Inbound marketing is a preferred strategy because it gives businesses that peace of mind in monitoring exactly how their investment is creating a return. But just because you commission the right marketing strategy doesn’t mean it’s executed by a capable team, nor does it guarantee the right approach.
Because inbound marketing campaigns surrender revenue generation and detailed conversion metrics, you are able to see which traffic sources lead to lead generation that in turn created sales. It also lets you see how successful various components of the strategy is from email marketing conversions to sales generated from leads who entered the funnel through downloading a buyer’s guide: you have the ability to see what’s working, and what isn’t.
If your inbound marketing campaign is failing to generate any substantial growth, there can be a number of reasons for the bumpy ride. Before you start playing Taps from your business growth’s deathbed, it’s important to evaluate the path your campaign has taken thus far, evaluate where it’s going, and ask yourself if it’s time to take a new direction, work with another agency, or both.
This article is intended to help CEOs, CFOs, CMOs and executive marketing teams discover the most common reasons why inbound marketing campaigns kill business growth, while offering solutions to the most common problems faced by C-Suite heads with inbound marketing investments.
1. There is no Research or Data Behind Buyer Personas
Inbound marketing campaigns must focus on precise consumer groups. This means customized content and strategic approaches must resonate with your customers based on a deep understanding of their needs and how they make purchasing decisions. In order to create year-over-year-growth, buyer personas must be created to ensure the right people are being targeted and fed the right kind of content that features the right topics. For example, some groups may respond better to video content that showcases cost-saving features, while another cohort may convert better when they engage blog content that examines lifestyle topics.
Most inbound campaigns involve an account manager calling each client with a list of questions that lead to buyer persona development. But inbound marketing agencies offering custom growth stacks tend to raise the quality bar in all aspects of the engagement, and because having a deep understanding of what people go through when making a purchasing decision fuels the entire strategy, buyer personas are always more complete and comprehensive.
Look for a lead member of the team with an extensive background in research and marketing psychology–they almost always drive the content strategy for all components of the inbound campaign. These individuals go beyond the “Q & A interview sheet” and actually engage in market research looking at proven data attesting to buyer persona touch points. If your buyer personas are the sustenance of entry-level ramblings, you will get dismal results. It might be time to up your game and work with a team that has skilled researchers who farm data and insights that actually matter.
2. No Alignment With Sales and Marketing
If your sales and marketing departments don’t talk to one another, your organization is enabling a number of reasons for failed growth. From lack of audience targeting to the inability to properly nurture a lead, your team’s ability to be efficient and perform at high levels is hobbled.
In light of the fact that today’s buyers are savvy and do a tremendous amount of research before making a purchasing decision, sales people are no longer relied on to educate leads with information that will motivate them to make a purchase. Today’s consumers read blogs, product review sites, and engage with social media groups to learn more about products before they are willing to part with their money. What this means for your bottom line is simple: marketing needs educational content that targets various personas at every stage of the buyer’s journey, and sales teams must have a hand in every buying stage while establishing trust.
Without aligning sales and marketing, your inbound campaign runs the risk of underperforming do to a lack of qualifying leads and nurturing them through their buyer’s journey.
3. Content that Lacks Connective Relevance and Buyer-Focused Depth
Simply writing guides from regurgitated online articles and meeting notes won’t cut it. Inbound campaigns are powered by blogs, eBooks, videos, landing pages, emails and other forms of content. But if all the content pieces don’t address the main pain points experienced by buyer personas, and if there is no uniformity in the message behind every piece of content, your efforts will fall flat.
Furthermore, content must be written to accommodate every stage of the buyer’s journey while supporting data driven content strategies that cover the right topics.
4. Your Written Content is a Stand-Alone Alpha
One sure way to drive an axe into your growth potential from an inbound marketing campaign is to allow written pieces to live the alpha life–alone and created with the intention to be its own island. Instead, create a content hub or cluster of topics that connect to a main subject. This strategy has two main benefits: first, it significantly improves SEO which not only generates leads (usually top of funnel) but it also creates a great user experience by providing easy access to specific information. In fact, good SEO can even nurture clicks on its own, if the strategy is executed by an experienced content strategist with a strong background in SEO.
5. A Lack of Social Channel Research to Drive Promotional Efforts
Just as we talked about the need for savvy research to create growth-driven buyer personas, the same research skills are needed to harvest data from social engagement. This is where content strategists research to uncover where buyer personas turn to do their research, followed by creating a strategy within the right channel to promote carefully crafted content, target influencer marketing opportunities, and collect certain data points along the way that can lend to the overall optimization process. Simply trying to get a number of shares and “likes” while taking high-level notes on users engaging with content is not enough. In order to generate high quality leads that will convert, understanding how the buyer’s pain points directly play into everything from the channel itself, to the relationships between various content pieces uncovers rich data that can be used to generate substantial growth.
6. The Strategy Fails to Consider the Sales Cycle
If your inbound marketing campaign (especially the emails) don’t run according to a brand’s sales cycle, the ability to even nurture leads will become riddled with holes. Think about it this way: the amount of content you have not only needs to run throughout the length of the sales cycle but also align with every stage of the buyer’s journey through the first touch point to the closed sale. Campaigns need to have voluminous workflows that qualify leads to the purchase or decision-making stage before communicating to sales. This ensures your leads learn enough about their own needs and how your products or services present the best solution. Remember, today’s buyers put in a healthy amount of research before making a purchasing decision, so your content needs to align with the sales cycle, the buyer’s journey, and educate leads at every stage.
Is Your Inbound Campaign Fueled by a Custom Growth Marketing Stack?
So there is a mysterious seventh reason why your inbound marketing campaign may be experiencing rigor mortis. If your campaign has experienced any slowdown due to one of these six reasons that notoriously kills growth potential, you can use this article as a guide to making the necessary changes.
We just talked about the sales cycle in point six and stressed the importance of aligning workflows with the process of nurturing a lead into a delighted customer. In addition to synching your workflows with the sales cycle, it is especially beneficial to align the entire marketing process with the sales cycle, but what does that mean?
If the sales cycle is appropriate and the product price point makes sense, using a multi-channel approach to marketing can be the game-changer to hitting your revenue goals and securing year-over-year profitable bottom line reporting.
Your job is to call digital marketing agencies offering custom growth stacks, speak to a point person who can assess your business and determine if you would be a good candidate for utilizing a customized stack of tools and technology pieces, and explore the benefits. From farming multiple types of data to improve overall earnings, to improving your ability to reach the right customers with the right messaging, a custom Growth Stack built on understanding how your buyers make purchasing decisions, along with the 6 areas of improvement highlighted in this article, can have incredible impact on your ability to hit high revenue targets.