Inbound vs Outbound Marketing
Inbound and Outbound Marketing are two different branches from the same large marketing tree. Although they use somewhat contrasting approaches, their aim is the same – generate more profitable leads and grow your business.
However, as the world around us evolves and changes, so does marketing. New methods get invented and disappear when they become irrelevant. If you want to stay on top, you must keep up with latest trends. That is exactly what brings us to the never ending argument of which marketing method is more effective – Outbound Marketing or Inbound Marketing. But to get to the root of it, we must first analyze them both.
So here it goes.
What is Outbound Marketing and how does it work
Outbound Marketing (also known as Push Marketing) is considered to be a traditional method of marketing. It works by pushing your message out to a large audience through various outlets in hopes of attracting attention from potential leads. These outlets can be:
- Television Advertisements
- Radio Advertisements
- Direct Mail
- Cold Email Campaigns
- Print Advertorials
- Outdoor Advertisement
In other words, the idea of Outbound Marketing is to yell out your message loud and clear and wait for the prospects interested to catch the bait.
Is this method effective?
That’s where the debate starts.
Back in the day, when our minds were still easily attracted by adverts we were exposed to, outbound marketing was a great way to sell a product/service or build brand awareness. The positive feeling and the newly-found interest that the audience was left after an advertorial was the most effective sales technique that was pretty much unbeatable.
However, many argue, that just as being constantly exposed to spicy food lessens its effect, same goes for Push Marketing. Being exposed to push ads continuously for years on end made us pretty much immune. We pre-record TV shows so that we can skip the commercial breaks, and we install ad blocks on our browsers. As Hubspot so clearly explains with statistics on Outbound Marketing, “According to this year’s data, 32% of marketers rank outbound marketing practices such as paid advertising as the top waste of time and resources.”
But then again, not all Outbound Marketing is ineffective and interruptive. There is a branch of it that has evolved together with the everchanging world of marketing.
ABM – Account-Based Marketing
ABM is a method of Outbound Marketing that shifts its focus from a large general audience to highly targeted prospect companies (accounts). These prospects get selected by looking at their pain points and finding that your services and/or products are a perfect fit. It still is a sort of push marketing, but it’s tailored and personalized push marketing that effectively gets results.
The tricky part of ABM is the necessary synchronization of sales and marketing departments. But it’s worth the effort, as according to MarketingProfs, “Companies with aligned sales and marketing generated 208% more ROI from marketing”.
Quite a number, eh?
As Sheila Kloefkorn explains to Forbes, “The challenge is that it requires an “all in” approach from sales and marketing to provide the right content at the right time to the right buyer. When executed successfully across the organization in a sequenced and thoughtful way, we have had clients double and triple their sales opportunities.”
All in all, ABM is a sort of more updated version of Outbound Marketing. It still reaches out to potential prospects rather than waiting for them to come by themselves, but it does so in a more focused and effective way.
What is Inbound Marketing and how does it work
Inbound Marketing is all about playing the long-game. Instead of placing the products/services in front of a large audience, Inbound Marketing focuses on attracting the right people and turning them into leads.
Let us explain.
The theory behind Inbound Marketing is establishing a presence by providing relevant and helpful content for your prospects, and in turn becoming the expert in your niche. Doing this naturally invites potential customers to your organization, increasing your traffic, SEO ranking and conversion rate. As an article on Forbes explains, “Inbound marketing is great for targeting companies whose decision makers are researching solutions online. It allows you to harness that demand and fill your sales pipeline.”
The Four Phases of Inbound Marketing
According to Hubspot, Inbound Marketing can be split into four phases that explain the whole customer experience. Each phase analyzes and explains the journey a customer goes through when going from a prospect to a client to a promoter, and how you can help them along.
Phase One: Attract
Attracting the right kind of audience is crucial in Inbound Marketing. You want people who are already interested in what you have to offer, and they are ready to be convinced. Therefore, simply growing your traffic is not what you should strive for. It’s the right kind of traffic that should be your aim.
Here’s how you can achieve that:
A blog was, is, and most likely always will be, the best tool for providing relevant and helpful content to your prospective clients. It is a perfect way to attract the kind of audience you need by giving the answers that they are looking for.
- Content strategy
You have to make sure your content appears at the right time and the right place, exactly when and where your prospective clients need it. You can do that by having a well thought out content strategy and implementing it by using the correct tools.
