Inbound Marketing or Outbound Marketing: Which is More Effective?

how to decide between inbound and outbound marketing

Consumers have changed the way they shop and buy products and services, so as marketers, is it also time we phase out traditional marketing tactics in favor of the inbound methodology?  


There are so many ways for companies to shout their marketing messages. Whether it be digital ads, billboard signage, radio spots, direct mail, or marketing emails, brands are constantly vying for their prospects’ attention.  


According to Forbes, we are exposed to 4,000-10,000 marketing messages every single day, and for that reason, very few of them tend to resonate. Without a spot-on marketing strategy, it can be hard to cut through the noise and capture the attention of your target audience. But how do you know which marketing strategy will yield the best results?


There are essentially two distinct ways of reaching prospects and generating leads: inbound and outbound marketing. Here is a look at the differences between the two, along with our thoughts on which one is more effective.


What is outbound marketing? 


Outbound marketing, which is considered the more traditional approach to marketing and advertising, is the process of marketing to people by delivering product information directly to them in an effort to make a sale. It’s a one-way technique that typically focuses on the product and why people should buy it. Since outbound marketing uses general media advertising to reach large audiences, it is oftentimes considered an extremely broad strategy, and in most cases, impersonal. 


Examples of outbound marketing include:


  • Flyers
  • Television Ads
  • Billboards
  • Events and tradeshows
  • Paid Google and social media ads
  • Email marketing
  • Cold calling


What is inbound marketing?


While outbound marketing pushes marketing messages out to the masses, inbound marketing is like a permission-based magnet. It attracts the right people to your site through a host of valuable online information, and once there, those people are then guided to the products and services that are directly related to their online searches. 


Basically, inbound marketing is about creating useful information about a topic or issue, and then directly or indirectly highlighting how your product can alleviate that issue. 


Inbound marketing was born in direct response to a shift in how we purchase products online. According to Hubspot, the modern consumer goes through what they have coined as the ‘Buyer’s Journey’ before making a purchase. Within this journey, consumers become actively aware of an issue they are experiencing, they research and consider possible solutions to that issue, and finally, they decide which product or service can provide the best solution for them. 


At the core of inbound marketing is content. Or, more explicitly, original content that has been specifically developed to align with strategic points along the buyer’s journey. Focusing on an inbound approach inherently improves your SEO rankings, and 71 percent of business across the world have adopted inbound techniques to drive leads.


Examples of inbound marketing include:


  • Blogging
  • Website content
  • Videos
  • Social media
  • Podcasts
  • Downloadable content (whitepapers, eBooks, tip sheets, guides, etc.)


Inbound or outbound – which is more effective?


It goes without saying that the same marketing tactics won’t work for every business, but in our mind, inbound wins every time. The problem with outbound marketing is, it’s obtrusive, expensive, and no longer speaks to how the modern consumer shops. On top of that, Hubspot reports that:


  • 86 percent of people skip TV ads
  • 91 percent of email users unsubscribe from emails that they once opted into
  • 200 million Americans have registered their phone numbers on the “Do Not Call” list
  • 84 percent of 25-35-year old’s have left a website because of unwelcome advertising
  • The average banner ad click-through-rate is just one-tenth of one percent


Why invest in advertising to throngs of people who are actively trying to block you out when you could effectively position yourself to be found by the people who are already interested in what you have to offer? The internet has transformed everything about how we research, find, buy, and sell products and services, as well as how we view and interact with brands themselves. 


Because the foundation of inbound marketing is rooted in providing value and earning customer loyalty, invasive and annoying marketing tactics aren’t being tolerated anymore. There is no longer a point in throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks because now, consumers hold the power, and unless you can provide them with high-quality, relevant, and useful information, they will shut you down and tune you out. 


Learn more about incorporating inbound marketing tactics into your overall strategy.

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