Marketing today can be like a minefield. With countless articles about the different strategies and platforms, finding the techniques that will work the best for your business can be confusing.
For those who have been in business for awhile, the marketing techniques and strategies they have always used don't seem to work anymore. And for those who are just starting out, navigating all of the options can be overwhelming.
If it feels like you are the only one who is feeling confused, don't worry you are not alone!
To better sort through the various options, it is helpful to first understand the difference between inbound vs outbound marketing.
Inbound and outbound marketing describe two categories of promoting your business. They articulate the type of relationship businesses strive to have with their customers and how they work to engage them. The better companies understand these differences, the easier it will be for them to adopt the right mindset and create an effective strategy to drive them forward.
What Is Outbound Marketing?
Outbound marketing describes the traditional advertisements that we are used to seeing during television programs, hearing during radio programs, receiving in the mail or that appear when we visit certain websites. This type of marketing can be best described as ‘interruptive’.
These brands want to reach customers according to certain demographics that describe them, such as their physical location or their interest in certain shows and channels.
This form of marketing has been established for several generations. People have grown accustomed to receiving direct mail flyers in their mail, getting phone calls from telemarketers and seeing commercials during their shows.
These forms of promotion can help brands reach customers who might be able to use their products or services, but otherwise might not have known to look for them. Outbound marketing allows companies to start the conversation with prospects and take initiative, rather than waiting for prospects to discover them on their own.
If you are still doing all of your marketing the outbound way, here are some statistics you should be aware of:
- 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. (Source: Content Marketing Institute)
- 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than ads. (Source: Content Plus)
This leads us to Inbound marketing...
What Is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing allows customers to come to you. Rather than pushing your message in front of people who might not be interested, inbound marketing allows you to establish yourself as an authority in your industry using the internet. When customers are searching the internet for your product or service, they will naturally discover your brand.
Your prospects receive your message on their terms, making them far more receptive to what you have to say.
Successful inbound marketing focuses on solving problems and providing answers. It requires an intense understanding of what customers need throughout their buyer’s journey. It means anticipating their questions and concerns during each step, so that you can be there to provide the content and messaging that assures them and guides them closer to making a purchase from you.
It allows customers to be in control of their buyer’s journey, until they are ready to speak with a sales representative.
A variety of different components comprise inbound marketing. It includes aspects such as blogging, free content offers, social media, and websites that resonate with your targeted customers. Inbound marketing has become a highly effective means of bringing in new leads and customers.
Here are some statistics you should know about inbound marketing:
- Companies that spend more than 50% of their lead generation budget on inbound marketing report a significantly lower cost-per-lead. (Source: Hubspot)
- B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who do not blog. (Source: Social Media B2B)
- Organic search leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound marketing leads have a 1.7% close rate. (Source: Hubspot)
Inbound Marketing Techniques
A few of the techniques that make inbound marketing effective are:
Lead Generating Website - A website that is customer centric and designed to convert visitors into leads.
Blogging - Well-written blog articles provide valuable information to people who are looking for solutions to problems and draw them to your website.
Offers - Offers such as eBooks, white papers, free guides, checklists and free trials allow marketers to capture lead information.
Call To Action - A call to action is the point where you ask your visitors to do something, to perform an action that has a value for your business.
You can read more about Using Inbound Marketing To Generate B2B Leads.
The Difference Between Inbound And Outbound Marketing
This comparison chart shows some of the major differences between Inbound and Outbound Marketing:
|Inbound Marketing||Outbound Marketing|
|Pulls Interested People||Pushes Message To Them|
|Two- Way Communication||One-Way Communication|
|Marketer Provides Value||Marketer Provides Little Value|
|Customer Comes To You||Customers are Sought After|
|Marketing Channels: Website, Search Engines, Referral Sites, Social Media||Marketing Channels: TV Ads, Print Ads, Radio Ads, Telemarketing|
By looking at this, you can see why prospective customers prefer inbound marketing techniques in today's day and age of technology.
Which One Is More Effective?
Before the internet explosion, outbound marketing was the standard means of reaching customers. People generally had few ways to independently research companies. They did not have access to websites or review platforms to learn more about the different companies that could provide them with services.
Instead they relied on word-of-mouth from friends and family and standard outbound marketing. The sales team held far more power over the beginning of the sales process, often initiating the conversation between the prospect and the brand.
With the advent of the online world, however, this has shifted.
Customers have become accustomed to having more control over their options. They can research different company options, read reviews, and gauge how well companies align with their needs.
As customers opt to use the internet to perform research and form their own opinions and decisions, they have also begun to reject more traditional outbound marketing methods. Ad blocker software has grown exponentially, with a 30 percent surge in 2016. Options like TiVo also allow customers to skip over commercials during television shows. Modern consumers seem to jump at the opportunity to avoid outbound advertising as often as possible.
Customer interests have evolved alongside technology, and organizations need to be prepared to keep pace. Customers want to have control over the information they receive and when. Although outbound marketing worked well for generations, inbound marketing is now more effective in meeting the needs of the modern consumer and providing the way for businesses to generate leads that can be converted into customers.
The Benefits of Inbound Marketing
There are several benefits to inbound marketing that are worth looking at:
1. Cost-effective - According to HubSpot's State of inbound 2014, small businesses can generate leads from inbound marketing by spending only ⅓ of what it costs them to get a lead from traditional outbound marketing.
2. Content Lasts Forever - The content that you develop lasts forever on the internet. Unlike other marketing methods (advertisements, pay per click, etc.) that stop generating leads when you stop paying for them, all of the content that you develop in the inbound marketing process continues to work for you forever.
3. Reach New Markets - By changing campaigns and content, you can reach new audiences and diversify your customer base. This works especially well as you identify new potential markets or encounter changes in your industry.
4. Name Recognition and Authority - As you build valuable content and increase your keyword rankings, your company brand recognition increases and allows you to become an authority on subjects related to your industry.
What This Could Mean For Your Business
If you haven't looked at the opportunity of hiring an inbound marketing agency for your business, you could be left behind. As your competitors start implementing inbound marketing strategies, the longer you wait to jump in yourself, the harder it will be for you to catch up.
Why? Because inbound marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. And, content takes time to develop.
Whether you know it or not, your customers are looking for you. This last staistic says it all...
90% of consumers find custom content useful, and 78% believe that organizations behind the content are interested in building good relationships. (Source: TMG Custom Media)
So, what are you waiting for?
Bill is the CEO and Founder of InTouch Marketing. Bill drives the vision and direction of InTouch except when England's playing in a soccer tournament, because everything stops!