The Inbound Marketing Paradigm

Inbound marketing is fast becoming a paradigm shift.

As optimising web content becomes increasingly important, inbound marketing is turning out to be an intriguing opportunity for marketers and communicators alike.

But when it comes to inbound marketing, most marketers think about landing pages, conversion rates, and marcom softwares (like HubSpot, the leading industry software).

However — inbound marketing is way more than that.

Inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a fundamental shift in marketing.

Yes, nowadays we focus more on list building, content, themes, call-to-actions, viral loops, conversion rates, lead magnets, content upgrades, deep content, landing pages, a/b-testing, marketing automation, email marketing, and all of that fancy stuff often associated with online marketing in general.

But inbound marketing is so much more than just using various types of softwares to capture online leads.

What is inbound marketing — and is there such a thing as ‘outbound marketing’?

Here’s a slide with a few examples to illustrate the difference:

This issue is black-and-white.

This way of drawing the line between those who know you and those who don’t know you is nothing new:

  • In traditional marketing, this has been referred to as the difference between “push- and pull marketing.”
  • In sales, this is the classic difference between “hot- and cold leads.”
  • In public relations, we refer to inbound audiences as various types of “publics.”
  • Also, Seth Godin coined the phrase “permission marketing.”

Still, this doesn’t mean that inbound has ever been a priority in marketing:

Most organizations see inbound audiences as “already paid for” and thus in no need of further attention. Hence, most companies rather pour their marketing budgets into various outbound activities.

This is a flawed way of thinking:

“Why spend our marketing budgets on audiences that are ‘already acquired’?”

But in a wired world, not bothering about your existing community is a poor strategy.

Jerry Silfwer speaking about inbound marketing
Jerry Silfwer (Doctor Spin) speaks about inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is also a mindset

Most companies want more traffic, more fans, more emails, and more sales. But in most cases, reaching new outbound audiences isn’t the real problem:

If you pay to 10x your traffic to compensate for lack of engagement, then what? Now you have 10x the number of people who are not engaged. Doesn’t really make much sense, right?

A one-sided focus on outbound marketing can quickly becomes expensive:

Brands simply cannot afford to ignore their existing brand communities.

However, if you manage to activate and engage your existing audience, it won’t stay small for much longer. Because in a wired world, people influence each other. And the algorithms!

And that’s the real power of inbound marketing.

Read more: In Too many brands have zero true fans, I describe how many organisations are failing when it comes to building their own brand community.

Photo by marcos mayer on Unsplash.


Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, aka Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.
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