What is Inbound Marketing Vs. Outbound Marketing?

Posted by Neha De

5.5-minute read (1,100 words)

When planning your company’s marketing strategy, you might wonder whether you should use an inbound or an outbound approach. While both types of marketing programs can expand the reach of your business, they work in totally different ways. As a result, different conversion rates can be expected with inbound and outbound marketing strategies.

Before choosing between inbound and outbound marketing tactics, you should first try and understand the benefits and drawbacks of both strategies, so you can determine your overall marketing mix and get ahead of the competition.

What Is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing focuses on pushing your marketing efforts out to your audience, instead of waiting for leads to come to you. It involves promoting your business to an audience without asking them for permission first, and prompts prospective customers to look at your brand’s message.

Outbound marketing may take the form of print ads, cold calling, direct mail, TV or radio ads, online ads or press releases. Using these mass media tools, advertisers push their messages and products out to the public. Barring some exceptions, most of these techniques are often untargeted, which means that a large and generalized audience is exposed to the marketing message.

Benefits of Outbound Marketing: Outbound marketing campaigns are quite easy to optimize as compared to inbound programs. Some of the ways to benefit from an automated and organized outbound lead generation campaign are:

  • It acts as a direct type of market research because it allows you to get in front of your target audience and view their reaction firsthand.
  • It gets the message in front of a large audience, and you control how they interact with your message.
  • Such offline advertising channels as TV, in addition to social media sponsorship and banner campaigns, keep your company name in front of your audience, increasing brand awareness.

Drawbacks of Outbound Marketing: Some disadvantages of outbound marketing are:

  • It’s considered to be interruptive, with large volumes of advertising being pushed at people.
  • Another problem with an outbound marketing strategy is the lack of personalization, which can make it less effective.

According to HubSpot, these stats prove traditional outbound marketing doesn’t work as well today as it once did:

  • 86 percent of people skip TV ads.
  • 91 percent of people unsubscribe from emails.
  • 44 percent of direct mail sent is never opened.
  • 200 million people have put themselves on the “Do Not Call” list.
  • 84 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds have left a website because of intrusive or annoying advertising.

Customers today are fed up with spam emails and prefer streaming movies and music without any interruptions in the form of ads. As a result, the ROI from outbound marketing methods is consistently dropping.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

HubSpot, which is often credited with coming up with the concept of inbound marketing, defines it as “a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, inbound marketing forms connections they are looking for and solves problems they already have.”

Inbound marketing is typically permission-based. Here, the messages are focused on a target audience that has previously given permission to accept communication from a company. Inbound marketing focuses on winning customers’ trust and attention through quality content and engaging them with the company in a way that is beneficial for both parties.

Inbound marketing leverages multiple digital channels simultaneously and focuses on earning someone’s attention mainly through social media and engaging content in the form of blogs, forums, podcasts and so on.

Common inbound marketing strategies include blogs, “Call to Action” buttons on websites, video messages, social media marketing, SEO, viral marketing campaigns and podcasts.

Advantages of Inbound Marketing: Here are some benefits of an inbound marketing campaign:

  • It serves as a platform for two-way communication, as it encourages prospective customers to actively engage with your brand message.
  • It offers compounding returns.
  • It follows an evolving system of aligning your marketing strategy with the way modern buyers make their purchase decisions.
  • It allows buyers to come to you instead of you pushing your message out to them.
  • Inbound marketing costs 62 percent less per lead than outbound marketing.

Here are some stats from HubSpot that show how well inbound marketing works:

  • 60 percent of smartphone users have contacted a business directly using such search results as the “Click to Call” option.
  • Blogs are among the top three forms of media used in content strategies today.
  • Podcasts now reach more than 100 million Americans every month.
  • More than 80 million small businesses use Facebook's free business tools.
  • Increased exposure is the most commonly cited advantage of using social media for marketing purposes among global industry professionals.

Limitations of Inbound Marketing: Some common issues with inbound marketing techniques are:

  • An inbound campaign requires a consistent time investment to produce high-quality content.
  • It can be hard to measure the effectiveness of an inbound marketing campaign because the process is inherently longer.

Inbound or Outbound Marketing: Deploying a Unified Strategy

Ultimately, the best marketing strategy for your business will be the one that works specifically for your company. However, both inbound and outbound marketing techniques are highly effective when used in an integrated manner. According to HubSpot’s “Not Another State of Marketing Report,” companies that use a mix of both inbound and outbound marketing strategies tend to be more successful.

Your sales and marketing teams can work together to develop personalized messages and targeted content for prospective clients. This will generate a higher number of leads and a higher rate of sales conversion. According to research, 47 percent of buyers view three to five pieces of content before they engage with a sales representative.

And once prospective buyers have learned about your company, you can use an outbound marketing strategy to generate further interest and help move them through the sales pipeline. For instance, a prospect may provide their contact information and give permission to receive a white paper. Once they’ve had a few days to read the paper, someone from your sales department can contact them via an email or call, which are both forms of outbound marketing. This approach can help create a dialogue and enable the prospective buyer to make an actual sale.

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