which traffic channels convert the best, which pages on their site convert the best, where users drop out of the funnel, how much is costs to acquire a customer, etc.
What's worse, they have no idea how to even find this information or if they have the mechanisms in place to measure and gather this information.
Now, I'm not saying you need to know your metrics by heart, but you should at least be able to get the information in a few minutes or at the very least know where to get it.
If you can't, you're flying blind, and likely making some really poor and uniformed business decisions with Inbound Marketing.
So my advice to any Inbound Marketing newbie (or any marketer who fits the criteria listed above) is to make sure you're measuring your efforts.
Make sure you have some level of analytics tracking implemented on your website, be it Google Analytics or a paid solution.
Make sure you're tracking visitors from end-to-end on your site, figure out which goals you want to track, get goal tracking set up properly (so you can measure conversions and get a direct line between marketing spend and ROI), monitor conversions, etc, so you can do more of what's working and generating revenue and less of what's not.
The biggest challenge of inbound marketing is to define the term and, once that’s done, define a strategy that’s beyond ‘writing good content’ (because that’s what inbound marketing is often mistaken for).
A strategy has to be derived from a goal and that’s the way you should approach inbound marketing: ask yourself what you want to achieve with it. What do you want to use it for?
Secondly, you’d want to define which marketing channels should be involved and how you can leverage synergies between them.
Say you were a credit card company and wanted to promote your brand by providing a tool that users can calculate their credit score with. You provide the tool for free, but users need to sign up with their email first.
You use SEO to get the landing page for that tool ranking high for the topic ‘credit score’ and get a decent amount of traffic that converts into emails. At this point it’s important that you already have a plan in place about what you want to do with those emails / people.
Just send them your regular newsletter? Maybe it’s better to address them with a targeted campaign that’s about 'improving credit score’? And in the next step, you’d want to make sure those sign-ups become fans on social media.
Maybe you even invite them into an exclusive Facebook group? Maybe your goal is to make them brand ambassadors? Maybe you want them to buy something? All steps, channels and components need to be planned out and monitored!
That’s how you go from a broadly defined term like ‘inbound marketing’ to a project that supports business goals.
When we look at challenges from a corporate perspective, I definitely see hurdles in bringing different parties together to make such a project happen.
In particular I'm thinking about the responsible people for the different marketing channels and being flexible and fast enough to get such a campaign done in a reasonable time.
Huge corporation are often numbed by processes and bureaucracy that prevents them from putting together a well rounded inbound marketing campaign.
Wrapping this up:
Define goals, channels and steps
Leverage synergies between inbound marketing channels
Be agile, flexible and determined about bringing all relevant parties together"
My biggest challenge when implementing inbound marketing is attracting a large and relevant audience.
Everyone can publish something online within minutes but only a few can draw quality visitors and build a loyal followership.
My number 1 tip for those starting out is to set realistic expectations and understand that inbound marketing is a long term project and that nothing happens overnight. Having unrealistic expectation about quick and easy growth will make you give up easily.
You need to be prepared to put in the hours creating amazing content, continuously learning and improving your skills and gaining fans one by one.
You need to be doing this consistently over many weeks and months before you will start seeing big progress and results. Keep going!
There are always challenges when implementing an inbound marketing strategy but the most difficult of them tend to come at the beginning.
Gaining traction from 0. It can be pretty demoralising to spend vast amounts of time producing content that you believe is of the highest standard for it to get a sub-par response.
This is common, and more importantly, it's to be expected. If you though that you were going to publish your first blog and all of a sudden start seeing exponential growth then you're in a dreamworld. Yes, you may get a break at the start and see a big traffic spike but this is often short-lived.
The reality is that most websites that produce content as their primary traffic source tend to receive the most of that traffic from search, and if there's one thing most of us know about search it's that it doesn't happen overnight.
Focus on producing high-quality content and then spend the rest of your time promoting them - eventually, some of them will stick and you'll start to see some traffic come through.
At this stage, your goal should shift to conversion optimisation - i.e. focus on getting the visitors coming through to your content to perform an action that moves them down the funnel.
If you keep focused and set small milestones along the way, you'll do just fine.
A big challenge is always determining WHAT constitutes success, and then designing ways to measure and track that success (so you know what's working and what isn't).
