For years now "inbound marketing" has been a buzz word. Yet surprisingly, a lot of businesses still don't understand what it is, why it is better for companies and customers alike, why it is the natural way of marketing, and how to go about it.
Even those who do it often do it without a real strategy in place. What's worse, there are a number of misconceptions out there which are plainly wrong. Here are the 10 greatest myths about inbound marketing:
1. Inbound marketing is optional
Inbound Marketing is not a fad. The tactics we use may change over the years and with different digital platforms coming online, but the basic tenet, to build lasting relationships between customers and brands and to engage customers where they want without disrupting their lives with intrusions is here to stay. You may want to read the article "Inbound Marketing Explained" to understand this better.
2. There is too much competition in my industry
There is a lot of competition in every industry. Very few companies have the luxury of dominating markets and not having to worry about marketing or advertising.
Even in highly competitive markets, there is always something you can do to stand out. If your marketing team can't come up with ideas, hire a consultant. Consultants have experience in many industries and can port ideas over from one industry to the other.
3. My industry isn't right for inbound marketing
You may think your business model is unsuitable for inbound marketing, or your industry too boring to actively attract customers without advertising. But that is not true, not for any industry.
Everybody needs to do inbound marketing, and everybody can. Here are some tips for marketing in boring industries.
Alternatively, you may think that your industry is simply underrepresented on social media. But your friends on Facebook, and their friends, may actually be working in your industry. Social media networks aren't limited to a specific industry. Even lawyers, who are notoriously absent from social media due to confidentiality issues, can get leads and improve their image with a coherent inbound marketing strategy. Even regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals or cosmetic surgery can get around legal restrictions with creative inbound marketing strategies.
4. Anyone can do inbound marketing
Companies getting started with inbound marketing often rely on existing employees to get the job done. How often have we seen situations where web designers, secretaries, or even technical managers have been put in charge of social media.
Inbound marketing requires a specific skill set, journalistic qualities, and at the very least an understand of digital marketing in its entire scope, from SEO to digital advertising.
What's more, inbound marketing isn't about individual, separate efforts, it's about a coherent strategy.
If you are getting started with inbound marketing, hire an expert. New talent can re-invigorate your marketing team in many other ways. Someone with a clear concept of an inbound strategy has valuable skills to teach your existing marketing team. A good content marketing strategy can also help to improve cohesion inside your company.
5. Inbound marketing results are instant
Inbound marketing isn't advertising. You don't just start a campaign and see immediate result. Inbound marketing is a long-term commitment, where all the components build up to establishing lasting relationships with customers. It takes months or even years.
6. Inbound marketing needs its own department
Silos are always bad in companies, but inbound marketing in particular should involve as many people in the company as possible. Especially in high-tech, machinery, or B2B companies, inbound marketing invariably means getting technical staff on the team.
Everybody in the company can contribute to inbound marketing, from accounting to sales. Experts in a particular field can give public talks, personal profiles of loyal long-term employees can improve the image of your firm. Inbound marketing involves a change in the entire company's culture. Only then can you build solid assets that will serve you well in the long term.
7. Once you do inbound marketing, you don't need anything else
Some companies get so caught up in the new world of inbound marketing, they throw all traditional forms of marketing overboard. But for many companies it makes sense to keep doing what you have been doing for decades.
Machinery and medical are just two examples where trade shows still provide value, especially in Asia. Here are some valuable tips if you are preparing for your next trade show.
For local business in particular, radio is still effective, and certain industries will continue to rely on television advertisements for years to come. To understand what kind of outbound marketing to keep in your mix, talk to a consultant.
8. You can't measure the effectiveness of inbound marketing
Oh yes you can. Inbound marketing as a whole isn't quite at the stage where smart software can measure, and AI predict the effects of individual marketing efforts, but there are many different tools you can use to gauge if what you are doing is leading to tangible results.
One of the simplest and cheapest ways is explained in this article. All you need is an Excel sheet and a whiteboard. Or you can opt for the predictive analytics model.
9. Inbound marketing is cheaper
Outbound marketing is usually more expensive, but the numbers presented by marketing agencies are heavily skewed by ad budgets.
Inbound isn't necessarily the cheaper option. For example, if public speaking in many different locations is part of your inbound strategy, travel and hotel expenses should be included in the calculations. Also, inbound marketing may appear cheaper because you are using bad talent. If you are letting your existing team do all the blogging, you may pay less, but your blog posts may not have the journalistic quality or appeal that comes with a professional blogger. Creating good content often means video production, and even though prices for filming have dropped a lot lately, good quality video content still costs money. Click here to learn how video content production works.
10. We just need a new website
Too many companies still use websites designed 10-15 years ago. In the meantime, the world has moved on, largely from desktop to mobile. So while building a new website may be absolutely necessary, switching to RWD alone won't guarantee success. Also, with retail websites dominating the online shopping space, many e-stores will never get of the ground. (To understand why your e-commerce website will fail, check out this article.)
But there are lots of other ingredients to making a new web presence a success. Good SEO, for example, is an ongoing process and often requires the help of SEO agencies with experience in your industry. Then there is the problem of SEO versus social media activities, which should you focus on? Google's algorithms don't like static websites which don't offer value to visitors, so a blogging strategy and original content creation is essential to making that new website worth its while. If you are writing for an international audience, for example, you may want to consider these useful tips.
Finally, marketing is all about the customer journey. You need to understand exactly where your customers is coming from and what they expect. We cover this in this article, "Intercepting the Customer Journey".