Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
Sharing is caring and inbound marketing is about creating and sharing content with the world. By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound marketing attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more. As you would think, this is a sharp contrast to outbound marketing (trade shows, TV commercials, radio commercials, print ads).
Why is inbound marketing better than outbound marketing?
Being in digital marketing, we’re more partial to the complexities of inbound marketing than the simplicity of outbound marketing. In various meetings we’ve had people keep asking this same question, why is inbound better? Often times, they read different articles and blog posts but the same cookie cutter answer is always given. You’ve probably read it yourself, it goes like this:
Why try to buy customers with traditional “outbound marketing” when consumers aren’t even paying attention?
- 45% of direct mail never gets opened, 200 million people are on the national Do Not Call Registry
- 85% of people fast forward through commercials
- 84% of 25-35 year-olds are likely to click off a website with excessive advertising
- Banner ads don’t convert
Does that sound about right?
Suffice it to say, inbound marketing is different. Inbound works by earning someone’s attention, rather than buying it. But there’s more to it than this.
The term inbound marketing is relatively new. In the beginning we referred to it as “SEO” and “content marketing” but there really wasn’t a word for the shift marketers were seeing in online marketing. SEO changed, and digital marketing was becoming more and more different from traditional marketing. Digital distribution made analysis extremely measurable and results-based, showing that inbound marketing was actually more successful than outbound marketing. When it’s done the right way.
Not only was traditional distribution much different from digital but the message was evolving too. The more marketers were learning about the message, the better the results got. “Digital marketing” or “traditional marketing” spoke to the distribution of the message, but “inbound marketing” was a new message in itself.
Outbound marketing (traditional marketing) is the marketing my parents grew up with. As time went on, not only did costs increase but competition to reach their audiences did too. Marketers had to change in order to increase conversions. So they dumbed everything down. What’s left? Ads with bright colors, discounts and cute puppies. We’re not that dumb.
Enter the shift the advertising industry had to make.
Interruption Based vs. Permission Based
Outbound marketing is essentially interruption based marketing. I’m sure you know of a couple car dealership owners touting low lease or financing offers. They’re hoping that with some careful planning and looking at the demographics, a percentage of the audience will listen and convert to a customer.
Inbound marketing however is permission based. There are two premises, one being to communicate with mediums in which the audience has given you permission to communicate. The other, answer the questions people are asking and share those answers around the web because chances are, other people have the same question.
Is the audience smaller? Yes. But, because the audience is more engaged and already “leaning forward” this audience converts at a 750% higher rate than outbound marketing. Additionally, your online audience is never ending. By targeting the right keywords, you can answer the questions your prospects might be asking about what you offer. The conversion rates with this are extremely high.
Linear vs. Holistic
So what’s the strategy of outbound marketing? You only have so many mediums like TV and radio to use (there are more). As a result, the strategy is very linear. With this, you simply look at which mediums most accurately address your target market and you start checking off the boxes. You look at which mediums are performing the best, and move a higher percentage of that budget to that particular medium. And then, repeat, repeat, repeat.
With inbound marketing, the strategy is holistic and is more complex. It means using different digital channels, optimizing website landing pages, creating high quality engaging content and finally, using tools to measure it all with.
Everything works together.
In order to carry out an inbound marketing campaign, the website needs to be strong because it’s the website that carries out the messaging, a content marketing strategy and acts as a hub for distribution. It must have a blog, it must be responsive, it needs a call to action strategy, it needs to have micro and macro conversions and an easy to work with CMS. Once all of this is in place, then the content can be created and shared.
When your inbound strategy is firing on all cylinders, you have a solid website, your distribution is amplified and your distribution channels are feeding your website visitors where prospects convert.
Immeasurable vs. Quantifiable
It’s hard to measure your outbound marketing efforts. You can ask where your prospects heard of you but often times, the results are not reliable. This lack of complexity paves the way to a lack of results.
With inbound marketing, everything is digital and everything is quantifiable. Complex algorithms track everything, from your marketing strategies effectiveness to if it is converting potential customers into full-blown clients. Inbound marketing is all measurable and allows you to analyze everything from the ROI of various distribution channels to whether the size of a call to action button was the right size.
What’s even better is you can track someone as soon as they hit your website. This tells you how they got there and how much time they’re spending on different pages. This in depth analysis allows you to see which pages get the most views, who’s reading what blog posts and lead generation metrics.