“Did you hear that the longer your content is, the better it performs in SEO?”
“Rack up as many backlinks as possible, no matter where they come from.”
“You don’t need a CRM. Your business is too small.”
“SEO is dead.”
Have you heard these words before? You probably have if you’ve been around online marketing long enough.
These four pieces of advice range from “misleading” to “outright false.”
Busting Myths of B2B Inbound Marketing
Remember the television show “Mythbusters” on the Discovery Channel? It featured two special-effects experts that attempted to bust common myths through crazy scientific experiments.
We hear inbound marketing myths all the time. While we wanted to try the exciting (and often explosive) testing methods seen on “Mythbusters,” we just don’t have the budget.
But we busted myths nonetheless:
The More Backlinks, The Better
A big part of SEO -- search engine optimization -- is gaining the trust of both search engines and their human users via backlinks. You earn a backlink, aka an outbound link, when another website links to one of your pages. (You’re welcome, “Mythbusters.”)
Sure, backlinks can be great. Backlinks from authoritative sources make your site look more trustworthy to Google, which is great for search engine rankings.
However, not all backlinks are valuable. In fact, toxic backlinks hurt your site’s authority. Your site may have 100 backlinks, but if 90 of them are toxic you’re better off having no backlinks at all. You'll get a lot further with a smaller volume of relevant, high-quality backlinks.
It’s not about quantity; it’s about quality. It's a lot harder to get that small volume of really high-quality links than getting a bunch of garbage backlinks back to the website.
Build Your Marketing Strategy on Vanity Metrics
We all like to look good. It’s easy to pick out numbers that make us appear better than we are. Vanity metrics, like open rates, backlinks, views, traffic, and more, may make us look good, but they don’t show the whole picture when it comes to actual performance.
Marketers run into problems when they only look at domain authority and backlinks when judging their SEO efforts, or only measure reach when they judge their social media marketing.
Thousands of backlinks don’t equate to a good user experience. A good user experience is what drives leads the most.
Just Having Software Makes Me Good at SEO
Watching a couple of plumbing videos on YouTube does not make you a good plumber.
Getting your website to rank on Google requires capabilities in:
- Keyword research & implementation
- User-friendly website design & content
- Back-end technical stuff
Simply having Yoast installed on your website, or just having a subscription to Moz or SEMrush, is
not enough for you to be good at SEO.
This is not a knock on Yoast, Moz, SEMrush, or even sites built in Wix or Squarespace, which havenative SEO monitoring. These programs are very useful. However, you still have to know what you’re doing in order for them to help you.
The data can only get you so far without knowing what your ideal buyer is looking for. An untrained eye can do more damage than good. A trained eye knows how to look at the data. It knows which analytics are key to user experience.
Google’s latest algorithm update focuses on user experience, further solidifying the marriage between UX and SEO.
PPC Ads Help Organic SEO Performance
Let’s say you have two identical websites operating in parallel worlds. You're doing the same email marketing, same social marketing. One website uses PPC. One website doesn’t.
The website that’s correctly using PPC as a promotion channel will grow more quickly than the website that isn't.
Unfortunately, the fun stops with PPC once you stop investing. Paid ads don’t directly impact SEO performance, which you can only boost through organic (non-paid) methods.
That’s not to say PPC is without merit! Through a PPC ad campaign, you can see information that you can't see from an organic perspective. For example, you can see the specific keyword that a person landed on. You can use that information to indirectly improve your SEO and your users’ experience.
So, while your PPC ad campaign can yield data you can use to improve your SEO strategy, simply spending money on PPC will not make Google like you better.
Inbound Marketing Works With Every Business
There are inbound marketing tactics that could work for pretty much any business, even if you're selling a non-considered commodity product. Again, if we were in a vacuum and you were comparing two exact websites that are selling a commodity, non-considered purchase, the one with an inbound marketing strategy would probably perform better.
However, inbound marketing ideas will benefit certain businesses more than others.
