The 2021 Debate: Inbound Versus Outbound Marketing

Inbound Versus Outbound Marketing.

To quote Mark Twain, the reports of the death of outbound marketing are greatly exaggerated. According to the experts, print is dead, and television is in the ICU. We concur that the more traditional forms of outbound are on the decline, yet a $62 billion television spend in North America in 2020 is still formidable. Broadcast marketing, pushing your message to the masses, and hoping it resonates has given us the Geico gecko and All State’s good hands. Outbound isn’t dead and perhaps never will be. Outbound has its place in the marketing strategy mix, as does inbound. Any comparison of the effectiveness of the two must consider the product or service being offered and the audience of prospective customers. In this article, we explore the strengths and weaknesses of the methodologies, focusing on potential buyers, their motivation, and decision process.

Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing pushes out its message to consumers who may or may not be interested in a product. It encompasses the more traditional types of promoting products that we once referred to as simply marketing. Tactics include things such as these one-way conversations:

  • Media advertising – television and radio
  • Print advertising – newspapers and magazines
  • Outdoor advertising – billboards
  • Direct mail campaigns

With the digital age, outbound added the following to its arsenal:

  • Banner and display ads
  • Pop-up ads
  • Blanket email blasts

The invasive approach of outbound marketing is the most effective way to reach the broadest audience, making it the go-to strategy for mass marketers. Outbound helps build brand awareness and, when used in the right way for the right products, is still an effective method for consumers to discover new products and services.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing campaigns are powered by content intended to educate, address the customer’s pain points, and create reasons to come to you. Inbound strategies are designed to attract and engage prospects interested in your product or service, developing relationships with superior quality leads. Some of the most prevalent inbound SEO-optimized strategies are:

  • Blogging
  • White papers
  • Infographics
  • Social media marketing
  • Video content

Understanding your target audience, motivation, buyer’s behavior, and decision-making process is crucial to determining your marketing strategy and allocations to inbound and outbound marketing resources.

Target Market Audience Considerations

Different audiences require different methods. The B2C marketer is concerned with building a brand, whereas the B2B marketer is more interested in establishing and nurturing relationships. The B2B market is inherently smaller and more specialized as you direct your efforts to your best prospects.

Logical versus emotional approach – needs versus wants. Whereas the typical consumer will make an impulse purchase, a professional buyer or buying team buys only what they need. Inbound marketing uses carefully curated content to provide the specific information/answers companies are seeking at the precise moment they need it.

The recommendations and referrals of others influence consumers. The professional buyer expects technical information, solutions, and testimonials from industry experts. A strategy that builds trust and establishes you as the authority in your field.

Messaging and content will differ between inbound and outbound with the inbound approach using a more businesslike lexicon in their blogs, white papers, research studies, and other fact-based data. When a buying committee or multiple members are involved in the decision process, crafting your message to help buyers persuade the committee is essential.

The Differences Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing

The most apparent difference between the methodologies is the broad-based, megaphone approach of outbound to the masses versus a targeted, laser-like focus employed in inbound. Other differences:

  • Inbound seeks to educate and provide solutions – while outbound aims to sell.
  • The objective of inbound is to create a conversation, build a relationship, whereas outbound is strictly a one-way communication.
  • Inbound relies on content to attract and engage – outbound depends on a larger budget.
  • Outbound can be invasive and annoying – inbound is “magnetic,” drawing prospects to the marketer’s content.

The Benefits of Inbound Marketing

Although outbound reaches a much larger audience and aids in awareness, the cost is prohibitive for many medium and small companies, and the ROI on inbound marketing is superior. The cost of an inbound campaign is less and delivers better, more qualified leads at a lower acquisition cost.

Inbound marketing promotes solutions versus products. With the magnet approach of inbound, prospects coming to your site are already interested in your product or service. Once your content attracts a prospect, your team can customize and personalize future communications, developing better relationships and customer experience.

Inbound is measurable – key to an inbound campaign’s success is establishing objectives and benchmarks and then monitoring, measuring, and adapting as required. What content is resonating, and which is missing the mark? What assets are performing, and which requires improvement?

In Summary

When selling to professionals, inbound seems the superior method. Executed properly, inbound can be highly effective in driving the right prospects to your company. However, for traditional businesses attempting to convert, developing inbound strategies and compelling content, measuring ROI, and gaining senior leadership buy-in, is not without challenges.

If you’re interested in a holistic approach, connecting your brand’s digital strategy, and solutions to these challenges, Revenue-Inc. is the B2B SaaS Marketing Agency that can help you – “execution and results guaranteed.”