Are you tired of your marketing plan not delivering optimum results? Maybe you’re not using the right strategies. This comprehensive inbound vs outbound marketing guide will help become better at marketing.
You think “inbound marketing” and “outbound marketing” are just another fancy terms coined by marketers just to confuse you? No, you’re wrong!
In fact, they are two vastly different (and interesting) approaches to marketing products, services, or whatever you have to offer, on a fundamental level. And, in modern day and age, you must have a basic know-how of what mediums, strategies, and tactics are employed in both of these contrasting approaches, no matter the nature of your business or industry you are in.
After all, marketing is an essential component of just about any type of business.
And It is only possible to create an effective marketing plan – a plan that yields “real” results – when you have a clear understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Before delving into details and making a comparison between inbound and outbound marketing, let’s first take a brief look at both of these marketing methodologies.
What is Inbound Marketing (a.k.a Permission Marketing)?
An evolved form of marketing, Inbound marketing focuses on winning customers’ attention and trust through quality content and engaging them with your business in a manner that is beneficial for both parties involved.
It is less aggressive (and more efficient) in nature, and based on the principle that if you create helpful content addressing the problems that your potential customers may have, you’ll acquire more leads and prospects.
Inbound marketing strategy revolves around customers’ interests, so they naturally find your business via content marketing, social media, search engines, opt-in email marketing, etc. Instead of proactively searching for prospects, you actually let them come to you, and you clearly have a better chance of converting them into loyal customers that way.
Not to forget all of this happens with their consent, and hence inbound marketing is also called “permission marketing.”
Also, you develop credibility and trust for your business in the process, which is vital as it greatly influences the purchasing decisions your prospects will have to make at some point.
A great example of inbound marketing is Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertisements, where you set up certain ad copies to show up when someone searches for a keyword that is relevant to your business.
Hubspot pictures the whole process of inbound marketing like this:
What is Outbound Marketing (a.k.a Interruption Marketing)?
A traditional marketing methodology, Outbound marketing refers to any kind of marketing practice where a company sends out its message to a relatively large audience in an obtrusive manner, in spite of knowing that majority of those may not even be interested in the offer.
The basic concept behind outbound marketing is to market your product or service to as many people as you can, and hoping that some of them will actually care enough to take an action. Instead of creating valuable content that addresses their needs or helps them solve problems, you actively pursue them.
Unlike how inbound marketing works, outbound marketing strategies are less personalized and more aggressive.
TV and radio ads, direct mail, email blasts (spam), cold calls, billboards, and pop-ups are all outbound marketing tactics.
Outbound marketing is also sometimes called “interruption marketing” as you are forcibly trying to push your product or service under the noses of people.
Now that you are familiar with both marketing terminologies, it’s time for a detailed inbound vs outbound marketing comparison.
Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: Which Delivers Better Results?
Back in the days, the only type of marketing approach companies solely relied on was outbound marketing. But that has changed now with the rise of social media and search engine marketing, both of which offer a great opportunity for a highly-targeted, sophisticated form of advertising.
While there is proof that companies still spend as much as 90% of their marketing budget on outbound activities (according to Hubspot), you can’t deny that the trend is rapidly shifting towards inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing gives a better ROI
Inbound marketing gives a far better return on investment (ROI).
According to one study by Voltier Digital, inbound marketing costs 61% less per lead than outbound marketing.
And that difference is projected to further increase in future as people are getting more and more aware of technologies like ad blockers, spam filters, caller ids, and more – all making it tough for traditional advertising methods to work.
Inbound leads have a better conversion ratio
Another interesting statistic Eric Sui from Search Engine Journal quoted is that inbound leads convert at a lot better ratio than outbound leads; the close rate of the SEO-generated inbound leads at a staggering 14.6%, as opposed to outbounds only 1.7%.
One of the main reason behind this huge disparity is because inbound leads are generally much more qualified; these are the people who’ve shown genuine interest in your product or service in the first place.
Inbound marketing gives compounded returns
Another problem that is associated with most outbound marketing tactics is that the moment you stop paying for the advertisements, your results come to a halt too.
But that’s not the case with most inbound strategies. For example, a blog that you write today will help you drive potential customers to your website for many years to come.
Outbound marketing results are harder to track
As technology has evolved and more tools available at our disposal than ever, it has become a lot easier to measure the overall effectiveness of inbound marketing campaigns.
Also, you make great use of certain metrics like bounce rate, conversion rate, page views, time on site, etc. to instantly get an idea of what’s working and what’s not working.
On the other hand, it’s not always possible to get insights (or results) in such great detail with outbound marketing. For instance, it’s not feasible to figure out how many people read your newspaper advertisement, what they liked and disliked about it, and how you can further improve on it.
If you’re still not convinced that inbound marketing is a superior approach, check out this factual infographic by Voltaire Digital that breaks down the whole inbound vs outbound marketing comparison in great detail.
Should You Completely Give Up On Outbound Marketing?
“Should I stop investing in outbound marketing strategies?”, people often ask. Well, it depends on what type of business you’re in.
If you are a small company, you should allocate a majority of your marketing budget to inbound marketing, since it’s less expensive. If budget is not a problem for you, creating a blend of both outbound and inbound strategies is the way forward.
Either way, inbound marketing should constitute a majority portion of your marketing budget if not more.
Some Practical Steps to Start Off With Inbound Marketing
“How do I capitalize on inbound marketing?”, you may ask. Well, there are few solid ways…
Create a Google Adwords campaign
One of the smartest ways to leverage the power of inbound marketing is through search engine marketing. Google’s Adwords platform is unique in that it only shows your ad to the people who are highly relevant to your business. And creating a campaign on Adwords is super easy.
Make a list of keywords to target
You should make a list of keywords that are relevant to your business and your target audience searches for in search engines like Google, Bing, etc. These are the keywords that will drive traffic and customers to your website. There are quite a few free and paid keyword research tools available in the market that you can use for that purpose.
Generate compelling, quality content
If you want to attract people and build trust and credibility for your business, start creating content that your target audience may find helpful. It could be blogs, videos, podcasts, courses, or whatever that provide value.
Market your content
Creating quality content is not enough, you need to actively promote it. In other words, you need to have a solid content marketing strategy in place. There is a reason why marketers are going crazy over content marketing – it seriously works.
Today’s marketing landscape is not the as it was a decade ago, and old hat tactics that used to work in the past may not necessarily work today. While it is true that outbound marketing tactics can still deliver results and ROI, but solely relying on them alone is the smartest of decisions you’ll ever make.
That’s it! If there is anything else you think I should include in this inbound vs outbound marketing comparison post, let me know in the comments section.
Also, you would be doing me a huge favor by sharing this post on Facebook and Twitter
- 7 Essential Inbound Marketing Strategies for Every Startup by Jayson DeMers (Read here)
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