Marketing brings in more business. The more business you bring in, the more revenue you generate. But the problem here is that marketing is a challenging task with no one-size-fits-all solution. You can’t just choose a template, stick with it and expect it to work, which is why business owners invest so much in finding the right marketing strategy.
But finding the best marketing solution is no small feat, either. You will have to influence buyer behavior for them to find favor with you, which also means finding the solution that best resonates with your target market. To do this, you will have to consult with an experienced marketing agency or perform extensive research on your own. Either way, you’ll find that there are two competing schools of thought: inbound and outbound marketing.
Inbound versus outbound marketing is one of the biggest debates in marketing mythology. Put simply, one tells you to reach out to your target audience while the other tells you to build your business in a way that lets them come to you.
But which one is the best way to go? Should you focus on building an inbound marketing campaign or is outbound marketing the best way to do business? Read on to learn more about inbound and outbound and how to select a marketing strategy that works best for you.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing involves attracting your target customers to your business through discovery. Also known as pull marketing, inbound focuses on building your online properties and offering resources such as free information to draw in your ideal audience.
A more succinct way of describing the inbound methodology is that it is a non-intrusive way to promote a business using digital channels. Some might even go so far as to say it is a passive form of marketing. One of the best examples of this is simply answering buyer questions.
When you answer questions buyers might have, they will discover your business through your content as they search for the answers to their questions. This can be achieved through search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, pay-per-click (PPC), social media marketing and email marketing services.
But what makes inbound marketing so effective?
1. It opens up a channel for two-way communication. Solving problems helps establish authority, establishes relationships and spreads brand awareness.
2. It costs significantly less to set up and implement. Cost-per-lead is 62 percent lower than outbound.
3. It’s always on time. Your content always shows up at the moment your audience needs it.
Inbound marketing is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to promote your business online because of the heavy influence of the internet in all facets of society. By aligning your strategies with prospective buyers’ needs and interests, they will naturally gravitate toward your business – and there lies the power of inbound marketing campaigns.
What is Outbound Marketing?
Outbound is a more active form of marketing wherein a marketer or business owner seeks out the audience to share their brand message or value proposition with. It is also known as push marketing because it involves “pushing out” a message to the consumers.
Where inbound focuses more on discovery, outbound delivers the message regardless of where the buyer is at in the buying cycle. It focuses on broadcasting the message itself to a broad audience to improve the likelihood of landing a response, a lead or a sale.
In contrast to inbound, outbound uses traditional methods or media to promote a brand. Some of the methods used in outbound marketing include:
• Print and TV ads
• Sponsoring an event
• Buying email lists
• Cold calling or emailing
• Use of billboards
• Flyers, posters and streamers
• Sponsoring a booth at a trade show
Outbound marketing has been around for decades. Although outbound methods are disruptive in nature, they still remain effective in promoting your business. Business owners and marketers choose outbound because:
1. They get faster return on investment (ROI). Lead acquisition is faster because establishing a connection is easier.
2. Campaign results are easier to measure. Each outbound marketing strategy comes with its own set of metrics that gives you all you need to know about the quality of your campaigns.
3. Any outbound marketing strategy is easier to personalize. Campaign analytics provide a complete profile of target audiences, making it easier to personalize each outbound marketing campaign.
Inbound vs Outbound: Which One Should I Choose?
Inbound versus outbound marketing are two wildly different methodologies. One uses pull marketing and relies on creating an inbound marketing content strategy, among other tactics, to generate leads through discovery. The other uses push marketing and relies on persuasive messaging for lead generation.
While inbound vs outbound can be effective on their own, they won’t flourish alone. They are two sides of the same coin and can be more effective when applied in a complementary way. One delivers prospects as they opt in; the other positions your brand in front of prospects so you can begin the conversation.
So, how can you combine the two methodologies effectively? Here’s how:
1. Understand the strengths and limitations of each approach.
Inbound marketing is seen as today’s gold standard for lead generation because it seeks to understand buyer intent. Buyer intent plays a large role in converting prospects into customers, which is why marketers spend so much time understanding buyer intent to capture their attention through inbound marketing campaigns.
However, this process takes time. According to Marketing Guru Neil Patel, you can start seeing the results of your inbound marketing campaign in as early as six months. Outbound marketing, on the other hand, has the capacity to produce results near-instantaneously. But one drawback is that it’s too invasive, which people may find annoying at times, especially when intent is not there.
2. Adopt a combined approach.
This is where you make full use of the strengths of each methodology. As mentioned above, any inbound marketing strategy excels at attracting audiences by capturing intent. Meanwhile, outbound marketing campaigns can help you gain faster results. A combined approach would mean using outbound marketing techniques on a prospect that opts in. This gets you more immediate results without being invasive.
Here’s an example. You can start by creating an inbound marketing content strategy that attracts leads to your website. Then, through an opt-in form, make leads subscribe to a weekly email blast. That way, you can easily use email marketing services to deliver persuasive outbound emails to market to your email subscribers.
Other ways you can combine outbound and inbound marketing campaigns revolve around creating an inbound marketing content strategy, either through social media or setting up a blog and using outbound marketing tactics like cold calling, cold emailing or setting up targeted ads to leads that showed intent.
3. Study the results, learn from them and adopt a better approach.
All marketing efforts need to be tracked. Whether it’s an inbound marketing strategy or an outbound campaign, you need to track results to better understand their inner workings and how you can further improve them.
Email marketing services, for example, track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as click-through rates (CTR), conversion rates, open rates and unsubscribe rates.
You can use the classic Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) to track the status of your campaigns. It works universally well with any inbound marketing strategy as well as outbound campaigns.
Ultimately, your business’s marketing success doesn’t lie in a single marketing strategy. The secret to successful marketing is through a robust marketing strategy that combines elements of both inbound and outbound campaigns. So there really shouldn’t be any debate regarding inbound versus outbound marketing.
But another problem with marketing is that trends always change. New technologies will arise; audience preferences shift and rules evolve to adapt to the changes that happen all around. So the question here is: How do you create an effective, comprehensive marketing strategy when everything keeps changing?
The answer is simple yet complicated at the same time. You have to adapt. To expound on that, you have to create a system that lets you adapt continuously to ensure your marketing strategies remain effective. For instance, professional digital marketing agencies like Thrive have agile teams in place to stay updated and effective in serving the needs of their clients and maximize ROI.
If you want to know more about how Thrive can help you deploy a successful marketing approach, give us a call at 866-908-4748 or use this contact form for a free consultation.