Every year brings new marketing challenges — and this year will be no different. Most marketers cite traffic and lead generation along with inbound marketing ROI as their greatest difficulties, but with the rise in predictive marketing and a trend toward Smarketing (Sales Marketing), this year has even more challenges in store.

The Most Annoying Marketing Obstacles

1) Marketing ROI

The only way to increase your business ROI is to direct resources in the right direction. Part of this involves ensuring you target just qualified leads, while ignoring all other contacts. How can you determine which leads fall into which category? You need to turn to the data.

This year, marketers need to learn how to use marketing analytics to their full advantage. This means knowing what tools and metrics will help you most and learning to use them effectively. For marketing ROI, the most important are metrics related to marketing results.

Start by analyzing your leads and implement lead scoring. This will enable you to check that the methods you use to generate leads yield quality contacts. In addition, you should analyze data about your industry for better insights into what your target audience is looking for. Finally, use data to follow each buyer’s journey from lead to customer to see what aspects of your marketing strategy are working and what areas need changing.

2) Budget

Simply spending more is never the answer to your problems. Rather, you need to better allocate your budget to ensure the areas that require more funds receive them. Deciding where to send funds is always a challenge for businesses, and it only becomes more complex as your marketing department divides further into various activities.

A data-driven way to decide is to turn to ROI. By calculating ROI for each marketing activity, you can determine which effort is producing results and would be worthwhile expanding.

Applying a smart marketing strategy to each of your marketing activities will also help you regain your focus and better determine your budget. The smart marketing approach gains its name from the acronym SMART:

  • Specific: focus on a single goal
  • Measurable: include milestones to track your success
  • Achievable: set objectives that feel reasonable to your team
  • Realistic: bear in mind the limitations of your staff, technology, and other factors
  • Timed: set a time period for your strategy to begin and end

Read: 5 Ways to Get the Best ROI From your Lead Generation Strategy

3) Conversions

Every step toward a conversion has its own unique challenges; however, the greatest difficulties tend to fall between lead generation and lead nurturing. As more brands enter the picture, offering their own content, it becomes harder to make an impact. At the same time, there are ever more of content types to try out and ways to promote your brand. All this adds to the problem of where to concentrate your efforts.

Start by taking a step back. If you are to increase your conversion rate, you need to ensure you are creating high-quality content that users want to consume. For instance, if you ask your prospects, you may find they actually want more videos, whereas you are focusing on blog posts.

Once you are able to grab the attention of your audience, shift your focus to lead conversion. Produce content that answers pressing questions, offers new solutions to common problems, offers inspiration, or otherwise intrigues or interests users.

Learn About – Online Video: The Future of Content Marketing

4) Expectations

To stand out as the best choice in a sea of options, marketers need to meet or even exceed their customers’ expectations. To do this, you need to understand consumers:

  • The vast majority of customers rely on the same brands for products and services. For every customer you convert, follow up with a great experience. With appropriate marketing, you can maintain this customer for life.
  • Users want authenticity. You need to position your business as a brand they can trust. Speaking highly of your business won’t cut it — consumers need proof through favorable reviews and content that shows you are an industry expert
  • Consumers want a brand that cares. Most customers prefer a brand that takes action to improve society or the environment while meeting its business goals.

Another way to meet expectations is to embrace new trends and technologies as they become available. This allows you to reach customers where they are, show that your brand is modern, and take advantage of new tech capabilities. For instance, advances in technology every year can give you access to better inbound metrics, help you improve your sales forecast, and assist you in developing a more customer-centric strategy.

5) Consistency

You need consistency in your branding. This often becomes more difficult as your workload increases, especially if you have to outsource some tasks to maintain productivity.

Your brand needs to speak to users in the same voice in every piece of content you create. You can help your team, including any outsourced members, to maintain your voice by developing a style guide and clarifying your brand mission. In every campaign, ensure that your brand is recognizable and that every message reflects your values.

Your brand will change over time, but unless you decide this is the year to give your brand a makeover, you need to avoid a sudden shift in message. Even the smallest changes can be catastrophic for your brand, as they may confuse your audience. This year, you may have the chance to expand into new markets or access new audiences. Before you choose to act on these new opportunities, you will need to ensure they fit with your core brand image.

6) All Hands On Deck

To optimize the management of your conversion funnel, you need to involve both sales and marketing in what is known as Smarketing. The biggest challenge here tends to be overcoming resistance in the two departments, which usually see themselves as distinct and may be unused to working together. However, with the right training, you can show employees how it is possible to collaborate and improve ROI.

Of course, some aspects of the funnel require more assistance from marketing and others more from sales. By implementing inbound segmentation, you can ensure the right team members are in charge at each stage. However, in every task it is important that the two departments maintain open lines of communication. This will enable staff to understand the role other workers and eliminate unnecessary tasks.

7) Tech Challenges

The greatest difficulty in tech is knowing where to turn for solutions. Opinions are often divided, as some tools serve certain companies well but other less so. It all comes down to objectives.

The best way to resolve the problem is to immerse your team in tech, especially marketing automation software, as this can have excellent results for increasing productivity. Allow your employees to find the tools they feel comfortable using and that make their jobs easier. You need to include everyone from the CMO and VP marketing to lower-level marketers in the training. This will ensure your entire team understands tech and the role it has to play in marketing today.

8) Global Marketing Challenges

If you are marketing to consumers on an international level, you need to adapt your marketing efforts to target prospects in each country where your brand is present. For one thing, your buyer personas for domestic consumers are unlikely to match the characteristics of customers abroad. You may also need to create different versions of your website to attract and resonate with users in other countries, even if they speak the same language.

Every aspect of your marketing should adhere to a customer-centric strategy. For instance, if global consumers make up a large part of your audience, you will need to create content with them in mind, rather than directing it primarily to users in your home country. Take into consideration monetary values, units of measure, seasons, holidays, and local references.

9) Finding the Right Partners

The perfect strategy is no good if it is impossible implement. To put marketing into action, you need the right talent on your team. It becomes only more difficult for companies to find enough qualified workers as the demand increases. There are only a limited number of professionals who possess the desired wealth of creative and technical skills.

To avoid a months-long process of seeking ideal candidates, think about what you need from each employee. It may be impossible to find someone with experience in inbound marketing, social media, SEO, and content creation, but it is definitely possible to find several candidates with expertise in some of your criteria. Alternatively, if you are a business without the means of hiring multiple marketing experts, you can always outsource to an inbound marketing agency.

10) Long-Term Vision

It is easy to get stuck looking at today’s challenges and forget about tomorrow. For your brand to survive, you need to look at your long-term goals. Every action you take should benefit your business this year and beyond. As you measure inbound metrics, adjust and plan your strategy to ensure that you are able to keep pleasing customers and that you will continue to grow your business and ROI in the foreseeable future.

One cannot state as a universal truth that next year will be more challenging for marketers than any previous year. It is certain, however, that customers are driving the market more than ever. If you are still using marketer-centric methods to sell, you must realize that you have to do more and are getting less in return. That’s not a challenge, it’s a sign it is time to switch.