There is a well-worn joke about the lost traveller asking a local for directions. In response, the local chap says: “Well, I wouldn’t start from here.”
Marketing strategy can be a little like this. You have an aim and a strategy you believe is best placed to get you there. The problem is you are starting from the wrong place.
Transport versus direction
To illustrate this, content marketing services provider Hubspot recently published a survey into inbound marketing strategies for EMEA. Asking for respondents’ top aims, it found the three leaders were all sales related.
Tellingly, the top one is simply ‘closing more deals’ at 70 per cent. And arguably, the second one – ‘improving the efficiency of the sales funnel’ – is simply a more specific version of this. The next six are again sales focused.
Sales are well and good. Ultimately, every business needs to sell or it will die. Yet the survey’s next question is how this will be achieved using inbound/content marketing.
Growing SEO presence is the biggest priority at 64 per cent. In second place, 58 per cent want to create more blogs. Yet will SEO and blogs alone bring in more sales? Certainly a higher search ranking will help put you in front of customers searching for your products. But it another step or two remain before you close a sale.
A successful SEO strategy will get you to the first page of a Google search query, but it won’t bring in a single sale by itself. And it brings you dangerously close to the whirlpool that is vanity metrics.
Perhaps that is why 47 per cent of companies want to improve the sales funnel. Yet again, the priority strategies do not appear best placed to achieve this ambition.
What to do
Curiously, there is little about creating a relationship with customers. This can be achieved in a number of ways. Email signup being just one example. Almost half are prioritising content distribution, which is a positive outcome from the research. With more companies producing content, getting it out there is key.
Put simply, if you want sales you need to speak to customers who are looking to buy. Often that will mean developing a relationship with them, understanding what they are looking for or want to know.
SEO and content creation are fine aims. But just remember you need the right tool for the job.