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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistMon, Oct 31, 2016 9 min read

Boo! Your Inbound Marketing Program Is Underperforming And That's Scary

It Might Be You, It Might Be Your Team Or It Might Be Your Inbound Marketing Agency

Inbound Marketing Isn't Scary.jpgOne thing I can tell you is it’s not inbound marketing. It’s human nature to question things when they don’t turn out as planned. If you’ve been underwhelmed by the results from your inbound marketing, then it’s worth looking into it in detail.

Since we started doing inbound marketing programs for clients over 10 years ago, we’ve seen it work beautifully too many times to question whether the methodology is valid. Instead, we like to look at what contributes to it not working. With over 100 HubSpot clients and well over 10,000 hours of inbound marketing experience, we know exactly why some engagements underperform.

Here are some areas to look at if you’re seeing underperformance in your marketing.

Look In The Mirror First

ThinkstockPhotos-518285204.jpgThis might be scary (it always scares me to see my face looking back in the morning), but being introspective is a great way to see if you’re the cause of the underperformance. Here are some actual ways you might be contributing to the inbound marketing program not working as designed. These are true stories from real clients.

You change your mind and your marketing approach every month. We get it. Being able to pivot on a dime is important. You’re in a competitive space and being able to respond to market conditions is a priority for you. OK, we understand. But you have to understand that changing courses like this so frequently means we have to basically start over again every time you change your mind. That's not necessarily good or bad, but it definitely delays results and is not an efficient use of your marketing budget. The more you resist the urge to change frequently, the better results you’ll get from any marketing you practice.

You want to tell us what to do. I get this, too. You’re the boss. Some people can't help it; it’s just how they work. This might actually make sense in some scenarios, but in this case, unless you have the extensive knowledge of inbound marketing, dictating what people with inbound marketing expertise should be doing is a direct path to underperformance. We’ll go so far as to tell you we think your direction might not be in your best interest, but in the end, we’ll do what you want, as long as you understand it’s going to negatively impact our ability to get you leads.

Your decisions have consequences. Inbound marketing is scientific. There are cause-and-effect considerations for almost every aspect of it. If you decide to have us help you with your upcoming trade show instead of doing website page optimization, you’re going to get lower-than-expected results. See how this works?

Look At Your Team

ThinkstockPhotos-508209126.jpgA lot of you have marketing people on staff. Some of you have marketing people executing your inbound marketing and some of you have your marketing people working with inbound marketing agency people. Either way, you should look closely at your internal team.

Does everyone on the team know what they’re doing? Have they executed 20 to 30 inbound marketing campaigns over the past five to seven years? If not, then they might be taking you down the wrong road. If they’re working with an inbound agency, are you getting the true story or the filtered story? There have been times when we’ve given internal teams solid guidance and they don’t share that with the executive or leadership teams. You should plan on keeping connected to any of the outside partner agencies you’re using for any aspect of inbound, especially if your internal team is on the junior side.

Have you given your internal team all the necessary tools, all the necessary resources and the proper direction? Again, looking at actual stories from actual clients, you might be under-budgeted. We’ve seen clients with very lofty goals give their internal teams very small budgets and then expect them to produce dramatic results. It’s not happening. There are no easy buttons in marketing. Everything worth doing takes time.

Look At Your Inbound Marketing Agency

Inbound Marketing Strategy and Social Media.jpgIf you’re using an agency, take a look at the agency. Is it seasoned? Has the agency been around the block a few times or is it new to inbound marketing? If you have a very low monthly retainer, you're likely not getting a ton of work from the agency. Does it feel like your agency knows what to do or are you constantly having to explain what you think it should be doing?

Don’t misinterpret these questions. You might be telling your agency what to do (like we mentioned in the above section), but it should be responding with why this will work, why it might not work and why, and most importantly, what it thinks would work better.

You want your agency to have a very clear method to its madness. You want it to be constantly recommending lead-generating improvements to your program. You want it to be talking about the metrics. You want it to be aware of the actual business results you’re looking at, like revenue and new customers.

It’s very easy to get distracted and focus on the delivery of “stuff.” We got a new e-book, we got two new blogs, we got an email campaign or we got social media posts. But those are actually the wrong items to focus on. Instead, you want your agency coming to you and saying, "If we do X, Y and Z, we’re going to show you how your website visitors will increase, your conversion rate will increase and your lead flow will increase exponentially."

No client in the history of Square 2 Marketing has seen month-over-month growth in every key metric for the entire time we’ve worked with them. Every single client sees ebbs and flows to its results. The key attribute you want from your inbound marketing agency is the ability to digest the data, respond with a plan based on experience, and then act to implement the plan and report on the improvement in results as a result of the plan. Any agency that can deliver in this way is going be astute at driving your program performance and actual business results up and to the right.

Have a very happy Halloween!

Square 2 Marketing – Inbound Results Start With ME!


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.