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Inbound marketing is promoting a company through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, enewsletters, whitepapers, SEO, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing which serve to bring customers in closer to the brand. In contrast, buying attention, cold-calling, direct paper mail, radio, TV advertisements, sales flyers, spam, telemarketing and traditional advertising are considered "outbound marketing". Inbound marketing refers to marketing activities that bring visitors in, rather than marketers having to go out to get prospects' attention. Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers, makes the company easy to be found and draws customers to the website by producing interesting content. Inbound marketing methodologies are used to reach potential customers at various levels of brand awareness. These tactics require a commitment in order to steer marketing efforts into increased opportunities, as it provides the prospect to both learn about potential customers and have potential customers learn about the business.
David Meerman Scott recommends that marketers "earn their way in" (via publishing helpful information on a blog etc.) in contrast to outbound marketing where they "buy, beg, or bug their way in" (via paid advertisements, issuing press releases, or paying commissioned sales people, respectively). The term is synonymous with the concept of permission marketing, which is the title of a book by Seth Godin. The inbound marketing term was coined by HubSpot’s Brian Halligan, in 2005. According to HubSpot, inbound marketing is especially effective for small businesses that deal with high dollar values, long research cycles and knowledge-based products. In these areas prospects are more likely to get informed and hire someone who demonstrates expertise.