Inbound marketing compared to outbound marketing

Let us start by addressing the question ‘what is marketing?’ It is the act or business of promotion of goods and services produced under different brands. It includes all the activities that a firm performs in order to create and maintain relationships between the buyers and sellers of products including advertising and research. Today, a brand’s degree of success in a market is highly dependent on its advertising campaign.

Inbound Marketing

As the term suggests, inbound marketing has to do with attracting consumers to a brand’s goods and services. It is achieved by the creation and dissemination of intriguing and relevant content in order to induce the public to consume their products. It involves creating brand awareness through blogs, videos, newsletters, social networks, SEO, and other forms of online content marketing. The idea is to appeal to the interests of the target market by sharing quality content with them. In this manner, the firm ends up targeting consumers that are already in search of similar products rather than appealing to an entire population like in the case of television advertisement. The content need not advertise your brand or company. It should be of an educational and engaging nature so as to make people share it and draw more attention to your website. People’s attention is also being drawn to the company’s products, and they serve as the advocates of a brand. It is a subtle and effective strategy, deemed to be relatively more successful than outbound marketing. Inbound marketing allows for the provision of customer feedback which is essential for being in sync with consumer demands. Communication helps create a healthy relationship between the buyers and the seller. It exhibits care on the part of the producer. The methodology followed by this marketing strategy involves a sales process comprising of four stages. They are as follows:

  1. Attract - The initial stage is about acquiring the company’s target market or audience.
  2. Convert - Having attracted a sufficient number of visitors to your site, the second stage
  3. is about creating leads. It mostly includes gathering the customers’ contact information. Subscribers can be gathered by offering incentives for joining such as deals on your products, etc.
  4. Close – After conversion has taken place, the time is ripe to transform the leads acquired into proper customers.
  5. Delight – Even after acquiring one’s target market and transforming the general consumers into your customers, the website is still responsible for publishing further engaging content in order to keep their customers happy and increase their clientele.

Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing involves the more traditional methods of advertising such as television advertisements, radio, newspapers, cold-calling, direct or spam mail, et cetera. The idea in this case is to go out into the market and broadcast your message in order to make it reach your target audience. In this case, the target audience is mostly not searching for the company’s products on their own. The loudest advertising campaigns tend to get the highest rewards. Constantly increasing competition and a declining audience for advertisement are characteristics of this approach. Outbound-type marketing is also known as interruption marketing. The name is derived from literal interruptions that are caused while watching a movie on TV or listening to music on the radio in order to broadcast ads. The costs involved in this approach are significantly higher than in the inbound-kind and still provide the brand with no guarantee of success. It is more relevant for large businesses to dish out good money to employ these traditional advertising methods. After all, they do bring brand awareness to a nationwide audience and often get the job done. They are just less efficient in this task than inbound marketing strategies.

Comparing the two

The very approaches to creating brand awareness are opposite to one another in the cases of inbound and outbound marketing. To start with, inbound strategies are warranted by the public. Consumers voluntarily go through inbound content without any imposition. It is almost like they are giving companies permission to advertise to them. On the contrary, outbound techniques force the public to involuntarily go through their content like in the case of TV ads. As may be expected, people now are constantly looking for remedies to block out incessant advertisements. It is true that the audience received by inbound marketing is considerably smaller as compared to the masses that go through mainstream advertisement on a daily basis. However, by virtue of being of a friendly and voluntary disposition, the conversion rate of consumers through inbound methods is colossally higher. Online audiences are almost infinite though. Since a two-way communication is barely possible in the case of outbound marketing, its scope ends up being profoundly limited.

Traditional advertisement can never be a main event. It is what comes during the main event’s intermission. So no matter how apt or well-made, outbound advertising hopes to grab people’s attention when their attention is actually on a break. And even then, the best it can do is send out its message and then be eclipsed by whichever programme that was on before the interval. On the other hand, a post being read on your website for example is the main event for the person reading it. It gives you the floor to communicate whatever information you like to consumers in order to engage them. The inbound scheme makes advertising your own show. Inbound marketing is far more intricate than its outbound counterpart. It requires a perpetual development of quality content across various channels and cannot use templates like TV ads.

Content featured on websites is required to clarify any doubts in the minds of the consumers. As mentioned earlier, it needs to be of an educational nature. Outbound techniques are aimed at making a brand stand out more than the others. It does not imply that the brand will stand out for the right reasons either. Advertisement campaigns are short-lived and their results tend to be unpredictable. Once a campaign comes to a close, it needs to be replaced by another. There is no guarantee that the next campaign will be as successful as the first or that it will garner any success whatsoever. Inbound campaigns provide companies with a sort of ‘fan-following’ through subscriptions and such. They last much longer than traditional ads. They also provide a greater opportunity to recruit or convert consumers.

Outbound marketing is not faring as well as it once did. Today, people have the power to filter out many outbound advertisements. It is now possible to skip through ads on television by recording movies/shows and fast-forwarding through the commercials for example. Statistics show that 86% people skip through televised commercials. Radio is becoming less popular with each passing day and even newspapers are being substituted by online news sources. Emails undergo a screening process now and ads end up in people’s spam folders, where they are never even opened. As far as cold-calls are concerned, it is safe to say that they mostly only end up irritating the receivers of the calls instead of winning them over. ‘Do not call’ lists have been put in place to check unwanted calls as well. Billboards are not very efficient today either. Evidently, outbound methods are fast losing their lustre, whereas the competition to gain attention is as intense as ever.

It is difficult to track the rate of success of outbound marketing methods. There are only a few ways in which it could be calculated. For example, it could be done by viewing the amount of calls received by call centres after advertising had been carried out. On the other hand, through the use of algorithms, websites tell the management exactly how many visitors they receive. They also provide more detailed assessments with regard to the success of the recruitment of new customers. They show how customers landed up on the site, which content they viewed and even how much time they spent on perusing the articles. In contrast to outbound marketing, inbound strategies are far more successful in tracking their progress.

Inbound marketing is considerably more affordable. It is certainly the correct approach for smaller businesses to employ in order to recruit consumers. Also, today’s research data depicts a higher reliance of companies on social media marketing, blogging and other inbound methods than on traditional advertising in general.

Outbound marketing can also be viewed by some as detrimental to natural resources and responsible to the generation of excess waste. According to statistics, 44% of direct mail remains unopened. That implies that 44% of paper used to create this mail was first carelessly consumed and then thrown out as garbage. Inbound marketing on the other hand does not harm the environment in any way.

In conclusion, the decision of which type of marketing to undertake depends largely on the financial resources available to a company. If possible, it is best to not ignore either approach and employ them both, while keeping one’s circumstances in mind.