Suppose you have ever been in charge of developing or implementing your company’s marketing strategy or working in a digital marketing agency. In that case, the terms inbound marketing and outbound marketing are bound to be familiar to you.
These two methods are today the two major pivots of the marketing universe, which include multiple subsets, such as content marketing, advertising, search marketing, marketing automation, social media, and many others. Tactics.
When setting up a marketing strategy, it is straightforward to get overwhelmed by the infinite possibilities offered by the different techniques available, which have been multiplied in particular by the rise of digital technology. The challenge is to find effective marketing solutions that will enable your company to achieve its objectives and ensure its growth.
Should you focus your communication efforts on creating new signage for your point of sale? Or, instead, seek to meet prospects at a significant event or trade fair for your sector of activity? Or opt for the development of a marketing strategy exclusively focused on digital?
The two major marketing concepts we will analyze and compare in the rest of this article each have advantages and disadvantages. We will also see concrete examples of applications for each method, inbound marketing and outbound marketing.
But to begin, it is necessary to define the terms.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing — or “inbound” marketing — aims to attract prospects, users, and potential customers to your products and services.
In 2022, the vast majority of your prospects are researching products online, and it’s believed that in the United States, for example, up to 65% of consumers begin their buying journey online.
They start by looking directly for products and services but also for content that may answer their main questions and help them solve a problem or a challenge.
As such, your content should explain to your users and prospects how your products or services can solve their problems by answering key questions.
There are many tools and means to put your inbound marketing strategy into action, depending on where your prospects are in the sales funnel: attraction phase, engagement phase, and seduction phase:
- Video content
- social media
- Content strategy
- email marketing
- lead management
- White Papers/Guides
- Email marketing
- marketing automation
All the content elements you will use to implement your inbound marketing strategy must also differentiate your product from the competition.
It is an excellent idea to integrate product comparisons and testimonials from satisfied customers to display the competitiveness of your offer in terms of price, as well as favorable opinions from experts, for example, in your podcast or your publications, on social networks.
It is essential to remember that inbound marketing is a methodology focused on growing businesses through establishing meaningful and lasting relationships with consumers, prospects, and customers.
It’s about empowering and empowering these people to achieve their goals at any stage of their journey with you. So your potential customers need to receive messaging and content that matches the different stages of their journey. Buying journey.
A concrete example of an inbound marketing strategy
Suppose a person is looking for new marketing software to manage customer relationships, for example.
First, she will undoubtedly enter the keywords “best CRM tools” in the main search engines to explore the offer on the CRM market.
The first organic result might be a blog post showcasing the top 10 CRM solutions clearly and unbiasedly. After reading the article, this person, who is on the way to becoming a lead, will probably want to know more about the world of CRMs and how this type of tool can help increase their sales in the part of a defined digital marketing strategy.
In principle, at the end of the blog article, a link invites the reader to register for a webinar, the objective of which is to present the operation of CRM software in detail.
Interested leads will therefore click on the link, then enter their name and email address to access the content offered by the CRM brand that manages the blog, including the webinar above.
By attending the webinar, leads will wonder how companies like theirs can use and implement these types of tools. This is when the CRM brand should send them a follow-up email with case studies that show how one of their clients effectively used their CRM software to boost their conversion rates and get a significant return on investment, for example.
This should encourage leads to request a product demo with a sales representative. At this point, leads are already 90% confident that the product works and can meet their needs.
The appointment with a representative must be the final touch that will lead to a deal.
The main advantages of inbound marketing
As we will see, inbound marketing has several advantages that can help your business build an effective and growth-enhancing marketing strategy:
- Inbound marketing is not an intrusive marketing technique. Prospects can read your blog posts or attend a webinar in their spare time whenever they want.
- The content offered by inbound marketing is educational and has high added value. They are specifically designed for each stage of your sales funnel.
- Inbound marketing delivers quantifiable results. With today’s technology, you can track key performance indicators for your strategy, quickly see what’s working and what’s not, and adjust your initial plan accordingly.
