What is the Difference between Inbound and Outbound Marketing?

As a marketer and copywriter, I’m almost ashamed to say that my job comes with quite a lot of corporate jargon and buzzwords. I hate these and will generally shy away from them when discussing a marketing strategy with a client but it’s impossible to avoid them altogether.

Skyscraper techniques, blue sky thinking and laser focus are all examples of terms that will be forgotten tomorrow but are bandied around offices as if they’re the invention of the wheel.

There are, however, some marketing terms that aren’t buzzwords. Phrases that we need to differentiate one strategy from another. Examples of this include the two key phrases, inbound and outbound marketing.

You will have heard the phrases but what do they mean?

There are many definitions on the web but they seem to tell the same story without substance. In short, they seem to waffle, leaving a confusing mess behind. Really, it’s quite simple.

Inbound marketing focuses on the customer journey

Outbound marketing focus on the customer conversion

Breaking Down the Inbound and Outbound

Outbound marketing still has a place in the world and on the web. You see it every day with Pop Ups, PPC, Adverts, Texts and all the other annoying methods that usually interrupt something you were enjoying.

The outbound methods do work, if the offer is good enough. For example. The promise of 50% off may just override the annoyance a customer feels when being interrupted while browsing the web.

The offer usually has to be generous, loud, and brash with a time limit and a promise it won’t be found anywhere else.

Outbound marketers know you will forget as soon as you click or flick away so they need you to act straight away.

They are not concerned about the 95% of people they’ve turned off by rudely interrupting an otherwise enjoyable experience, their focus is on the potential 5% that could lead to a conversion.

The premise is, if you target enough people, even a 1% conversion will bring the big bucks, and it does, but at what cost? I’d say, hatred, annoyance, a vow to never shop there again.

Inbound marketing targets those who have given permission to be contacted. It’s a smaller demographic but they are already receptive to the message. They’re expecting you and will probably give a warm welcome as they’ve signed up to your newsletter, emails or beacon notifications.

The inbound marketer makes a customer feel like more than a cash cow, they make the customer feel valued while delivering a real user experience on every level. They don’t seem to concentrate on conversion, instead they concentrate on bringing people to a place they want to be, and letting them make their own minds up, hoping for sales through consumer loyalty.

Does it work? Yes.

The older generation, especially sales teams are probably shouting at me right now. How can you not concentrate on conversions? Are you mad?

I said, “It seems to not concentrate on conversions”, obviously like any marketing, the analytics are constantly monitored and altered to ensure the maximum conversion possible while still making the customer feel valued.

Are Beacon Notifications Outbound Marketing?

Beacon technology is on the rise and is not to be confused with the less sophisticated push notifications. If you are a business on a beacon APP like BrandStreet, the APP will have gained the permission of the user before sending out your notifications. Therefor, beacon notifications aren’t considered to be outbound marketing.

Why is Inbound Marketing Better?

As you are targeting those who are receptive your offers don’t need to be quite as generous. You’ll also find that consumer loyalty goes a long way to increasing those profits.

  • The average basket value will increase
  • Your customers will want to share your content, unless you’re the Steven Spielberg of advertising, it’s highly unlikely they’ll want to share your outbound efforts
  • You will be known as a resource, a valuable source of advice
  • The lifetime value of a customer will increase
  • Customers will be more likely to return
  • Customers will be more likely to read or view what you want them to.

Does this Mean the Death of Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing isn’t over. There is still a place for it and if you have an unlimited marketing budget you could enjoy some good returns from it.

When used intelligently, it can blend with inbound marketing to really boost a campaign but from my own point of view I would suggest concentrating on that relationship.

Where to Start with Inbound Marketing

If you’ve been used to shelling out on PPC, adverts and retargeting, the step into inbound marketing may seem strange. Firstly, you need to know your brand and how it appears to your customers. You need a brand personality that is ready to make new friends.

That of course is another article but starting with a blog is a great way to begin, as you can collect new subscribers and carve yourself out a presence and name in your industry.

See my next post on Moz, due out soon on How to Write a Blog that Makes Customers Come Back Again and Again.

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