Inbound marketing, also referred as permission-based marketing, has rapidly gained popularity given its high ROI, low cost in generating new leads and its frequent position as the best solution for raising brand awareness or changing brand perception. No wonder that it is progressively becoming a vital priority that marketers must have in order to more successfully interact with their customers across all inbound channels and to assist them during their interaction with a brand.
As a rule, companies now understand that a satisfied prospect can easily convert to become a loyal customer to the brand. However, in my experience I often see inbound marketing channels used as another platform to push products or services to prospects/customers in a traditional outbound fashion while the actual customer needs are ignored. It is as if a number of inbound marketing projects start with the right intention but end up with the wrong outcome. It is therefore important that businesses consider how to avoid those common issues when planning for an inbound marketing solution.
The common pitfalls to avoid:
Issue 1: Strategy not clearly defined
The most common mistake is to fall for “shiny object syndrome” - simply embarking on inbound marketing without an adequate strategy first being plotted. A project without a clear plan of action is simply a recipe for disaster.
It is therefore important that your strategy addresses the following points:
- What are the objectives of your organisation?
- What business processes support your objectives?
- How does your inbound marketing solution support your business objectives, and how will it interact with existing business processes?
- Is my customer at the centre of the equation?
Issue 2: Inbound marketing projects are frequently inappropriately sized.
Too often we underestimate an inbound marketing project by simply approaching it as we would do with another outbound marketing project. The inbound solution differs in many ways to the outbound solution: where one is customer focus, in which the customer initiates the contact with the brand, the other is very product-centric in which the brand pushes their marketing messages to a large audience in a batch process. It is therefore essential that an inbound marketing project is seen with a fresh pair of eyes. To guarantee the success of the project, it is vital that sufficient funds are invested, the right platform is set up and adequate processes defined.
Issue 3: Shortage of skills or lack of experience.
Before embarking on an inbound project, it is important to ensure that your team’s capability level matches the strategy that you have set out to fulfil. This simply means that specific expertise and plenty of experience will be essential for the success of the project. Therefore, you will need to invest in people who are digitally savvy, have good knowledge of the web and have a good analytical background whilst also knowing how to create effective content.
Issue 4: Is there a viable business need for the solution?
Although we know that inbound marketing is more likely to generate a higher ROI than outbound marketing, it is essential to first understand the business objectives and to identify what key role your solution will play in order to help your organisation to reach their desired end-state.
Some best practices to consider:
- Align your implementation vision with the business drivers.
- Ensure that the objectives are specific, measurable and achievable.
- Share your vision and business objectives across the various team in your organisation.
Issue 5: Lack of communication across teams
Too often we see disjointed coordination between the marketing team and sales team or even the marketing team and the IT team; not having objectives aligned between key departments can lead to poor performance of the project as a whole. Having a common objective across teams will ensure that your project will not fall apart.
So, having considered what pitfalls to avoid, we should turn to the positive – just how do you implement a successful inbound strategy?
A well-defined inbound strategy should put the customer first by placing their needs at its heart, and in addition to that it should ensure that the project stays on track.
As well as following an implementation process as per the diagram below, your plan of action should address the following questions:
- What are the personas you will be catering for?
Develop your buyer personas or the customer profile you want to market to, this will help to shape the content.
- What are my customer triggers?
List the events and pain points that cause your customer to seek for certain types of information.
- What is my inbound marketing objective?
To define the goals that you want to achieve and when you expect to see results
- What is my content strategy?
To outline the type of content required to serve each audience mapping these content types against each level of the sale funnel. In this way, the content your organisation provides should contain unique informational value to your target audience.
- What is my customer journey?
The creation of targeted content which addresses customer needs at each step of their conversion journey.
- What are my metrics and business objectives?
Define your company benchmark and your metrics for measuring performance. Monitor progress against your business objectives.
The Omni channel made possible:
Inbound marketing is not only an alternative to outbound marketing but an essential piece of the omni-channel marketing puzzle, which helps brands to better serve their channel-agnostic customer base. Omni-channel is simply a way for a brand to deliver a consistent experience across their different customer touchpoints both online (inbound marketing) and offline (outbound marketing).
Senior technical Consultant
Mickael is a Senior technical Consultant for Comet’s UK Implementation Team, specializing in designing and implementing Enterprise Marketing Management (EMM) solutions. He has over 10 years' experience in implementing end-to-end projects across a diverse range of industries, from travel and tourism to financial services, to retail and past clients include EDF, Buch.de, TUI, TalkTalk, Capital One, 3G, Electrabel, ING Bank, Vodafone, Shop Direct, KLM, Avios, AIMIA, Standard Life, Philip Morris International, Tesco. He is an advocate of positive customer experiences and committed to helping clients meet their business objective. He was involved in the fastest IBM decisioning implementation which was successfully deployed at Standard Life where he played a key role.