Client says: “We need to tag paid search traffic properly so our marketing automation system can recognize the traffic source and so we don’t consider it inbound.” Wait, what?
This comment caught us by surprise and sparked an email thread here at Wakefly.
The answer is not clear-cut or unanimous among digital marketers (and that usually depends on what channel they specialize in). But during the course of our conversation, we brought up that…
Inbound marketing is not:
The goal of SEM (paid and organic) is to target and meet the request of what people are searching for in the engines. When users qualify themselves by searching for a product, service or topic, we are attempting to get visibility and provide what they are looking for. In our humble opinion, meeting these requests is not interruptive or intrusive.
Yes, paid search is inbound marketing.
It gets muddy because we are “paying” for ads in paid search vs. SEO and social (aka free marketing). But try telling the SEOs and social managers of the world their work/labor is free. The truth of the matter is no form of marketing is “free.”
Paid search must be distinguished from other forms of paid media that are targeting based on audience profile and context. Making this distinction is critical to recognizing the advantages of paid search and how interruptive/unsolicited banner ads, emails, etc. are outbound marketing.
There are paid search tactics, just like there are SEO and social tactics that are by nature spammy and not necessarily inbound. For example, bidding on a competitors brand is not attempting to meet a searcher’s request if you are simply trying to steal brand searchers. We would consider situations like this exceptions to the rule.
Thoughts? Comment below – we’d love to get this conversation going!