You may have heard marketers talk about the terms “inbound marketing” and “outbound marketing.” But what do they really mean?
Outbound Marketing Explained
Often referred to as interruption-based marketing, outbound marketing that's initiated by a business and broadcast to a wide audience. The goal of this type of marketing is to capture the attention of anyone and everyone to generate interest in your product or service.
Outbound marketing can take many forms. In years past, the most common forms were TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and direct mail. More recent forms of outbound marketing include webinars, emails, sponsorships/events and online ads of all types.
Today, outbound marketing has become increasingly disruptive. For example, maybe you get a cold call on your personal phone or at work, see a commercial during your favorite television show or an ad pops up as you're conducting online research. For many, outbound marketing is frustrating.
And as a result of this frustration, caller IDs, online ad blockers and (most) email accounts, including Gmail, are automatically filtering out emails that are promotional, so you can easily choose to ignore them. Case in point:
Enter inbound marketing.
Inbound Marketing Explained
Inbound marketing is the opposite of outbound marketing. Instead of attempting to find customers, inbound marketing focuses on attracting, educating and empowering prospects using relevant content that guides them through a logical buyer's journey until they're ready to purchase your product or service.
Often referred to as permission-based marketing, inbound marketing can be powerful because it gives prospects the answers they're looking for when they need them. As a result, it empowers your prospects to consume information when and how it makes sense for them, which creates a system where prospects reach out to marketers, rather than the other way around.
Whether we're aware of it or not, most of us have moved through an inbound marketing buyer's journey.
For example, let’s say that your lawn is in poor condition, so you Google “Lawn Care Tips." One of the top search engine results is an article titled “Top 10 Tips for a Healthy Lawn” by ABC Lawncare. Since it seems to address your pain point, you click through to the blog and read it. This is the beginning of an inbound marketing buyer's journey. ABC Lawncare is addressing your pain point by providing helpful educational content right when you need it. To push you through the buyer's journey, this blog may contain a call-to-action that leads to a "Request a Free Lawncare Consultation" landing page by filling out a simple form.
Even aside from blog posts, calls-to-action and landing pages with forms, inbound marketing tactics are diverse. Some other common tactics include guides, whitepapers, landing pages, social media posts and videos.
It's Not a Case of Inbound Vs. Outbound Marketing – It's Inbound Marketing Plus Outbound Marketing
There's certainly not a lack of articles online comparing outbound and inbound marketing. As our collective buying behavior has evolved over the years, it's no secret that outbound marketing methods have become less and less effective. However, when they're coupled with an inbound marketing campaign, they should become that much more effective.
Here are some of the ways inbound marketing can complement and improve your outbound marketing tactics:
Inbound Marketing Can Bolster Your Event Presence
Marketing events have been a very common outbound marketing tactic for years, but they may be losing their effectiveness. This is because just showing up to the event and setting up a table isn't enough anymore. Your marketing events, whether they be trade shows, seminars, lunch 'n' learns, etc., won't be nearly as successful without incorporating inbound marketing. Here are just a few ways you can incorporate inbound marketing into your event strategy to bolster your presence:
- Use social media to promote your presence before, during and after an event. If you have a booth, share information about the giveaways or raffles happening at your table. You can also let people know where to find you and what they can learn from stopping by. Be sure to take a lot of great photos and use an event hashtag in your posts. If a hashtag doesn't already exist, create your own.
- At your booth, encourage people to sign up to receive more information from you. This will enable you to connect with individuals after events and direct them back to your website.
- Send a follow-up email to every new event contact. These follow-up emails should also include links to pieces of content that are relevant and valuable to them.
Inbound Marketing Can Inform Outbound Messaging
Another great way that inbound and outbound can work together is by using inbound to inform follow-up communications. For example, let’s say someone fills out a form on a landing page and downloads a piece of content. Your sales team gains immediate insight into what type of information this prospect is interested in, so they can now reach out with more targeted messaging.
As the conversation with sales continues, the prospect may communicate several additional pain points—but not yet be ready to make a purchase. To help address these pain points, the salesperson can offer additional content pieces that are relevant to their needs and continue to push them through the buyer's journey. Keep in mind, the more marketing and sales are aligned, the more effective this can be.
Inbound Marketing Can Be More Powerful When Used With Paid Media
Simply put, paid media is any type of marketing that is paid for. This includes radio placements, TV commercials, print ads and, more recently, social media ads, and pay-per-click (PPC). Using both paid media and inbound marketing allows you to boost your content.
For example, let’s say your PPC campaign leads a prospect to a landing page where they can download one of your offers. Or, maybe your company has a special offer and you run an ad in a print magazine and provide a URL to your website, which contains more information about the offer. These are a couple of ways paid media can be used to lead prospects back to your website so you can engage with them through inbound marketing.
There's no doubt that inbound and outbound marketing work well together. Inbound brings prospects to you, while outbound brings you to prospects. There are benefits to both, and, when you use the two methodologies simultaneously you can take your marketing to the next level.