Inbound vs. Interruption Marketing: What Gets the Clicks?

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SEOmoz, one of the leading providers of online analytics tools and reliable information about search engine optimization, has rebranded itself to just “Moz.” Why? Well the CEO, Rand Fishkin, tiptoes around the issue a bit, but the main reasons seem to be an association between “SEO” and spammy, “black hat” practices and the growth of other forms of online marketing, particularly social media.

What struck me in their announcement blog post was this graphic that juxtaposes “inbound” vs. “interruption” marketing tactics. While 90% of marketing investment is spent on channels that interrupt people, it is inbound marketing that gets 90% of the clicks on the web.

Inbound vs. Interruption Marketing

Yes, inbound marketing sure does look like the way to go. But look more closely at the items being compared. “Opt-In Email Lists” vs. “Paid/Rented Email Lists,” for example. It can take years to develop a house email list, not to mention the ongoing investment of resources in landing page design, content development, and graphic design to acquire and keep those names. Paid lists? Buy it and send. The same comparison holds true for most other items on the list. What kind of investment (not to mention skill set) is required to author a book, compared to buying an ad? How much more time and resources – and marketing savvy – are required to generate “earned social media” compared to buying social media advertising?

At the Fortune 500 or 1000 level, this graphic could tell a relevant story: let’s move some of our resources from Interruption to Inbound. For a small business owner with a vastly smaller marketing budget and limited access to specialized marketing talent, a comprehensive Inbound Marketing program is simply beyond reach. The small business owner will have to choose a mix of the possible based on available resources.

And of all the items listed under Inbound Marketing, SEO is still going to pay the greatest long-term dividends for most small businesses. If your website is well built around targeted keyword phrases and optimized for conversions, then the impact of all your other marketing efforts will be increased.

So I’m sticking with SEO. It’s image may have been tarnished by spammers, but it can be done well and honestly, and when it is . . . it gets the clicks.

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