two business women discussing four main problems with inbound marketing on their laptop
Jan 20, 2017

The Four Main Problems with Inbound Marketing

As any small business owner will tell you, maintaining steady growth and attracting new customers is a constant challenge. It’s not enough to simply provide great products and service and hope that people will find you. You need to actively promote your business to potential customers while keeping existing customers happy.

It might seem like inbound marketing is an easy solution to this problem. After all, it gives you the chance to actively engage with clients who you know are interested in your products and services. Inbound marketing also offers a potentially higher ROI than traditional forms of marketing. All you need to do is set up a blog, get active on social media, set up landing pages with a nifty call to action, and you’re good to go.

If you think it’s really that easy, you’re in for a shock. Yes, inbound marketing can be incredibly effective, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy or that you can’t make mistakes. If you want to make sure your inbound marketing achieves your goals, you need to make sure you know about all the possible pitfalls so that you can avoid them.

So what are the problems with inbound marketing?

1. You need to make sure you have an amazing website

Your website is many people’s first real interaction with your business. They’ll want to know more about your business, what you do and if you’re the right person to solve their problem. So you need to be sure that:

  • Your website is fully consistent with your branding
  • Your website has all the information a potential customer needs to decide to buy from you
  • Your website appeals to people on an emotional level. Most people make decisions based on emotion, not logic. Don’t tell people that you have the friendliest reception staff – show them by having warm, welcoming text that gives an idea of what kind of greeting they’ll get.
  • Your website shows that you really understand your customers’ needs and problems and you offer the best solution.
  • Your website is equipped to generate leads, with contact forms, landing pages, frequent calls to action and, of course, a blog.

Take a good, long look at your website. If all it seems to do is talk about how many awards you’ve won or how long you’ve been in business, it’s not going to win you many new customers. Much as you might care about all those accolades, your customer just wants to know that you’ll give them what they need. If your website isn’t able to convince a prospect to follow up with a phone call or email, inbound marketing won’t make much difference to your bottom line.

2. It’s harder than you think

Many small business owners do a little internet research about inbound marketing and immediately start putting together a list of blog posts, hand them over to someone to write and start publishing them. They share links on social media and then sit back, waiting for customers to start banging on their doors only to find a few months later that hardly anyone’s paying attention to their blog.

Why not?

If you blog indiscriminately, all you’re doing is throwing words out to the world and hoping that someone will find them. That’s not inbound marketing. Inbound marketing requires a strategy and a purpose and it’s more than simply copywriting.

Your inbound marketing strategy needs to:

  • Identify your ideal customer and their problems so you can solve them.
  • Carry out in depth keyword analysis and research to see what people are looking for so you can adjust your copy accordingly.
  • Create lead magnets (*) themed around your ideal customer’s needs, whether that be e-books, checklists, whitepapers, etc.
  • Write blog posts of at least 1200-1600 words that incorporate keywords you identified in your analysis and drive people towards your lead magnet (*). Complement your text with captivating visuals – these will sell your business even more effectively than your words.
  • Make sure you have unmissable ‘calls to action’ so that people can download your lead magnets (*).
  • Design your social media strategy around your blog and make sure you boost your blog posts with multiple social media posts for at least two weeks after the blog went live.
  • Court social influencers in your industry so they’ll boost your signal.
  • Blog regularly! You should publish at least 3-4 blog posts per month to make sure people keep coming back for more. Having a solid content strategy in place before you start blogging will massively increase your chances of success.

3. It takes time to see the results

In the fast paced world of the internet, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that inbound marketing will give you instant success. One blog post should see your web traffic explode into the stratosphere, right?


You need to set realistic expectations and aim towards steady growth rather than sudden spikes. After all, you’re competing against all the thousands of other blogs out there – and new blogs launch every day.

You also need to allow time to get indexed in Google. In order to hit the number one spot on any search engine, you need to use a range of tactics to gives yourself maximum visibility.

Inbound marketing is a long term approach that has the potential to pay off in time.
It helps to set yourself targets right from the start. Let’s say that you would like to generate 20 new sales from your site, which is attracting 1,000 hits per month.

  • Look at your inbound marketing critically to see how many conversion opportunities you have, e.g. landing page, email marketing, social media, etc.
  • Are you taking visitors on the right buying journey? Do they go through the stages of awareness, consideration and enquiry or buying?
  • Are you generating the right kind of leads? Maybe people are coming to your site, but they’re just browsing with no intention to buy. If this is the case for you, you’ll need to adjust your strategy to make sure visitors are driven through your sales funnel from awareness right the way through to decision.

But how do you do that? How can you make people buy something if they don’t want to?

There are clear and proven methods that can increase the likelihood of someone purchasing from you. These include:

  • Making sure that you keep the fact that you want people to buy at the forefront of all your web copy. Many people visit a site’s homepage but don’t go anywhere else, so pay careful attention to detail here. Does it entice, educate and inform? Does it make it easy for people to continue down the sales journey? Do you have your lead magnet (*) easily available?
  • Ensuring you have calls to action everywhere possible. Do you have buttons that people can click to download your lead magnet (*) or buy something without hassle? Is your site organised in a logical manner? Do you have moving testimonials on your “About Us” page and special offers on your product pages?
  • Setting up an email sequence to take people through to the next stage in the buying process after they’ve downloaded your lead magnet (*).

It can take a while to get your inbound marketing absolutely perfect, but once you do, the effects will be much better than sticking to traditional outbound marketing.

4. There’s a lot of effort involved

If you’ve read through the above, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that inbound marketing takes a lot of time and effort. It does. There are multiple steps to the process that all need to be set up properly for you to achieve your goals and someone needs to own that process.
However, once you get it right, you’ll see your sales leads increasing exponentially. On average, businesses that implement inbound marketing strategies find that their leads have doubled after six months of using their new approach and increased six-fold after twelve months. If you’re really focused, you could see even better results. However, you need to factor into that the fact that a single blog post can take between 4-6 hours to be written and published. Mapping out your strategy will take about 10 hours and putting it into practice is a full time job in itself – and that’s on top of what you’re already doing, running your business. If you don’t have the time to be a full time inbound marketer, then you need someone who does.

As a freelance marketer, I understand the problems of running a small business while trying to market your company. It can be make economic sense to hire a consultant than attempt to navigate your way around inbound marketing – in the long term, it will save you money to go to an expert.

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