By now, you may have heard people throw around the terms “outbound marketing” and “inbound marketing”, but what do they really mean? Would you be able to distinguish between the two and decide which method makes more sense for your business?
Outbound marketing is essentially what we are used to understand with the simple term “marketing”. It is all the traditional tactics marketers relied on heavily in the past century – billboards, print ads, TV commercials, radio spots, and even cold sales calls that were meant to address masses. It is interruptive and pushes itself to an audience, regardless if they want to see it or not.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is a digital marketing strategy comprised of a set of tools, processes and content that work together to generate organic traffic to your website and then convert to customers. Content marketing, for instance, is a component of inbound marketing, focusing on very specific methods of content creation and distribution.
Source: Crisp Video
Creating meaningful and engaging content has been the underlying goal for every marketer, but it wasn’t until 2005 when the term “inbound marketing” was born. Created by HubSpot’s co-founder and CEO, Brian Halligan, this new type of customer-centric marketing concept, despite a slow start in the late 2000s, started to surge in 2012 and today it has changed the game in the marketing industry.
As a matter of fact, according to HubSpot, 3 out of 4 companies in North America were already integrating the “inbound” factor into their marketing strategies to improve their ROI in 2017.
So what makes inbound marketing so special and indispensable compared to outbound marketing? It seems like their differentiation is only making the integrated marketing world even more complex than it already is. Yet, it actually makes sense to talk about these two critically diverse concepts as we move deeper and deeper into the era of a more personalized marketing
In the old days, companies with the biggest budget usually won because their main goal was to get exposure and attempt to sell to as many viewers, readers, listeners as possible without really interacting with them and getting to know their specific needs. It also meant that the marketing budget was spent inefficiently since promotional content was often not well targeted and only a few people eventually turned into customers.
This is why outbound marketing is often characterized as distractive, interruptive and impersonal, thus more likely to stimulate negative consumer reaction. However, it is important to note that outbound marketing does help increase and maintain brand awareness and recognition. It has the ability to get customers’ attention and draw them in, making them aware of your product, service and brand. However, it also costs. A lot.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, in its core, is all about delivering meaningful and valuable content to the right person at the right time. It aims at creating relationships with prospective clients, getting to know them, gaining trust, and providing them with a solution tailored to the particular situation, so that people would want to return and tell others how you helped them solve a problem.
So how does inbound marketing actually work in real life? The implementation of inbound strategy starts with developing buyer personas or ideal customers defined by their demographics, interests, wants, and needs.
Then, mirroring content marketing, the focus is on creating blog articles, social media posts, infographics, email newsletters, e-books, etc. that would naturally pull consumers towards your business, products and services. The content you produce, regardless of the form, is supposed to give people value, educate them, and make them ultimately view you as a thought leader or expert.
In contrast to the outbound approach, inbound marketing is permission-based meaning that it is not about selling your products or services directly to consumers but rather creating a positive experience and letting them come to you in different stages of their buyer’s journey.
And it does not end here. Inbound marketing is a long-term process which entails learning more and more about your customers every day and crafting new content that would keep them delighted.
Which strategy to choose?
Because inbound marketing efforts are so specific and aimed at retaining customers, inbound marketing cost 62% less than outbound marketing. At the same time, since inbound promotional and sales methods are more indirect in nature, it might take a longer period of time to see results.
Outbound marketing methods like Billboards and TV commercials still work in some situations, as do sales calls. However, they are costly and what’s worse is measuring their effectiveness is even more difficult.
In today’s modern marketing landscape, most organizations have embraced inbound marketing and choose to use a combination of both an inbound strategy with some outbound elements.
It really is up to you what strategy suits your business more, but it’s important to remember that going after the right people at the right time will almost always benefit you more than pushing unwanted content to the wrong people while spending thousands of dollars.
by Agnese Zimele,
Blogger and Marketing Assistant