If you’re confused about the difference between inbound vs outbound marketing, you’re in good company.
The marketing world is chock full of buzzwords that add mystery to the industry.
But fancy language aside, the difference between the two matters more than you might think. Inbound vs outbound each utilize unique skills, strengths, and techniques that can make or break your marketing.
Knowing which side of the marketing coin you need to bet on can help to guide your efforts for the best ROI.
Let’s explore the specifics of each so you can make an informed decision for your business.
What Is Outbound Marketing?
In simplest terms, outbound marketing is the old-school marketing your father probably did.
In an outbound strategy, businesses are proactively reaching out to prospects.
They’re cold calling and pitching. They’re visiting businesses on foot. They’re sending direct mailers and generating interest at trade shows.
They’re getting the word out in any way possible, even if their message falls on uninterested ears.
That’s not to say that efforts are completely directionless. Companies will still need to tailor their message to be as specific as possible. They still need to choose outlets or leads lists of people that most match their target audience.
The most defining factor is that companies are the driving force behind generating interest in their product, rather than letting it happen naturally.
Benefits of Outbound Marketing
Since the beginning of sales and marketing, outbound has been the go-to method for drumming up business. It’s not easy work, but it does work.
One of the biggest benefits outbound marketing offers is the simple fact that people are familiar with it.
These outlets have been around for decades. People trust them as valid sources of information and respond accordingly.
Direct mail, TV and radio ads, telemarketing, billboards, and print advertising are all part of an outbound strategy.
Downsides of an Outbound Strategy
Though classic and trustworthy, it’s not hard to see that outbound is losing its luster.
OUtbound techniques can be likened to throwing a dart at a wall while wearing a blindfold. You might hit your target, or you might miss completely. Plus, you’re not allowed to take the blindfold off, so you’ll never know where your efforts landed.
It’s not always easy to track your results with outbound. Sure, you might be able to attribute a surge in sales with the timing of your radio or television ad. But the true effectiveness of an ad can be anyone’s guess.
Also, outbound methods are expensive.
Traditional media sell you on the price per impression. However, there’s no guarantee how many people are actually seeing it or if they match your intended audience.
Perhaps the biggest drawback is that people are adept at tuning out traditional advertising. TV ad sales are in a tailspin, falling nearly 8% last year.
Folks just don’t respond to traditional advertising like they used to, and this trend doesn’t show any sign of changing.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
Let’s switch gears and tackle inbound marketing.
As the name implies, inbound strategies focus on creating interest around your products, services, or business and reeling in prospects.
This interest is generated more organically than outbound. Carefully crafted content allows audiences to learn about a product and decide whether or not to reach out for more information.
Almost all inbound marketing occurs digitally. This could take the form of business blogging, search engine optimization, podcasts, engaging users on social media, or email marketing, to name a few.
The goal here is to reduce your outreach and put your products in front of people who are actively searching for them.
Benefits of Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing techniques are relatively new, especially compared to the “tried and true” methods of outbound.
It’s this new-ness that makes established businesses hesitant to adopt it, but the benefits are hard to ignore.
For starters, businesses are able to create content that attracts a specific audience. They can better target their efforts, which can help to keep marketing costs low.
Most notably, inbound marketing is 100% based on permission. You’re not bombarding prospects with cold calls they never asked for. You’re not filling inboxes with spam or stuffing junk mail in their mailbox.
Rather, your prospects are seeking you out based on a number of factors. They found you online, thanks to great SEO. They opted in to receive your emails.
They let you through their internal ad blockers to receive your messages.
As a result, you stand a much better chance of connecting with the right people at the right time.
Downsides of an Inbound Strategy
Less effort for better results sounds attractive, but inbound isn’t the end-all solution.
One of the biggest downsides is that it takes a fair amount of finessing to create effective inbound strategies. Learning techniques like SEO, blogging, and general content marketing requires specialized knowledge and a diverse skill set.
It’s also fiercely competitive. It’s not always easy to rank for the keywords you want to. Gaining visibility online is becoming increasingly tougher.
In addition, inbound requires an ongoing time investment to see the biggest benefits. Much of your budget will go into creating high-quality content to achieve your inbound objectives.
Also, determining your ROI for inbound efforts can be complicated without the proper analytics.
It’s not a strategy you want to jump into without first considering the drawbacks along with the potential gains.
Bottom Line: Which Is Best for My Business?
The advantages of inbound and drawbacks of outbound are clear, but can also be misleading.
Most businesses find their biggest chance for success lies in blending inbound and outbound marketing.
Adding both to your mix can help you earn the best benefits of both worlds.
Use your outbound media to drive people to your website or blog. Leverage email to nurture clients and boost sales.
When combined, each strategy can support the other and become a marketing powerhouse that will be hard to ignore.
Is your business primed for an inbound strategy? Schedule your free Discovery Call today to see how you can best grow your revenue.