My advice to those starting out is to make sure to have measurement plans for how you're going to gauge the success of your inbound marketing initiatives.
For example, if conversions are your number 1 aim, and you're implemented marketing tactics in an attempt to increase them, then learn how to set up goals in Analytics, to track revenue by various metrics.
Analytics should be a marketers BFF. Measuring success with OFFLINE marketing initiatives is tricky. Try measuring how many online visitors head to a store's location after surfing the site :/
My biggest challenge when implementing inbound marketing was in knowing what to write about. Not the topics or the blog posts themselves, as I love to write, but being able to strategically identify the content that I would need to produce in order to have an impact on my target audience, and my overall business.
When I first started creating content for my blog, I enjoyed writing about blogging, social media, SEO and email marketing, but those topics weren't an ideal fit for the actual business I was trying to support. It took me several years to identify that fact and then to pivot appropriately.
I now have a business and blog that reflects my interests, and can be fully supported by the content I'm creating.
Therefore, my #1 tip to all new bloggers or businesses who are beginning to implement an inbound marketing program is to do your homework.
Rather than guess what your audience might be interested in, use the wealth of available tools to actually research what your audience is definitely interested in. Essentially, that's Keyword Research, and I recently put together a list of tools and options (http://thesmh.co/1LAuz9t).
The biggest challenge when implementing Inbound Marketing is the time it takes to fully implement & show a return on investment.
The best analogy for inbound marketing is a flywheel. It takes a lot to get it going at first, but eventually you will be able to keep it going through its own momentum.
When implementing an inbound marketing, there will be a point at which you've invested a lot of resources, but can't show a lot of immediate return. That's a huge challenge to overcome. So many inbound marketing programs get killed before they even have a chance to get going.
My best tips would be to set expectations upfront; define some metrics that can demonstrate you are headed in the right direction; and try to score a few small, quick wins as soon as possible so that you can show what success will look like.
My number #1 mistake would be doing too little outreach. Imagine, a book author writes a book for many years, prints it and then starts selling it in his basement.
What I mean to say is your work is not completely over with publishing a blog post. Even a simple share on Facebook or a casual mail to an industry expert/blogger is very important.
For those heading out, remember every piece of content has its uses, has a specific role in the funnel that leads the individual to the reader to the client phase and then to a loyal user speaking about your products or services to his friends.
The blog posts are fine, they are useful, but to achieve the ultimate goal you must diversify content and create useful experiences for a given user at a specific moment.
It begins with blog posts to attract readers and then moves onto specific content to drive leads towards the end of the funnel.
The number 1 challenge is figuring out where to focus your attention, as there are so many inbound channels.
From SEO to content marketing, the possibilities are endless. To help address this you should setup goal tracking within your Google Analytics so you can track your ROI and figure out where to focus your attention.
A challenge I experienced early on was moving beyond the quick and easy wins to inbound marketing campaigns that required collaboration and work from several teams/stakeholders. This is something that I still see affecting those who are new to the industry and companies new to inbound marketing, especially for organic inbound marketing.
My #1 tip to those starting out is to create awareness early on for the need for collaboration. I recommend creating an inbound marketing playbook that includes short-term strategies that are a minimal lift as well as long-term strategies that require effort of you and your client/stakeholder.
Work on building up to these larger strategies early on and be sure to include a data-driven rationale for your strategy.
The biggest challenge I faced when implementing inbound marketing was creating a strong presence on all the right social media platforms.
When you're trying to execute various growth strategies on your site, (blog promotion, content marketing, list building, etc.) it can be difficult to pull yourself away from all of that to work on the external profiles on social media.
I recommend using a great tool called Buffer. This app allows you to create and schedule your social media posts across all of the profiles you manage. From there, the app will handle posting for you so you can get back to other elements of your inbound marketing strategies.
For those starting out, my best advice would be to look for unique tools and methods that save you valuable time like Buffer."
I think the biggest challenge when starting an inbound marketing program is fully understanding your target audience.
People sometimes think that your Google Analytics will have all the answers but these are just people visiting your website, they are not your ideal buyers. You really need to survey your existing customers and communicate with them.
Find out what motivates them to purchase and really understand their mindset.
These are the people you need to write to for all your content. These are the people you need to have in mind when you are developing your products or services.