- Your website and its content are continually updated, so inbound marketing continues to generate leads over time without interruption.
The limits of inbound marketing
Inbound marketing is only sometimes the most suitable strategy for all companies.
There are indeed a few downsides to focusing solely on digital content:
- Inbound marketing requires ongoing maintenance. It’s about ensuring your content always meets consumers’ ever-changing wants and needs.
- Inbound marketing takes a lot of time and effort. Developing and testing different types of content meant to drive customers to conversion can be time-consuming.
- Inbound marketing requires the implementation of a global marketing strategy. You will need to acquire and use different tools and software to implement integrated and cross-channel campaigns, but also measure your results for improvement.
What is outbound marketing?
Outbound marketing is a marketing technique that aims to send a message to many people hoping to make a sale.
This strategy is rooted in the idea that the larger the group you are messaging to, the greater the return will be.
Outbound marketing is often associated with the following traditional marketing techniques:
- Sending mail
- Telephone canvassing
However, outbound marketing can also be applied to more modern technologies, such as PPC (pay-per-click) advertising and unsolicited email (spam).
Most of the time, consumers either need to learn about the advertised product or look for it.
Prospects can therefore watch television or browse a website and be interrupted by an advertisement explaining why they should buy a particular product.
A concrete example of an outbound marketing strategy
The average person sees a billboard for a local furniture store on their way to work. His couch is starting to get old, but he isn’t thinking any further just yet.
A few days later, he sees the same advertisement for the same furniture store while reading his local newspaper. This makes him think, but nothing more.
A month later, he finds a discount coupon offered by the furniture store that launched the advertising campaign in his mailbox. It just happens to be the end of the month, and he just got paid. So he thinks it’s a good time to change the sofa, and he goes to the store to buy a new couch.
None of the ads referred to a couch, and he wasn’t necessarily looking to buy one right away. However, with the recurrence of advertisements, this person finally turned his attention to a need that did not initially concern him.
The main advantages of outbound marketing
- Outbound marketing promotes brand awareness. This strategy can help your business reach people who have never heard of your products or services.
- Outbound marketing can yield immediate results. People interested in your products and services are likely to purchase immediately after being exposed to one of your advertisements.
- Outbound marketing is a communication technique to which consumers are accustomed. They know they will see advertisements on their favorite newspaper or television pages, and they instinctively trust these advertisements more than those presented to them on digital media.
The limits of outbound marketing
Outbound marketing has a few drawbacks:
- Outbound marketing is generally expensive. For example, you will need to buy advertising space for your campaigns and banner ads, consider travel costs and fees to participate in trade shows, etc.
- Outbound marketing is an overall communication strategy. Therefore, making your outbound marketing action attractive, original, and relevant for all consumers is difficult.
- It’s easy for consumers to ignore outbound marketing tactics, such as muting their TV during commercial breaks or automatically discarding their junk mail.
- Measuring the effectiveness of an outbound marketing type campaign is relatively complex, especially compared to the possibilities offered by inbound marketing in this area.
What are the main differences between internal and external marketing?
So there are several significant differences between inbound marketing and outbound marketing.
Outbound marketing involves proactively contacting consumers to interest them in a product.
In contrast, inbound marketing focuses on creating and distributing content to attract leads to your website.
Outbound marketing generally takes a more aggressive and broader approach and relies on the fact that at least a tiny proportion of the exposed audience will convert.
Inbound marketing is usually more subtle and aims to convince a particular group of individuals to make a purchase step by step.
Outbound marketing consists of sending a message on a large scale, while inbound marketing is a technique that favors a very targeted approach.
At least some people are likely to convert through your outbound marketing efforts, but it often comes with a high acquisition cost.
Thanks to a flawlessly developed inbound marketing strategy, you can hope to attract prospects who will have a good chance of converting, and you can also estimate the ROI of your actions and campaigns more precisely.