This post explores and attempts to debunk some of the most common misconceptions people have about inbound marketing. After reviewing some basic inbound marketing facts in section one, we’ll explore inbound myths as they pertain to the four different stages (or actions) of the inbound methodology: Attract, Convert, Close, & Delight.
Myth #1: “Inbound marketing, content marketing, and SEO are competing ideologies.”
Let’s put this one to rest, shall we? Content marketing is the creation and distribution of quality content for a clearly defined targeted audience. So, naturally, content marketing is integral to every stage of the inbound methodology: attracting, converting, closing, and delighting. You can use targeted content to help accomplish all four of those actions.
But content marketing is just one piece of the inbound marketing equation. Search engine optimization (SEO), for example, is another. With SEO, you’re making it easier for people to discover your website and content, which is particularly helpful for the attract phase of the methodology.
Bottom line: this myth assumes a “this-or-that” approach to marketing. In reality, content marketing and SEO are both part of the broader inbound marketing family. Inbound is a holistic approach, combining many different marketing disciplines.
Myth #2: “It’s impossible to prove the ROI of inbound marketing.”
It’s totally possible. But, admittedly, the numbers could be better.
In a 2013 survey, 41% of marketers said they could prove inbound ROI for their company. 9% said inbound didn’t show ROI, while 34% couldn’t or didn’t try to calculate it. So unfortunately, about a third of marketers are struggling with -- or ignoring -- the data/analytics that could prove (or disprove) inbound ROI.
But of those marketers who did do the math, the majority saw that inbound marketing delivered.
Myth #3: “Inbound marketing and traditional marketing can’t play nice together.”
For years, we’ve been pretty outspoken about the evils of traditional or “outbound” marketing. It’s interruptive, the messaging is untargeted and (as a result) often irrelevant, and -- more generally -- it isn’t a sustainable long-term strategy.
With inbound, you’re growing an organic audience that will keep your sales funnel full of qualified leads for years to come. With traditional marketing, you’re paying for a temporary audience; an audience that is less likely to convert.
That’s not to say, however, that traditional marketing can’t be helpful, especially in the early stages of inbound marketing adoption. Building up a library of helpful, targeted content and growing an audience organically takes time. When you’re a marketing organization staring down monthly and quarterly goals, using traditional tactics as a supplement to your inbound strategy can make a lot of sense.
Myth #4: “Inbound marketing is a fad.”
Brett Michael's Love Bus was a fad. The Atkins diet was a fad. Pet rocks were a fad. They were all incredibly popular for a small blip of time, and then, poof. Something new came along and replaced them. Even if you ignore the adoption numbers, inbound marketing clearly doesn’t fall into the same category as the items above.
For starters, inbound marketing isn’t a toy (nor is it lining up to date Brett). But more importantly, inbound isn’t a single tactic; it’s the foundation that underlies a multitude of tactics. Even if one particular tactic eventually proves ineffective, your underlying methodology will remain in tact. Inbound will evolve with the times.
Myth #5: “No one is going to consume the content I create.”
If you’ve never done it before, creating content -- and publishing it consistently -- can seem like a daunting proposition. And this inbound marketing myth provides the perfect excuse: “Why should I waste my time and resources writing blog posts? I bet no one will read them anyway.”
But here’s the thing: if you create compelling content that’s targeted for a specific audience and optimized for search (i.e. easy for people to find), you will attract readers. And if you’re active on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networks, and are building up audiences there, you’ll have even more opportunities to get people engaging with what you’re creating.
Myth #6: “Blogging is a waste of time. It will never bring in customers.”
In fact, we’ve found that the more you blog, the more customers you’ll be able to trace back to your blog. Check this out: in a 2013 Hubspot survey, 43% of marketers said they had generated at least one customer from their blog. But when we look at marketers who were committed to blogging monthly -- publishing a post at least once a month -- 57% of them could trace customers back to their blogs. And finally, when we look at marketers who blogged daily, we find that a whopping 82% of them had generated customers from their blogs.
Myth #7: “The best time to post to social media is on X day at X o’clock.”
HubSpot’s social media scientist Dan Zarrella once used 2 years-worth of data to figure out the best days and times to post to various social media channels. KISSmetrics turned this data into an infographic, an excerpt of which is pictured below.
And while the data does indeed point to an ideal day and time to post in order to maximize shares, it fails to consider the uniqueness of the audience you are trying to target. It offers a general guideline -- but it doesn’t take your specific industry or customer knowledge into account. For example, “When is the best time to post in order to engage existing leads in my database vs. generate new leads?” is a question this data can’t answer.
Myth #8: “SEO is a scam. It can’t help me attract the right people to my site.”
SEO has been getting a bad rap lately, mostly due to its association with black hat tactics. Buying inbound links, participating in shady link-exchange programs, stuffing keywords into your content ... it’s all bad stuff that most marketers are smart enough to avoid.
Modern SEO does away with the black hat tactics and instead shifts its focus from search engines to searchers. The goal isn’t to trick a robot into pushing you higher in the rankings, it’s to appeal to actual human beings by providing quality results that those humans want to click.
Organic search leads are some of the highestconverting leads around.
Myth #9: “Creating unique landing pages is a waste of time.”
Au contraire! Creating unique landing pages (e.g. creating a new landing page with a distinct URL for each and every one of your gated ebooks, webinars, etc.) is an indispensable part of inbound marketing. Without landing pages, you’ll have a much harder time converting your website’s visitors into leads. According to the 2013 Hubspot survey, companies with 30+ landing pages generated 7 times more leads than companies with 1 to 5 landing pages. Meanwhile, companies with 40+ landing pages generated 12 times more leads than those with 1 to 5 landing pages. Clearly, landing pages and lead generation go handand-hand. What it comes down to is that the more landing pages you have ranking in search engines, showing up on social media sites, and getting forwarded through email, the more conversion opportunities there’ll be for potential leads.
Myth #10: “There is a magic marketing bullet.”