This article will introduce you to inbound and outbound marketing. It will also discuss the confusion that sometimes occurs between various terms and answer the question: “which type of marketing is better?”
In the most general sense, inbound marketing is a way of getting prospects to become customers by letting them come to you. When it comes to online advertising, inbound marketing includes content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization, buying media and traffic. Inbound marketing means being there when your prospects or customers are looking for you.
Examples of inbound marketing include publishing articles that may be of interest to your prospects. A person becomes interested in a subject, product or service, starts looking for information, finds your article, reads it and then learns about your company. When you do research about your prospects, identify audiences and put ads in front of them, it is also inbound marketing.
The term “inbound marketing” became really popular because of its promotion by the company called Hubspot and Hubspot CEO Brian Halligan. Hubspot is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The business sells various tools and services for inbound marketing.
In a broad sense, billboards that you see when you drive on a highway, ads in newspapers and various other media are also a form of inbound marketing because their goal is to draw customers to a business. These advertising methods attempt to capture the attention of prospects and customers in hopes that people who see them will eventually buy a product or service.
Inbound marketing can be divided into direct-response inbound marketing and brand building inbound marketing. Brand building is based on the idea that prospects will become customers after they see a message many times. Brand building is the type of marketing that large multinational corporations such as Apple use to attract customers when they show ads with pictures taken by the latest iPhone or with senior citizens using iPads.
The problem with brand building is that often it is impossible to calculate the return on investment that you get from your brand-building activities. You post ads, you see sales going up, but you can’t tell which ads work and which ads don’t work. Also, a big business may be running advertising campaigns with goals other than increasing sales. For example, a company may want to impress stockholders or win advertising awards and get free publicity. This means that if your goal is to attract leads and generate sales, you can’t be blindly copying what others are doing.
If you want to be getting more leads, you need to be able to count how many leads an ad or a piece of content is bringing. The good news is that measuring the effectiveness of inbound marketing is easy. All you need to do is have offers in your inbound marketing. Most ads on the Internet today have offers built into them. When you run an ad with a promise of useful content to those who click on the ad, the promise of content is your offer. You can then see if this offer is working or not by comparing the number of people that saw your ad to the number of people that clicked on the ad.
You can have offers in your free content, too. For example, a call to action “click here to read another article” at the end of a piece of content is also an offer that allows you to measure the effectiveness of your content. You can check the analytics to see how many people accessed the content and the number of link clicks will tell you how many people have read or watched your content and wanted more.
Outbound marketing is a promotion of a product or service via telemarketing, text messages, email, and other media. The difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing is that inbound marketing is not intrusive and outbound marketing is interruptive in nature. Inbound marketing is being there when your prospects and customers decide to look for you. Outbound marketing is proactively looking for customers and making offers.
Benefits of inbound marketing
Inbound marketing has several advantages that outbound marketing doesn’t have. Inbound marketing allows you to provide value and gain expert status with your prospects before your competition is able to do so.
An inbound buying process has several stages. It starts with a want or a need. A person or an organization decide that they want or need a product or service. Then, there’s typically
“research stage” during which prospects are learning more about their options, pitfalls when buying this very type of product and typical mistakes. Inbound marketing allows you to be there for your prospects during this stage before the prospects move on to comparing prices and options. The longer you interact with someone before you ask them for money or present an offer to buy, the higher the trust. Also, if you are providing valuable content, you get an opportunity to gain expert positioning.
This is very different from what happens when you show up only to make a sale. If you are there only when a person is ready to buy, it is very likely that the person has several tabs open in the Internet browser and is comparing pricing and features of different options. If you want to move away from the conversation about price and discuss value, inbound marketing can help you with that.
Benefits of outbound marketing
With inbound marketing, you can often be there when people decide to look for what you are selling, but you don’t control how, when or how much attention you get. When you send a ringless voicemail, a text message or make a phone call, you can be sure that you will get the attention. While some marketing methods, such as emails, may not be very effective if a person is getting a lot of emails, talking to someone on the phone or sending them a ringless voicemail virtually guarantees that you will get their attention.
Which type of marketing is better?
If you decide to learn more about various marketing methods, you will often see claims such as “outbound marketing doesn’t work and is dead. Inbound marketing is what businesses need today.” You will also meet people who claim that outbound marketing still works and there’s no need to do anything else.
Just like in many other areas of life, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Both inbound and outbound marketing can be very effective if you use them properly.
Today many of the outbound marketing methods, such as cold-calling, come with a lot of restrictions and regulations and often you won’t be able to use them at all to initiate contact with prospects that you have no prior relationship with. At the same time, using these methods is perfectly legal when you do get permission from your prospects to call them, send them voicemails, text messages and emails. This is why you want to build advertising and marketing funnels that incorporate both inbound and outbound marketing. For example, you may identify your target market and run ads with offers. Then, you can provide your prospects with useful content. After that, with those who give you permission, you can proactively follow up on the phone.