So you’re interested in learning about inbound marketing. You’ve probably heard that it can lower your cost per acquisition (CPA), increase customer retention, create a healthier pipeline, etc. While this is all very true and attainable, it takes work to accomplish these things.
If there is one thing all organizations should understand before committing to inbound marketing, it is this: inbound marketing is a long-term play. So many businesses enter into an engagement expecting to see big results right off the bat only to end up disappointed and convinced that it “isn’t working.”
Inbound marketing only works if you let it work. Organizations should allow a minimum of 12 months to pass before deciding whether or not they want to continue with inbound. You can set your organization up for success during these initial 12 months by doing the following:
1. Getting Educated
The inbound methodology is a fairly new idea, and a fairly complicated one at that! You should spend the first few months of inbound absorbing as much information as possible and getting familiar with the terminology. There are a lot of resources available to help educate and familiarize you with the inner workings of inbound marketing.
If you are working with an agency partner, that is even better! Agencies tend to be very knowledgeable and up-to-date with current marketing tactics and technologies. In fact, a lot of agencies will include education and software tutorials as part of their offering.
2. Putting Aside Time For Planning and Strategy
To put together an effective marketing campaign, you need to dedicate a solid amount of time to planning and strategy. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t see the value in this and want to jump straight into the execution stage – which can spell disaster.
Planning and strategy is simply a necessary expense when it comes to marketing. You need to understand who your audience is, where they are online, and what kind of content they need to make an informed purchase. On top of all that, you have to be able to convince them that your solution is better than your competitors’ solution.
All this requires an in-depth understanding of your industry, business, and customers. As you go further and further into inbound marketing, your team and/or agency partner will already have this understanding and won’t need to spend as much time on planning.
3. Letting Inbound Marketing be Inbound
Inbound marketing only works if you let it work. Some organizations make the mistake of deciding that inbound isn’t working before they have even given it a chance. These organizations often resort to old school, sales-driven marketing tactics in order meet their monthly sales goals.
The problem is that modern buyers – especially millennials – don’t respond to these tactics. They’ve learned to avoid high-pressure situations and prefer to do their own research before speaking with a sales person. Organizations who resort to these techniques will see short-term gains, but won’t experience the kind of year-over-year growth that inbound marketing can deliver.
4. Setting Long-Term Goals
Inbound marketing can produce powerful results for your organization, but it isn’t going to happen overnight. It isn’t going to happen within the first three months, and it might not happen within the first year.
We encourage all of our clients to go into inbound with a vision of one to three years into the future. The idea isn’t to meet your monthly sales goals, it’s to establish a scalable system that can achieve powerful year-over-year growth. Don’t go into this with the expectation that everybody who visits your site is going to download a content offer the day it goes live and become a customer.
Inbound marketing impacts your current performance. If your website is only generating a handful of leads every month, this is your benchmark. Moving forward, you will see a gradual increase that will build on itself until you start to achieve exponential growth levels after a year or two.
5. Getting Buy-In From Your ENTIRE Organization
Are you noticing a common thread here? Inbound marketing takes time. This time can be extended if you and your team are not on the same page entirely.
Are you all-in, or are the higher-ups skeptical? Inbound sometimes requires input from departments other than marketing. Do these departments have the desire and/or capacity to contribute to marketing? Is your organization investing properly, or are you expecting huge growth from a modest investment?
These are the kinds of questions that your organization needs to ask before committing to an inbound engagement.
Inbound marketing is a very powerful methodology that can and has produced amazing results for a lot of different organizations. However, these companies went all-in on inbound, trusted the advice given to them, and invested properly. They also demonstrated patience, valued marketing, and got buy-in from every level of the organization.
Inbound works and it can work for you too. But you need to support it and work with it, not against it.