Marketing Automation vs. Inbound Marketing: One, The Other, or Both?

Marketing automation? Inbound marketing? We’ve got enough buzzwords in online marketing to fill a Cosmo cover, but when you get down to the heart of the issue, the strategy that counts is the one that brings in more customers.

Marketing Automation vs. Inbound Marketing?

Here’s the good news though: automation and inbound aren’t mutually exclusive.

In fact, when applied together, they can be more powerful than the sum of their parts.

While marketing automation has been around since the 1990s, and inbound marketing is a relatively newer practice, both have contributed to making marketing the fastest growing segment of customer relationship management in recent years.

But is one more important than the other? Well, first let’s dig into the differences…

Inbound marketing is all about attracting visitors to your websites and then converting these into brand new leads. In short, hits = leads = sales – or so the theory goes.

Inbound marketing gives you plenty of opportunities to provide your visitors with the information that they really want in the form of social media posts, video, blog posts, and the like.

But marketing automation? Well, that’s how a company like yours can communicate with existing leads that are already in your funnel.

These leads may be dead in the water (customers who haven’t made a purchase for years), or might be based on datasets from information provided by your customers. Marketing automation will usually take the form of interacting via email or social media.

Both marketing techniques have their critics. Others believe that they go hand-on-hand and can radically transform your marketing efforts when used in conjunction with each other. In fact, Jon Miller described marketing automation and inbound marketing as “BFFs” in a post on Marketo’s blog.

The key to a more successful marketing campaign is not seeing this as an either/or situation. Instead you will need to combine elements of both marketing automation and inbound marketing if you want to add real value to your marketing efforts.

The Advantages of Marketing Automation

So you’ve got a great inbound marketing campaign in place, generating new leads for your business.

If you’re smart, you’ll use marketing automation alongside your inbound marketing strategies to increase the effectiveness of your campaign. In fact, marketing automation can also generate new leads, and convert these leads into cold, hard sales.

How? Well, marketing automation software can send out initial emails to your customers about a particular offer or promotion. These tools can then be used to keep your sales department up-to-date and can be essential in lead segmentation.

With marketing automation, you can better target existing customers based on data that you already HAVE such as location, gender, and age. This allows you to create a campaign based on the interests of your recipient based on their previous purchasing habits and other online traits.

Inbound marketing via email can still sometimes be perceived as “junk mail” and end up in the trash folder – regardless of how strong the subject line or contents are. With marketing automation, you’re already preaching to the converted – the customers who have purchased from you in the past, and are more-than-likely to come back in the future.

You’ll be able to create highly personalize mail that is on-point and conveys your marketing message as soon as it hits their inbox.

What else can marketing automation be used for?

  • Relationship marketing
  • Lead nurturing and lead scoring
  • Up-selling and cross-selling
  • Customer retention

The Advantages of Inbound Marketing

Marketing automation is great for turning more visitors into customers. But what if you want to attract a new demographic? Or worse – what if you don’t have any customers at all?

Inbound marketing is a powerful tool when it comes to generating brand new leads. It can encourage new customers to visit your sites via effective SEO techniques, social media campaigns, and blog activity. And what happens once you get them to your website? Fantastic service, unbelievable products, and the best offers on the web of course!

Inbound marketing is great for converting one-time customers into loyal devotees of your brand. Of course, you’re website should be so fantastic that there shouldn’t be any reason why a new customer won’t make a purchase. The most difficult thing is getting them there in the first place – and that’s where inbound marketing can help.

Inbound marketing software such as LeadFormix has been designed to transform your marketing efforts, and can find more leads, increase revenue, and boost profits. However, many larger businesses may not focus their time and efforts into an effective inbound marketing campaign for several reasons.

They’ve probably already got a steady stream of business coming their way, and might not need to branch out any further. Inbound marketing can still be useful – even for the conglomerates. After all, is there really such a thing as too many customers?

What else can inbound marketing be used for?

  • Multi-channel marketing
  • Lifecycle marketing
  • Content creation
  • Improved SEO

But With Their Powers Combined…

Combining both marketing automation and inbound marketing can have a whole heap of benefits. In fact, it’s even been given a trendy new nickname – inbound marketing automation.

Matching these two powerful marketing strategies can only bring your business more in the long term, and reinforce the effectiveness of each in the process. Many online marketers will find limitations when just focusing on one strategy.

For example, many inbound marketing software programs can only analyze data from limited activities (such as social media, CRM, or SEO), rather than focusing on all of these efforts at the same time.

Once you become more confident with both marketing approaches, you’ll notice that inbound marketing can be great for generating new leads, whilst marketing automation can nurture these leads and convert them into sales.

However, relying on just one doesn’t necessarily yield the best results. According to Rick Burnes at the HubSpot blog, investing in marketing automation isn’t always fruitful. In fact, some marketers find that marketing automation doesn’t provide them with the results needed to justify the cost and time spent on implementing this strategy.

According to HubSpot, inbound marketing automation uses information that you already know about your customers (their interests, desires, shopping habits), then delivers the information that they need to encourage them to make a new purchase. This information is delivered at a time when they need it, and in the place they are looking for it.

See it as taking the best qualities from marketing automation and inbound marketing and using both to garner real results for your marketing efforts.