- Social Media
What is the best way to build relationships with your prospects without having a face to face conversations? Social media, of course! Sharing your content on various social media outlets helps you connect with your audience by putting a more approachable and humane face to your brand.
Phase Two: Convert
Now that you have an audience interested in what you have to say and offer, it is time to convert them into actual leads. The best way to do that is by asking them to make a minor commitment or start an actual conversation with them.
You can do that by using these tools:
Asking a prospect to fill out a form gives you two benefits – they are making a minor commitment to your brand, and you can save their details for other marketing purposes (newsletters, etc.)
There is no better way to gain a prospect’s trust than by talking to them, be it via phone or internet call. We are all human after all, and a real conversation can be the most effective reassurance a prospect needs to know that they will be in good hands.
Having a live chat tool on your website can help you start a conversation with your prospects at the time they need it most. Ask them what they are looking for, if they need a hand, or if they have any questions. Sometimes a simple message can be enough for someone to go from a prospect to a lead.
Phase Three: Close
So now that you attracted your prospects and successfully turned them into leads, it is time for a close. Here’s how you can aid your leads in their journeys to becoming happy customers:
- Lead Nurturing
Every single lead that you have should be nurtured in a way that would resonate with their personal journey in this process. Pay attention to what they read, which pages they visit, and what questions they may have. Then get in touch with them.
This is pretty much a natural next step after lead nurturing. Email your leads, and offer the kind of help they would appreciate. Taking the time to personalize the email and focusing on the exact talking points that would be of interest to your lead can be the best kind of nudge they need towards becoming a customer.
- Predictive Lead Scoring
Once your brand is large and successful, following up on every single lead you have would be unfeasible. That is why you need to use a Lead Scoring system of some sort that would help you prioritize the leads with the most potential of becoming customers.
Phase Four: Delight
Congratulations on successfully turning your leads into customers! However, work doesn’t end there. What you need to do now is provide the best kind of experience your customers can imagine, therefore work continues even after the purchase was made.
Why? So that they come back for more, of course! And recommend you to others as well.
Delight your customers by sending them offers and deals. Give insider’s information. There are plenty of ways to make sure the relationship between your brand and your customers grows and gets better. And all you have to do is put just a little bit of effort.
Which one is more effective: Inbound or Outbound Marketing?
Having discussed both methods of marketing in depth we can see how they are different yet alike. Both have strong points and weak points. But the most effective way of measuring which one is better is to borrow Jayson DeMers’ method for Lead Quality Definition, and apply it to the two marketing types.
We will look at Inbound and Outbound Marketing considering four dimensions:
- Closing potential
So without further ado, let’s get to it.
According to a report from Hubspot, Inbound Marketing costs 61% less than Outbound Marketing. They explain that “The average cost per lead for outbound-dominated businesses was $346. In comparison, the average cost per lead for businesses leveraging primarily inbound techniques was $135.”
Quite a difference in the price there! Obviously, Inbound Marketing wins the aspect of price. Even if the percentage might be slightly off by now, the difference is still big enough to show that Inbound Marketing is cheaper.
According to Forbes, the full result of Inbound Marketing is only visible after 4 to 6 months. Compare this to Outbound Marketing, where the results are visible within days or a few weeks at the max and you have yourself a winner.
But here’s a crazy idea – why not do some Outbound Marketing (like cold-calling and cold-emailing) whilst you wait for your Inbound Marketing strategy to work? That way you’ll reap the benefits of both methods!
Inbound Marketing has a lot of potential to grow exponentially over a long period of time, whereas Outbound Marketing may attract a large number of visitors but with a much lower conversion rate. Which one is better? Not sure. Let’s call it a tie.
Whereas it’s pretty difficult to calculate the closing potential for both of these marketing methods, it is clear that leads attracted by Inbound Marketing can be considered much “warmer” than leads acquired by Outbound Marketing. We’ll give this one to Inbound.
Neither one is better than the other
Us humans, we love to compete and compare. We always try to find the best restaurant, the quickest road, the most effective marketing method… Why don’t we stop and focus on what truly work most in our favor?
Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing work best when they are combined together.
Just as Sheila Kloefkorn from Forbes Counsils says, “You do not have to select one method over the other. Successful marketers know how to leverage both. Depending on your budget, you can mix multiple inbound and outbound strategies to meet your goals. Measuring your potential return on investment will help you determine the best practices for your business.”
Learn to implement both methods together, and reap the full results. After all, it would be truly silly not to use all of the tools in the toolbox.