If you are familiar with the current marketing trends, you have probably heard marketers mention “inbound marketing” and “outbound marketing” in their discussions, but do you understand what those terms truly mean?
Some may think they are just fancy words that were made by marketers to sound smarter (and they are partially right), but inbound marketing and outbound marketing actually present two completely different strategies of marketing which companies and marketers use to reach the prospects they need.
So, let’s have a closer look at inbound and outbound marketing to understand more about them.
Inbound marketing, also known as “permission-based”, “content” or “pull” marketing is a relatively new marketing concept.
While outbound marketing tries to push messages to a large audience, inbound marketing works by pulling the audience towards you, like a magnet. With inbound marketing there is never a noticeable sales pitch.
Instead of actively promoting your products, outbound marketing aims to bring prospects naturally by offering them informative and meaningful content on their website.
The content is designed to help, guide and educate the prospects about the problem they have encountered in their daily life. Such content increases the engagement of the prospect with the brand as well as the chance that they will develop an interest in their products, and in the end, decide to buy it.
When using inbound marketing approach, marketers will provide content which aligns with a specific point in the buyers’ journey of their prospects:
-The beginning of the buyers’ journey, also known as awareness stage, is when a buyer realizes that they have a problem and starts to research it.
-The middle of the buyers’ journey, also known as consideration stage, is when the buyer defines their problem and is looking into possible solutions for it.
-The end of the buyers’ journey, also known as decision stage, is when the buyer narrows down the list of solutions that will work best to solve their problem and, in the end, makes a final decision.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Content creation (website content, blog content, white papers, guides, e-books, images, videos, webinars,…)
Subscription (permission) - based email marketing and others.
As the years pass, more and more companies have shifted the majority of their focus from outbound marketing to inbound marketing to get the prospects they seek.
Prospects that are gained through inbound marketing are already interested in products or services they are offered and, as they engage more with the brand because of their content, the conversion rates for inbound marketing are higher than outbound marketing.
It isn’t that surprising that companies are more interested in inbound marketing considering the benefit of using it, however, that doesn’t mean that it’s a flawless solution.
Outbound marketing, also known as “interruption”, “push” or “traditional” marketing is an older marketing concept that tries to reach out to the audience and see if they would be interested in the product or service that they offer.
You could liken outbound marketing to a megaphone since it tries to amplify the message to be loud and overpowering in hopes of reaching a larger amount of people.
Outbound marketing is considered as an aggressive way of marketing since it seeks to interrupt the daily life of people and make them notice the products or services that are offered.
Outbound marketing focuses more on presenting the product or service to their prospects, rather than focusing on the benefits that their prospects can gain.
TV and radio commercials
Newspaper and magazine ads
Social media ads
Direct mail and others
Outbound marketing has been slowly falling out of favor during the last decade due to oversaturation as well as its shotgun (widespread) approach.
Many people have been constantly on the receiving end of offers for products and services that they have no interest in. As a result, they have started to gain a habit of ignoring such messages.
It has also become a lot easier to avoid the outbound marketing efforts using the programs and tools such as: ad blockers, spam filters, do not call lists, etc., as well as websites that offer streaming services for movies, TV shows and music.
Faster implementation and results, less time consuming, larger audience, resonates with older audience.
Cheaper, higher ROI, multiple use, easier to track results, two-way communication, benefit for the prospects, more qualified prospects, resonates with younger audience.
The disadvantages for each of them can be concluded from looking at the advantages of the opposite strategy.
In the end, you have to experiment with both strategies to find out which one will work best with the line of business you are in.
Even though there is still an ongoing debate on the superiority between inbound marketing vs outbound marketing, in most cases, the best option will be a mix of both strategies. However, it will take time and effort to find the right ratio to divide your focus (and budget!) on each strategy.