When I speak with most marketers about how they generate leads and fill the top of their sales funnel, most say outbound marketers.
However, many innovative and successful businesses are actually embracing the art of inbound marketing.
So what’s the difference between inbound and outbound? This article will walk you through the pros and cons of each strategy.
What is outbound marketing?
Outbound marketing is a traditional marketing method that seeks to send messages to potential customers. Outbound marketing includes activities such as trade shows, seminar series, and cold calling. It’s expensive and the ROI is much lower than inbound marketing.
From email sending to outsourced telemarketing, I call these methods “outbound marketing” because marketers push their messages outside away hoping it resonates with that needle in the haystack.
I think outbound marketing techniques become less and less effective over time for two reasons.
First of all, your average human today is inundated with at least 2,000 outbound marketing interruptions a day and finding increasingly creative ways to block them, including ad blocking browser extensions, l ‘caller ID, spam filtering, etc.
Second, the cost of learning something new or buying online using search engines, blogging and social media is now much lower than going to a Marriott seminar or visiting at a trade show in Las Vegas.
Inbound or outbound marketing
Inbound marketing is a strategy where you create social media content or tactics that spread brand awareness so that people learn about you, can visit your website for information, show interest in your product and possibly make a purchase.
While some outbound strategies take a lot of time and effort and may not yield any leads, inbound strategies allow you to engage an audience of people you can more easily qualify as a lead.
The best analogy I can find is that traditional traders looking to spark the interest of new potential customers are like lions chasing elephants in the jungle.
Elephants were in the jungle in the 80s and 90s when they learned their trade, but they don’t seem to be there anymore. They all migrated to the water points of the savannah – the Internet in our case.
So, rather than continuing to hunt in the jungle, I recommend you settle in at the waterhole or turn your website into its own waterhole.
Transform your marketing from outbound to inbound
Rather than doing outbound marketing to the masses of people who are trying to block you, I advocate inbound marketing, where you help yourself be visible to people already interested in your industry.
To do this, you need to set up your website as a “hub” for your industry. One that naturally attracts visitors through search engines, blogs, and social media.
I believe most marketers today are spending 90% of their efforts on outbound marketing and 10% on inbound marketing, and I advocate that these ratios change.
To do this, follow the “Attract, Engage, Enchant” model.
To attract your audience, develop a solid content strategy.
You want to have content for every step of the marketing funnel. For consumers in the awareness phase, social media and advertising will work very well to introduce users to your brand and product.
Blogging will position you as a credible and trustworthy source within your industry and allow your target audience to find you.
During this process, it is also important to develop an SEO strategy to ensure that your website is optimized for search.
Once visitors turn into leads, you can nurture them through email marketing, conversational chatbots, and automated workflows.
In the “Delight” stage, your goal is to make sure that your audience can easily connect with your sales and service teams and resolve their issues quickly.
Inbound marketing is all about meeting your audience where they are. You will quickly find that your marketing efforts are performing better and contributing to the growth of your brand.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2010, but has been updated for completeness.