If you published 250 blog posts over the last year and saw no benefit to any area of your business from that effort, what would you do?
What if you were just getting started, you published 20 posts over the last quarter, and you already saw an immediate positive impact on your business?
That’s what I thought.
Now, consider some of the popular statistics used to support inbound marketing.
- Inbound marketers have a lower cost per lead (slide 60). Some inbound marketers don’t include the cost of their time, and very few estimate the cost of including executives in content development. If the figures for inbound weren’t lower, it would be a major red flag.
- Marketers that blog daily are the most likely to report a positive ROI from blogging (slide 74). Well, no duh. Anyone that isn’t seeing positive results from blogging isn’t still plowing ahead with a daily posting schedule!
Inbound Marketing’s Challenges
This is a correlation problem. It’s like asking advertisers with a big percentage of their media budget in TV if TV advertising drives business, and then asking those with a small percentage in TV the same question. The results wouldn’t mean TV works or doesn’t work. It would just show marketers acting rationally: cutting things that don’t work and doubling down on what does work.
Inbound marketing, or content marketing, is facing a number of challenges. The current inbound marketing research doesn’t address the challenges, it glosses over them.
According to research Passle conducted, 35% of businesses with a blog have not posted 4 times in the last year (primarily small companies). In a separate Passle survey, 70% of marketers at small and mid-sized businesses said they could not maintain an active blog.
If the ROI of inbound marketing is that good, why not? Could it be because only some marketers will get these kinds of returns on content marketing? Yes.
Mark Schaefer, in an excellent post this week, pointed out challenges many content (inbound) marketers will face in the future, and sparked a lively discussion. In the past, I’ve stated that inbound marketing will cost more in the future.
Does this mean inbound marketing will not work? Of course it doesn’t. It’s just time to understand what the research and statistics frequently used to support inbound marketing are significantly biased by marketers doing more of what works, and less of what doesn’t, for their individual businesses. It doesn’t say anything about what will work for you.
(Yes, there are ways you could create a more structured test to assess the impact of inbound marketing, but it would be a significantly more difficult study to field).
What would you like to see changed in the inbound marketing research that is available today? Or have you seen inbound marketing failures that you are willing to share? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).