In order to run a business successfully, marketing is the key component to spreading the word about your company’s products and services. In one of our previous article “Why Every Business Needs Inbound Marketing”, we went into detail to describe what inbound marketing is and how using it can make your business flourish. But have you heard about outbound marketing, or what makes it different than inbound marketing? In this article, we’ll shed some light on this matter to see what method works best for your modern business.
What is Outbound Marketing?
Outbound marketing is a form of marketing that involves getting your message through techniques like cold calling, direct mail, and radio/television ads, attempting to gain the attention of potential customers who didn’t originally intend on seeing the advertising. It is also known as interruption marketing, as it has an aggressive approach to gaining the attention of consumers. Because it requires more resources to use this approach, outbound marketing can be prohibitively expensive for businesses with a limited budget—though it is still effective when used properly.
What’s the Difference?
On the other hand, inbound marketing is a much more affordable marketing strategy, hence it is widely used by bootstrappers, startups, and as a supplement for businesses that traditionally rely on outbound marketing. By creating standalone content, which can range from blogs, whitepapers, videos, and websites, potential customers have the ability to find a business of their own volition. The content of inbound marketing tends to give value to customers in and of itself, such as how-to guides, descriptive videos, etc., thus creating an enticement to see more of the products and services that your business has to offer.
The advantages of inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing are numerous, of course. With inbound marketing, you are specifically targeting consumers who are actively looking to for solutions that your company may provide. Comparatively, outbound is targeting anyone who comes into contact with their advertisements, meaning that they are trying to persuade those who are interested and those they are trying to convince to buy their products and services.
Another advantage of inbound marketing is that creating content has a longer shelf life than outbound methods. For instance, a cold call to a home may only last a few minutes. Outbound requires continuous repetition to create an association, so one type of outbound advertising may not be enough. A blog about your company’s new product line is on the internet and searchable for as long as you wish. Adding more content is cumulative, so that each piece of content ads to the size of your marketing campaign.
According to Hubspot’s findings in their 2014 report (cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/53/file-1827119534-pdf/HubSpot-State-of-Inbound-2014_(1).pdf?t=1419613138664&__hstc=20629287.f9cccfde5474c35e31e067cc7f6b72e1.1419280684689.1419280684689.1419614124550.2&__hssc=20629287.13.1419614124550&__hsfp=187637772), inbound marketing actually costs significantly less per lead while remaining more efficient than outbound marketing.
Another factor to consider is the aggressive tactics of outbound marketing can be held against your company by consumers if they feel harassed. In the age of social media, word of mouth travels much quicker—if you rub potential customers the wrong way, you are in effect paying for your own bad reviews. Worse, they’ll tune out your company’s messages on other mediums just by association.
Inbound, on the other hand, doesn’t have this negative connotation, circumventing just about all negativity by outwardly displaying value. Unless your content is deliberately misleading or poorly executed, inbound remains a safe method to interact with consumers.
One thing to take into account is the level of internet participation of consumers. While we may assume that a large portion of the world is online, don’t forget that there are still some older consumers who prefer to receive marketing methods more familiar to them. For this audience, inbound marketing may not be sufficient. However, if your company is completely digitized, you may not have any ability to reach them anyways!
Ultimately, deciding between outbound and inbound marketing really depends on the resources of your company. For the cost and benefits alone, though, all companies should consider using inbound marketing techniques as part of their marketing strategy. Of course, if you are able to use outbound marketing techniques, then do so because they offer a wider audience.