inbound marketing not working

Why is inbound marketing not working?

So you fell in love with the concept of inbound marketing, maybe you invested in some heavy-hitting software, like HubSpot, to help you achieve it.  Yet you're not quite getting the awesome results that were mentioned.  What's broken?  In this article we'll look at some of the common reasons why a business's inbound marketing efforts aren't hitting the mark.

inbound marketing not working

One of the main attractions of inbound marketing is the ability to attract more prospects of a higher quality, which should generate better leads and enquiries.  There are two main reasons why you might not be achieving this.

'Getting' your audience

Developing comprehensive and well researched buyer personas helps you identify the pain points of your target audience, the wording they may use when researching a solution and the places they'll go to find answers.

Creating buyer personas shouldn't be a one-off activity, but an evolution over time as more data is gathered.  You can do this through customer research or by analysing the content that good quality customers read.


Understanding their journey

Running hand-in-hand with understanding your customers is understanding the steps they are likely to go through in researching a solution to a problem.  One of the hallmarks of a good inbound marketing campaign is that it targets active buyers (people actively looking for a solution).

This flow chart from HubSpot shows the stages of self-education a prospect may go through.  Developing this for your business, and being aware of the alternative solutions will give you a head start in effective inbound marketing.

inbound marketing buyer journey


In addition to the above reasons for inbound marketing not working, the next possible reason could be that your content offers do not resonate with the stages and questions a potential customer may ask.

Offering the right content

Content marketing is an integral part of inbound marketing.  Ensuring the right material is present to guide the prospect towards the right solution, is  one of the trickiest parts of inbound marketing.  Rarely does anyone get it right first time, and this is one of the many parts of inbound marketing that requires constant analysis and optimisation.

content marketing and inbound marketing

Not all content types suit all buyer personas.  For example a live demo of a child's toy may not be as essential as a live demo of some business software.  Do your customers really need to see how a spinning top can be used?

  You may be marketing to an audience type that doesn't listen to podcasts, and so pouring time and effort into creating them may be a waste of time and energy.   Your target demographic may not enjoy an analyst report as much as they may enjoy an eBook.

The key is to understand your audience and create content they want.  Resist the temptation to create the content you like to create and only produce the assets that will be relevant to your audience.


Creating great content that gets you found on search engines, by the right people at the right time is down to nothing less than a perfect blend of understanding, and mastering the above three factors.

What else can cause inbound marketing to fail?

Sales misalignment 

Without doubt one of the most common disconnects encountered in struggling inbound marketing activities is the one between sales and marketing.

Whereas it's marketing's role to generate good quality leads, and qualify them before involving sales, the effectiveness of this is reduced if marketing does not receive input from sales.  A regular meeting to discover what works, what doesn't, what questions get asked a lot, and which resources and insights would improve the sales process, are essential to good inbound marketing.

One of the benefits to a system like HubSpot is that is puts sales and marketing in the same piece of software.  This enables transparency across both teams and a better chance of inbound marketing creating more leads.

This only works if sales are inputting their opportunities in the system, and marking those that close or are lost so marketing can look for patterns.

Ongoing optimisation

Another misconception about inbound marketing is the idea that it can be created and left to its own devices.

Effective inbound marketing requires ongoing testing, improvement and analysis to work properly.  Increasing visitors to the website is one thing but converting those visits into leads is an ongoing balancing act.

Checking each landing page to see if changing a question on a form will increase downloads, tweaking how an email is laid out to see if it improves click through rates, adjusting the layout of a web page to reduce bounce rates, are all part of the process.

Do it well and the steady increase in performance will keep your business growing.  If it's neglected you may be wondering if investing in HubSpot and inbound marketing was right for you.  In our experience it's rarely the software's fault.

If you're finding that your inbound marketing is falling short of your expectations please feel free to explore our other blog articles to get inspiration or ideas.  Click the image below to download our free guide on '32 Enviable Inbound Marketing Examples.

32 enviable inbound marketing examples

If you'd rather bring on some specialist help to optimise your inbound marketing please feel free to book a casual exploratory call by clicking the link below.

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