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Top 5 Problems with Inbound Marketing (and How to Avoid Them)

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Studies show that inbound marketing has become an increasingly popular strategy for businesses worldwide, with 75% of marketers seeing it as an effective strategy.

An inbound approach is human, customer-centered, focused on a specific persona, educates and helps first, and delivers an overall superior customer experience.

Businesses can establish trust and generate qualified leads by creating valuable content centered around answering buyers’ questions.

However, as with any marketing strategy, potential pitfalls can undermine the effectiveness of inbound marketing efforts.

We will explore the top 5 problems with inbound marketing and provide solutions for how to avoid them.

Whether you're just starting with inbound marketing or looking to optimize your existing strategy, this article will provide valuable insights on how to get the most out of your efforts.

Have you ever thought, “Am I making avoidable mistakes in my inbound marketing efforts?” or “What am I doing wrong with my inbound marketing strategy?”

If so, you’ll want to read on.

Let's look at the top 5 problems with inbound marketing (and how you can avoid them).

  1. You're focusing on the wrong metrics
  2. You have the wrong expectations
  3. Your content is too focused on lead generation
  4. Your content only addresses the awareness stage of the buyer's journey
  5. You're using spammy marketing automation

Problem 1: You’re Focusing on the Wrong Metrics

Various metrics are used to measure the success of inbound.

One of the most common metrics is website traffic. While website traffic is a crucial metric, it's not always the best indicator of success. It’s what we like to call a “vanity metric.” Meaning it helps you look good but doesn't help you understand your true performance.

In many cases, focusing on revenue-related metrics is more important than traffic-related metrics. Revenue-related metrics, such as sales pipeline velocity, provide a clear picture of how well a marketing campaign generates revenue and contributes to the bottom line.

Solution: Focus on Revenue-related Metrics

Revenue-related metrics provide a clear indication of the ROI of a marketing campaign.

By comparing the revenue generated to the cost of the campaign, businesses can determine whether the campaign is profitable or not. This information can help businesses decide where to allocate their marketing budget and which campaigns to run.

Revenue-related metrics can help identify which marketing channels are generating the most revenue.

By analyzing revenue data across different marketing channels, businesses can determine which channels are the most effective at generating revenue and adjust their marketing strategy accordingly. Businesses can then optimize their marketing campaigns and maximize their ROI.

Revenue-related metrics businesses identify areas where they can improve their marketing strategy.

For example, if a business has a high customer acquisition cost, the marketing strategy needs to be refined to attract more qualified leads. By identifying areas for improvement, businesses can change their marketing strategy to drive more revenue and increase profitability.

Overall, while website traffic is an important metric, businesses should focus on revenue-related metrics to determine the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.

By tracking these metrics and using the insights gained to optimize their marketing strategy, businesses can increase their revenue, improve their profitability, and grow their business over time.

Four key metrics are to determine your business's sales pipeline velocity and show how much revenue you can generate over a certain period.

Sales Pipeline Velocity Equation

sales pipeline velocity equation[source]

Let’s break these four metrics down and show you how you can use them to your advantage:

  • Number of qualified leads: The total number of prospects who have shown interest in your product or service and meet your predefined criteria of a good fit. By tracking the number of qualified leads, businesses can determine whether they are attracting enough potential customers to meet their sales goals and adjust their marketing strategy accordingly.
  • Win rate: The percentage of qualified leads that ultimately convert into paying customers. A higher win rate means more qualified leads are converting, which is a positive sign for the business. By tracking the win rate, companies can determine the effectiveness of their sales process and identify areas for improvement.
  • Sales cycle length: The amount of time it takes for a qualified lead to become a paying customer. A shorter sales cycle is better, as it means that the business can close deals more quickly and generate revenue more rapidly. By tracking the sales cycle length, companies can identify areas where the sales process may be slowing down and take steps to streamline the process and speed up the sales cycle.
  • Average deal size: The average amount of revenue generated per sale. A larger average deal size means that each sale generates more revenue. By tracking the average deal size, businesses can determine whether they're attracting the right customers and adjust their pricing strategy or marketing efforts accordingly.

By focusing on the right metrics and aligning them with your goals, you can ensure that your content marketing efforts are practical and drive the desired results.

Problem 2: You Have the Wrong Expectations

Content marketing is a powerful business tool to attract, engage, and convert potential customers.

