Stephen Bush is an inbound marketing and consulting expert. He is Chief Business Writer and CEO for AEX Commercial Financing Group.
Inbound Marketing: Educational and Customer-Centric
Marketing strategies have shifted from traditional marketer-centric strategies like advertising and cold calling to educational and customer-centric strategies like white papers and case studies. The contemporary marketing variation known as inbound marketing is referred to as customer-centric because consumers are in charge and at the center of the sales process. By comparison, marketers were in charge of marketing techniques in favor during an earlier era—sellers typically decided when and how potential buyers would receive most information.
Even though the marketing transition has been dramatic, it is possible (even likely) that many organizations are still stuck in the past with yesterday’s sales processes. Why haven’t organizations adapted to the consumer and marketing shifts? Change can be difficult for companies and organizations of all sizes—especially if there is a perception by key decision-makers that the old techniques are still working.
How can profit and quality results be improved with inbound marketing? Spending less time and money on activities like cold calling and advertising will enable most organizations to improve their bottom line almost immediately. Reallocating some resources to quality improvements is an effective way to boost quality at the same time—and this will ideally increase sales revenues.
Of equal importance, how can inbound marketing processes be improved? To help organizations take inbound marketing to a higher level, here are three practical suggestions for implementing and improving inbound marketing strategies:
- Successful inbound marketing requires more than a blog.
- Inbound marketing can fail due to avoidable mistakes.
- For effective inbound marketing, being found on the Internet is not enough.
All three points about inbound marketing are discussed below in more detail.
Thinking Outside of the Blog
Despite the history and rich tradition of blogging, the use of blogs by organizations of all sizes often suffers from erratic quality and excessive expectations. For example, finding specific information on a typical blog is frequently frustrating for new visitors—this is not the experience you want a prospective customer to have when they are seeking educational content on your website.
Whether you are dedicated to your organization’s blog or not, the inbound marketing suggestion here is to do “more”—for example, an inbound marketing “portfolio” that includes extended articles, white papers, and case studies is one prudent path to pursue.
The list of avoidable mistakes described in the following section pertains to all forms of business writing. To be clear, the three tools just mentioned are not as easy to implement as making a short blog post—but your customers also expect “more.”
Examples: Think Outside of the Blog
There are no mistakes, save one: the failure to learn from a mistake.
— Robert Fripp
Common Mistakes to Avoid with Inbound Marketing
When it’s done right, inbound marketing can improve both quality and profit outcomes. Unfortunately, when it’s not executed properly, managers will be tempted to revert to the “old ways” of doing things. With this in mind, a list of “12 common inbound marketing mistakes” is included here.
As suggested by the Robert Fripp and Andy Rooney quotes above and below this section, mistakes are inevitable in both business and life. One prudent inbound marketing strategy is to learn valuable lessons from any mistake and move forward to your next decision. However, preventing problems and mistakes is also a smart strategy—as observed by Albert Einstein, “Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them.”
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Why is duplicate content a major inbound marketing mistake? Would prospective buyers know that what they are reading is duplicate content? Here’s one answer—many readers will not find your content in the first place via search engines if it is treated as duplicate content. With an increasing volume of duplicate content for search engines to sift through, it looks like current search algorithms often ignore the original as well as the copies.
Albert Einstein offered some additional wisdom about repeatedly making the same mistake with his definition—"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Many inbound marketing mistakes are easily avoidable. The goal here is to help you prevent common inbound marketing mistakes (12 candidates are listed in the table below) by anticipating them before they impact your sales process.
We're all proud of making little mistakes. It gives us the feeling we don't make any big ones.
— Andy Rooney
12 Common Inbound Marketing Mistakes That Are Avoidable
|Mistakes to Avoid|
Too much promotion
Overlooking niche audiences
Using old solutions for new inbound marketing problems
Article and content spinning
Settling for low-quality content writing
Oversimplifying business writing
Repeating mistakes over and over again
Stock photo images
You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a Good First Impression (Will Rogers)
When evaluating new services and products, prospective customers have high expectations. Will they be impressed when they find your website and educational content on the Internet? Enhancing your social media image and search engine standings won’t help much if the content on your website is anything less than high-quality, accurate, and informative. This is truly a high standard that you can’t afford to get wrong—repeat visits and purchases depend on it.
If some of your website content is produced by a “low bidder” from outside your organization, you might want to rethink that strategy—being viewed as different and unique in the eyes of your prospective customers might require using the highest bidders.
In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.
— Coco Chanel
Pros and Cons: Unique Customer-Centric Textual Images
If you’re not sure what a textual image is, take a look at the images used in this article—they feature terms like inbound marketing and customer-centric. Rather than showing a photo of people or things, a textual image shows words and phrases that are relevant to the written content. These images can be used in articles, press releases, white papers, case studies, videos, and presentations.
Why are unique images important in business writing and inbound marketing? Just as Google is reducing the value and search engine results for duplicate written content, a similar penalty for duplicate visual content like stock photo images can also produce a negative impact for SEO strategies.
Using textual images is rarely a “one size fits all” decision. With inbound marketing choices involving textual images or anything else, remember to be “customer-centric.” Five pros and cons of using textual images with inbound marketing content are shown in the following table.
Using Customized Textual Images: 5 Pros and Cons
Visual cues for readers
Failure to add new information
Provide breakpoint or pause
Reduced quality if blurred
Support visual communication
Some sites prefer "regular" photos
Ideal for presentation formats
Reputation as too cute or clever
Can display unique images
Possible costs or royalty fees
With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines and social media. Unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing does not need to fight for potential customers’ attention.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Stephen Bush