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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistThu, Jun 4, 2015 7 min read

How Failure Helps Your Inbound Marketing Program Flourish

Failure With Inbound Marketing Leads To SuccessWho would ever think that mistakes are good? When it comes to inbound marketing, your failures sometimes reveal even more than your successes do.

A lot of people who are much smarter than me have noted that mistakes often led them to some earth-shattering discoveries. I’m here to tell you that the same holds true when you practice inbound marketing.

While inbound does provide a framework and methodology to help your business get found, get leads and increase revenue, every business in every industry responds slightly differently.

Think about a prescribed treatment plan for a person with cancer: Everyone’s DNA is a bit different, so every person responds a bit differently. The same holds true with inbound.

This translates into a ton of tweaking, testing, responding, adjusting and modifying what you think would work into what actually works. This isn’t a negative thing. It's actually quite the opposite: Learning what didn’t work helps you to see what will. The faster you find out what works, the more leads and revenue your program generates.

Here are a couple of practical examples to help you push your own team to make mistakes when you're working on inbound marketing planning.

Increasing Blog Subscribers

For years, clients came to us with thousands of email addresses and zero blog subscribers. After all, they never had a blog before. We couldn't simply subscribe all of those people to their new one, as those people had to subscribe themselves.

Our first idea was to use blogging best practices and market blog content to email subscribers in the form of a "Best of the Blog" email. The message was: Check out this great content, and click here to subscribe. Not a bad idea, right? Except it wasn’t a home run. People subscribed, but it was a trickle, and we wanted a torrent.

Take two: We tried pre-checking a “subscribe” button on all of our forms. It's perfectly legal, and guess what? Torrent. Blog subscriptions started rising at measurable clips across all clients. We had taken our initial mistake and turned it into a highly effective tactical adjustment that delivered on our desired outcomes. Had we not tested the "Best of the Blog" email and the pre-checked form, we'd never have known which execution worked better. 

Today, we continue to try other ways to pump up those blog subscriber numbers. Some work, and some don’t. But, those that don’t work always contribute to better, even more creative options to test in the future.

Driving More Leads With Content

Our goal for all inbound engagements is to drive leads. So, when you start working on conversion optimization, testing frequency and other variables associated with driving leads, you quickly find what works well and what works just OK.

When we started testing different content strategy deployments and configurations to see if we could ramp up lead generation, we took a risk that the extra investment in time to create even more content was going to result in leads. We also knew there was a risk of having the extra content and additional communication annoy our prospects and clients. We might have seen an increase in opt-outs or a decrease in conversion rates.

In this case, we were rewarded with an increase in conversion rates and a dramatic jump in leads generated. But, how would we have ever known if we didn’t try something new? Don’t let potential negative outcomes prevent you from trying something you’ve never done before.

CTA Placements To Improve Conversion

Another great example is CTA buttons and offers. For years, we believed that the more offers you had, the more leads you got. It made sense: If you put three offers on a page that appeal to the top-, middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel visitors, your chances of getting a conversion increased, right? Wrong. More isn’t always better.

We were already getting great results, so why mess with it? Because when we focused the visitor’s attention on a single offer, on a page that was specific to that stage in their buyer journey, conversions increased dramatically, even more than they did when we put a variety of offers on a single page.

What’s more exciting is that this approach moved us to consider reworking our entire website design process. The goal was to create more direct and strategic pages within our website project and better map a client’s buyer journey to a website page and an appropriate offer, which further increased our ability to generate leads for our clients.

You can’t be afraid to make mistakes. This fear is probably preventing you from trying anything new and, thus, gaining the advantage associated with that new way of thinking. Fear is a limiting emotion. It holds you back, it inhibits your progress and it keeps you in the status quo. Once you understand that mistakes are inevitable and you're able to learn from them, there are no good reasons to not try something new.

Start Today Tip – I know there’s something marketing-related that you’ve been thinking about doing, and the only reason you haven’t done it yet is that you think it might not work or you might do it the wrong way. Pull it out, dust it off and get it going. Start a blog – so what if no one reads it? Eventually you’ll have thousands of subscribers. Start rethinking your website  so what if your page views dip temporarily? Before you know it, you’ll be back to where you are now and you’ll have the ability to double or even triple website visitors. Like Phil Knight says, “just do it.”

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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.