Inbound Vs. Outbound Marketing
It’s not rare to find a business owner getting frustrated with the very same technology that’s supposed to make their job easier. In fact, it happens just about every day.
There is simply so much information, and misinformation, to be found online that it’s easy to end up taking bad advice.
What’s really frustrating is that this “bad” advice can come from plenty of sources, whether it’s the well-intended words of a friend who thinks they know what they’re doing or the basic guidelines of an article that was intended for an entirely different scenario than the one you are facing.
The point? When it comes to things like marketing and advertising especially, it is very easy to get lost in all the hype, sales pitches, and lingo. As a business owner, you may end up feeling discouraged, misled, or just plain confused. And, one of the primary points of confusion is the difference between inbound and outbound.
What’s the difference?
Outbound marketing is a term to describe all of the traditional advertising methods that companies have been using for decades. A TV ad, radio ad, or even social media ad are all examples of outbound marketing tactics.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, includes multiple tactics that center around pulling an audience in rather than venturing out to get prospects’ attention. An example would be SEO.
Reading through these two definitions, it’s easy to see certain contrasts between these two methods.
Outbound marketing, for instance, is more direct. It also requires you to pay for an ad in order to reach your prospects. Inbound marketing is more indirect and generally considered more of a “long-term” approach.
Inbound marketing is all about being available for your prospects when they are already searching for a product or service. Outbound marketing is about putting your advertising in front of them, even if they don’t know about your service, product, or business just yet.
Which do you need?
To put it simply: both. Most businesses will use a mix of both inbound and outbound marketing to reach their goals. However, if you had to decide between one or the other, you’d likely be swayed towards choosing inbound.
The reason being is that, while inbound marketing often takes longer to see results, the results you get from inbound marketing are sustainable. For instance, ranking your website for certain search terms may take some weeks to do, but then every time people search those terms, your content will show up and bring you new leads.
This is compared to outbound marketing where you might pay upwards of hundreds of dollars to have your website temporarily fill an ad slot on the front page for these same search terms. That may get your prospects, but you’ll have to pay for every single click or impression your ad gets.
Another stark contrast? The second your advertising budget runs out for outbound marketing, your ad disappears and suddenly your website is nowhere to be found on the front page.
Inbound marketing is considered “foundational work” because it takes longer to get results, but those results snowball and build up over time, helping to strengthen your brand. Even when you stop paying, inbound marketing will continue to deliver.
Consider Your Audience
When determining where your focus should lie, there are some informational statistics out there that can help guide you in making the best long-term decision.
As one example, research has found that in B2B marketing, 80% of decision-makers favor an article series over ads when it comes to getting brand information.
It’s facts like this that have inspired brands to focus more on inbound. In fact, one study found that 32% of the brands they surveyed were planning on cutting down their outbound costs to allocate more money to inbound marketing.
Making Your Decision
Putting inbound and outbound side-by-side, it’s easy to understand why a business should feel encouraged to use both while perhaps leaning towards inbound, putting more focus on their long-term strategy.
If you need instant results and you’re willing to pay for that exposure, you can use outbound marketing to target specific leads who match your criteria. You can go put out a traditional TV or radio ad, or you can advertise online.
If you’re after more sustainable results and you don’t want to put down a lot (or any) money, inbound marketing is the way to go. It may take a while to see results for things like SEO, but those results will prove to be organic and effective.
Your business’ strategy should involve both and, depending on your budget, goals, and timeline, you may lean towards one or the other. Ultimately, inbound marketing is thought to be the most effective of the two since it offers that long-term answer to your strategy, and so that’s what the majority of businesses will choose to focus on.