Every year carries its own marketing challenges, but 2018 is looking to be a particularly tough one.

The marketing challenges that I will discuss in this blog are those that I predict will cause businesses to lose the most visitors, leads, customers, and sleep. These include three old but persistent issues, while the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation is a new and unsettling challenge that marketers will soon have to face.

So what can your team do? Are there answers to help you solve these marketing problems, once and for all?

Yes – if you embrace the future of marketing. That’s why it’s time to arm yourself with the inbound marketing methodology, and get ready to triumph over 2018’s 4 biggest marketing challenges.

Challenge 1 – Unable to measure ROI

Last year, according to the CMO Survey 2017, 65.5% of the companies questioned were unable to measure the long-term quantitative impact of their marketing. While most companies were able to measure the quality of their marketing efforts, they were still unable to tie these apparent successes to their bottom lines.

Clearly, the age-old problem of having no accurate way to measure the ROI of marketing campaigns is still haunting many companies. Without being able to track the financial success or failure of a campaign, there remains a huge, mystery gap between marketing budget and the real money that it brings to the company.

Directors and marketing managers don’t just want to measure the success of campaigns in terms of Facebook likes or email opens – ultimately, you want to know which activities are adding directly to your company’s bottom line.

How the inbound marketing methodology solves ROI measurement

A successful inbound marketing campaign using a quality CRM enables you to measure every step of the campaign process. A marketing system such as HubSpot detects how many visitors, leads, and customers each campaign tactic obtains, records the stage at which leads and customers convert, and identifies the success rate of each step of each buyer’s journey.

Using the inbound marketing methodology, you are can calculate your marketing ROI with £-for-£ accuracy.

Is Inbound right for you?

Challenge 2 – Targeting the wrong people

It’s shocking to think that, historically, many marketing tactics were based on assumption, word-of-mouth, and blind hope. Marketers would try different tactics until they found the one that worked, which they would then repeat – often with wildly different results.

Marketing departments identified a target market that they wanted to tap into and then attempted to appeal to it en masse, often focusing on the benefits of their product rather than the consumers that would make great customers for their company. There was only limited research put into the customers, and the results rarely seemed to form the basis of long-lasting policy changes within a company’s marketing strategies.

Marketing courses and departments were far more likely to promote the price, the benefits of the product, and the achievements of the company instead of zeroing in on the best-fit customers.

How inbound marketing solves the challenge of customer targeting

The inbound marketing methodology recommends researching your real customers and current leads, as well as defining the types of potential customers who suit your offering and who will be happy to pay your prices. This research enables you to create buyer personas.

Buyer personas are semi-fictional profiles of the consumers you are talking to with your content, with the aim of giving you a more precise, customer-first approach to your marketing. Creating buyer personas puts your customers at the heart of your marketing efforts, giving you much more focus. If you know what your personas are trying to achieve, you can create content to help them reach their goals and overcome their challenges.

Buyer personas are not static devices either; they are ever-changing profiles built to change as your company and your customer base develops and progresses, helping you to target your best-fit consumers with much greater accuracy.

Challenge 3 – Can’t convert leads

Most companies have faced this devastating problem: you put a lead into your marketing funnel, you take them through to where you think they’re on the brink of making a purchase, and then … nothing. They don’t convert into customers and are confined to “lead purgatory”, where flyers, brochures and blanket emails simply fail to reach them.

This old-school approach fails to recognise the importance of lead nurturing and smart content – something that the inbound marketing methodology would never allow.

How the inbound marketing methodology solves lead conversion failure

Inbound marketing aims give consumers a buyer journey that delights them at every stage. There is no spamming or pestering, and instead there is the offering of masses of high-quality, valuable content at the right stage in their buyer journey helps nurture good-fit prospects until they convert.

Your aim should be to give the right consumers the right content at the right time – which is where smart content comes in. As well as providing leads with valuable content that will inform and educate them, inbound best practice recommends using smart content, which is content that changes depending on the interests and past behaviour of the person viewing it, allowing for more accurate targeting.

Challenge 4 – GDPR

The Data Protection Act will soon be replaced by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and when it does the marketing landscape will change forever.

The GDPR is the newest and perhaps biggest marketing challenge that companies will face in 2018, and it is due to arrive in May. When it does, companies will have to take far greater care and more precautions when storing leads’ and customers’ personal data. This will have the effect of cutting through many of the tactics that marketers have traditionally used without issue.

New requirements will include having to record and track how and when you stored someone’s data, and giving any individual the legal right to withdraw their consent for having their data stored at any point.

The GDPR will put consumers firmly in the driving seat when it comes to the recording of their data. Companies that buy marketing lists or that ask consumers to consent to being contacted with pre-ticked boxes are going to have to change their methods – and perhaps their entire marketing methodology.

How the inbound marketing methodology helps you master the GDPR

Inbound marketing is the practice of drawing customers to your company, rather than going to them via cold calls or email marketing that they haven’t subscribed for. Part of the inbound methodology is about delighting visitors and leads with content that provides them with true value. While tactics like pre-ticking permission boxes have been accused of being a little sly, asking consumers to opt in is a way of obtaining their active consent, making them more qualified leads.

Having a quality CRM also helps record when and how a consumer gave you their data.

The requirement for obtaining active consent to contact your leads and the need to record how and when you stored their personal data are two of the most important requirements of the GDPR. The inbound marketing methodology is a powerful way to turn the requirements of the GDPR into an advantage that your customers will love.

Ready for inbound marketing in 2018?

Every company has to face marketing challenges, and they are perhaps greater today than they ever have been in the past. With the wealth of content out there and growing day-by-day, you need to find your right niche and fill it with the most effective content you can to get noticed.

With the inbound methodology, content is the primary tactic but it is backed up by transparent analytics and responding to the results you gain as part of a systematic, ever-improving process.

We’re convinced that there is no better way to solve the four most challenging marketing problems of 2018 than by using the inbound marketing methodology.