By creating valuable and relevant content, businesses can support the buying process, from awareness to consideration to decision-making.

While some may expect inbound marketing to start driving new business immediately, this is not always the case. It takes time to see the full impact of inbound marketing efforts on revenue, but it will be worth it. 

In a sales setting, content can educate and inform prospects about a product or service. This can help build trust and establish authority, increasing the likelihood of a sale. 

For example, a salesperson might use a case study or a product demo video to showcase the benefits of a product and answer any questions the prospect might have.Over time, content marketing efforts can also benefit a business's SEO and social media efforts. 

By creating high-quality content targeting specific keywords and topics, businesses can improve their search engine rankings and attract more organic traffic. 

Additionally, by sharing content on social media platforms, businesses can increase their reach and engagement with their target audience.

However, it's important to remember that content marketing is a long-term strategy that requires consistency and effort. It's not a quick fix for generating leads or driving sales.

Instead, it's a way to build relationships with potential customers by providing valuable and informative content addressing their pain points and answering questions to help them make a purchasing decision.

By using content marketing in a sales setting first, you’ll be able to see the immediate benefits of the strategy while laying the foundation for long-term success.

Over time, as your SEO and social media efforts begin to bear fruit, they can further enhance your content marketing efforts and continue to attract and engage potential customers throughout the buying process.

The problem of wrong expectations in content marketing can lead to disappointment and frustration for marketers and their audiences.

Solution: Manage Expectations for the Long Term 

  • Set clear goals: Before starting a content marketing campaign, it's essential to define the goals and objectives. This will help to manage expectations and ensure that everyone involved understands what success looks like.
  • Manage expectations: Manage expectations by being realistic about what content marketing can achieve. Content marketing is a long-term strategy that requires consistency, patience, and effort. Therefore, setting realistic expectations and communicating them clearly to the stakeholders is important.
  • Focus on quality: Quality content is essential for building trust, establishing authority, and driving engagement. By producing high-quality content, businesses can create a positive impression on their audience, increasing engagement and conversions.
  • Measure and analyze results: Measuring and analyzing the results of a content marketing campaign is crucial for understanding what's working and what's not. This information can be used to adjust the strategy and improve future content marketing efforts.
  • Educate salespeople: It's important to educate salespeople about the value of content marketing and what it can achieve. This will help to manage expectations and build support for the strategy.

By setting the right expectations, inbound marketing can positively affect your reputation and long-term success. A well-rounded content strategy prioritizes providing value to your audience over solely generating leads

Many businesses have become laser-focused on lead generation, putting all their efforts and resources into attracting new customers without considering other important aspects of their content strategy. 

This brings us to our next problem…

Problem 3: Your Content is Focused on Lead Generation Only

The problem with content that is more focused on lead generation than on providing value is it can come across as overly promotional and pushy to potential customers. 

Content designed to solely capture leads results in the following:

  • Low engagement 
  • High bounce rates 
  • Fewer conversions

Here are some reasons why content is too focused on lead generation can be problematic:

Lead gen tactics can turn off potential customers.

If your content is too sales or promotional, it can feel like you are not interested in providing value to your audience but instead just trying to sell them something. This can turn off potential customers looking for valuable information and insights.

Lead gen tactics can damage your brand reputation.

If prospects perceive your content as too focused on lead generation, it can damage your brand reputation. People may view your brand as pushy or aggressive, harming your relationship with your audience.

Lead gen tactics can lead to low-quality leads.

If your content only focuses on lead generation, you may attract leads who are not genuinely interested in your offerings. These low-quality leads waste time and resources and may not lead to conversions.

Lead gen tactics can limit your content's reach.

Content focused on lead generation may be shared or engaged with less than content that provides genuine value, limiting your content's reach and reducing its effectiveness in generating qualified leads.

Overall, balancing lead generation and providing value to your audience is important.

Creating high-quality, genuinely helpful, and informative content can attract interested qualified leads while building a solid brand reputation and loyal following.

Concerned that your content is too focused on lead generation?

