In the game of Battleship, the largest ship on the board is the aircraft carrier, and taking it out requires five direct hits. But some of the smaller ships can only sustain a couple of hits before they no longer stay afloat.
Your inbound marketing campaigns are similar — some may survive a number of mistakes and keep (barely) chugging along, but others simply won’t make it if you make fatal errors in your planning and execution.
HubSpot outlines six of the most deadly mistakes that doom inbound marketing campaigns in the infographic below:
Buyer personas that aren’t backed by data.
Marketing and sales departments that aren’t aligned.
Content that has no direction.
Failure to congregate content into hubs around key umbrella topics.
Promotion of content that misses the right channels.
Workflows that don’t sync to your customers’ buying cycles.
Don’t worry, though. There are ways to avoid the missteps that could torpedo your inbound marketing campaign.
1. Start by building detailed buyer personas. Among the characteristics you should identify for each buyer persona are: career background, demographics, communication preferences, industry and company size, job title or role, goals, and challenges. Find detailed information about how to gather the data you need and create personas to guide your inbound marketing strategies in Branding Mistake: Not Mapping Out Buyer Personas. You can also download examples here: Customer Persona Examples.
2. Ensure your marketing and sales departments are aligned. This means that each has a common understanding of goals, of definitions for terms such as a marketing-qualified lead, and of the contributions each bring to the success of the business. It also means sharing information as a two-way street about the content that is available and the information needs of leads and customers. Get more advice on how to bring the two together in these blog posts and resources:
- Rate Your Marketing-Sales Relationship
- Are Your Sales & Marketing Departments Communicating
- Complete Guide To Unifying Marketing & Sales
3. Give all content a purpose. This applies both to creating content that serves a purpose for the reader—solving your customer’s pain points—and to content that serves a purpose within the context of your inbound marketing campaign. As outlined here, high quality content solves a problem or tells a story, is useable (such as a template), is findable online, can be easily shared, and is technically sound. Your content should also be planned and created to fit into an inbound campaign that gains awareness for your brand, guides leads through the consideration process, provides information needed for a decision and follows through even after the sale is complete. Plan your content to fill all levels of the sales funnel.
4. Develop content hubs that offer complete collections of content around a single subject. Here is an example of our content surrounding the first solution we presented in this post—buyer personas. We developed blog posts, a whitepaper, examples, and a worksheet for applying personas to content planning.
All of these pieces of content work together to provide our readers with complete, actionable information on addressing one of the key pain points marketers face.
5. Carefully plan and execute promotion of your content to reach your target market. No matter how great your content is, it still needs to be pushed out to the right audiences in order to drive website traffic and lead generation. When used as a cohesive set of tools, all of your content channels should complement and promote one another, from sharing blog posts on social media channels, to writing blog posts about bylined articles published in industry media, and linking from emails to landing pages for downloadable whitepapers and reports. Here’s more on content promotion:
- 6 Signs Your Blog Promotion Is Lacking
- Blogging Mistake: Not Promoting Your Blog
- Rate Your Marketing Content Creation & Promotion
- 5 Ways To Promote Your Marketing Content (infographic)
6. Match your lead nurturing efforts to your customers’ sales cycle. Build your content strategy and campaigns around the customer sales cycle, ensuring that you have enough content to continue to make connections and offer useful information and resources for the length of time it takes for your customer to reach a purchase decision. This means filling the sales funnel from top to bottom and creating a detailed lead nurturing workflow of emails and offers. Use these tools and tips to get the timing right:
- 5 Things You Need To Know About Lead Nurturing Campaigns
- 3 Stats & 3 Steps That Explain Why Lead Nurturing Shortens The Sales Cycle
- Content Strategy For All Stages Of The Sales Funnel
- Campaign Planning Calendar Template
- Lead Nurturing Toolkit
Take a closer look at your entire inbound marketing program to see if there are holes in the hull just waiting to take you down, and start patching them right away with these additional resources:
- Rate Your Inbound Marketing Program Scorecard
- Inbound Marketing’s Top 5 Challenges Problem/Solution Paper
You can also schedule a no-obligation consultation with me if you’d like to chat about how simple changes may be the key to keeping your inbound marketing program afloat and charging full speed ahead through even the roughest of seas.