I think the biggest challenge of any inbound marketing practitioner is brand building. The real inbound magic only happens when you're (almost) passively just getting perpetual traffic - because your brand is out there and people love what you have to offer. That's an uphill climb.
You'll have to fight your way through tons of crap content that are still strangely ranking in Google - to surviving all the other awesome pieces of content out there - to finally getting yourself on top and enjoying the ride.
My #1 tip would be: Work hard, work smart. Keep on grinding out content that is well-researched, factual, well written and engaging. The value you provide cannot be faked.
Our biggest challenge when implementing Inbound Marketing was building a strategy that could be segmented by SEO discipline, prioritized by long-term value, and sortable by effort level.
We handled this dilemma by creating a scalable SEO Roadmap from our 15 years as practitioners.
The #1 tip we have for those starting out would be to create action lists from the strategies mapped at out seoroadmap.org, which includes screenshots, examples and external references (without all the sales garbage).
My business is built around my blog so I do a lot of content marketing.
The biggest issue I faced in the beginning was coming up with good and fresh content ideas.
Hard to constantly think of new content ideas.
Solved that by using the "skyscraper technique" of looking at popular posts on other blogs in the niche and improving on them.
That combined with list posts, case studies and results based posts, lessons learned post where I share personal experiences and failures and successes and some others and its all good.
Too many content ideas now.
My #1 tip for those starting out would be to look at what's already working on other blogs in your niche using tools like Ahrefs, BuzzSumo, QuickSprout and good old Google searches and then look at how you can improve on it, there's almost always a way.
Improvements to simple thing like layout or design, more use of images. Check for questions asked in the comments and answer them in your new post. Flesh out the post or add more detail. Add in quotes from experts.
That and share your own lessons, experiences and results....those are unique to you and people love to read this stuff.
You can't find it anywhere else.
My biggest challenge is to not develop blog content on the fly. I'm making myself use an editorial calendar this year, utilizing CoSchedule, and it is really helping my marketing.
My #1 recommendation to new clients is to figure out:
1) who do you serve
2) what do you sell
Once you know these answers, it is much easier to create great content and build your audience.
With the ongoing emphasis on maximizing marketing campaigns by using online communication and tools, we need to remember that consumers still exist – and often still operate in – the bricks and mortar world.
Marketers/Brands must carefully blend both online and offline interactions to effectively communicate on the path to purchase.
There is a great television bank commercial that highlights this issue. In case you haven’t seen it, it shows a couple approaching a roped off entrance of a bank building, where they are stopped by a gatekeeper asking what they think they’re doing.
The couple replies that they want to go inside and speak to someone… and the gatekeeper laughs and says something like “but that’s what the Internet is for!”
Technology has become incredibly more integrated with our daily activities, but it has not replaced consumer’s needs for face-to-face interaction and bricks and mortar experience... or someone at the end of a customer service line who treats you like you are human.
The challenge then for marketers is to find the appropriate balance between online and offline channels for their specific consumers.
Chances are your consumers will use multiple channels and switch in and out of those channels several times through the purchase process, so if you are not pursuing an Omni Channel approach ---what I call Parallel Persuasion, Communication and Engagement--- you will lose to those who do.
Our biggest challenge to implementing Inbound Marketing was that we tried everything. This might seem like a wise idea but it spreads your marketing efforts thin and can also mean that you do not have enough data to evaluate whether the method or just your approach was ineffective.
For someone starting out, the best approach is to take a few inbound marketing strategies and test them properly. Modify and optimize your approach and when you find one that works put more resource into scaling it.
My understanding of “inbound marketing” is that it massively relies on quality content that attracts people to your site.
And the most obvious challenge you can have here is to find smart people who will produce that content for you.
Of course you can do that solely on your own (if you consider yourself smart enough), but that might not always be very productive.
I’m going to outline my process in a few easy to follow steps:
1. I am actively participating in all kinds of communities: Inbound.org, BigSEO on Reddit, BlackHatWorld forums, etc.
I use these sites to keep my hand on the pulse of the industry as well as “headhunt” great people who are capable of producing great content.
2. Once I see someone prominent, I immediately reach out to him via an email or a simple tweet: https://twitter.com/timsoulo/status/649853128288808960
Because Ahrefs is a respected brand, my success rate with this outreach is almost 100%, but for a new site this might really be a challenge.