Solution: Focus on Helping Not Selling

  • Refocus your content: Rather than creating content solely focused on lead generation, try to shift your focus to creating content that is genuinely helpful and informative to your audience. This can include content topics such as cost, comparisons, and potential problems with your offerings and can take the form of how-to guides, case studies, industry insights, and blog posts. By providing valuable content to your audience, you will naturally attract qualified leads genuinely interested in your offerings.
  • Diversify your content mix: If you heavily rely on gated content or lead magnets to generate leads, consider diversifying your content mix. For example, you can create guides, videos, podcasts, social media content, or webinars that do not require an email address or name to view. This will lessen prospects’ frustrations when researching your products and services. 
  • Improve your targeting: If your content is too focused on lead generation, it could indicate that your targeting needs improvement. Make sure that you are targeting the right audience with your content. This will help ensure your content resonates with your target audience and generates high-quality leads.
  • Reassess your metrics: If you are measuring the success of your content solely based on lead generation, it may be time to reassess your metrics. Consider tracking revenue-related metrics, such as win rate, number of qualified leads, sales cycle length, and average deal size. These metrics can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your content and help you refine your strategy.

Above all the rest, your focus should be on answering customer questions.

While lead generation is a crucial aspect of any marketing strategy, it should not be the sole focus.

An inbound marketing strategy that solely focuses on generating leads may result in missed opportunities to engage and nurture potential customers throughout their buying journey.

Next, let’s turn our attention to another issue you might be facing and explore the actions you can take to prevent it.

Problem 4: Your Content Only Addresses the Awareness Stage of the Buyer's Journey

The awareness stage is the first stage of the buyer's journey in which a potential customer becomes aware of a problem or need they have. 

In the awareness stage, prospects research and gather information to understand their situation and potential solutions. They may still need to be made aware of specific products or services you offer.

Awareness stage content is informative, educational, and helpful in guiding prospects toward a solution while aiming to establish the business as a trusted authority on the subject.

Types of content that can be effective in the awareness stage:

  • Explainer videos
  • Infographics
  • Blog posts
  • eBooks, white papers, or guides
  • Industry reports

The key is to provide value to your potential customers without being too promotional or "salesy."

By creating helpful and informative content, businesses can build trust and credibility with potential customers, leading to conversions further down the buyer's journey.

But why do some companies tend to only focus on creating content for the awareness stage of the buyer's journey?

There are a few reasons:

  • Lack of understanding: Some businesses may not fully understand the buyer's journey and the importance of guiding potential customers through each stage. They may believe that simply creating awareness is enough to generate sales.
  • Misaligned goals: In some cases, the marketing team may be measured solely on metrics related to generating leads or website traffic, leading them to focus more on the awareness stage.
  • Limited resources: In some cases, businesses may have limited resources to devote to marketing and may prioritize activities perceived as being more critical, such as creating awareness.
  • Short-term focus: Some businesses may focus solely on short-term results and may not consider the long-term impact of guiding potential customers through the entire buyer's journey.

Solution: Create Content for All Stages of the Buyer's Journey

Overall, it's vital to recognize the importance of guiding potential customers through each stage of the buyer's journey and create content that addresses each stage. 

By doing so, you can increase the likelihood of conversions and build stronger, long-term relationships with customers.

Create content that addresses each stage of the buying journey, especially the consideration and decision stages. This will help guide potential customers through the entire buying journey and increase the likelihood of conversions.

buyers journey

Let's look at these two stages more in depth.

The Consideration Stage

The consideration stage is an integral part of the buyer's journey, where potential customers actively research and evaluate different solutions to their problems. During this stage, buyers consider various options and determine the best fit for their needs.

As a marketer, it's important to understand that buyers in the consideration stage seek information and guidance. They want to learn more about the different options available to them, and they're often open to input and advice from experts in the field.

Types of content that can be effective in the consideration stage include:

  1. Comparison Guides
  2. Case Studies
  3. Expert Reviews
  4. Webinars or Demos
  5. Product Videos

To effectively engage buyers in the consideration stage, content should be approachable and helpful. This means providing clear and concise information about your product or service and answering any questions they may have in a friendly and approachable manner.

It's also important to focus on the benefits of your product or service rather than just the features. Buyers want to know how your solution can help solve their problems and improve their lives, so be sure to highlight the specific benefits and outcomes they can expect.

Taking a helpful approach to consideration-stage content can go a long way in building trust and credibility with potential customers.

The Decision Stage

The decision stage is the final stage in the buyer's journey, where potential customers are ready to purchase. At this stage, buyers have done their research, evaluated different solutions, and are now ready to choose the option that best meets their needs.

As a marketer, it's important to understand that buyers in the decision stage are looking for a clear and straightforward path to purchase. They want to feel confident that they're making the right decision, and they're often looking for reassurance and support.