Let’s say your company makes bubble gum. People purchase bubble gum in the store, perhaps as a last-minute decision at the check-out line. How many people go to a bubble gum company’s website to make their purchases? Maybe somebody absolutely loves one obscure flavor and needs to have a pallet of it shipped to their home today. That’s highly unlikely, however.
Spending your advertising budget to get people to your website probably won’t affect your bottom line much. You’d be better off placing ads on TV, social media, or podcasts to keep your brand in front of consumers.
The Longer the Content, the Better It’ll Perform
You may be able to think of a million uses for your bubble gum. (Yes, we brought back that example.) So, you write a 50,000-word blog post.
Who’s going to read it?
If you're serving someone a really long piece of content who's looking for a fairly simple answer to a question, you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing. It's not going to perform well.
We’re often asked about word counts. How long should a blog post be? How much content should be on a webpage? There's really no magic number. It's just what's relevant to the topic at hand.
Longer content tends to perform better on average because it gives the visitor a complete answer to their research. However, padding out content with irrelevant or off-topic filler can lower your lead-conversion rates. You should also consider the format your buyer persona prefers. One persona may prefer 2,000 words of in-depth advice, while another may get flustered if the article’s takeaway isn’t obvious after 600 words.
Our takeaway: Today’s search engines are better at understanding the context of the topic and how long an answer should be.
Tire-Kickers Aren’t Serious Buyers
Some purchases are big decisions, especially when the price tag is high. For example, you may be looking to purchase a new car. Your first step isn’t to go to the dealership and buy a new car. You do some research. What kind of car do you like? Is it safe? What features does it offer? How many miles does it get per gallon?
You may not be ready to buy when you show up at the dealership. Perhaps you need to kick a few tires and talk with a salesperson. You may be browsing, but you’re a serious buyer weighing your options.
Digital tire-kickers are valuable, especially in B2B and niche markets with long sales cycles. Don’t count them out. The time it takes for a customer to move from discovering they have a problem to deciding on a purchase may take months or even years.
Sales Should Follow Up With Every Website Lead
We just said that tire-kickers aren’t necessarily bad leads. However, should sales follow up with every lead that visits your website?
Salespeople don’t have this kind of time. Also, a tire-kicker may become a sales qualified lead later, but trying to force a sales conversation at the beginning of the buyer’s journey will most likely scare away that lead. Let your marketing assets nurture the lead until they are ready to talk with sales.
Not all sales contact is bad in the awareness stage. Let’s say someone downloads an e-book from your site. They may not buy today, but a friendly automated email from someone on your sales team inviting them to ask questions could be helpful.
X Tactic Is Dead
We’ve heard that email is dead. Cold calling is dead. Organic social media is dead.
We've been hearing SEO is dead since he began doing SEO in the mid-2000s. That was around the dawn of Facebook when everyone said social media has made email irrelevant.
And yet, these tactics have survived. They’re still relevant when they’re used correctly.
Are the days of twice-daily, unsolicited marketing email blasts dead? Sure. But an email marketing strategy using targeted sends with relevant information works. Our clients see success with it. It may not be immediate, but we consistently have clients report that leads who first visited their website months ago have come back to the site through a targeted email.
Are the days of simply having a social media account and calling it “good enough” dead? Yep. You need quality engagement. Not all of your posts will show up in a lead’s social media feeds. However, the more relevant your post is for that lead, the more likely they are to see your post.
Blasting out generic social posts or emails to the widest audience possible won’t generate much traffic. But knowing who your target audience is and educating them will gain a lot more interest.
Tons of Followers and Posting Several Times a Day Means You’ve #Won Social Media
You could have 10,000 connections on LinkedIn. However, if only 100 of them are engaged, then who cares about your total connections? Your messaging needs a rewrite if 99% of them aren’t moving your business forward. A small, engaged audience is going to get you further than a large, unengaged audience.
Also, don’t post on social media several times a day simply for appearances. Post what is engaging and relevant to your audience. Manufacturing companies probably don’t have something valuable to say 10 times a day. Their posts may come off as spammy and get ignored over time. A few posts a week with valuable content may get you further.
