Outbound marketing efforts, like direct mail and cold calls, are becoming less effective, and since these methods can be expensive, it’s no wonder that small businesses are looking for new marketing methods. If your small business has started doing inbound marketing, you’re not alone. Inbound marketing is #1. You Don’t Have a Plan Many businesses don’t have an inbound marketing plan. If your business is one of them, you could be wasting your time with your inbound marketing efforts. Without a strong plan, you’re just blindly creating content and hoping for the best. While you might get lucky and get good results, that’s not likely. To succeed, you need to start with a strong inbound marketing plan. Your inbound marketing plan is the roadmap for your company’s inbound marketing success. In your inbound marketing plan, you should outline your goals. Why are you doing inbound marketing in the first place? Then you should outline who your target audience is, and where they spend time online. With this information, you can create your content calendar, which will help you stay on track with content creation. Finally, create a plan for promoting your content. A basic inbound marketing plan doesn’t take long to create, so block off a day to write down your strategy. #2. Your Goals are Unrealistic Do you set very high goals for your inbound marketing efforts, like doubling or tripling your leads in a short period of time? Unrealistic goals are goals that exceed your capabilities. No matter how hard you work, you probably won’t be able to reach these goals. Not being able to reach your goals is very frustrating, and worse, you may give up on your inbound marketing efforts due to the mistaken belief that inbound doesn’t work. Instead, set goals that are challenging, yet still achievable. The S.M.A.R.T. method of goal setting is a great way to do this. The acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. When you set an inbound marketing goal, make sure it’s all five of those things. For example, instead of saying “triple my leads this month,” opt for a S.M.A.R.T. goal like “increase leads by 2% this month.” #3. You’re Neglecting Your Blog Are you spending all your inbound marketing time working on offers like e-books and other downloadable content? This content is important since it helps you collect leads. Potential customers give you their personal information in exchange for this valuable content, so you may think you should spend more time creating offers, and less time creating new blog posts. This is a mistake since your business’s blog is the backbone of your inbound marketing efforts. Your blog is what attracts people to your website, and once they’re there, they may go on to download one of your e-books or other tempting offers. If you’re neglecting your blog, you’re not creating top-of-the-funnel content that will attract potential customers. To avoid this problem, commit to a regular blog posting schedule. Businesses should update their blogs at least once a week, but more is better if you can manage it. If you’re having trouble constantly creating new content for your company’s blog, hire a writer to keep it full of good content. #4. You’re Not Worrying About Keywords Remember the days when businesses would stuff their content with keywords to try to rank higher in search engine results? Keyword stuffing is dead (and good riddance), but that doesn’t mean that keywords are no longer important. Keywords are important because they help search engines and website visitors understand what your page is about. If you’re creating content for your business without thinking about keywords, you’re missing opportunities to be found in search results. For small businesses, long-tail keywords are ideal. These keywords are phrases that are specific to your business. Since these keywords are longer, they have a lower search volume and less competition than broad keywords. Due to the specificity of these keywords, people who find your site through long-tail keywords are more likely to find what they’re looking for and become leads. #5. You’re Not Nurturing Your Leads Are you following up with people who’ve downloaded your e-books or other offers? According to Harvard Business Review, 23% of companies never respond to their leads, which is a big mistake. Your leads may not be ready to buy yet, but with some nurturing, they may be ready to make a purchase later. If you ignore your leads, they may become a customer of another company that’s more attentive. Lead nurturing is the process or building relationships with the leads in your system to make them more ready to buy. For example, you can send your leads valuable content that’s relevant to their interests, like e-books or webinars. This offers value to your leads and keeps your company in their minds. There’s no need to create brand new content for your nurturing campaigns; if you’ve already created a stash of content, it’s fine to re-purpose it. Be patient with your lead nurturing efforts, and don’t send emails so often that you annoy your leads and push them away. #6. You’re Not Tracking Your Results Many businesses don’t track the results of their inbound marketing efforts. This is why ninety-seven percent of inbound campaigns fail, according to Kissmetrics. Without tracking your results, you have no way of knowing if your inbound marketing is working, and you can’t make necessary adjustments. If you’re not tracking any analytics, you could spend years creating blog posts that no one is reading, and never know that you need to do anything differently. It’s essential to track relevant metrics to make sure your business’s inbound marketing efforts are on track. Web traffic is a key metric to track. Your traffic lets you know how many people are finding your site, and if you’re not getting much traffic, you’ll know that you need to make some changes, like targeting new keywords. Conversions are another key metric to track. A low conversion rate can be a sign of trouble. If a low percentage of visitors are filling out your lead forms, your offers may not be relevant for your web traffic. This can happen if you’re attracting the right people to your site but not giving them relevant offers, but it can also mean that you’re attracting the wrong audience. On the other hand, if a high percentage of visitors go on to become leads, you’ll know that your strategy is working. #7. You Aren’t Promoting Your Content Creating your content is only one part of an inbound marketing strategy. You also need to make sure that your content gets seen by your target audience, and for that to happen, you need to promote it. Now that so many other companies are creating content, you need to actively promote your content to push through the noise and get seen by your audience. You need to spend a lot more time promoting your content than you think you do: some experts recommend spending 80% of your time on promotion, and only 20% of your time on content creation. There are many ways to promote the content you’ve worked so hard on. Your business’s social media profiles are a great place to start. Make sure to customize your message on each site, since each site has its own tone and needs different messaging. You can also promote your content through channels like email marketing, content distribution networks, or paid promotion. If your business is making any of these inbound marketing mistakes, make some changes to ensure you get the best results from your marketing efforts. Are you making any of these mistakes, or have you made them in the past? Let us know in the comments below.