Inbound Marketing versus Outbound Marketing. What is the difference?

Let’s start with the more traditional, Outbound marketing. Outbound marketing is about a conscious act to get out in front of a target audience for the purposes of trying to generate direct sales. Any content is written to sell, involves one-way communication and disrupts the content that is being consumed at the time. This can take the form of:

  • TV advertising
  • Radio advertising
  • Billboards
  • Newspaper and magazine advertising
  • Cold calls
  • Pop-up internet ads.

The problem with Outbound marketing is that it is largely more general with its messaging and people can feel bombarded with ads and become dismissive of them. There are often ways in which this type of marketing can be avoided by the consumer.

So, what is Inbound marketing? It is about being visible and attracting attention when people are searching for answers. The content attracts people, can solve questions and potentially interact with readers. The content is specific to a particular audience. It is all about drawing people into the business. Both SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and Google AdWords can be used to draw attention to the content. The content can take the form of:

  • Blogs
  • eBooks
  • Social Media posts
  • Website content.

How can Inbound marketing work? A person might undertake an online search to find out the best vacuum cleaner on the market. In the results they go to your blog to read about the “5 things to watch out for when buying a vacuum cleaner”. The information is useful, so they then welcome your follow up email providing them with more information. They are now in your sales funnel and through a series of planned steps, you can potentially sell to them.

The content for Inbound marketing can be separated into steps or categories, often described as a funnel. At the top of the funnel, the content is about creating awareness and often takes the form of blog articles. The purpose of these is to address an issue and should not include an overt sales pitch.

At the middle of the funnel, people are not ready to buy, but they are engaged. Content provided at this stage can take the form of e-books and webinars. The information is generally more technical and can include a sales pitch.

At the bottom of the funnel, people are close to buying. At this stage, the content can include case studies, demonstrations, free trials and so on.  The push for the sale at this stage is high!

Inbound marketing involves creating valuable content, along with a staged strategy so it generally requires a great deal more effort than most outbound marketing, done right however, it can be a valuable addition to your marketing arsenal!

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