“So you are ready to start an inbound marketing campaign. Great! All you need to do is follow 3 simple steps, and you will see tons of new business automagically! ” Well, not so fast. While there are tons of videos and pieces of content professing to have the secret to fast growth, the truth is real growth takes time and a lot of hard work.
In this episode of “Hack My Growth,” I break down what it looks like to start an inbound campaign and how unrealistic expectations can lead to quitting before you ever reap the benefits. So let’s dive into the truth together, shall we?
Hey, what’s going on everybody? Welcome to Hack My Growth. Today we’re going to be talking about inbound marketing, and the concept as a whole. Since 2013 inbound marketing has really seen a rise and it encompasses a number of different digital market tactics like SEO, content marketing, and social media marketing. The goal behind inbound marketing which is also referred to as cool marketing is to influence people to build that relationship so that they start to take an interest in your brand, followed by actions like downloading a white paper or interacting with your business, saying “Hey, I want to learn more.” So, instead of jumping in front of somebody and interrupting them with an advertisement, inbound marketing is all about driving them back to your brand. It kind of follows this funnel that we have over here on the whiteboard. Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight.
Today we’re going to be talking about some of the common misconceptions when it comes to inbound marketing. A lot of times I’m speaking with business owners that want to get started building their brand online. They’ve had a website, and they’ve done some search engine optimization, but they really haven’t gained any traction, and they want to see results. Many of them need to see results immediately, and they think, “If I get behind this inbound thing, I do some SEO and some content marketing, wham, I’m going to have tons of visits and tons of interactions.” Because we see all those videos, “How to Rank Overnight for a Billion Visitors.” You watch these videos, and you see people getting these magical results really quickly, and you assume that’s just the way it should be for everybody.
But the reality is, that’s not how it works. Growth takes time. Real growth, with the people you want to interact with and actually attract to your site, takes time. The first phase of inbound is Attract. In this Attract phase of inbound, we’re doing things like SEO, and optimizing our site for search. We’re doing content marketing. We’re also doing social; we’re doing some email. There are a number of other ways that you can reach out. You can even use traditional marketing methods to attract people to your business. This is all pulling people into this funnel. After you’re driving the traffic and you’re driving the right people to your site, which takes time in and of itself, then you need to work on converting them. This is where you have offers, forms, and types of things that people would actually want to engage with. Not just putting up a piece of content that you hope somebody wants, but actually learning about your buyers. The reason this process takes a lot longer if you do it right is that you have to do the research to understand the person.
Behind every single one of these metrics is a person who wants to do business with you, or could potentially want to do business with you. But, unless you actually meet their needs, they’re never gonna go through this process. The end goal of inbound marketing is to delight. The reason we want to delight our customers is that then they become referrals. We all know (I don’t care what stream, or what channel of marketing you do) a personal referral is still the best form of marketing. It creates the most engagement for any brand. If you can get your users in your customer base to be pumped about who you are, they’re going to send more people to the top of your funnel who are ready to buy than any other marketing tactics. These will actually funnel people in. But, as you notice, the funnel gets smaller as it goes down. It’s because people fall off. Maybe somebody just wants to read your content, but they really don’t want to buy your product. You’re just adding content value to their lives.
Maybe somebody kind of gets to this middle stage and realizes, “Hey, this really isn’t for me. I think I’m going to head this direction.” So, the funnel gets narrower as it hits the bottom. If you can start to really engage your customer base, it actually makes the top even bigger because now you’re filling it with more people, but the best part is you’re filling it with people who actually want to do business with you. Growth takes time. When you start doing this stuff a lot of people expect to see this giant spike in traffic, and sometimes you do see that. Sometimes you start getting a social presence, and it just takes off. But, most of the time, you start to see this slow and steady growth. In Google Analytics, it actually looks more like this. That’s because you have days and weeks, but what you want to see is this trend line upward. About that first year or so you’re really going to see traffic grow minimally.
Maybe you see a big spike, but it’s really going to start to plateau. What happens is, about the six-month mark, people start to quit. They start to give in, and they start to say, “You know what? This is too hard; this content marketing thing’s too hard, this building link is too hard, I quit.” If you do that what happens is you end up plateauing, and oftentimes trailing back downward. Now, all of that effort you put in for that entire six months or a year actually goes to waste because you got frustrated and you didn’t have enough of the guts to push through the pain of growth. What happens is, if you continue to put in the effort, it actually starts to grow exponentially over time and compounds on itself, and that’s where you see growth start to skyrocket. But, honestly, it doesn’t usually happen until midway through that second-year mark, depending on your industry.
Now, this is a very broad example. What it shows is that if you continue to invest, and you continue to put effort into the process, you will reap what you sow. If you stop doing the work, traffic trends go in the exact opposite direction, and everything’s just going to tank, and you go back down to where you were, and you’ll be frustrated because you haven’t seen growth. When I started going full-funnel inbound marketing for my business, it took me 12 months to really see that needle start to move. I was getting leads, and there were things I was doing to generate business, but I really wasn’t seeing the full return on investment for inbound. I was blogging three times a week; I was active on social media, and I also had to fill client services. I had a lot of stuff going on, and I had every excuse to say, “This is too hard, I’m not going to do it.”
But, what I see now, is there are pieces of content I wrote one year ago, two years ago, and evergreen pieces of content that are still relevant today, are now once again delivering more targeted people to the top of my funnel. When it comes to inbound marketing quick fixes aren’t the answer, not as a long-term strategy, and growth is a long-term gain. So, when you’re starting your strategy set yourself up for success by having the right expectations, and don’t expect yourself just to see results because you’re blogging now. Do the work, be consistent, and in time you’ll see the results and the benefit of that work. Hope you guys learned something from this episode. Until next time, happy marketing.