Is inbound marketing still a thing?

Is inbound marketing still a thing?

Inbound marketing is the process of generating leads, enquiries and sales by promoting your business to people at various stages of awareness and getting them to come to you at the right time.

During the past 10 or 15 years it has gone under various guises… internet marketing, online marketing, web marketing. The key thing about inbound marketing is that it was supposed to be the antithesis of “outbound marketing”. 

Except it isn’t really. Not for lot’s of businesses.

There is no inbound and outbound marketing anymore. There’s just effective marketing.

Outbound marketing is supposed to be different because it is interruptive. It’s volume driven.

Inbound marketing channels such as social media are supposed to be targeted. By creating specific audiences – not just interest based, but action-based, you can get better results. Right?

Not quite.

Take a quick scroll through Facebook, Twitter,YouTube and LinkedIn, you’ll see plenty of adverts with varying levels of precise targeting (yes I once got my mom an online present [[flowers]] from a high end department store.  And no I don’t want to buy her any lingerie from the same store).

What is inbound marketing then?

There’s the famous quote about half of all advertising spend being effective… the problem being that we don’t know which half. 

As competition grows, that problem is becoming more apparent on platforms such as Facebook.

Granted the beauty of online advertising is that it is generally measurable. You can see how many people have seen your ads, where they were based and ideally what they did next once they visited your website. You can use this data to make better decisions about your campaigns. 

The problem is that not enough businesses seem to be doing that, adopting more of a “set and forget” mentality.

What the experts say

Hubspot sum up the differences nicely:

“The inbound methodology is the method of growing your organization by building meaningful, lasting relationships with consumers, prospects, and customers. It’s about valuing and empowering these people to reach their goals at any stage in their journey with you.”

Inbound or outbound, which is best? 

Thrive Agency suggest that both approaches should work together:

“Other ways you can combine outbound and inbound marketing campaigns revolve around creating an inbound marketing content strategy, either through social media or setting up a blog and using outbound marketing tactics like cold calling, cold emailing or setting up targeted ads to leads that showed intent.”

So is outbound dead?

Johnny Cameron from inbound things suggests you should take any comments about a certain type of marketing being dead, with a pinch of salt.

” Of course, I would say that inbound marketing is best given the name my agency! The truth is however that the channel that works best for your business depends on the audience and how you are measuring results. People often comment on TV advertising being Dead because it costs a lot more, in some cases, than advertising on Facebook.

The option to to avoid ads on TV via streaming services has added more fuel to the fire as people think ads don’t get seen as much. While it’s true that we don’t watch TV in the same way that we used to, the are still a great many opportunities to narrow down your audience, from baking channels to reality TV shows, and of course there are always going to be live events that are worthwhile.

TV shows also offer the opportunity to join social media discussions and get in front of relevant people.”

Choosing your marketing weapons

According to the size of your company, your level of experience in marketing and of course, your time and budget all play vital roles in deciding which channels to invest in:

“You might hear a lot of chatter about emerging technologies like AI and chatbots. But, unless you’re a very advanced marketer or at a large company, those types of tactics are likely out of your reach. That’s okay, though, because you don’t need the flashiest new thing to succeed.

What’s important isn’t focusing on every new channel. It’s focusing on the right channels to maximize the growth of your business. And in this section, you’ll discover where you should be directing your effort and attention to make the most impact.”

So ultimately, there is no inbound or outbound as far as your business is concerned. Just good marketing that gets results!

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