There Is No Easy Button When It Comes To Inbound Marketing, So Stop Looking For It
I get it; people are always looking for shortcuts. However, I’ve seen a major influx of new services, software and apps that appear to be cutting too many corners.
No, I don’t want an e-book created simply by having you look at my website. That’s not going to produce leads; it’s only going to give me a crappy e-book to give to prospects. The e-book will likely disappoint them and not get them to feel safe and hire me.
Resist the urge to cut corners next year. No, we can’t build you a 50-page website in two weeks if you want the site to support your prospects' buyer journey and get them to convert into leads for your sales team.
Creating an inbound marketing machine that produces predictable, scalable and repeatable lead generation takes months to plan, build and optimize. Cutting corners and looking for shortcuts generally impacts results in a negative way.
Here are all the places shortcuts typically get applied.
We Don’t Need Strategy; Our Messages Are Just Fine
If your strategy, messaging, differentiation and stories were fine, you’d be getting leads, revenue would be accelerating and your sales team would be busy. Companies that are truly remarkable thrive despite their marketing and sales efforts because everyone is talking about them. Is that your company?
A shortcut here runs the risk of investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing and getting very little in return because you're sending the wrong message to the right people. No matter how many times you send that message, no matter what the format and no matter how creative the delivery, it's still the wrong message. Don’t skip this step. Take the time to create a compelling set of stories that your prospects connect with.
Don’t Rebuild My Website; Just Make Changes To Key Pages
This approach to improving your website has a lot of validity, if you apply it properly. But a bad website with improper architecture that’s not optimized for search and is missing key buyer journey pages isn’t going to be fixable simply by updating a few pages.
Even if you recently redid your site, sometimes just fixing a few pages is the wrong advice. Let me try to illustrate why. Your website should deliver an immersive and complete experience for every persona on your target persona list and for each stage of their individual buyer's journey. This results-focused approach makes your inbound marketing website project much more complicated. We need to look at every page strategically with a blueprint for messaging, optimization, storytelling, content and conversion.
Once you start changing a few pages, how do you not see that spiral into needing to change other pages, rework page flow, add new pages and take out old pages? How does this not impact overall site architecture? It would have been easier, cheaper and faster to simply redo the entire site with an inbound focus on the buyer journey and conversion optimization.
In this case, what appeared to be easier, cheaper and faster didn’t produce the results and ended up costing more, taking more time and leaving everyone feeling disappointed.
Just Buy Some Pay-Per-Click Ads To Start Generating Leads Today
You can have a pay-per-click campaign up and running the same day, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to get leads that same day. Even if you do get leads, it doesn’t mean they’ll be qualified leads or leads that are ready to buy from you tomorrow. It does mean Google will charge you for those clicks. Again, fast doesn’t always equal right.
AdWords and social pay-per-click campaigns are more competitive, more expensive and more complicated than ever before. If you want qualified leads or, better yet, qualified bottom-of-the-funnel leads, you need to be prepared to be patient enough to optimize these campaigns for between 60 and 90 days.
I Have A Ton Of Content On My Website Already; Just Use Those As Offers
We see a lot of companies with robust content libraries buried in resources sections on their website. Yes, there’s an opportunity to mine those resources for offers that are usable as conversion points on your website, but most of those assets were created without a conversion strategy or buyer journey in mind.
Instead of trying to retrofit those content pieces to your website and running the risk of doing a lot of work that ends up producing little to no leads, try this approach instead. Go through the buyer journey mapping process. Create the list of questions your prospects have at all phases of the journey and then see which pieces fit in and where they fit in. Be prepared to find out that none of your current content assets fit in appropriately and then be prepared to invest in creating the right set of offers to convert visitors into leads.
Using the stuff you already have isn’t always the right approach, but it is worth looking at with this plan B in mind.
Let’s Buy Some Lists
This is another shortcut that sounds great on paper but might not be so great in reality. Yes, you get a large number of email addresses and yes, the outreach is relatively easy, but those lists are rented. You never get to reuse or nurture those leads unless they convert and there’s nothing to say those same people wouldn’t convert anyway had they found your site on a Google search.
Email addresses for rent are usually pricy and the quality of those names is always an issue. Remember, those people didn’t ask to hear from you, so expect the open rates and click-through rates to be especially low.
Again, I'm not saying this is never a good idea and I do like the idea of testing lists and seeing how they perform. What I don’t like is the idea of building your ongoing marketing machine on the back of rented names. You should be earning the attention of your prospects, not renting it.
Let’s Use Apps To Create Designed Content
This is a new shortcut and lately I’ve seen a wide variety of unsolicited emails promoting this type of software or app. The pitch often goes like this: "Just tell us your website and we’ll deliver an e-book right to your email box." Being a good steward of everything inbound, I tried it. Yikes, what a nightmare. Yes, it was easy, but the final product was a mess.
Regardless of the quality of the docs created by these apps, that’s not even my big issue. Eventually, they’ll get better. My big concerns are whether this is the right content you need to convert visitors into leads and whether the content is properly optimized for search. The answers to those questions is probably "no."
Finding efficient ways to do inbound marketing is the right approach. Taking shortcuts usually introduces risk factors that impact results. Make sure you’re aware of the risk factors, come up with a plan B in case the risk is realized and then be prepared to act accordingly.
For example, what if the pay-per-click campaign produces unqualified leads? What if it produces little or no leads? What’s your backup plan? What if the content in the resources section of your website doesn’t work to convert visitors into leads when added to your new site? What if you do buy email lists and the email campaign doesn’t produce qualified leads? Make sure you balance those shortcuts and the associated risks with the option of doing it correctly the first time, even if it takes longer or costs a little bit more.
Remember, the end game needs to be business results. The goal is not to create a website, but to create a website that generates leads. The goal is not to create a whitepaper, but to create a whitepaper that converts visitors into leads. In most cases, these shortcuts do deliver the asset, but don't deliver the results.
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