What’s The Difference Between Inbound And Outbound Marketing: Which Is More Effective?

Digital Marketing

What’s The Difference Between Inbound And Outbound Marketing: Which Is More Effective?

Inbound And Outbound Marketing

When most people think about marketing, they think of product-focused marketing. Distributing the same old flyers, numerous irrelevant ads on a website, random cold calls, spam emails, and whatnot! But is that helping you build your brand authority and connections?

On the other hand, you must’ve come across blog posts that keep you hooked to the screen and the next time you want to look up another topic of the same subject, you go back to their website because you know that they’re putting up credible and authentic information and letting you engage with the same.

So what exactly is happening in these two cases? In the world of digital marketing, inbound and outbound marketing have been the buzzwords of recent times. So what exactly are they and how do these strategies affect the way you’re marketing? How different are they from each other and which strategy is more effective between inbound and outbound marketing? Here’s the answer to all your questions.

What Is Outbound Marketing?

What Is Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is also known as the traditional marketing method. It involves activities like,

  • Offline marketing: Television, radio, magazine, newspaper, billboards, etc.
  • Online marketing: Displaying ads, PPC ads, social media ads, etc.
  • Other activities: Cold calling, direct mail, etc.

Outbound marketing was effective in the past, that is before the internet became so widespread. The main concept of this marketing strategy is to push promotional messages outward, thus the name outbound marketing.

But with the oversaturation of the internet, people have started ignoring ads. This has resulted in a drop in clickthrough rates of ads. Another important point to note is that people who are not your targeted audience will also be exposed to your ads. With outbound marketing, your ads become less interactive and more interruptive, because instead of engaging with people, it aims at directly converting strangers to customers.

But with time, there has been a paradigm shift in how and to whom advertisements are projected.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

What Is Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing mostly focuses on pulling people in instead of pushing out messages. It relies on credible content to add value to consumers and to establish brand authority. It is a more consumer-centric approach as it addresses specifically those who are looking for it to educate and engage with them.

Inbound marketing, also called content marketing, involves blogs, articles, social media, infographics, white papers, email newsletters, and other content that people want to read. So, how do people find marketer’s content on the internet? The answer is Search Engine Optimization or simply SEO. SEO increases the visibility of your website and ensures that your content ranks when people are looking for it.

Inbound marketing is indirect, i.e., it hardly ever has a noticeable sales pitch. All it does is inform people about the usefulness of a product or service and why you need it. This is enough to slightly nudge a stranger into the sales funnel.

  • ATTRACTS strangers to your blogs or social media and turn them into visitors.
  • CONVERT visitors to leads as they respond to call-to-action or landing page.
  • CLOSE deals when leads are managed by CRM, email, and workflow, and become customers.
  • DELIGHT the customers using surveys, content, and social monitoring and they finally become the promoter of your brand.

Inbound Marketing: Key Techniques

Inbound Marketing Key Techniques

Now that we know what inbound marketing is, let’s discuss some of the key tactics and techniques in an effective marketing strategy.

Content Development

Content is the core of inbound marketing. Nowadays, there are various forms of content – written, video, and podcasts. An effective way is to use a combination of free content with gated content. For example, you can have white papers, webinars, and e-books that can be used to collect information, such as in-depth downloadable e-books in exchange for their email address.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

No matter how good or great your content is, it will be of no use if it is not visible to your audience. The main way people find content is through search engines. So the goal here is to have our content at least on the first page of Google.

Content Promotion

Another huge part of SEO-friendly content is getting more inbound links or backlinks. Social media marketing (paid as well as organic), and influencer marketing, are effective content promotion channels.

Lead Nurture

So you’ve launched your inbound campaign and have attracted a good number of leads. Not every lead or prospect you’ve gained will be your customer. But to keep those leads happy and to increase the close rates is where the importance of lead nurturing comes into play. This can be as simple as a follow-up email or an automated lead nurturing system.

Difference Between Inbound And Outbound Marketing

Difference Between Inbound And Outbound Marketing

Even though the purpose of both inbound and outbound marketing strategies are the same, the goal and the methods are different.

The difference between inbound and outbound marketing are:

Outbound MarketingInbound Marketing
DefinitionUses traditional non-digital strategies and jargon-filled messages to draw attention.Focuses on crafting high-quality content that organically attracts people.
ExamplesTV commercials, billboards, direct mail, newspaper and magazine ads, etc.Blogs, SEO strategy, keyword targeting, social media, etc.
StrategyPushes out promotions to everyone, regardless of interest. Pulls in customers
GoalThe goal is to persuade.The goal is to educate.
Primary focusProduct centric.Customer-centric.
CommunicationOne-way communication.Two-way communication.
Content consumptionDisrupts content consumption.Is a part of the content consumption.
GrowthLinear growth.Exponential growth.

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: Strategy

The inbound-outbound marketing dichotomy where inbound marketing uses pull marketing tactics, and outbound marketing uses push marketing tactics.

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: Engagement

Outbound Marketing finds a medium with a large following and periodically interrupts them with disassociated ads. In this case, a small percentage of people might pay attention to the interruption of the storyline and convert to customers.

Example: TV, radio, billboards, etc.

Inbound Marketing focuses on permission-based marketing. Here, you can communicate with the audience in a medium where they have already permitted you to communicate. The chances of conversion, in this case, are higher, because the audience already has their hands raised and they want an answer to their question.

Example: Subscription-based email marketing, social media, webinar attendees, etc.

