If you’re aware of inbound marketing—a phrase coined by Hubspot—you may have jumped on the bandwagon that this methodology is the one to follow into the future. With its strategy of bringing the right audience to your brand and offering a great customer experience, it was said to basically replace the outbound method of marketing.
Years later, many are now saying that inbound is done. Is this rumor something to believe or just another item on the lists of upcoming marketing trends that don’t really come to pass?
We’ll make the case that inbound’s sticking around. Here are some reasons why:
Its Concepts Go Beyond Hubspot
Sure, Hubspot basically turned itself into the authority on inbound marketing and offers training on the subject, but the concepts behind this way of marketing go beyond this company. For instance, drawing customers in through SEO and using market research to understand your audience are marketing concepts that are not just part of this philosophy, but that help make it up nonetheless.
In essence, it combines a number of marketing and business tactics into its own philosophy. That’s a large part of why it’s not so easy for inbound to die. Inbound methods like quality, helpful content and excellent service are already everywhere and likely to continue within many brands’ marketing strategies.
They Said the Same Thing About Outbound
People also like to argue that outbound marketing is dead and gone, or at least dying… and that inbound has completely, 100 percent replaced it. That isn’t true either, is it?
It may be true that some outbound tactics are from a bygone era and that others may be going out of style, yet certain outbound methods like advertisements are popular… and still getting results. Outbound has adapted as the internet has grown… just as inbound is capable of adapting.
It May Be Combinable
You may not have to make the choice between inbound and outbound (or other marketing ideas). Brands often use a combination within their broader marketing strategies. After all, outbound is known for bringing in quick results, while inbound tends to be a long game. This means both could conceivably work together.
That said, it’s best to think about whether an outbound strategy fits your brand and your audience. Or, will it potentially change the face of your brand and its authenticity?
Be careful that the techniques you use don’t oppose each other. For instance, you could potentially offend your buyer persona with an in-your-face ad that isn’t helpful or meaningful. Some tactics, such as cold calling, may never go over well with your audience, while others, like strategic social media ads, may be considered okay.
Something to consider is to use what you’ve learned from the inbound methodology when placing ads. Think about your buyer persona and how to reach out to them. Ads don’t necessarily need to be obnoxious or aggressive. You could try connecting by speaking to the problem you know your audience is facing in a genuine, helpful and compassionate way.
In reality, Hubspot lists tactics you may think of as outbound, including ads and social media, as tools you can use to attract customers within the inbound methodology. While outbound generally sacrifices long-term customer relationships in favor of quick gains, inbound uses techniques like ads to bring new people into its process that aims to convert, satisfy and keep them as long-term connections.
There May Be a Bigger Picture
Life tends to be more complex than it first appears, which may be true of this scenario. Some critiques of inbound say that it can be difficult to generate leads or convert with this method. The argument becomes that inbound doesn’t work as well as claimed or doesn’t work by itself.
Sure, that’s possible. In particular, it may not be the best strategy for all situations, such as for local business marketing. Yet, what if the idea that inbound fails to work isn’t the entire picture? Inbound is a complex philosophy that includes many parts, touching marketing, sales and customer service teams and even influencing other departments.
For many, it could be possible that they’re not implementing all of this complex methodology or giving it the time and effort needed to fully pan out. There may be additional strategies to try. It’s possible that adjustments need to be made to conversion techniques. A failure to attract or convert doesn’t conclusively say that this philosophy is a failure altogether.
Patience is required to see some of the results. Some say that it doesn’t work by itself because a business can’t solely wait around for customers to find it. In this case, maybe it’s time to incorporate those ads and social media posts that can be used within inbound. These can add those quick wins while you’re also working on a longer strategy of bringing relevant visitors to your website through SEO, capturing email addresses of the right people and sharing relevant content.
It Fits the Way of the Future
A lot of people think the future of marketing is about empathy and storytelling. Okay, okay… we know not to always believe these theories about the direction marketing is heading in, right?
That said, if we do consider the possibility of empathetic marketing and storytelling taking us forward, we can see that inbound completely fits these strategies.
Ideas of empathetic marketing center on:
- Showing compassion for your audience
- Developing genuine connections
- Creating organic relationships
This is exactly how inbound marketing works! It simply uses specific strategies to achieve these goals. It also works hand-in-hand with storytelling about and to your semi-fictionalized representation of your ideal customer (your buyer persona).
Just as outbound marketing has adapted from print methods to internet ones and beyond, inbound can and does adapt as things change in marketing and the world. Two cases in point:
- The Huspot inbound marketing certification course: If you go to take it now in 2022, you’ll see that there is a new version with updated information replacing the previous one (which had replaced the one before that).
- The 2022 State of Inbound Marketing Trends report from Hubspot: This report shows that the company keeps up with and adapts to changes in digital marketing, including social media, video, email and more.
No, inbound is not the only way to do marketing. It’s one way. Will it last into the future? We don’t have a crystal ball to tell you. After all, we don’t know if any marketing methods will continue to work as the world changes. But, it seems inbound marketing is staying in the mix of marketing options, at least for now.