Inbound And Outbound Marketing, What Are They?

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8 MIN
October 24, 2020

Inbound And Outbound Marketing, What Are They?

Our Short Answer: Inbound Marketing means you create the solution for someone's problem and rely on Google and social media platforms to bring people in to your solution.  Outbound marketing means actively putting your message or solution in front of people who might want to hear it and hoping they will be receptive to it.

Inbound and Outbound Marketing Graphic for Ability SEO

Today, we can get any information about anything at the touch of a mouse button. Before we make a purchase decision, we research our options first online. In the words of HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan, inbound marketing is “where you help get found by people who are already learning about and shopping in your industry”. 

You earn their attention by creating blog posts, videos, white papers, email marketing, ebooks and through sharing this content on your social media channels. The function of this content is to inform, engage and add value to your customers which creates a personal connection; when they’re ready they will decide to buy something from you. 

What Is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing was once the only form of marketing. It pushes messages at its audience whether they want it or not and It’s very interruptive. By contrast, in inbound marketing “your customers find you when they need you”.

Here are 6 identifiers of inbound and outbound: 

Inbound Marketing

  1. Pulls your prospects towards your brand through content, social media, targeted marketing campaigns.
  2. Its focus is to provide solutions to customers’ problems.
  3. Two-way communication.
  4. A personalized approach: as an inbound marker, I want to find out what my potential customers’ individual challenges and goals are so I am better placed to help them.
  5. As more of your content is consumed and shared, it boosts your brand awareness and increases the potential for more leads and potential customers.
  6. “The places where you see it:” blog posts, Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), eBooks, social media, opt-in emails, and more.

Outbound Marketing

  1. Pushes out advertising and messages at people.
  2. Designed to sell products and services at people.
  3. One-way communication.
  4. Disruptive: a telesales person can call (as known as cold calling) in the middle of a prospect’s busy working day without giving their needs any consideration.
  5. A one -size fits all approach: outbound marketers “push out their message in the hope that it will resonate with a needle in a haystack”. 
  6. Where you will find it: television and radio ads, billboards, and magazines.

The Problem With Only Using Outbound Marketing Today

According to HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan, outbound marketing strategies are becoming less useful today. The reason for this is two-found. Firstly, because we are flooded by 2000 outbound interruptions every day and there are more innovative ways to block ads. 

There is called ID, spam filtering, ad blockers, and Sirius sattelite radio and there are more people registering their number on the Do Not Call List with the DNC Registry

Secondly, people can easily find out new information about products and services from their mobile or desktop using the internet (blog posts, social media, search engines).

  • “According to the Data Book, at the end of FY 2019, the DNC Registry contained 239.5 million actively registered phone numbers, up from 235.3 million at the end of FY 2018”.(https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2019/10/ftc-releases-fy-2019-national-do-not-call-registry-data-book)
  • Digital Music services like Spotify enable users to avoid radio adverts. Spotify currently has 286 Million users per month. It makes you wonder why spend all that money advertising on radio?
  • The average person gets blitzed with 1,700 banner ads every month, “but only sees half of them”
  • “58% of direct mail recipients never read or scan their direct mail pieces” (https://www.weidert.com/blog/inbound-marketing-vs-outbound-marketing).

The Brilliance Of Inbound Marketing

According to Google, people spend 70% or more of their time researching products and services online before contacting someone in sales or reaching out to a company.The Inbound marketing method is about bringing more people to your business “who are actively in the market”. Another benefit of inbound marketing is it brings your business into alignment with the buyer’s journey.

The Buyer’s Journey 

  • Awareness: your prospect becomes aware of a problem they want to solve through consuming your content.
  • Consideration:your prospect comes to a better understanding of their problems and is considering possible solutions.
  • Decision: your prospect has wilted down possible solutions and must decide on one of them.

Let’s how this plays out in an actual example:

  1. The Awareness Stage: Mark wants to sell his fixer upper quickly, he searches for a possible solution online, and finds content which presents possible solutions. Each blog post has different advantages.
  2. The Consideration Stage: After reading content focusing on providing all the possible solutions, he decides to find out more about home auctions.
  3. The Decision Stage: Mark then finds a few home auctions online and decides to choose a local company with the best online ratings. He sells his house for a great price and he is super happy he chose a home auction.

Here are inbound tools / strategies that help a potential customer through their inbound journey:

  • Blogging

  • Email Marketing

  • Social Media

  • SEO

  • Lead Magnets

  • Content creation

Inbound marketing methods like these help potential customers to find your business earlier on in the buyer’s journey. They also educate them on the advantages of your specific solution, while gradually building your prospect’s trust. 

Despite all outbound marketing’s drawbacks it still has its benefits. Here are the benefits of both: 

The Benefits Of Inbound AND Outbound 

Inbound Marketing Benefits

Inbound marketing focuses on adding value to your potential customers. The majority of consumers prefer Inbound Marketing helpful approach to outbound marketing efforts that disrupt their day. 

Inbound marketing has a longer-term Return On Investment and even blogs that were published years ago can continue to draw ample traffic. One disadvantage is Inbound Marketing can incur a large cost upfront. Although, from the perspective of an inbound marketer, it can take time to build assets such as writing blog posts, creating ebooks, and building a client’s strong presence online.

Outbound Marketing Benefits

The advantage of outbound marketing is by using traditional media like print and radio advertising, it puts you in front of millions of people and builds awareness quickly. 

You can also combine your inbound and outbound marketing efforts. First, run an outbound campaign to get in front of a larger audience and get new customers quickly, then use an inbound strategy to offer them helpful solutions that meet their needs. You can also use Inbound and Outbound Marketing together to target a larger audience and get qualified leads.

Which Should You Spend More Time And Effort On?

There are merits for both inbound and outbound marketing. Some businesses who focus on outbound enjoy great success, others choose inbound marketing exclusively to grow their business. Which one you choose will depend on the target audience you are trying to reach, your objectives, and your brand. All three are discussed below:

Who Is Your Ideal Customer?

You need a clear idea on who your target audience is. Think about how they choose to buy and where they find out more about the solutions you provide? To get a clear understanding take a look at your competitors and trends in your industry. What marketing strategies do businesses use and which are more effective?

What Are Your Objectives?

What are your end goals? Do you want to increase brand awareness or do you want to get more traffic to your website? How many new customers do you want to get, and in what timeframe?

If you have a short timeline and you need to spread awareness as quickly as possible, you might consider choosing an outbound strategy. However, if you are looking to get long term Return On Investment (ROI), then inbound marketing is the better choice. 

Your Brand’s Perception

If you launch an aggressive bulk emailing or cold call outbound marketing strategy how will potential customers view your brand? 

When choosing inbound or outbound marketing tactics ensure that it’s something where you don’t need to bow your head in shame. Put yourself in your customers shoes; how do you think they will respond?

How Using Inbound and Outbound Marketing Together Could Potentially Be Beneficial?

You may decide to do a bit of both. You may think of running an inbound campaign to get in front of a large audience, then prioritize helping them by offering solutions, rather than pushing solutions at them.

Take Mark, our client’s customer that is looking to sell his fixer upper. To get more people like Mark to engage with your client you may run a paid ads campaign. When prospects click on your ad and get directed to a landing page to download your guide on “How To Sell Your Fixer Upper Quickly?” 

This tactic works because you’re helping to educate, inform and engage your audience and help them through their buyer’s journey. 

Our Bottom-line: Inbound Marketing attracts the right people to your business, where outbound marketing makes you find them yourself.