Marketers have a tendency to rush into the latest trends. We are an enthusiastic group and are always willing to embrace something new and exciting.

Take inbound marketing, for example. As inbound marketing becomes more and more popular, many marketers are turning to specialized inbound marketing tools and softwares to get them started and stay ahead of the curve. But there’s a problem: inbound marketing is a tactic, not a tool.

Inbound marketing is a tactic, not a tool. tweetbutton

The idea that a company can launch their inbound marketing strategy using software alone is misleading. Inbound marketing requires serious time and effort from the company itself; paying for expensive software only provides you with a nicer platform to showcase your efforts.

The infographic below highlights what to really expect from inbound marketing, some free and low-cost tools to help you along the way, and how marketing automation can be the perfect complement to your inbound strategy.

Want to see what else automation can offer? Calculate your company’s potential ROI with our new ROI calculator!

Inbound marketing tool or tactic

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8 responses to Inbound Marketing: Tool or Tactic? [#INFOGRAPHIC]

  1. Great post & infographic, Matt. It’s definitely something that isn’t touched on enough. Purchasing or integrating an inbound marketing tool doesn’t solve your marketing challenges once-and-for-all, but makes it easier for you get everything done in one place, and effectively analyse the results.

    It’s good to see Pardot recognising that a tool is just part of the solution, and that a robust inbound marketing strategy requires large resource commitments in terms of producing content. From webinars to eguides, blogposts, infographics, social media management, outreach & linkbuilding, it easily becomes a full time job for more than one experienced person.

  2. You are correct in that inbound is not a tool. But it’s not a tactic, either. It’s a philosophy. Inbound companies have a different mindset and even approach traditional marketing in an inbound way.

    • Hmm good point. It CAN be a strategy rather than just a tactic. Or it can be a tactic within a greater strategy set. It really just depends on how you think about marketing. I definitely see your point.

  3. To me this article says (a) inbound marketing more than software and requires work to do it, and (b) inbound marketing is ineffective and you should invest your marketing time and money elsewhere. Well, I agree with 50% of that. :)

    Software does not solve problems, people do.
    I agree that software alone never solves any marketing or sales (or other) problems. Just like merely buying Salesforce CRM software will not improve your sales, merely buying marketing software will not improve your marketing. It takes work to achieve results. It takes a lot of work to set up and use a CRM system properly, it takes work to do the blogging and social media for content marketing, and it even takes a lot of work to set up all the emails and landing pages and segments for marketing automation emails. There is no free lunch. You need to make a commitment to inbound marketing just like making a commitment to improving sales.

    Inbound marketing works, so well that Salesforce does it.
    I was very surprised to see Salesforce Pardot come out as against inbound marketing when they have been doing so much more inbound marketing over the past year or so. Salesforce has hired inbound marketers, increased the amount of blogging, the number of infographics, and the amount of social media interaction. In fact, this very article that implies inbound marketing is not effective is actually a piece of inbound marketing! Quite ironic.

    All the data I have ever seen from any source says that inbound marketing generates higher quality leads at a lower cost helping you grow revenue for less investment. If you don’t do inbound marketing, what’s the alternative? Buy more advertising? Make more cold calls? Use marketing automation to send more spammy emails to a “list” of people who don’t know who you are? Are those marketing techniques that the “customer company” should be doing? One would think a customer company would be about helping people, not annoying them, about engaging them, not interrupting them, and about finding ways to grow with less spam and less cold calls.

    • Hi Mike, I think you missed the point. This doesn’t say anywhere that inbound is not effective (quite the contrary). It simply shows that it isn’t a panacea as it is often positioned. You need a good mix of strategies to be effective. Hubspot’s brand of inbound works very well but you also raised 100M+ in capital to fuel it and build demand for a new space. That simply isn’t reality for most companies. You also does a lot more than pure inbound.

      We love inbound and do a lot of it ourselves. We just remind people that:
      a) like anything else, it is hard work — not something that is plug and play
      b) it’s part of the marketing mix
      c) it’s much more of a strategy than any one technology

      • I am really surprised you are recommending to customers that they should use WordPress, HootSuite, Google Analytics, and MOZ without even mentioning there are other simpler, easier and more powerful alternatives. WordPress plus HootSuite plus Google Analytics plus MOZ is a complicated mish-mash of stuff that does not communicate with each other and is really hard to manage, and at the same time it lacks the power you need to do inbound well. When someone mentions your company on social media you don’t know if they are a customer or an active lead or a stranger. When you look at the performance of a blog article you don’t know how many of those readers went on to become leads. When a hot opportunity from the medical industry is on your website you can’t show them a targeted call to action specifically for their industry and buying stage.

        If you are going to catalog different tools to do inbound, you should at least be authentic and mention all of the most popular ones. The “customer company” should not mislead customers by publishing an infographic about inbound and completely leaving out a company rated #1 in customer satisfaction in social media management, search marketing, email marketing, web analytics and marketing automation. That would be as odd as me publishing an infographic about marketing automation and not mentioning Pardot (though in marketing automation you are ranked #5 in customer satisfaction).

        Source for rankings: G2Crowd website with over 600 reviews of marketing software companies.

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