Inbound marketing has been around for several years, and, by now, it’s possible that you’ve heard conflicting reports about this digital marketing strategy—from claims of amazing ROI to complaints that it takes too long. Whatever you’ve heard, one thing is for sure: you shouldn’t jump on the inbound marketing bandwagon without understanding what you’re getting into.
The only marketing strategies that have a place in your company are those that will provide a return on your investment for your business and brand. You’re not sure if inbound marketing makes the cut. With ever-changing social media algorithms, content expectations, and SEO best practices, inbound marketing can seem like it’s built on trends that won’t last.
That’s where you’re wrong, but we don’t blame you for being confused about inbound marketing. The internet is full of inbound marketing myths and well-meaning advice that have skewed the perception of this critical marketing strategy.
We’re here to debunk common myths and give you the real answer to the questions “What is inbound marketing?” and “Does inbound marketing work?” so you can make an informed decision about using this smart strategy to connect with customers and nurture leads.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
The digital marketing space may be fast-paced, but inbound marketing is a strategy that goes the distance, building relationships and providing value far beyond the short-term. This marketing methodology builds brand authority and attracts customers by delivering high-quality content and leveraging SEO best practices and lead nurturing strategies.
Offering valuable information that people are actually searching for is at the heart of inbound marketing. Providing this value at every opportunity can go a long way toward making a sale. Companies that published 16 or more blog posts in a month received 4.5 times more leads than companies posting 0-4 times per month, according to Hubspot. Better yet, the cost per lead for inbound marketing is about 61 percent less than outbound leads.
Inbound marketing enables businesses to attract, nurture, and convert customers, moving them through the sales funnel until they eventually become brand advocates, but in spite of this strategy’s proven track record, several myths about inbound marketing persist.
1. Inbound Marketing Shouldn’t Include Paid Promotion
It’s easy to believe the inbound marketing myth that paid promotions have no place in your inbound strategy, especially when your goal is to deliver value, not annoy your readers with pop-up ads. That may be how paid promotions worked in the past, but these days the best modern inbound campaigns will blend paid digital tactics in a variety of ways.
Paid search can be used to test whether certain content will lead to conversions, paid social media can be used to get your high-value content in front of just the right target audience, and combined paid digital tactics can be used to promote your marketing campaigns.
“When ads equal good content or help people find it, they contribute to a well-rounded Inbound Marketing strategy,” says HubSpot founder Dharmesh Shah. Paid promotion can be a vital part of your inbound strategy when used correctly, as it helps deliver your valuable content to the audience who needs it most.
2. Inbound Marketing Is Just About Blogging
When you think about online content, blogging is probably the first thing that comes to mind. While blogging is an important part of inbound marketing, it’s not the only thing that matters. There are plenty of other options for delivering value through content, such as videos, helpful infographics, or podcasts. Where you choose to focus your energy will depend on the specific audience you want to reach.
Yet another misconception is that you should blog as often as possible, even if it means you’re just posting generic updates about “company news.” Putting quantity above quality won’t help your brand in the slightest. The internet is packed with content, and consumers are more discerning than ever about only giving their attention to what’s most relevant and valuable.
Seventy-two percent of marketers say relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic—emphasis on relevant. When you pair quality content with smart SEO best practices, you’re not only driving traffic to your site, you’re ensuring that visitors actually benefit from what they find there. Even more compelling, a staggering 96 percent of B2B consumers want content with more input from thought leaders, according to Hubspot. Your content will deliver more value if you take the time to make your content unique, on-brand, and on-point.
3. Inbound Marketing Takes Too Long to Work
It’s true that the basics of inbound marketing are built on a foundation that develops over time. Improvements in organic search rankings don’t happen overnight, and social media audiences don’t just appear all at once. But like we mentioned above, modern inbound marketing strategies include paid promotion in their tactics—and those results can come much more quickly than traditional inbound methods.
Paid promotion can accelerate the results of your inbound strategy by bringing in additional search traffic while you’re still building your organic authority. This strategy helps your brand gain traction as you increase awareness among new audiences. You can also use paid social media campaigns to deliver your best content directly to the audience it’s intended to serve.
Using paid promotion isn’t a shortcut. Your inbound marketing strategy will still bring the best results as you gain momentum over time. Combining strategic paid tactics with focused inbound goals can give you a boost so you’re not waiting months to see a return on your investment.
4. Inbound Marketing Takes Too
Creating value-driven content, managing social media channels, managing and optimizing campaigns: inbound marketing requires a lot of work. No one here is trying to convince you it’s easy. But deciding whether inbound marketing is worth it shouldn’t be based on how easy it is, it should be based on how valuable it can be to your organization.