To effectively engage buyers in the decision stage, your content should be approachable, transparent, and helpful

This means providing clear information about pricing, service availability, any other relevant details to the buying process, and being available to answer any questions or concerns they may have.

Make the purchasing process as easy and seamless as possible. This means offering multiple payment options, providing clear instructions for placing an order, and offering support throughout the process.

Types of content that can be effective in the decision stage:

  1. Product Comparison
  2. Testimonials, Reviews, and Success Stories
  3. Free Trials
  4. Product Demos
  5. “Our Story” Pages 

The decision stage is the culmination of the buyer's journey, and taking an approachable and helpful approach can go a long way in sealing the deal. 

By providing clear and concise information, addressing concerns, and making the purchasing process easy, you can increase the likelihood that buyers will choose your solution and become happy customers.

By utilizing bottom of funnel content, you can increase the likelihood of conversions and improve the effectiveness of your content strategy.

Lastly, we will discuss another prevalent issue in marketing automation and provide solutions to avoid it.

Problem 5: You're Using Spammy Marketing Automation

Spammy automation has become a growing problem in digital marketing. 

As businesses increasingly turn to automated marketing tools to streamline their processes, there has been a rise in spammy and impersonal marketing messages that can turn off potential customers. 

This type of marketing automation harms the brand's reputation and leads to decreased engagement, conversion rates, and, ultimately, revenue. 

So, what is marketing automation anyways?

Marketing automation uses technology to streamline and automate marketing tasks like email campaigns, social media posting, and lead generation.

Marketing automation software can help businesses save time and resources by allowing them to schedule and send targeted messages to the right audience at the right time.

However, marketing automation can become harmful if used incorrectly.

When you rely too heavily on automation and neglect a personal touch, it can be impersonal and generic to recipients. This can lead to customers feeling bombarded with messages that don't resonate with them, ultimately resulting in unsubscribes or even marking emails as spam.

When businesses use automation to send unsolicited messages to people who haven't consented to receive them, it can be considered spam. 

Businesses need to strike a balance between automation and personalization to ensure their messages are well-received by their audience. They must always adhere to ethical marketing practices, including obtaining consent from recipients before sending marketing messages.

Solution: Intentional & Personalized Automation

To effectively use marketing automation, it's essential to be intentional about its use; use automation to stay on task rather than just sending generic automated emails. 

For example, sales team members can use automation in their CRM to remind them to follow up with prospects, schedule appointments, and send personalized emails based on the prospect’s behavior and interests.

By automating these tasks, sales reps can focus on building relationships with prospects and closing deals, ultimately leading to increased revenue and business growth.

Additionally, automation can help businesses track and analyze customer data more effectively, informing their sales and marketing strategies and leading to more targeted and effective campaigns.

Personalization is key. This means tailoring content to the specific needs and interests of the prospect or customer.

For email marketing, it's generally acceptable to use automation with the receiver's consent. Remember only to send content that people have signed up for rather than bombarding them with irrelevant messages. Invading inboxes with unwanted emails can be a quick way to lose trust and interest.

Instead, let your email subscribers know what else you offer and see if they would like to subscribe to those extra emails or newsletters. By doing so, you can increase engagement while avoiding being invasive with their marketing tactics.

While marketing automation can be effective for businesses, using it thoughtfully and with intention is important.

By creating valuable content, engaging with your audience, and analyzing your results, you can build trust and credibility with your audience while attracting and converting new customers.


Now that we have covered 5 inbound marketing mistakes and ways to avoid them, let’s look at how you can continue using inbound marketing successfully from here on out.

Your inbound marketing strategy should be scalable and sustainable over time. And to be successful, the entire organization must embrace a culture of content.

This means understanding that content is not just a marketing tactic but a way to educate and provide value to consumers.

Organizations must see themselves as the best educators in their respective spaces and use content to build trust and credibility with their audience. 

By embracing this culture of content, businesses can grow sustainably for the long term rather than relying on short-term tactics.

Inbound marketing should be a fundamental part of the organization's strategy.

When applicable, everyone in the company should be involved in creating and promoting content that educates their prospects.

Inbound marketing is an effective way to attract and engage with potential customers, but ensuring its long-term sustainability is necessary

Have questions?

Are you looking for more information on how to avoid common pitfalls within your inbound marketing strategy or about inbound marketing in general?

Schedule some time to talk with us today!

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