Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing

The best way to understand inbound marketing is to contrast it with its polar opposite, outbound marketing. Until recently, most forms of advertising, promotion, and marketing were outbound. These are the familiar techniques where companies broadcast their message to as many people as possible. Examples include TV, radio, and print advertisements. Cold calling, direct mail, and sending out mass emails are also outbound. What these methods have in common is an untargeted approach. It’s called outbound because the focus is on businesses sending messages out to prospective customers without considering their individual needs.

Inbound marketing, by contrast, is pull marketing where targeted customers seek the information you're offering. Some examples of this include:

  • SEO – Search engine optimisation lets people find you with keywords via the search engines.
  • Social Media – Activity on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are targeted by interests. Even paid ads such as Google AdWords and Facebook ads are inbound because they’re highly targeted.
  • Content Marketing – This is a broad term that includes blogging, article writing, video marketing, and any tactic where you create content relevant to your audience.
  • Native Advertising – A type of ad that resembles a traditional article. Native ads are now common on social media as well as on many popular news sites.
  • Email marketing – While spamming is outbound marketing at its worst, building a targeted email list is a highly effective type of inbound marketing.

These are some of the most popular forms of inbound marketing but there are many others as well, including live events, webinars, and influencer marketing (getting experts and celebrities in your industry to recommend your product) are some other possibilities.

Why Outbound Marketing is Declining

The internet, social media, and other technologies have helped to transform the way people absorb information. One change is that people are exposed to so much information every day that it’s getting harder and harder to capture their attention. People tend to tune out anything that’s not directly relevant to them. That’s why broad methods of advertising such as TV commercials, email spam, and banner ads are so easy to ignore.

Because you’re broadcasting your message to a large and untargeted audience, outbound marketing is also costly compared to inbound. HubSpot estimates that inbound leads cost 62% less than outbound. As more and more messages compete in the marketplace, outbound marketing is likely to get even less effective and more expensive in the future. For most businesses, this simply isn’t cost-effective. Inbound marketing provides a better ROI.

Why Inbound Marketing is the Wave of the Future

People today have shorter attention spans and less time to sift through ever-expanding data. At the same time, customers are getting smarter and more discerning. This is another reason that inbound marketing is your best choice nowadays. Traditional advertising is a form of one-way communication where the seller tries to convince the customer to buy something. With inbound marketing, the customer is in the driver’s seat. Inbound marketing techniques rely on customers to search, compare and make educated decisions. Someone who searches for your business on Google, joins your Facebook group or subscribes to your YouTube channel usually has a clear idea of what he or she is looking for.

Inbound marketing gives you the opportunity to break through your audience’s filters by providing them with the information they actually want. For example, when you create a blog post, Facebook post, podcast, or video on a certain topic, you’re aiming at a specific demographic. You’re not shouting your message and hoping someone will hear you. Rather, you’re putting out content that your customers are actively searching for.

Posted In: Marketing