Although inbound marketing is strongly associated with software platforms like HubSpot, you don’t actually need special software to take an inbound marketing approach.
The key elements of inbound are:
Why is it required?
With a content management system so that you can publish content regularly
We love WordPress
To share and publicise your content and engage with your audience
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn Instagram... Depends on your market!
To manage your leads and contacts
There's so many options avail
To nurture leads through great emails, newsletters and offers
We love Mailchimp
So you can track, measure and evaluate all your activity
Google Analytics, no question
So, in its simplest format all you really need is a WordPress website, plus MailChimp, a free CRM and Google Analytics. We have plenty of clients that make inbound work very effectively using just these tools.
So why invest in a platform like HubSpot?
The joy of HubSpot is that it brings these key elements into one place. Understanding the data across a number of tools is more time consuming and open to misinterpretation than if they are magically combined into a single dashboard.
HubSpot’s CRM brings all your contacts into one place; the Marketing Hub is a blogging, social media and email platform that integrates with your CRM. This is as far as a stitched together system will take you – HubSpot then layers marketing automation on top of this, so that you can build workflows that will automatically respond to contact forms or send out emails to particular segments of your customer database. At this point, the opportunities to customise, automate and standardise are that much greater.
If you want to try before you buy on this kind of system, you can use the free HubSpot CRM and marketing tools, alongside your website, social media and Google Analytics. This will give you insight into the difference it makes when you start to think about customer records and your content as part of a single strategy, driven by personas and your target market.
Seriously, it's a game changer.
Back to the original question : do you need specialist software for inbound marketing? The short answer is no BUT if you are going to invest your time and effort into writing amazing content, then a platform will make that investment go further, it will save you time and improve your sales processes. In our experience, this will more than repay the cost of the software.