The 2015 B2B Digital Marketing Strategy Benchmarks report revealed that business, marketing, and sales professionals find three digital marketing tactics particularly difficult to execute: social media, content marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO). It’s no coincidence that all three of these challenge areas fall within the broader category of inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is still a relative newcomer to the marketing and sales arsenal, and represents a significant paradigm shift compared with traditional marketing methods. As such, it’s required a learning curve.
Some of the reasons these techniques present problems for marketers include:
- Difficulty getting buy-in: Since inbound marketing strategies represent a significant departure from “what we’ve always done,” some executives are reluctant to invest too heavily in inbound tactics. Even when higher-ups recognize that inbound marketing can’t be ignored, lack of understanding may limit the resources devoted to inbound strategies.
- Perceived difficulty in measuring ROI: One reason it may be difficult for marketers to get buy-in for their inbound marketing plans is the perceived difficulty in measuring the return on investment associated with strategies like social media marketing. In fact, today’s sophisticated tracking and analytics platforms make measuring the return on most digital marketing efforts a straightforward and reliable process. However, the understanding and implementation of those measurement tools hasn’t caught up at many companies. In 2014, 49% of B2B and 51% of B2C marketers reported difficulty with measuring content marketing returns.
- Rapid evolution: Inbound marketing best practices change quickly, for a variety of reasons. In part, the shifts are a result of the newness of the approach and the experimentation and adjustment that occurs when any practice is in its fledgling stages. In part, changes come about as once-effective techniques are overused and creative, adaptable marketers find new ways to stay ahead of the curve. And, in part, the changes are externally imposed in response to some marketers learning to game the system. The most clear example of the latter is the frequent updates to Google’s search ranking algorithms.
- Time commitment: Traditional methods such as print and television advertising tended toward an up-front investment that ended with placement. Copywriters and designers would collaborate to create an advertisement and someone else would place the ad in appropriate outlets, and then everyone would sit back and wait for the phone to ring. Of course, new initiatives would be underway, but the work on that particular campaign was largely complete. The three inbound marketing strategies listed as most difficult all require an ongoing investment: regular engagement in social media, a steady flow of high quality content, and fresh SEO content updated to keep pace with algorithm changes.
Unfortunately for those marketers daunted by the difficulties, these three tough tactics also scored high for effectiveness. 48% of survey respondents listed SEO among their most effective marketing efforts, while 43% included content marketing and 41% social media. Clearly, it’s worth the investment to overcome the obstacles—real and perceived—and make good use of inbound marketing strategies.
Fortunately, a little education and the right tools make inbound marketing easier to implement, measure, and optimize than you may expect. And, with the improved execution and efficiency that analytics bring, these strategies will become even more powerful than they currently appear.