HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan reflects on the evolution of inbound marketing


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HubSpot CEO Ben Halligan

HubSpot co-founder and CEO Brian Halligan on stage at Slush 2019. Photo by Maija Astikainen. Used with permission.

We’re approaching ten years since Brian Halligan wrote the book on inbound marketing. As the book and the approach to marketing turn a decade old, how has inbound aged?

Creating enough (and good enough) content to feed the inbound machine demands more of marketers’ time and budgets every year. Ranking in Google is more competitive. Social newsfeed algorithms impose limits on reach for branded posts. And breaking through the noise to forge meaningful connections with your ideal audience members has become more elusive.

In 2019, is inbound marketing becoming less effective, or is it possible that as marketers, we need to change our approaches?

In the hours following his recent presentation at the Slush conference in Helsinki, I got the chance to sit down and talk with Brian Halligan, co-founder and CEO of HubSpot. Along with Dharmesh Shah, Brian Halligan is the figurehead of the inbound movement.

Among other things, Halligan and I discussed inbound’s longevity and evolution. Here are some of his insights.

More than just a buzzword – a differentiation strategy

As awareness of HubSpot and inbound marketing has spread over the past decade, lines between inbound and plain old online marketing sometimes blurred. The idea that companies need to publish great, helpful content to attract and nurture an audience is no longer revolutionary. Outbound marketing has become more inbound, and vice versa.

One could either see these changes as signs that inbound was always more of a theory than a practice – or that Halligan and Shah’s vision was so spot-on that it the world went ahead and adopted it.

According to Halligan, his plan was always to change the way marketers think about what we do. He sees the “movement” as a key part of HubSpot’s differentiation

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