Both inbound and outbound marketing aim to propel your business into wider recognisability. Inbound marketing is more organic, and includes opt-in services like email lists or content marketing. Oppositely, outbound marketing utilises more ‘forceful’ methods such as cold calling or email spam, and is seen as a much more abrasive way of marketing.
So, which one’s better? Join us as we explore both types of marketing, including examples and reasons why you may decide to choose one over the other. By the end of this article, you should be able to differentiate them with ease, and choose which one is best for your business! We’ll give you enough information to start using them yourself, too.
What’s outbound marketing?
We’ve already dedicated a whole blog post to inbound marketing, but we’ll explain what outbound marketing is right here. In simple terms, it’s a marketing strategy in which a potential customer is directly targeted by business communications, through adverts, cold calling, email spam or similar methods.
Outbound marketing is seen as one of the earliest marketing methods, having been used widely since its inception, and is a way for businesses to physically push their message out, directly to consumers. However, outbound marketing’s history may be contributing to its recent ineffectiveness, due to just how invasive it is.
Many people nowadays will ignore outbound marketing attempts, such as declining phone calls or deleting emails without reading them. Also, ad blockers, caller ID, spam filtering and other methods of refusing outbound marketing have now been implemented for email, phone, internet and other formats.
Outbound marketing strategies
Cold emails refer to the soulless, ‘[insert name here]’ template emails sent to a customer. Often sent regardless of whether a potential customer will be interested, they are mass-produced and sent along to a massive list of people. Many will immediately click ‘delete’ without reading, leaving them ineffective, but some companies will make more personalised ones to tantalise people into reading. It’s time-consuming to write them by hand, but expensive to curate a list of recipients.
Direct mail, such as leaflets through a person’s letterbox, have about equal chances of being tossed or leading to a purchase decision. Some companies have trialled intuitive items, like pamphlets or envelopes containing offers or discount codes, which tend to do better than a plain leaflet. Although this form of direct marketing seems like it should be extremely effective, often it’s costly for a company, with little return.
Social media is an inbound strategy, but paid social media is an outbound strategy. That single word makes all the difference – rather than posts or stories, paid social media such as targeted adverts tend to have more success. Although we’ve been bashing outbound marketing (sorry!), this is probably where it shines most, with the power to boost reach and increase brand awareness. Depending on the package a company uses, it can also be relatively low-cost, but you have to factor in graphic design costs to make an effective advert.
Problems with outbound marketing
One of the more glaring issues with outbound marketing is its age – whilst marketing has continually evolved and changed, outbound marketing has stayed relatively the same. Cold calls still happen, even if it’s by databases of phone numbers instead of the yellow pages – and people have since moved on.
The second problem with more traditional forms of outbound marketing is the potential brand impact it could have. If your marketing strategy essentially consists of annoying prospects, you might put them off buying from you in the future.
Inbound vs outbound marketing
Inbound marketing is a more organic way of promoting your business. Customers find their own way to your business through created content. Then, thanks to your helpful content, they are more likely become paying customers, and eventually your best promoters. Why? Credibility and trust. Inbound marketing positions your business as the knowledgable source of information in your industry (people understand that you know your stuff, and trust you more).
Often, when outbound marketing is done correctly, it garners immediate results. With the information presented directly to them, customers can make snap decisions on whether or not they’re going to purchase something. Doing research might mean they decide against buying at all, or even worse, choose a competitor to buy from!
However, outbound marketing can be easily ignored, as it doesn’t have the same striking factor as inbound marketing. Mostly, outbound marketing is concerned with how the business comes across, focusing on shiny new adverts instead of directly appealing to the customers. All in all, deciding which one to use for your company may take a little bit of thinking!
Well, there you have it. That article was all about the differences between inbound and outbound marketing. We covered some advantages and disadvantages of the method, including their effectiveness, best use cases and more. We hope we’ve given you something to think about!