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The Inbound Marketing Revolution: Inbound vs Outbound Marketing - what’s the Difference, and what's it to you?

The marketing world has experienced something of a revolution over the past decade: Outbound Marketing, previously King of the domain, has been largely overthrown by Inbound Marketing, an adversary of smaller means and proportions, but equipped with great resolution and a far more sensible approach. It’s a case of David and Goliath; of carefully aimed slings opposite blind momentum; of Mind vs. Might...

Let’s cut through the hype to see what it’s all about!

What’s Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing, as explained by Hubspot’s Rick Burns represents the traditional marketing approach where “companies focus on finding customers. They use techniques that are poorly targeted and interrupt people, [such as] cold-calling, print advertising, T.V. advertising, junk mail, spam and trade shows.”

The problem with this approach is that it tends to be:

  1. Expensive. TV ads, print advertising, trade shows, etc require a big budget, which many smaller businesses simply can’t afford.
  2. Non-targeted. These mediums don’t have the means to target specific users beyond a very crude approximation (i.e. ‘X’ demographic is likely to watch ‘Z’ show) and so largely resort to bombarding a broad audience in the hope of hitting one or two members who’ll find the message relevant.
  3. Irritating. The whole concept of outbound marketing relies on getting in the way of people’s day-to-day activities to get noticed. At the root, it’s based around an inherent conflict of interests between the advertiser and his prospects, which isn’t the best way of getting off to a good start.

As a result, traditional Outbound Marketing techniques have been growing less-effective, with audiences finding the means to block them using tools like spam blockers, ad strippers, caller ID, etc.

What’s Inbound Marketing?

Inbound Marketing, on the other hand, “is marketing focused on getting found by customers” (again, quoting Hubspot). More than just a change in methodology, this indicates a radically different approach to marketing philosophy: instead of getting in the way of people and essentially forcing them to hear your message, Inbound Marketing is concerned with putting out value—through blogs, videos, eBooks, webinars, etc—that people will come upon in the course of doing their research, find helpful, and voluntarily proceed to interact with you.

This is a far more sensible approach that naturally resolves the aforementioned problems. It’s:

  1. Less expensive. Inbound Marketing effectively slices the cost per lead compared to Outbound Marketing—62%, to be precise. Here, creativity and dedication count more than deep pockets.
  2. Targeted. Since you get people who are already pursuing research related to your service or product, they’re more likely to be interested in hearing your message and becoming viable leads.
  3. Common interest. Instead of interrupting people in their daily activities, inbound marketing invites them of their own accord. There’s no conflict of interests, but rather a shared interest based on mutual benefaction. Rather than declaring war, here marketing is an act of trade.

As a result, Inbound Marketing can prove far more effective at generating qualified leads, especially for small businesses with limited resources but creativity and dedication in abundance.

What’s the bottom line?

While some may debate the question of Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing as a matter of semantics—or whether there even is a question—the fundamental shift in philosophy from push to pull or from interruption to interaction, is very real and welcomed. Traditional marketing didn’t set out to be a tyrant but rather became so by necessity; there simply wasn’t the technology back then to allow what the internet makes possible today. Perhaps in this respect Inbound Marketing is more an evolution than a revolution.

There’ll likely be a place for both as different businesses with varying means vie for a place in the sun, but it’s the degree to which each will embrace the newly emerged philosophy that will determine the ultimate success of future marketing campaigns—big or small, micro or macro, Inbound or Outbound.

For an example of how the latter has already embraced this principle one needs look no further than the latest blockbuster—product placements in TV and Film are a subtler form of Outbound marketing that isn’t based on interruption. They may not offer as much value to prospects as a blog or a video, but they also aren't so intrusive as to turn them off.

For the rest of us though who can’t afford to get our face or product up there on the silver-screen, Inbound Marketing is probably a more feasible way to go.

Related Articles:

  1. 5 Tips to Help You Effectively Use Landing Pages to Generate More Qualified Leads
  2. Google’s New Direction: Content is King
  3. Google Panda Update: The Dawn of a New World Wide Web?
  4. Inbound Marketing University: a Great Resource for Small Business Owners
  5. Know Your Leads: A Look at How Call Stats Can Help Improve Your Marketing Performance

posted by Maty Grosman @ 7:37 AM