My Business Is Too Small for a CRM
Your annual revenue could be $100,000 or $100 million. You need a CRM. Excel and Outlook are not CRMs. A Rolodex or filing cabinets are not CRMs.
Get a real CRM. There are free versions available if that’s your hangup. Everything is in one spot. You can track the history of everything. A new employee won’t have to start from scratch because all the data they need will be readily available.
Our Sales Team Will Never Buy Into a CRM
You may get some pushback from sales when you first introduce a CRM. However, it’s up to the company to get sales to use it -- buy-in breeds from the top down
- Hold sellers accountable for using the CRM and set it up in such a way that it’s easy to use.
- Show sellers the value of the CRM.
- Show them how it can lead to quick sales wins and ultimately save them time
Salespeople will use your CRM if they can see it helps them to work smarter, not harder.
My Competitor Does X on Their Site; I Should, Too
You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. If a competitor, or several competitors, is doing something that works, it’s probably a good indicator that you should do it, too.
However, if you’re a small manufacturing company and your competitor is a global giant, this may not be realistic.
That large company can create a website that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. They may have been a leader in the market for decades, so content creation is less important to their continued success. Maybe they can get away with just using images and videos and have less text-based content.
But content marketing is important for new and growing businesses. Your competitor has brand recognition. You need to build that. Focus on building high-quality content that drives leads to your site.
Consider the ROI for any online activity. If you want some fancy widget because your competitor or a giant in your space is doing it, know that it could be time-consuming and/or expensive. Will the cost of that widget be offset by the sales revenue it brings in?
Always Be Closing
It's nice to always be closing … depending on your definition of closing. But you also have to think of what's a good-fit customer versus just a customer.
A customer may seem happy at first, but end up being a headache for everyone because either:
- You gave them unrealistic expectations for your product/service
- They weren’t a good fit in the first place
For these reasons, it’s better to enter sales talks with an “always be helping” mindset. By asking customer-focused questions (rather than talking your product up the whole time), you’ll get a better idea of whether the lead is truly a good fit. It’s even OK to tell them there are situations where you might not be the best solution (gasp)!
It’s OK to Use Anonymous Testimonials and Case Studies
Anonymity doesn’t bring credibility. Who wrote that anonymous glowing review? The CEO’s son? A copywriter at the company? Putting a name and face to the testimonial builds credibility.
But what if you can’t do this due to the possibility of exposing confidential information? Focus on writing great content about your capabilities and past projects in a way that doesn't breach confidentiality.
You Can’t Track the ROI of an Inbound Campaign
If you don’t track activity in a CRM, especially one with closed-loop reporting across all channels, you can’t measure inbound marketing’s ROI. Tracking shows you how a lead is interacting with you online and the steps they take on their journey to becoming a customer.
For example, someone may come to your website on Monday and download a guide, and not interact with the follow-up resource until Wednesday. Sales may reach out to address initial questions.
The customer may continue to visit the website for the next 2 weeks and consume content before they become an SQL.
A CRM tracks this process and points to inbound strategies that lead to a sale. However, there's also a lot that happens behind the scenes that we just don't know.
Someone may come to your site and visit several times, but never convert on content. Maybe sales sent a 1-to-1 email to the contact with a PDF created by your inbound marketing team. That’s harder to track and harder to show ROI.
There may not be a great way to track every inbound strategy and tie it to a dollar amount. However, reporting tools can give you a good idea of the overall ROI. And, of course, if you’re seeing sales and revenue climb, you’re on the right track.
Don’t Believe Everything You Hear
You can’t always believe what you hear. And, certain myths require more nuance than is often provided. B2B inbound marketing is a multipronged approach that requires some expertise mixed with adaptability as best practices evolve. An inbound marketing and sales agency can sort facts from fiction specific to your situation and provide you with strategies that’ll boost your sales.
Looking For a Deeper Dive?
For a deeper dive into the topic, watch the video version of this article above. Josh Curcio, COO and partner at protocol 80 (and self-proclaimed HubSpot expert), and Holly McCully, inbound marketing consultant at p80 (and niche inbound strategy expert), debunk some of the myths common to B2B inbound marketing.