The Main Problem With Inbound Marketing

Brendan Egan

The Main Problem With Inbound Marketing

As every day goes by, the internet is becoming a more crowded place.  Think about this — in 1996, there were only 1.2 million websites on the internet.  Fast forward to 2002, and there were over ten times more sites — 15.6 million websites on the internet.  In early 2010, that number grew 10 times larger again to 148 million websites.  In 2013, we’re expected to grow that number 10 times larger again and hit 1 billion websites, with projections of 2 billion websites coming as soon as 2015.

Many businesses turned to search engine optimization, pay per click marketing, content marketing, and other online forms of inbound marketing because it was a fairly empty field full of low hanging fruit several years back.  Fast forward to today, and the internet is the busiest place there is to advertise, and has quickly become the most important place to advertise.
We’ve grown our business by implementing the exact strategies we offer to our clients — a strong focus on inbound marketing, developing referral channels, and leveraging the internet to work for us.  We’ve never employed a sales team, never advertised anywhere, and have never made a single cold call to develop business.  That’s not to say those methods don’t work, but we take great pride in growing our business through the very strategies we use for you, our clients.

The Crowded Field Of Inbound Marketing

Unless your business is Apple, you likely don’t get free press mentions on the nightly news, newspaper, millions of websites, and mentioned around the water cooler.  The reality is, the vast majority of businesses have direct competitors who do things virtually the same way as you (if not better) and while your business may not be a commodity, it’s probably closer to one than you may think.  I don’t say this to sound harsh, but simply say it because it’s the reality of business.  We try to differentiate ourselves every time we possibly can, yet at the end of the day we realize there’s tens of thousands of businesses with the exact same model and services that we offer.  And the more difficult part is all those businesses are fighting for a piece of the inbound marketing pie.
So what did these businesses do to try and get a bigger piece of the pie?  They jumped in head first, wallets open and started being more aggressive in their inbound marketing and content creation strategies.  But there’s a fatal flaw with this thought process — it isn’t about the amount of content you produce, but rather it’s about the quality of that content.

Garbage In Is Garbage Out

I would estimate that over 95% of companies engaged in an inbound marketing campaign are making at least one large mistake in how they run the campaign.  We have clients who are making large mistakes in their inbound marketing campaigns because they won’t heed our advise or don’t think our advise is the best use of their time.

It Has To Come From The Horse’s Mouth

Let’s take a look at the two most critical parts of any inbound marketing / content marketing campaign:
Inbound Content Marketing: Producing content with the intentions of it being shared on referral sites, social sites, and ranking high in search results.
Inbound Selling: Producing personalized content that is highly targeted at your prospects and will drive them along in the sales process while delivering value.
I would estimate again that 95% of companies doing an SEO campaign, inbound marketing campaign, or content marketing campaign are doing inbound content marketing, but aren’t doing inbound selling. Why? Because their content isn’t coming from the horse’s mouth.
Content marketing by throwing money at the problem, hiring outside writers, and trying to produce the most content possible will just continue to act as more garbage in an already overflowing garbage dump of content.  Every day I see more and more junk articles, top 5 lists that are the same across 100 different websites, and the same old pieces of content being produced over and over and over again.  If you want to stand out online in 2013, you have to think outside the box, produce quality content, and bond together inbound content marketing with inbound selling.

How Do We Do It?

You may be asking yourself, why is an inbound marketing company writing a blog post blasting how everyone is doing inbound marketing the wrong way and how they should be doing it in house?  Because we still play an integral part in our client’s successful marketing campaigns.  Here’s just a few of the things we do for our clients to ensure they have successful inbound campaigns:

  • Topic Research: What’s the point of producing content if it’s on a subject matter no one is searching for?  We research tens of thousands of search phrases and terms to identify what our clients should be producing content about
  • Optimization: Let’s face it, while our client’s are the ones with the knowledge of what their customers are looking for, we’re the ones with the knowledge on how to optimize that post to rank.  We optimize things like keyword density, title tags, headings, meta information, internal linking structure, image tags, keyword placement, and other elements to ensure the article has a good chance of ranking in search results
  • Promotion: An article isn’t going to promote itself.  We handle promoting the article through link building, content distribution, press releases, social sharing, micro sites when applicable, and other means to get that piece of content out there on the internet and ranking well in search results

In addition, we understand that our client’s don’t always have the time to spend 2-3 hours to sit down and write several 1,000+ word long pieces of high quality content each week.  So we do little things to take the stress off them and make content marketing take up as little time as possible.  Some of those things include:

  • In-House Writing: As we mentioned earlier, content has to come from the horse’s mouth, but many of our clients have been working with us for several years now, so we’ve come to know their business quite well and have the expertise to now produce high quality content on their behalf
  • Interviews: Interviews are a fantastic way to get high quality content.  We’ll take a 15 minute interview with one of our clients, make it into a video, podcast, and transcribe it in to a 2,000+ word post.  This content took a fraction of the amount of time to produce, yet is just as good if not better than our client writing a blog post for several hours.
  • Rich Media: A picture is still worth 1,000 words.  We work with our client’s to understand frequently asked questions in their industry, processes they do differently, or other unique elements of their business and can then create infographics, videos, and other rich media that easily gets distributed on the web
  • Case Studies/Testimonials: Perhaps the only better place to get content than from the business owner is from the business’ actual customers.  We work with your customers to get information from them and help develop high quality case studies and testimonials that basically allow your business to sell itself online.

These are just a few ways we work with our clients to ease the process of content marketing.  The bottom line is this: If you want to have a successful inbound marketing campaign in 2013, it’s going to have to center around high quality content production.  It’s no longer enough to do the same thing as your competitors.  If you want to take advantage of the billions of internet users today, you have to think outside the box, go the extra mile, and produce outstanding content.