These days, there are two main types of marketing.
There’s the kind that consists of standing in the middle of the room abrasively screaming at the top of your lungs, “HEY, LOOK AT ME!” over and over, no matter who is (or isn’t) listening.
And then there’s the type of marketing that resembles chilling at the help desk, answering questions and enjoying casual conversation with lost and confused visitors. In contrast, it’s the visitors who are doing the talking and they’re saying, “Oh, hey, there you are. I’ve been looking for you. I’m so glad I found you!”
That’s the difference between outbound marketing and inbound marketing, demanding attention vs. earning it by being helpful.
If you’re smart, like we know you are, then you know you need to be the business who’s chilling at the help desk waiting patiently to be discovered by people who are interested in whatever it is you can provide them.
Knowing this, and realizing that screaming for attention isn’t working anymore, is probably why you’re here. You may have come about this blog post because you were unclear on the difference between inbound and outbound marketing (concepts that might be new to you) so you went looking for answers. This post getting discovered and being read is a great example of how inbound marketing works.
Now, let’s talk about the more literal definitions of inbound marketing and outbound marketing…
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is focused on getting found by customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful, not interruptive. Not interruptive — that’s important, write that down. Potential customers discover your business through various types of content such as blogs, social media posts, ebooks, infographics, etc.
This content speaks to the problems and needs of your ideal customers and ultimately builds trust and credibility for your business. Inbound marketing is customer-centric.
What is outbound marketing?
Outbound marketing is the traditional marketing you know as radio, television, trade shows, newspapers, billboards, cold calling, intrusive advertising, and direct mail. Hence the ‘out’ part — because marketers are pushing their messages out far and wide and they’re repeating the same message over and over to everyone, usually without a plan.
Once the ad is run or the mailer is sent, that’s essentially the end of the relationship. The success is short term and you have little to no idea if it worked or not. Outbound marketing is business-centric, and it’s not working anymore.
So, why isn’t outbound marketing working anymore?
Consumers nowadays have the ability to know everything about a product or service and competing products or services at their fingertips. They have more choice than ever over what content they consume and they’re less tolerant of outbound marketing and traditional advertising than ever before.
They’re getting good at figuring out ways to block it out, too (caller id, spam filtering, satellite radio, ad blockers, etc.). Take a look at these stats:
- 419 million people worldwide have installed an ad blocker on their smartphone. (PageFair, 2015)
- 4 out of 5 of people have left a webpage because of a pop-up or autoplaying video ad. (Hubspot, 2017)
- And don’t even get us started on television — 94% of all consumers actually skip TV ads completely. (Hubspot, 2016)
This shift in content consumption is forcing businesses to adapt and create new ways of reaching their customers. With inbound strategies, you earn the interest of readers by creating high-quality content that answers their questions and fulfills their needs. 80% of business decision makers favor getting brand information via an article series more than ads.
Better yet, inbound marketing is 100% trackable, meaning that you can test it out, see what works best for you and your business, adjust, and make even better business decisions for the future.
And speaking of making better business decisions — did you know the cost of 3 out of 4 inbound marketing channels is less than the cost of any one outbound marketing channel? Furthermore, properly executed inbound marketing tactics are 10 times more effective for lead conversion compared to outbound methods. (Hubspot, 2017)
Would you rather spend a lot of money on a direct mail piece that’s forgotten the moment it hits the garbage can, or create valuable digital content that can grow organically and offer the opportunity to exponentially reach new audiences?
If you answered the latter, then it sounds like you’re ready to start rethinking your marketing strategy. And if that’s the case, you should check out this post, too: It’s time to rethink your digital marketing from the ground, up.