When I talk to most marketers about how they generate leads and fill their sales funnel, most of them say outbound marketing.
However, many innovative and successful companies rely on the art of inbound marketing.
So what’s the difference between inbound and outbound? In this post, you’re going to go through the pros and cons of each strategy.
Outbound marketing is a traditional marketing method that aims to get messages across to potential customers. Outbound marketing includes activities such as trade fairs, series of seminars and cold calling. It’s costly and the ROI is much lower than inbound marketing.
From email explosions to outsourced telemarketing, I call these methods “outbound marketing” because marketers take their messages far and wide in the hope that this needle in the haystack will resonate with them.
I think outbound marketing techniques become less and less effective over time for two reasons.
First, your average person today is inundated with at least 2,000 outbound marketing breaks per day and is finding ever more creative ways to block them, including browser extensions with ad blockers, caller ID, email spam filters, and more.
Second, the cost of learning something new or shopping online through search engines, blogs, and social media is now much lower than a seminar at the Marriott or a flight to a Las Vegas trade show.
Inbound marketing is a strategy that involves creating content or social media tactics that will spread brand awareness so people can learn more about you, learn more about your website, show interest in your product, and potentially make a purchase.
While some outbound strategies take a lot of time and effort and may not produce leads, inbound strategies allow you to target an audience of people who you can more easily qualify as potential leads.
The best analogy I can think of is that traditional marketers looking to attract new prospects like lions in the jungle hunt for elephants.
The elephants were in the jungle in the 80s and 90s when they learned their craft, but they don’t seem to be there anymore. They have all migrated into the water holes of the savannah – in our case the Internet.
So instead of continuing to hunt in the jungle, I recommend setting up a shop by the watering hole or turning your website into your own watering hole.
Rather than outbound marketing to the masses of people trying to lock you out, I advocate inbound marketing, where you help yourself get visible to people who are already interested in your industry.
To do this, you need to set up your website as a “hub” for your industry. One that naturally attracts visitors through search engines, blogging, and social media.
I believe that most marketers today are spending 90% of their efforts on outbound marketing and 10% on inbound marketing, and I advocate that these ratios are reversed.
To do this, follow the model “Attract, Engage, Delight”.
Develop a strong content strategy to attract your audience.
You want to have content for every stage of the marketing funnel. For consumers in the awareness phase, social media and ads are a great way to introduce your brand and product to users.
Blogging positions you as a credible and trustworthy source in your industry and enables your target audience to find you.
During this process, it is also important to develop an SEO strategy to make sure that your website is optimized for search.
Once visitors become leads, you can nurture them through email marketing, conversational chatbots, and automated workflows.
In the Enjoyment phase, your goal is to make sure your audience can easily connect with your sales and service teams and solve their problems quickly.
Inbound marketing is about meeting your audience where they are. You will quickly find that your marketing efforts are working better and growing your brand.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2010 but has been updated for completeness.