The term inbound marketing is a stroke of genius, it succinctly captures a uniquely modern marketing methodology and sets it in contrast to traditional marketing methods.
But as far as HubSpot’s marketing software goes, I believe that it misses the point.
As a phrase it’s been instrumental in catapulting HubSpot into the minds of modern marketers and given a broader purpose and framework to what was previously SEO.
Specialist SEO community SEOMoz has repositioned itself to take best advantage of the rise in interest the term attracts, and many agencies are rushing to offer inbound services.
So how could this be detrimental to HubSpot’s software?
So what is inbound marketing?
When the term first surfaced it was linked directly to the full process that HubSpot offers, from the publishing of targeted content via their CMS to the conversion and nurturing of leads using their marketing automation features.
This is the process described in their book entitled ‘Inbound Marketing’ so it’s a fair bet that this is how the process was conceived.
(Interestingly the marketing automation component isn’t at all reliant upon your leads being generated in an inbound fashion, it’s just that inbound leads tend to convert better, they just tend to be better qualified).
However, now that the term is in general use it’s meaning has shifted, and this general perception I believe is a limiting factor.
This is why we need to term inbound marketing automation because they are seen as being conceptually distinct. It also opens up a marketplace for software providers to create inbound marketing automation software.
Today inbound marketing represents a ‘top of funnel’ activity, it’s how you get visibility and attract traffic.
My suspicion is that this due to a combination of the high volume of SEO professionals who recognise an opportunity to rebadge an existing skill set with a term that attains a moral high ground – away from SEO as a tainted process of ‘gaming’ search engines.
And the fact that employing the marketing automation component requires some deep evaluation (and change) of a company’s marketing processes and activities.
And so it gets harder to justify the value.
I’m all for marketing automation, and I have much respect for HubSpot’s software, but I can see that with the label ‘inbound marketing’ so closely tied to it – the value of it’s marketing automation features is sidelined.
Because when people see inbound as a purely top of funnel, traffic generation exercise, it doesn’t stack up so well against WordPress which you can use for free.