Matthew B. Crawford, an American writer and research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia says, “Attention is a resource—a person has only so much of it.” 

Experts estimate that the average American sees or hears 4,000-plus ads per day. Since our attention is limited and we are inundated with messaging every day, businesses are competing for a potential customer’s limited attention. How do you breakthrough and create an effective marketing strategy? 

When determining components of a strategy, an executive or business owner has to determine how much to spend and where to spend it.  They have to decide if they are going to spend money on Outbound (or more traditional) marketing or focus on Inbound marketing (reliant on digital tactics).

Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing also referred to as “interruption” or “push” marketing, uses tactics that get a message to a large number of people in an effort to make an impression and influence a buying decision. Print/TV/radio advertising, telemarketing, direct mail, billboards/outdoor and other methods are sent to a large audience of people (many, or most, of whom may not even be looking for the marketer’s product). It’s a one-way conversation that typically focuses on the product and the reasons why the audience should buy it.

There are both pros and cons to outbound marketing. Many digital marketing agencies like to focus on the cons but you should recognize both.

Pros

  • Potential to reach a wide audience of your choice and you control the way they interact with the content
  • Good for brand building and awareness
  • Can act as a form of market research when you are getting in front of a defined audience and get their impression 

Cons

  • Often costly
  • Less targeted than an inbound marketing
  • Pushing messages out isn’t as effective because the audience has options and ways to avoid them. 
  • Audiences may be less receptive to outbound messages because of oversaturation.
  • As a result of the above, the ROI from these tactics has been dropping over the past decade.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is “magnetic” and permission-based.  Your target audience has previously given you permission to accept communication or is motivated to seek out your message (typically through an online search). Inbound marketing allows you to attract your best prospects – and those who are actively looking online for solutions. When they get to your site, those prospects find help, guidance, and education directly related to the searching they’re doing online.

At the heart of inbound marketing is content: website content, blog content, and downloadable (“premium”) content offered on a website, like white papers, guides, checklists, eBooks and others. When using an inbound approach, marketers develop this content to align with specific points in prospects’ buyers’ journeys:

  • Beginning – a buyer is getting familiar with the problem and potential solutions;
  • Middle – they’re comparing a small set of potential solutions;
  • Near the end of the journey, they’re doing the due diligence needed to make a final decision.

Many (though not all) digital marketing strategies are considered inbound marketing, such as:

  • Email marketing. For example, if you entice people to sign up for your list with a free offer, your prospects willingly give you their email addresses. On the other hand, mass email campaigns (i.e. spam) are outbound marketing.
  • Social media. You can find targeted followers on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. You can also interact with groups and run targeted advertising campaigns.
  • Content marketing. One of the most effective forms of inbound marketing is creating content that your audience values such as articles, blog posts, reports, and e-books. Videos, podcasts, webinars, and infographics can also be part of your content strategy. 
  • Search Engine Optimization and Search Marketing.  Search engine optimization (SEO) overlaps with content marketing as you use keywords and other tactics to get your content to rank higher. By optimizing your website for content that is relevant to your best prospects, you are much more likely to be seen when those potential customers are searching for your product or service online. In addition, paying for specific search words or phrases also allows you to find high-quality potential customers.

Now let’s look at some pros and cons of inbound marketing.

Pros

  • Cost-effective. Many inbound techniques can be deployed on a limited budget and are able to be tracked per performance.   
  • Inbound messaging provides a platform for two-way communication which encourages prospects to engage with your company.
  • Highly targeted. You can target your campaigns with keywords to reach a specific audience.
  • Inbound marketing has compound returns because you provide value to potential customers and develop relationships. Companies using inbound strategies are building up long-lasting authority and garnering trust and respect within a marketplace.

Cons

  • It requires a consistent time investment and extensive tracking. To get the most out of SEO, content marketing, social media, and other inbound tactics you need to pay close attention to the quality of content and analytics for engagement.
  • Increasingly competitive. Because more and more businesses are using these techniques, it’s getting harder to stand apart and get your message noticed and costs are rising for some tactics.

Benefits of Inbound Marketing

Here are some stats to demonstrate the effectiveness of inbound marketing:

  • Inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than outbound marketing
  • Content marketing generates 3x as many leads per dollar than traditional marketing
  • 57% of online users view content at least once per month and the average user spends 20% of their online time viewing content
  • Per dollar spent, inbound marketing generates 3X as many leads as traditional
  • 70% of people would rather learn about a company through content versus advertising
  • 79% of companies with a blog reported a positive ROI.

So, Inbound versus Outbound?

It’s not really an either-or proposition. These two types of marketing overlap more than you might realize. 

Our minds don’t actually divide outbound vs inbound messages. They are all part of the thousands of messages we process every day. It’s useful to examine the differences, it’s also important to realize that you don’t actually have to choose one type over the other.

Most companies use a mix of inbound and outbound marketing strategies and find, in fact, they complement each other. You can use outbound tactics to reach a wide audience and build your brand while using inbound to reach a more targeted population. 

Integrating inbound and outbound strategies place an emphasis on how helpful and interesting your messages are.

Your customers, followers, subscribers, and prospects aren’t interested in what kind of marketing you employ. They care about finding information that’s helpful and interesting. The best way to provide this is with an integrated marketing strategy that includes both inbound and outbound methods.

adamplifi Marketing offers digital and integrated marketing services that position your business for growth. To learn more, contact us.