Does inbound marketing actually work? A tale of case studies

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When people think of inbound marketing, their mind usually moves to HubSpot.

HubSpot is a marketing and sales platform that is deep-rooted in the inbound methodology.

They invented it; CEO Brian Halligan coined it.

Needless to say, everything that comes out of HubSpot will be lavish in its praise of inbound marketing. They have 270 odd million invested in it.

So we set ourselves a challenge. 

Could we prove that inbound marketing works without using HubSpot’s wealth of resources?

Let’s find out.

Due to enormous shifts in technology and consumer behavior, customers want a new approach that cuts through the clutter: marketing that is truly, inherently useful. – Jay Bauer

Baurer’s quote sums up why we love inbound marketing. It’s not a tactic; a trick, a smoke-and-mirrors situation. Inbound marketing is an approach and a shift in mindset as well as strategy. 

An approach to marketing that is valuable and useful.

Instead of interrupting the customer, inbound attracts customers with answers, resources and tools.

In other words, giving the people what they already want. 

Let’s call it honest marketing.

Labelling aside, does inbound marketing actually work?

Does it work for small companies, medium-sized, big corporates? Does it work in every industry or just a few?

We’ll start with the small and humble.

Can inbound marketing work for startups?

Triaster is a SAAS startup that provides business process management software that helps to manage and improve internal processes.

Triaster adopted an inbound marketing strategy. They invested in the HubSpot marketing and sales platform as well as redeveloping their website with the HubSpot COS hosting.

After developing personas, regular blogging, creating landing pages and CTAs, Triaster were able to start increasing their traffic and leads through the website.

In 12 months, they were able to boost their organic traffic by 263% and leads by 650%.

Does inbound work for large corporations?

Salesforce is a B2B CRM and cloud computing corporate based out of San Francisco. In 12 weeks they managed to develop a strategic approach, personas, a microsite and 32 pieces of content.

More importantly, as a result of their efforts they saw an increase in social traffic by 2500%. They also gained 6,500 newsletter sign-ups and 10,000 leads as a result of an eBook download.

Salesforce promoted their content using paid media. They used their buyer personas to develop sponsored tweets on Twitter, banner ads on LinkedIn and Display Ads on the Google Display Network.

What about B2C and the travel niche?

A client in the travel niche had a website that lacked clear CTAs, had a high bounce rate - with a slow load time, and an outdated design.

They worked with an agency to increase their traffic using inbound methods such as SEO, social media and email marketing.

Because of these efforts, they managed to decrease the site’s bounce rate by 55% and increase organic traffic at an average of 60%.

How about a B2B mobile app development company?

Thinslices is a B2B mobile app development company.

They worked with an agency to optimise conversion rates, improve user experience, create content, increase social engagement and optimise their content for search engines, and data analysis.

As a result of implementing the inbound marketing programme, Thinslices saw a 30% decrease in bounce rate, a 50% increase in website traffic and approximately x15 qualified leads each month.

Can inbound marketing work for you?

Yes, but it takes strategy, commitment and patience.

According to HubSpot’s statistics (yes I know!), it takes on average 6 months to double your visitors and leads with inbound marketing.

But the stats improve. After a year, businesses on average receive 3.5x more website visitors and 6x more leads. In fact, the more persistent you're with implementing your inbound strategy, the better your results.

The biggest draw-cards for adopting an inbound approach is increasing your ROI and lowering your cost of customer acquisition. This occurs as your inbound efforts take off and enables you to lower your investment in traditional advertising.

This doesn't necessarily mean that traditional outbound marketing should be dropped altogether. Traditional marketing channels can still be effective when supplemented with inbound methods. 

What we do find is that many businesses who adopt an inbound strategy, tend to allocate less resources to traditional marketing methods - as they begin to see better results from inbound marketing.

For our own business, organic search is now our second greatest source of web traffic, generating better results than both our paid social media and PPC efforts.


It’s a no-brainer; generating more leads for less.

But there is a lot to do before you start reaping what you sew...

In the next post, we'll be outlining the exact steps required to getting your business on the inbound train to success.

In the meantime, you can read the essentials of inbound marketing to get your head around buyer journeys, personas and the inbound methodology.