Sunday, April 26, 2009

Inbound Marketing

Today's Boston Globe talks about the buzz around "inbound marketing," agency HubSpot's term for marketing that prompts the audience to seek out a company or its offerings online. This method makes more sense than one-way "outbound marketing," the traditional monologue advertising model which companies use to talk at audiences without engaging them or inviting response.

Any time you can get strong word of mouth/mouse going, you get much more bang for your buck as your audience spreads the word for you. Inbound is fun, entertaining, engaging. Ideally, it becomes a two-way street, leading to ongoing dialogue between audience and company.

However, the only real measure of success is whether inbound marketing achieves its business objectives. No matter how high tech the technique, marketing programs are successful only when they help the company progress toward its business objectives. Building awareness is a legitimate objective but eventually, effectiveness must be measured in bottom-line terms.

Pop quiz: Which office supply retailer is behind the "Elf Yourself" campaign? Nearly everyone has heard of the campaign (many of you even uploaded your photo to elf yourself). But do you remember who sponsored it?

So here's what I want to know. Did "Teddy Twitter" bring in higher program ratings for the tech-oriented home makeover show? Did's revenues go up after it added a Facebook application to feed job openings to users? The Globe doesn't say. And that would be the real story behind inbound, IMO.

PS--The retailer behind Elf Yourself is:


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