Today, there are essentially two distinct strategies marketers use
to reach the prospects they need: inbound marketing and
outbound (or “traditional”) marketing. Let’s take a look at the
essential differences between the two.
The Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing
- Pulls interested readers in
- Solves consumers’ needs
- Interactive with readers
- As helpful content is consumed, audience members become leads
- Where you see it: websites, blogs, eBooks, opt-in emails, SERP, social media
- Pushes messaging at everyone
- Written to sell products
- One-way communication
- Disrupts whatever content is being consumed
- Where you see it: TV ads, billboards, pop-up internet ads, telemarketing, magazines
What is Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing, also referred to as “interruption” or “push” marketing, uses tactics that get a message to a large number of people in an effort to make a sale. Print/TV/radio advertising, cold calling, direct mail, mass emails, and other methods are aimed at large audiences of people (most of whom may not even be looking for the marketer’s product). It’s a one-way conversation that typically focuses on the product and reasons why the audience should buy it.
The Problems with Outbound Marketing
The big problem with traditional marketing is that in order to be appropriate for the largest number of people, the message must be very general. In other words, with traditional marketing tactics it’s impossible to be relevant to a variety of specific needs and challenges. There are other reasons traditional marketing isn’t working today:
- 60% of surveyed TV viewers would make the effort to find and download TV shows to avoid advertisements2. With the growing number of online TV streaming services, television ads can be skipped, and you can’t make an impression on your audience if they’ve tuned out.
- Digital music services and satellite radio make it easy for listeners to avoid radio advertising. As of December 2019, there were 271 million active Spotify users alone3. Radio doesn’t have the impact it once did.
- 58% of direct mail recipients never read or scan their direct mail pieces4. Referred to as “junk mail,” this tactic has low effectiveness.
- The average person gets bombarded with over 1,700 banner ads per month but only sees half of them5. Not exactly a lot of bang for your buck.
- The average office worker receives 120 emails every day6, and 55% of all of that email is spam7. So, people expect to tune out most email.
- The estimated loss of revenue due to ad blocking is expected to increase to $2.12 billion in 20207.
What is Inbound Marketing
While outbound marketing pushes messages to a wide audience, inbound marketing is “magnetic.” Rather than sending out general messages to uninterested audiences, inbound marketing allows you to attract your best prospects — and those who are actively looking online for solutions. When they get to your site, those prospects find help, guidance, and education directly related to the searching they’re doing online.
At the heart of inbound marketing is content: blog content, video content, and downloadable (or “advanced”) content offered on a company’s website, such as white papers, guides, eBooks, tip sheets, and others. When using an inbound approach, marketers develop this content to align specific points in the buyer’s journey:
- At the beginning of their journey, a buyer is getting familiar with the problem and potential solutions.
- In the middle, they’re comparing a small set of potential solutions.
- At the end of their buying journey, they’re doing due diligence needed to make a final decision.
- And then there’s the actual customer experience, where delighted customers can turn into promoters.
There are types of content that align nicely with each of these stages. By creating and offering them via your website, blog and advanced content, you’re satisfying information needs that prospects have at all points in their journeys.
And, since a journey is largely conducted online (62% of B2B buyers say they can make a purchase decision based solely on digital content9), they’ll find relevant content when doing searches.
Some Examples of Inbound Marketing
- SEO and Web Design
- Blogging and Content Offers
- Social Media