A year ago, I made the decision to go all-in on an inbound marketing strategy with my agency, Clariant Creative.
I had been doing bits and pieces of inbound marketing for years, but at the end of 2015 I decided to pull it all together, become a HubSpot agency partner, and focus on not only delivering inbound marketing services to my clients but also on using inbound marketing for my agency as well.
It’s been an interesting journey – sometimes rocky, sometimes exhilarating.
Here are the lessons I’ve learned. If you’re thinking about jumping into inbound this year, pay attention.
1. Inbound Marketing Takes Time
Trust me, the ROI of inbound marketing will come. But it won’t come overnight.
The exact time to results will depend on several factors, such as:
- What content do you already have that you can leverage to jumpstart your inbound marketing strategy?
- How big and how targeted is your existing email list and/or social media followers? Do you already have an audience that consists of target buyers who are ready for your content, or do you need to build one?
- In what shape is your website currently? Do you currently rank well in the search engines for any important keywords?
- What is your reputation in your market? Do people already perceive your company as a source of expertise, or are you merely a vendor?
At a minimum, expect a solid six months to see significant results. There are a lot of moving parts to an inbound marketing strategy, and most companies will need to build at least some of those parts (if not all of them) from scratch.
Which leads to my next lesson …
2. Inbound Marketing Takes Resources
Inbound marketing is a hungry beast. It requires constant feeding of must-read content that is high quality, highly informative, highly creative, highly engaging, highly targeted … well, you get the point.
Great content requires both talent and expertise.
Simply creating the content isn’t enough, either. You’ve got to get your target audience to read your content, too. This may mean …
- Building an email list or social media following
- Building backlinks to your website to help rank higher in the search engines
- Building relationships with other bloggers, subject matter experts or industry publications
And it will most definitely mean planning your content strategy with care. If you think you can simply jump in and write on whatever topic is top of mind that day – or worse, only write on the days when you have time, you’re going to end up executing your strategy in a haphazard way.
If you’re a team of one, the truth is you’re going to struggle to keep up. It takes a village to raise an inbound marketing powerhouse. Start building your network of resources now.
Related Content: Building Your Best Content Marketing Team
3. Inbound Marketing Shouldn’t Be Your Only Tactic
Inbound marketing is hands-down the best way to make sure buyers can find your solution online and guide them to the inevitable conclusion that your solution is their best choice.
However. That doesn’t mean inbound marketing is the only marketing strategy you should use.
- Brand awareness still counts – which means there’s still a role for traditional advertising.
- Face-to-face engagement still counts – which means there’s still a role for tradeshows.
- Heck, in today’s era of all-digital-all-the-time, there’s something to be said about the appeal of getting a package in your mailbox – which means there’s still a role for direct mail, too.
Don’t put all your eggs into one basket … even a basket as appealing, popular and effective as inbound marketing.
Is Inbound Marketing Worth the Hassle?
Few marketing techniques have hit the industry with such force as inbound marketing. It’s on every business marketer’s mind these days, and it’s a great time to be an inbound marketing agency.
Make no mistake, I firmly believe inbound marketing is the right approach for nearly every business out there. But there are things you need to know.
Plan for hiccups. Expect obstacles. They’re going to happen, and that’s okay. If you go into your inbound marketing strategy with eyes wide open, those challenges won’t derail you, and you’ll be able to keep your eye on the prize: powerful ROI, delighted customers, and a rock-solid bottom line.