Another approach to engagement in inbound marketing is to answer the questions people are asking and proliferate those answers around the web in anticipation of the question. The reach, in this case, is limitless, as your online audience is infinite. Using SEO and keyword targeting, you can answer the questions your audience is asking.

Example: Blog or content strategy, landing page strategy, etc.

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: Primary Focus

How many times have you been given flyers outside a mall or a supermarket? Or seen billboards on the side of the road asking you to try out a new and improved product? This is outbound marketing- which is all about pushing the products, selling the benefits and features, hoping that it is reaching the right prospect. But is the correct way to let your prospect know that your business is great?

What if you change this strategy a bit and step in the shoes of your customers? What if your marketing strategy aligns with your target audience’s decision-making process? A lot of marketers do not consider this vital detail, whereas, on the other hand, inbound marketing has purposefully aligned its strategy with the three phases of decision-making:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision to purchase

For example, let us consider your business deals with college students who want to learn French or German language. Your inbound marketers will look something like this:

  1. Blogs about learning French and German lessons to target prospects in the awareness phase
  2. Webinars with teachers and professionals to target prospects in the consideration phase

Free trials or demos to close potential buyers in the decision-making phase.

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: Communication

People are interested in human-like conversations, instead of seeing the same messages being pushed towards them. Outbound marketing has a minimal scope of a two-way conversation. On the other hand, one of the main features of inbound marketing is to involve prospects by encouraging them to share and write down their thoughts as comments. By doing this, you’re giving enormous power in the hands of your consumers. This enhances brand transparency and authenticity.

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: Content Consumption

Inbound marketing encourages content consumption, outbound marketing disrupts and interrupts content consumption by throwing in ads that the views are not familiar with or cannot relate to.

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: Growth

Let us consider you own a SaaS company. After a couple of months of analysis, you decide to run an Instagram Ad. According to your metrics, if you spend A, you’ll get a B number of leads. So, if you want to double B, you’ll have to double your expenses, that is A.

This is outbound marketing which offers a fairly linear growth trajectory and is closely related to your marketing spending.

On the other hand, inbound marketing is a little more time-taking. You put the money upfront, develop some decent content assets, invest in search engine optimization, and work on a strong email marketing campaign. Even though the short-term return on investment can be low, this process can help you build a strong online presence.

Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing: Which Is More Effective?

Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing  Which Is More Effective

Now that we’ve understood the differences between inbound and outbound marketing, the most important of all questions is here- which among the two is more effective?

By now, the answer must’ve been fairly clear that inbound marketing is a more effective choice with a higher return on investment. In terms of cost-effectiveness and lead generation, it offers a lower cost per lead and generates three times as many leads as outbound.

The problem that outbound marketing is facing nowadays is that:

  • Ads can be skipped or blocked
  • Numerous billboards in most cities
  • Digital ad banners are easily ignored or ads are blocked

Also, the problem with inbound marketing is that it is time-taking.

  • You’ll need a long-term investment before your website is ranking one on Google search results.
  • You’ll need time before your audience recognizes your consistency and thinks of you as a brand leader.

All of this being said, the strategy you apply for your business depends on your business goals and target audience. If you want to build trust, credibility, and brand awareness, inbound marketing is the best way to go. But outbound marketing might be a better choice for your business if you tick on any one of these three criteria:

  1. Faster lead generation
  2. Your target audience is older (65+)
  3. You aren’t looking to build a long term connection

Considering today’s marketing scenario, it is most effective to opt for inbound marketing for your long-term targets and combine it with outbound marketing for short-term gains.

Final Takeaway: The Inbound-Outbound Marketing Strategy

There is no sure-shot marketing strategy that will be your road to success. Different businesses need different approaches, as they have various factors that they depend on.

Inbound marketing is a better option because of its exponential growth pattern and because it costs 62% less than outbound marketing. It also offers a better customer experience and gives your organic growth.

If you’re a considerably new business, then your current goal is to get leads faster then you must consider a long-term inbound approach with elements of outbound marketing. This will give you the boost you need right now.

The way people communicate is constantly changing. Inbound marketing helps you leverage these changes to more effectively promote your business. If you want to expand your audience, find new customers and grow, inbound marketing strategies are the way to go. The goal here is to find that perfect balance between cost-effectiveness and return in investment, keeping your business goal in mind.

FAQs: What’s The Difference Between Inbound And Outbound Marketing

1. Is inbound marketing effective?

Inbound marketing is highly quantifiable. It also allows you to talk to people who have permitted you, unlike outbound marketing where you push your message to people, regardless of their interest. Thus, you can tell your story in a holistic, educational way on your distribution platform, with quantifiable metrics and you let your audience engage with your content, thus giving them the power. This ensures brand transparency and authenticity.

2. Why is outbound marketing not effective?

There has been a decline in the effectiveness of outbound marketing as a response to the change in consumer behavior. Nowadays people have control of the information they consume and how. The absence of two-way communication hinders engagement, which is what people want nowadays.

3. What is the difference between inbound and outbound marketing?

Even though both the marketing strategies have the same purpose- to generate leads, they both follow different focuses and different ways to achieve that. The former is about pulling customers in and building connections, whereas the latter is about pushing products and messages to the masses and directly makes a sale

4. Does outbound marketing still work?

Outbound marketing might be a better choice for your business if you tick on any one of these three criteria:
  • Faster lead generation
  • Your target audience is older (65+)
  • You aren’t looking to build a long term connection
  • 5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of inbound marketing?

  • Creates credibility and authority
  • Time-taking process
  • Helps build long-term connections
  • Disadvantages
  • Engages with consumers
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