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Inbound Marketing

Drunk on Inbound? No Way. We Have the Hangover Cure

Marketo's blog titled, “ Drunk on Inbound, and the Hangover Is Severe” seems to miss the point. Inbound is here to stay and here's why it works.

9 mins read time
Jeanna Barrett
Jeanna Barrett

Feb 18, 2020

Awhile back, I stumbled across an article that Marketo wrote for their CMONation blog titled, “Drunk on Inbound, and the Hangover Is Severe.” 

The author of the article shares a strong opinion (which I usually love) in her first paragraph:

“Inbound marketing, that’s the ticket,” said so many experts. “It’ll cure whatever ails you. Need leads? We got leads. Need lower acquisition costs? No problem. Two words: inbound marketing.”

Here are two different words: no way!


I don’t understand the title and point of this article in bashing inbound marketing. Quite frankly, it surprises and shocks me that Marketo would post this on their CMONation blog. Marketo is a marketing automation platform. They are a direct competitor of HubSpot’s (and Pardot, ActiveCampaign, ActOn, etc). Marketo’s customers are all doing inbound marketing and should be using Marketo to facilitate this process. So, why would you tell your target customer (CMOs) to say no way to inbound marketing? What a total head-scratcher. 

The only answer I can come up with is some C-Level at Marketo wanted to attack the fact that one of their competitors “created” the term inbound marketing and owns a lot of thought leadership online regarding this topic. Marketo is recommending starting with buyer’s personas and knowing your customer before starting inbound marketing, but if they knew their CMO customer, they’d know that inbound marketing is an important part of every marketing strategy and should never be ignored. And buyer personas are already a key initial step in the inbound marketing methodology.

Here’s instead the advice we think CMO’s should be given when trying to understand what they need to do to grow business leads, website traffic and convert: ABSOLUTELY DO INBOUND MARKETING! And this is what inbound marketing looks like because the author of this article also got this wrong:


We recommend finding a marketing automation platform that’ll work best for you before starting out with inbound marketing. We’re biased because we’ve used HubSpot for 10+ years as marketers and are an official HubSpot Agency Partner, but there are lots of other options. Do your research. As you can see from the image below, there are lots of brands in the market. I think G2 Crowd does a pretty good job of objectively describing them and showing satisfaction/features/, etc.

best marketing automation platform marketo vs hubspot.png

Whatever inbound marketing platform you choose from the above array of options, here are the two most important things that I’ve seen many companies mess up:

  1. Do a full integration process for the new software: Marketing automation platforms are very complicated and require you to connect your business data with the platform to truly see inbound marketing success. For example, if you collect sign up data on a customer in your funnel, your marketing automation platform needs access to that data for marketing to truly understand your customers. To do this properly, you need to first understand the data the marketing team needs/wants access to, and then work on an API connection. It’s likely best to bring in an integration expert on the platform you choose to help with the technical setup. If you kick off with this properly right away, you’ll see success quicker and also see a return on your (expensive) marketing automation platform investment too.

  2. Get buy-in from Customer Service, Leadership, Marketing, Product and Sales for the marketing platform you choose: Everyone in your company is going to need to touch and use your marketing automation platform. Development will need to get in there to set it up and make sure data is available, Customer Service will understand customers better if they can see how they’ve interacted with marketing/sales and what content they’re reading. Marketing will be in there every day, trying to drive leads and understand acquisition and channels driving leads, traffic and acquisition. And Sales should be in there, trying to understand how leads have interacted with the website and what content they’ve read (which should tell them what industry, intent or journey their lead is on). Inbound marketing works best when everyone accesses the platform and uses the platform. The author of the Marketo article mentions that getting rid of the ‘silo’ is key in having marketing and sales work together. But she failed to mention that you can do this with a central marketing automation platform for your business, that both sales and marketing use to facilitate inbound marketing.


The author of the Marketo articles talks about instead of doing inbound marketing, focus on the buyer’s journey. What she might not understand is that creating a buyer persona and buyer’s journey has always been part of the inbound methodology. I’ve done it for all of the brands I’ve worked with in the last decade. We never start an inbound marketing contract at First Page without these key pieces in place, and it’s important that in 2020 you now start layering on intent paths with your buyer’s persona and journey. The three of those strategic pieces should tell the story of who is visiting your website, why they’re visiting your website, the problems and answers each of them are looking for, and how you’ll communicate at each different stage. 



Before you get started with creating content and driving leads to your website, it’s important that everything is set up to track and show a return on the investment. It’s probably a good time to do a Google Analytics audit with an analytics expert (usually I’ve seen GA setups hacked by the development team, and there are often missed opportunities to track every appropriately). 

Next, find a technical SEO person who can analyze your website to make sure all technical signals are firing appropriately. Google looks at many things, but some major signals are on-page optimization (title tags, H1 tags, etc), site speed, sitemap, landing page performance, internal linking strategy and more. I have never worked with a company that doesn’t have a long list of technical SEO “things” that need to be fixed. Many companies build their websites without SEO in mind and then have to go back and make these fixes. 

If you’re one of these companies, make sure you fix all of your technical SEO holes first. This is great to do perhaps while your marketing team is working on their personas, buyer’s journey and intent paths. All of this should only take one month. And it will get you started on the right foot.



Now that you’ve set yourself up for inbound marketing success by implementing a marketing automation platform, integrating it with your internal systems, getting buy-in from all of your business groups, creating buyer’s personas/journey/intent paths and ensuring your website is set up with Google Analytics and has all technical SEO in a good place…. YOU’RE READY! Time to say yes to inbound marketing. What does this mean? It means:

  • Creating content (landing pages, blogs, podcasts, webinars, emails, etc.) that speaks to your buyers in the stages of their intent and journey.

  • Making sure your website is a lead magnet to capture leads — including offering newsletter signups, offers for consultations/demos/audits, gated content like guides and more. 

  • Ensuring each of your gated content (a piece of content that a lead has to exchange information with on a landing page form in order to receive it) has a form that includes a name and email, at minimum. But, also think smart and qualify your leads in the form to make a more seamless transition to understanding if they’re marketing qualified (MQL) or sales qualified (SQL).

  • Building nurture campaigns for each stage of the funnel — once you have leads in your contact database, how will you communicate with them?

  • Looping your sales team into the process of lead generation by ensuring that your leads are called with 24 hours that they fill out a form on your website or qualify as an SQL. 

  • Outlining a framework for what makes someone an MQL for your business (and what you’ll do with MQLs) and what makes someone an SQL (and what you’ll do with them).

  • Tracking everything you do and testing, testing, testing. 

If you’re ready to get started with your first inbound campaign, learn how we can grow your business.


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Jeanna Barrett

Jeanna is the Founder & Chief Remote Officer for First Page Strategy, an award-winning, fully distributed marketing agency. Jeanna has a combined 17 years of inbound marketing experience at venture-backed startups, digital agencies and Fortune 500 companies, with an expertise focus on business and tech. She's been named 'Top 40 Under 40' of brand marketers and 'Best in the West' for financial technology marketing. In 2016, Jeanna left the U.S. to lay roots and build her business in Belize, and in 2021 First Page was named #43 in fastest growing private companies of Inc. 5,00 Regionals: California.

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