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Graphic of a woman using a megaphone to talk about outbound vs inbound marketing

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: Why Your Business Benefits With Inbound

Melanie Locke
March 2, 2021

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Like most fields of business or study, the marketing world is vast. There are numerous methodologies that marketers use to speak to an audience. There are buzzwords and acronyms used to describe everything from a button on your website to your business metrics. And there are countless marketers with different titles and job responsibilities creating strategies and promoting companies across the country and world. 

If you boil it down, marketing is the sharing of information. Businesses, organizations, and individuals use marketing to share information about products, services, and content. How you convey that information is where marketing methodologies differ. There are two broad categories of sharing marketing information about your business — the outbound way and the inbound way. 

What is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing involves strategically placing products, advertisements (take a look at these top ads), or businesses in front of an audience. Oftentimes, these efforts are continuous and repetitive in order to see engagement. Outbound marketing is based on the idea of pushing out information to an audience.

Outbound marketing includes:

  • Cold-calling
  • Trade shows
  • Radio commercials
  • Television commercials
  • Billboards
  • Print advertisements

Your audience when outbound marketing may be targeted — like an ad in a women’s magazine designed for middle-aged women interested in home decor. Or an outbound audience may be vast and all-inclusive, like a billboard in Times Square. Whatever the size or strategy behind choosing an audience, the point is to push information out to capture attention and interest, even if that audience is not already looking for you.

Outbound marketing is also known as interruption marketing, where you’re interrupting your viewer’s attention with a product or service offering or advertisement. Outbound marketing methods can be a useful tool to help you reach new audiences, promote a new product, or sell your services to leads who have shown an interest in your product or industry (trade shows are a great example of this). 

What is Inbound Marketing? 

The inbound marketing methodology uses valuable, strategic content to pull leads in. It relies on leads doing their own research before making buying decisions and positioning your content accordingly. 

Inbound marketing methods include:

  • Webinars
  • Ebooks
  • Informational videos
  • Blogging
  • Infographics
  • Website copy
  • Social media
  • Email newsletters
  • Etc.

Similarly to outbound marketing, your audience for inbound marketing can be specialized or vast. The difference with inbound marketing is that your audience needs to be well-defined in order to create your marketing materials. Inbound marketing relies on your leads finding you, which means that you need to know which leads you're talking to before you start putting words on a page. 

Inbound marketing methodologies also rely on positioning your content where it can be found by leads. In this digital age, that means optimizing your website so that your copy and content can be found by search engines. Your marketing strategy needs to include keyword and phrase research to ensure that your inbound marketing efforts are reaching your desired audience. 

The inbound approach is a more holistic way to tackle your marketing and see customer engagement. Instead of creating single campaigns or advertisements to promote your business externally, you’re building your business from the inside out. That means that every new piece of content you create is part of your inbound ecosystem and can be used in paid advertising, on social media, in newsletters, and as part of your lead generation machine (your website). The more valuable content you have, the more opportunities you have for cross-promotion, search engine ranking, and to walk your leads through their buyer’s journey. 

Which Marketing Style is Right for Your Business? 

You might not be surprised to hear that the answer is both. Both inbound and outbound marketing strategies can boost your marketing success. Both methodologies can pull in leads and help convert them into customers. And both styles of marketing rely on each other — we’re an inbound marketing agency who utilizes outbound methods like paid search advertising to get in front of our leads. 

So the question isn’t which style is the only method that’s right for your business. It’s which marketing style is best suited to your business needs. And that’s where inbound marketing pulls ahead. 

Inbound Digital Marketing

Our world has become intensely digital. Even in-person businesses are expected to have a presence online. Digital and subscription-based services are becoming a new norm. Consumers are making buying decisions from start to finish without ever leaving their homes. Doing business in this modern age means having an online presence that’s as robust as your in-person stores, and a website that does as much work as your best salesperson. 

Where outbound advertising like billboards, commercials, and magazine ads may have brought leads into your business in the past, modern-day buyers are much more technologically-savvy. They’re not paying much attention to the outbound efforts that clutter our everyday lives. Instead, they’re looking products or services up on their phones, asking Alexa to add products to their carts, and making buying decisions based on what they can find in a Google search.

Inbound marketing takes advantage of this digital age to pull leads in with content that speaks to their research, questions, and pain points. You customers are smart, and they have more power online than ever before. If you’re not making sure your digital footprint is the polished diamond at the center of your marketing efforts, you’re missing out on leads, customers, and opportunities.

But inbound methods alone leave holes in your marketing strategy that outbound methods can fill. Use your outbound tools to reach new audiences and drive them towards your inbound machine (your website). Even when utilizing outbound methods in your digital marketing, you need strong inbound content behind your outbound efforts to support the products, services, or offer you’re presenting. 

If a lead clicks on your outbound ad and arrives at a website with very little content to answer any questions, concerns, or clarifications they have, they’re likely to bounce right back off of your website. They’ll go back to what they were doing before you caught their attention and you’ve lost a lead. Instead, let your strategic inbound content guide your lead along their journey towards conversion. 

Inbound and outbound methodologies can work together to create comprehensive marketing campaigns and strategies. But if you have to choose a marketing avenue to steer your company towards, inbound methodologies can help you build a strong content foundation to power all your other tricks and tools. 

Dive Deeper into Inbound Marketing

As an inbound digital marketing agency, we talk about inbound a lot. Which means we have more content you can take a look at, listen to, or read. (See what we did there. The inbound approach )

The Ins and Outs of Inbound Marketing: A blog post about, you guessed it, the ins and outs of what it really means to create an inbound marketing strategy.

The Cost of Inbound: We all know marketing campaigns take money. Here’s where we talk about what it costs to run your inbound marketing.

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