Is Inbound Marketing a Scam?

One of my favorite ways to find new topics to write about is by getting keyword ideas from my analytics program. I blog regularly on internet marketing topics and am always amazed and amused at the ways people find my blog posts. This morning while digging through our website analytics, I found that someone landed on our website after searching: Is inbound marketing a scam?

Inbound marketing funnel

Now of course, I realize that there is a good amount of psychology behind why we search for things, but I am going to assume that this searcher was doing due diligence on inbound marketing. It’s really quite interesting because inbound marketing itself is not a product or a service, it’s a methodology. In thinking about this query, I am compelled to guess at the reasoning behind this search and explain why inbound marketing isn’t a scam. But first, let’s talk about what inbound marketing is and what it isn’t:

In short, inbound marketing is a system which uses several different types of internet marketing tactics to convert traffic that hits your website into leads that grow increasingly closer to customers. Inbound marketing is a newer term, but the methods used to convert traffic to leads are likely as old as web 2.0 itself.

The phrase “Inbound Marketing” was seemingly coined by the authors of the book “Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs” and founders of the increasingly popular software suite: Hubspot. Hubspot has pumped a HUGE amount of content into the web-o-sphere surrounding the process of inbound marketing which has raised awareness of the fact that there is a reproducible method of leveraging the internet to get quality leads. In that, more and more companies are looking to get better results from their own websites and feel they are leaving money on the table. Where I think marketers and business owners get confused, is in the fact that Hubspot is a software provider and not a service provider.

Inbound marketing isn’t a way to get leads without doing work. Inbound marketing is a way of getting from point A to point B — It’s not the vehicle that gets you there, it’s the map that guides you. In other words, inbound marketing is really a system that, when employed correctly, can create overwhelmingly positive results; however, inbound marketing won’t do the work for you.

Inbound marketing takes time. It’s not a process that will get you instantly remarkable results, but given a year of following the methodology, analyzing results, testing and tweaking your website for optimization – you are pretty much guaranteed to see results – as long as you are doing things “by the book” and not slacking off. I know that sounds harsh, but it is a little bit like running a marathon, whereas you need to be prepared for the long haul. Once you start seeing results using inbound marketing, you will be able to cut back or even eliminate the expensive, non-track-able marketing methods and shift your sales focus to the warm leads you get via your website vs. cold calling.

The answer to the question: “Is inbound marketing a scam?” lies with you and how committed you are to seeing results.

If you think that by buying some software you will instantly begin seeing leads, you will be sorely disappointed. However, if you are interested in committing to the steps involved in inbound marketing, you will likely be amazed by the results received over time.

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  • Good points all around.  I am a new Hubspotter.  While Hubspot is a “software provider”, I would point out that Hubspot and the Hubspot community provides a wide range of support, webinars and a network of professional and customer knowledge (like you).  Your point is well taken, though.  The website owner must be committed to doing the work and following the inbound marketing methodology.  In my opinion, it’s better than the alternatives I have followed in the past, simply throwing money at the challenge by outsourcing internet marketing to SEO firms that charge much and deliver little with exclusive long term commitment requirements.

    John J. Sheehan

    • John, You’ve hit the nail on the head. If the marketer / business owner isn’t committed to following the methods, their success is extremely limited (Hubspot or not). Hubspot helps you see what’s working – it doesn’t do the work for you 😉

      • A parallel can be drawn to the Fitness Industry.  If you buy a gym membership but never get fit because you never show up – is working out a scam?

        As a small design / development firm – We’ve been increasingly successful integrating and adopting a Inbound Marketing philosophy and helping to share that with our clients.

        Great Article Samantha! 

  • Great post here, Samara. it’s great to hear it from folks out on the web vs. straight from HubSpot (why wouldn’t they promote inbound?)

    They say in HubSpot Academy that new inbound marketers and new HubSpot users should commit, in their calendar, to devote 5-10 hours of focused, productive work per week. These hours should be split between training/education, content creation, and publishing/sharing. Any marketer who honestly commits to this investment in time around learning the HubSpot tools and the methodology, will see tangible, meaningful results show up in their reports. If you treat it like a hobby, it will pay you like a hobby. If you treat inbound like the major business initiative that it is, you can expect it to pay off accordingly.