If an inbound marketing program increases your quality traffic, your qualified leads, and the average lifetime value of a customer, it’s worth the effort.
When executed correctly, inbound marketing is an investment in both time and money that yields a strong return. Inbound-generated leads have a 12.9 percent higher close rate than outbound sales methods, such as paid advertisements. Better yet, each of those leads costs 61 percent less than outbound campaigns. The point of inbound marketing is to connect your brand with customers who are already aligned with what you offer, rather than trying to convince skeptical buyers.
If an inbound marketing program increases your quality traffic, your qualified leads, and the average lifetime value of a customer, it’s worth the effort. If you don’t have the dedicated internal resources you need to manage your inbound program, it’s time to get help by working with experienced partners.
5. Inbound Marketing Requires HubSpot
Many people make the mistake of assuming that HubSpot, an inbound marketing management platform, and inbound are one and the same, but that’s not the case. You can have an effective inbound strategy without using HubSpot, and purchasing HubSpot
Inbound marketing does require certain tools, just like any other modern digital marketing program. The essentials are a website content management system (CMS), a marketing automation platform, and a social media management system. But simply having the right tools is no guarantee of success, just like owning a table saw doesn’t make you a master carpenter.
Some people also make the mistake of assuming that because they use HubSpot, all their inbound marketing needs are taken care of. HubSpot is just a software platform. Using it won’t make up for a lack of effort or knowledge. If you’re having trouble keeping up with the demands of creating strategic, value-driven content, working with experienced partners is a better bet than relying on popular software.
6. Inbound Marketing Is Just for Customer Lead Generation
Inbound marketing is primarily used to generate customer leads, but the exact same methodology can also be applied to employee recruitment. For many companies, especially those in manufacturing and A.E.C. (architecture, engineering, and construction) businesses, employee recruitment is actually more critical for company growth than customer lead generation.
Building a team of experienced employees who fit well with your company culture doesn’t happen by accident. Job seekers aren’t willing to work just anywhere. Sixty-nine percent of employees wouldn’t accept a job at a company with a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed. Your organization needs to continuously engage with potential hires and maintain its employer brand if you want to attract the best candidates. Inbound marketing methodology is designed to help you do just that.
With a carefully crafted inbound marketing strategy, you can connect with both passive and active job seekers, generate a pipeline of interested candidates, and convince prospective employees that your business culture is the right fit for them. Thanks to recruitment marketing, an inbound program can do far more for your company than just generate customer leads.
7. Inbound Marketing Is Outdated
Inbound marketing has been around since the early 2000s when the dot-com bubble burst and the market began demanding more value from the information they consumed online. Far from being outdated, inbound is a stable, proven digital marketing strategy that has earned its place.
The facts are simple: inbound marketing has stuck around because it works. Eighty-one percent of shoppers conduct online research before making large purchases. Most Google searches in the U.S. take place on mobile devices and, of those smartphone users, 65 percent say they’re after the most relevant information, regardless of which company provides it. These statistics don’t lie. SEO, content marketing, and social media distribution are all a vital part of the customer journey in the digital age.
If inbound marketing is outdated, then all of modern digital marketing is outdated. This marketing approach blends content, social media, SEO, email, and paid promotion in a targeted way that’s not going out of style anytime soon.
8. Inbound Marketing Doesn’t Work Anymore
Maybe you’ve tried inbound marketing in the past but haven’t seen the results you were hoping for. It’s true that inbound marketing isn’t right for every business out there. However, if your prospective customers and employees conduct research online (and let’s be honest, most of them do), a failed inbound program is probably due to a flaw in your strategy, not a problem with inbound marketing itself.
Double check your audience personas—after all, you can’t deliver value to someone you don’t really know. Do you truly understand them, their questions, their challenges, and their pain points? Are you creating content that resonates with them? Are you making use of lead nurturing to bring audiences into the next stage of their buying journey? There’s a lot of background work that goes into a successful inbound program. If you miss the mark on your audience, you won’t see the results you’re looking for.
The fundamentals of inbound marketing are sound. Like we said above, this methodology has been holding strong for several years now. We would continue to invest in inbound marketing if it wasn’t working for us.
Inbound Marketing: A Value-Driven Approach
Don’t be fooled by myths about inbound marketing. Inbound is a value-driven digital marketing approach that aligns perfectly with the ways modern audiences seek and interact with information online.
Need even more proof that inbound marketing is the right strategy for you? Get all the details in our article, Does Inbound Marketing Really Work? Experts Weigh In.