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What Inbound Marketing Agencies Can Learn from the World Cup

The World Cup is finally here! It’s been a long four years since Germany lifted the trophy in Brazil, and football fans all over the world are licking their lips at the thought of the month-long spectacle of goals and saves, heroes and villains, victories and defeats. It’s a pity Ireland aren’t involved, but while we wonder who might win the tournament, this soccer extravaganza can also give food for thought to inbound marketers everywhere. Here’s just a few things we should keep in mind about our own inbound marketing efforts while we watch the drama unfold on the pitches of Russia.


It’s a team game

While the World Cup will be blessed with the presence of players such as Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Hazard and Griezmann, it’s important to remember that football is a team game, and those sides that get the best out of their entire squad, not just one or two stars, are more likely to succeed.

That’s why Sweden qualified without the skills of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and why Iceland, with a population of around 350,000 also qualified. As a team, and as a nation, they became more than the sum of their parts, and are now sitting at the big boys table for the first time, inspiring football fans everywhere with their Viking clap.


For inbound marketing agencies, the same is true. It’s not enough to have a brilliant social media wizard, or a top-notch content creator – you need to have all of the right people in place, and come together as a team to produce the best possible strategies for yourself, and for your clients. You need to foster a great team culture, so everybody is on the same page and knows what they need to do to help the team.

That means having an excellent project manager, some experts in SEO, people who can produce great content on a regular basis, and those social media types who know how and when to promote the type of content that will draw clients in. You need the strategists in place who know how to generate leads, and bring them along the conversion path so that you can hit the back of the net and gain new customers.

Play to your strengths

Having said that, when you do have a great performer in your team, it’s common sense to utilise their abilities. France will look to play in Griezmann, Argentina’s policy is to give the ball to Messi, and Spain will use their tiki-taka style of play to exhaust opponents.


This doesn’t just apply to people, but to the various elements of your inbound marketing strategy.

Just as Robert Lewandowski will be the go-to man for Poland because he scores so many goals, it makes sense for an inbound marketing agency to capitalise on the things that work best for them. If a particular piece of content, a great landing page or a download is attracting lots of qualified leads, look at doubling down on this to provide even more helpful materials that will convert those leads into customers or clients.

If you have a really good CTA, consider why it is proving so effective, and use the same tactics or strategy in other areas.

Have a Plan

Walking out on the pitch without any kind of plan to overcome your opponents will not end well. England went crashing out of Euro 2016 because they played like a team of individual talents who felt they could overcome most teams on any given day, but were outdone by a solid Icelandic plan of cutting off distribution to the danger men and harassing the opposition into mistakes.

Croatia may very well enjoy a lot of success by overloading midfield with their array of talent, before supplying the in-form Mario Mandzukic up front. Uruguay will probably rely on a staunch defence and getting the ball forward to their two outstanding strikers in Cavani and Suarez as quickly as possible. These are plans that can work.


Similarly, your inbound marketing agency needs to formulate and stick to a plan for success, and that starts at the pre-retainer stage, by outlining what can be done for a client, and how it will be done. This will serve to give them realistic expectations.

Your sales process also needs to be fine-tuned for success. There’s no point in attracting lots of leads through your content if you don’t have a plan to turn those leads into customers. It’s the equivalent of sending a long ball forward into a space where you have nobody to reach it.

Have a Plan B

Of course, things don’t always go to plan, and trying the same strategy over and over again without success can only lead to failure. When things start to go amiss, or don’t work out as they should, it’s time for a Plan B.

For instance, if Harry Kane is not firing on all cylinders for England, or Raheem Sterling is marked out of the game, it may be time to bring on Marcus Rashford to bring some extra firepower. If Messi is nullified by too many defenders, Argentina can use him as a dummy run to provide space for Aguero or Dybala to score the goals.


For inbound marketers, having a Plan B is also essential. It can happen that, through no fault of their own, a particular element of the inbound marketing strategy is not working, so there should always be an alternative approach on hand and ready to go. If content is not being seen or not bringing in enough leads, try a Facebook Messenger campaign, or develop pillar content and topic clusters to appease the gods of Google and get higher search rankings.

Just as there is more than one way to score a goal, there’s more than one way to achieve inbound success.

Expect the Unexpected

The World Cup always gives us a few shocks and unexpected results. Who can forget Germany hammering Brazil 7-1 in their own back yard in last year’s semi-final? Or Uruguay winning the cup against home side Brazil in 1950? Or Senegal beating France and South Korea beating Italy in 2002?

Sometimes things don’t go to plan, whether that’s Plan A or B, and that can be a good or a bad thing. You may see unexpected results from an element of your inbound marketing strategy that you thought was a long shot, or could experience what you thought was a tap-in failing and missing an open goal.


Either way, it is always best to be prepared for all eventualities, and to act on them accordingly.

Celebrate success

Goals win games, and the World Cup has always been a great platform on which to celebrate scoring, or a great victory. Remember Roger Milla’s corner flag dance routine for Cameroon? Or Bebeto’s imaginary baby swinging antics for Brazil? Or Marco Tardelli’s emotional outburst for Italy in 1982?


It’s good to celebrate, so when your inbound agency scores, you should rejoice and give praise. That could be a celebration of a content strategy done well, or a new client brought in through an effective email lead nurturing campaign, but whatever the event, make sure your team enjoys the good times.

Don’t play dirty

One of my abiding memories of the glorious World Cup Italia 90 was the opening game, when Cameroon proceeded to play dirty and wipe Argentinian star Claudio Caniggia out of the game at every opportunity. But though they won, it wasn’t really fair play and their tactics meant they failed to get past the quarter finals.


Other similar scenes saw Holland try to beat Spain up rather than beat them at football in the 20110 World Cup. It gave them some success, but not the ultimate success, as they eventually lost out.

In inbound marketing, it would be wise to remember this. Yes, you can try to stuff your content with keywords in order to rank well in search, or can go for clickbait to entice visitors into your site, but in the end, this tactic will fail.

If you really want to achieve success, you have to work hard, be honest, hone your skills, and give it your all with the right content targeting the right people at the right time in their buyer journey. Then, it’s all about nurturing them and converting them into clients or customers. Nobody is pleased by dirty tactics, so do the honest work, and the results will eventually go your way.


Enjoy the World Cup!

If you can take a break from the football, why not download our Lead Generation Survival Kit to find out how you can create the content that will bring customers to you.

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Adam Hyland - Chief Editor

Adam Hyland - Chief Editor

Adam is the most vital link between your message and your audience, ensuring your tone is on brand and optimised for engagement.

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