The solution? Just keep trying and maybe don’t aim for the big fish from the start.
3. Then we bounce ideas for a while and come up with a topic that Ahrefs blog audience might enjoy.
Even though it takes a ton of my personal time, I always try to be involved in the content that we publish as deep as I can.
I took over Ahrefs blog 5 months ago and was able to grow the traffic 5X. And it’s still growing.
So yeah, my #1 tip is to get involved real deep into the industry and seek connections that will help you put out great content on your site.
My biggest challenge with Inbound Marketing would be time and patience. It's not very fast to build a big audience organically so my recommendation for those starting out is set the right expectation before choosing Inbound as a core marketing strategy.
Also considering to add paid advertising as a faster way to acquire customers in the early stage. It's also helpful to test your funnels with cold traffic as it's really the real test to know whether they're converting. Traffic from inbound marketing is usually warmer and easier to convert.
The biggest challenge for me is creating a value proposition. At SharpRocket, we always assure that we only deliver value-added results to our clients (e.g. high quality backlinks that can help improve their sites' search visibility).
If companies don't think of the value that can attract potential clients/customers to their brands, then it would be difficult for them to implement an effective inbound marketing campaign.
For starters in the industry, you can try to become visible on web communities by doing any of the following activities:
- Contributing high quality content to other relevant blogs with links pointing to your site's key pages (blog pages).
- Adding beneficial answers to questions in industry forums and Q&A sites, where you could be perceived as an authority brand in your niche.
- Sharing useful posts on social communities like Google+ groups, where you can also answer industry-specific questions.
The biggest challenge with people implementing inbound marketing is starting without a clear goal that you can measure.
Clients ask me whether or not a program can increase sales, which is always a good thing.
When I ask about hell, they will know that the head of affected sales, I get blank stares.
It is important to look at the path from first encounter to a decision to purchase. Each step should have a clear way to measure and simple math will give you the conversion rate at that stuff.
Once you know that 1000 views leads to 100 prospects and 20 sales, you just need to avoid the lifetime value (LTV: the profit from an average customer over the years they buy) by 1000 and multiply by 20 to know that a lead is worth.. or 100 prospects are worth 20 times an average LTV divided by 100.
The numbers here are used for easy math. Never assume that someone else's numbers apply to you. Your process may be one step or 12. You need to calculate each.
Doing this will give you a cost of acquisition (COA). This will let you know if your marketing is costing more or less the COA. You should find that your program is profitable beyond your expectations. If not, you need to fix that before starting more programs.
One of the best ways to create content and focus on your inbound marketing, is to make sure your site properties and social media outlets all work well with each other.
This is something I've been able to do quite well through my Twitter and Facebook groups, while linking the content back to my sites and forming a cycle between social media and site content.
It's not simply a matter of pushing your site content to social media; you also need to provide value in the process.
For this, I use MeetEdgar, which allows me to schedule out social updates based on their topic, time focus, audience and more.
A good example of this would be that I continually send out my latest blog content, but I also put in a mix of other content to well known resources and quotes from entrepreneurs as well -- this way the social conversation isn't always one-sided and trying to bring the user back to my site. This will also help with increase favorites, retweets and social shares.
If this is an inbound marketing method that you would like to explore, I also recommend using CrowdFire to grow your Twitter and Instagram social following. This software allows you to follow relevant users within your niche that are likely to follow you back -- thus further increasing your social audience and reach.
Update 16.11.15 - Our 42d contributor -
Thank you to:
INBOUND MARKETING AS A TOOL TO REACH YOUR MARKETING OBJECTIVES
It's not rocket science! If others can do it well, you can too, but it takes hard work, so get some help!
How would you feel when your content
- Is seen by the right people?
- Is shared online (and even getting 'viral')?
- Is converting visitors to leads?
- Is generating customers and clients?
If your answer is 'Yes' to the above questions, then 'That's awesome', and the content strategy you're using works! The next logical step is to further track and optimize your process'. That's what HUBSPOTERS and content marketing pros are doing in today's content-driven economy.
If you feel that you need to put more time and energy into your content marketing (Inbound) then we are here to help.
If you have found these tips interesting and helpful, don't hesitate to share.
Remember: sharing is caring!