[Beginner – 103] The Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing

Traditionally, outbound marketing has been the most commonly used marketing strategy.

As time has passed and marketing has become increasingly digital, a shift from outbound to inbound marketing has quickly occurred. Both are used by many companies today, and both have a multitude of pros and cons.

Outbound and Inbound Marketing – What’s that?

The most conventional and older of the two types, outbound marketing is what most people think of when it comes to marketing – billboards, advertisements on the radio, telemarketing, direct mail, and commercials on TV.

In other words, outbound marketing efforts are those advertising or marketing strategies that present information to consumers even when consumers aren’t asking for it.

For example, when you turn on the TV and are inundated with the commercial advertising of a sale at JC Penny’s, even if you’ve never shopped there in your life and have no intention to.

Outbound marketing relies on buying ads, purchasing email lists, and hoping that with enough exposure people will respond by purchasing your product.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, focuses on drawing the customers in with great content, aligning with the target audience’s interests.

Instead of advertising blindly to a large audience who may not be interested in your product or receptive to your messages, inbound marketing brings customers to you because you’re targeting the customers that are actually looking for your services or products.

Another big difference between inbound and outbound marketing is that while outbound marketing uses non-virtual means and the Internet, inbound marketing primarily uses the Internet alone.

The Pros and Cons of Outbound Marketing

Despite the fact that outbound marketing is considered a bit outdated by some, its conventions still offer businesses a plethora of benefits.

For example, if your customer base is older, outbound marketing will probably be an effective way of reaching them.

Older customers are much more familiar with radio ads, billboards, and TV commercials, and will feel reassured and comfortable with your company’s outbound marketing efforts.

Outbound marketing has also shown to be effective for a business when the target is another business (B2B marketing). Additionally, outbound marketing for higher-end products is also especially successful.

Because outbound marketing isn’t nearly as targeted as inbound marketing is, it can also be successful in raising brand awareness.

For example, even non-beer drinkers probably remember the Budweiser frog commercials.

Outbound marketing has its downsides, though. It can be expensive, and all those high-cost expenditures don’t always yield the marketing results a business is hoping for.

Another huge downside to outbound marketing is that it’s almost impossible to accurately track your reach or return on investment (ROI).

Advantages and Downsides to Inbound Marketing

One of the biggest benefits of inbound marketing is the lower cost vs. outbound marketing.

In fact, according to one study published by HubSpot, inbound marketing efforts are up to 62% less expensive!

Inbound marketing relies on the Internet as its means of reaching customers, with the potential to affect hundreds, or even hundreds of thousands, of customers quickly and easily.

Inbound marketing also creates trust in your brand, establishing meaningful customer relationships, and increases customer loyalty. The Custom Content Council has even reported that 61% of customers say that they feel better about inbound marketing efforts and are more likely to make a purchase from a company that customizes content.

The biggest disadvantage of inbound marketing is that you won’t be able to reach people who don’t have access to the Internet (although rare these days). Also, if you don’t already have a solid customer base, it will take a great amount of time and effort to attract a steady online audience.

By weighing the pros and cons of each when thinking about inbound vs. outbound marketing, you’ll start to get an idea of which marketing strategy is better for your business – and you don’t have to rule out either entirely, especially if you’re operating on a large budget.

By making a decision, consider your company’s goal, your audience base, your product and services, your resources, and your budget.

Battle of Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing – The Clear Winner

Unless your company has a very sizeable marketing budget, is selling a very expensive product or service, or has a marketing expert that is very confident in what he or she is doing, outbound marketing probably isn’t the ideal strategy for you.

At the very least, every business should be using an inbound marketing strategy alongside their outbound marketing strategy.

The fact of the matter is, television commercials, telemarketing, paper mail, and radio ads are all outdated forms of advertising – in fact, 86% of people reportedly skip through TV commercials today, according to Mashable.

Most people are tired of spam and sales calls from telemarketers, too.

Rather than being a business that does either, create an inbound marketing strategy that’s focused on creating great content, offering incentives, and forming direct communication channels with the customer.

By doing so, you’ll see increased profits, a more satisfied customer base, a bigger audience following, decreased marketing expenses, higher levels of customer loyalty, more measurable metrics and data, and increased brand awareness.

When it comes to a battle between inbound vs. outbound marketing, when done right, inbound is the clear winner for business both big and small.

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