You’ve no doubt heard the terms Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing banded about, particularly if you work within the marketing industry. But what do these terms actually mean and how do they relate to your business strategy and business goals?
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound Marketing is a relatively new methodology, first coined by Hubspot CEO Brian Halligan in 2005. In contrast to the “hard sell” Inbound Marketing focuses on attracting customers by providing valuable content and tailored experiences to the right people, at the right time. This methodology was founded on the basis that disruptive, hard selling techniques, are no longer effective. The truth is people don’t want to be sold to anymore and why would we? With a multitude of choices at our fingertips and access to recommendations and feedback from people we know, the power is now in the hands of the buyers and not the sellers.
The Inbound Marketing methodology is centered around this shift in buyer behaviour. It focuses on creating a positive experience at each stage of the buyers’ journey, attracting, engaging and delighting your customers, who will then go and spread the word about your brand.
So, what types of content can you use to attract customers?
The best content to entice your audience will vary from industry to industry and from business to business. Generally speaking, valuable content usually takes the form of ebooks, white-papers, blog posts, video tutorials, software demos, free downloads, subscriptions, or any other type of content considered valuable by your target customer. You also need to put into practice a promotional strategy to ensure your audience can find the content. There are many different ways of achieving this, including targeted blog posts, social media promotion and paid search to name a few.
Targeting the different stages in the buyers’ journey
Your Inbound Marketing needs to target your buyers at each stage of their journey. Buyer A may be in the process of researching solutions to their problem, where-as Buyer B may already know the solution and is ready to buy. No matter which stage your buyer is at, you need to attract them with the right content resources at the right time. There are no hard and fast rules, but certain types of content tend to work better at particular stages in the journey.
By targeting your buyers during the awareness stage, you can assist them in finding out more information about their specific problem or opportunity. By reaching out during the consideration stage, you can help the buyer to identify the different solutions available to solve their problem and evaluate which are most suitable for their particular needs. By the decision stage the customer has decided which approach they will be taking and is ready to buy. Reach out to them at this stage to show them the value in your solution and how it will meet their needs.
What is Outbound Marketing?
Before the digital revolution Outbound Marketing was really the only type of marketing available and was simply referred to as “marketing”. The concept of Outbound Marketing is disruptive by nature, reaching out to as many people as possible (even if they don’t want to be reached) with the hope of snagging a few. Most methods of Outbound Marketing generate negative feelings and emotions. TV Adverts disrupting the best part in your favourite show, cold callers or door to door sales people calling while you’re eating dinner, sales agents flogging energy contracts when you visit the supermarket. Any form of marketing which “pushes” its message out to you, is Outbound Marketing. Online this includes display ads, popup ads and contextual ads, which are now far less effective than they once were. This is mainly due to people becoming immune to this type of online advertising and largely ignoring it.
Which Marketing Strategy will work best for you?
There is no doubt that the new digital landscape has changed marketing forever. Methods that were once seen as the holy grail of marketing, are no longer as effective as they once were. And this isn’t just my opinion, we have the statistics to back this up:
- 91% of email users unsubscribe from a mailing list they were previously opted into
- 86% of people skip TV adverts
- 44% of people ignore direct mail
- 84% of 25 to 34 year olds have left a favourite website because of intrusive marketing
With the decline in effectiveness of Outbound Marketing, we are now seeing an increase in the popularity of, and investment in, Inbound Marketing. Inbound Marketing is proven in its effectiveness in today’s digital world. Consider the following statistics:
- Inbound Marketing costs 62% less per lead than Outbound Marketing
- Per £ spent Inbound Marketing generates 3 times as many leads as Outbound Marketing
- 60% of people seek out a product after reading content about it
- Businesses who prioritize blogging are 13 times more likely to see a positive ROI
- 47% of buyers read 3 to 5 pieces of content about a product or service before contacting the company
- 91% of consumers will reward brands for authenticity
- 70% of consumers want to learn about a product though content rather than advertisements
The effectiveness of Inbound and Outbound Marketing methods will vary from business to business and it is always the best strategy to look through your data and find out what’s working and what isn’t. That said, the trend is definitely moving towards a more helpful, resourceful and reliable form of marketing, as the data suggests that this is what modern consumers want.
Trust is also a big issue in the modern digital landscape, and its hardly surprising – with fake news, questionable politics, and underhand business practices, consumer trust is at an all time low. This is why your business needs to be seen as a beacon of light – trustworthy, honest, resourceful and helpful. By following this methodology you can enhance your brand image and create a strong community of brand advocates ready to tell their friends and family about your business.