Rather than comparing inbound and outbound marketing, companies should combine these two approaches in their strategy. This will allow them to shape their messaging according to the needs of their target audience, and get more customers on-board.
Which is better, an inbound or an outbound marketing strategy?
This is often a question that surfaces in marketing discussions. And most of the time, inbound marketing emerges as the winner. In this digital age, inbound marketing is said to be more effective and efficient than an outbound approach. Outbound marketing or the traditional style of using television, print ads or direct mail to pitch your company can turn away your audience, and is often costly. Thus, inbound marketing appears as an ideal alternative.
But what exactly is inbound marketing?
With inbound marketing, companies use helpful or interesting content to gain the attention of their audience. Content can be presented in the form of blogs, videos or eBooks. Your content may help solve your prospect’s problem, or provide them with insight on a topic that they wanted to learn about. This can encourage your audience to begin interacting with your company. For instance, a topic you tackled in a blog is further explained in your eBook. You can offer your audiences a chance to download the eBook in exchange for providing their contact details in a sign-up form. Those who signed up can give you a glimpse on who is interested with your business. Engage them and be responsive to their questions, and eventually they are more likely to purchase your products or services.
What makes inbound marketing better than outbound is that it is a smarter approach in attracting customers to your business. Instead of constantly bombarding your audience with ads, you allow them to decide on whether or not to interact with your company. This can help you win their interest and their trust, and turn your prospects into customers. As a result, your client base will continuously expand, and promote sustainable growth for your company.
Furthermore, inbound marketing is generally cost-effective, especially with the medium that is used to distribute content. Posting blogs or videos online costs nothing, as compared to placing ads on TV or newspapers. However, these online posts can continue to draw in prospects long after you have created them. In addition, you can track the return on investment of the content that you post to know which of them is the most effective. This will allow you to refine your strategy, become more efficient and maximise your investment on content.
Does this mean we should abandon outbound marketing all together?
Not exactly. In fact, some principles of outbound marketing can enrich your inbound approach, especially on maximising the impact of content. Drawing from the same messages pasted on billboards, posters and print ads, you can also repurpose pieces of content when they are relevant to current events. This will save you time on content creation while making the most out of your previous work. The emphasis of outbound marketing on branding is useful too. Make your brand unique through interesting colour schemes and fonts, and use these in creating your content. This will leave a lasting impression on your prospects and help you stand out.
Furthermore, you may need to combine outbound and inbound approaches to fully address the diverse needs of your potential customers. For instance, some of your target audience may prefer reading blogs to learn about your business, while others appreciate posters or print ads. Depending on the nuances of your target demographic, you may need to blend inbound and outbound techniques for your marketing plan to be on point.
In fact, it is helpful to combine both approaches in the event where your inbound marketing has moved past its peak. Using an outbound method, partner with third-party media sources that can send your message across a wider audience. When they provide you data about your prospective customers, analyse it with the use of integrated marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This will help you in identifying qualified leads, as well as for computing the return of investment (ROI) of your marketing strategy.
Two is better than one
So, we cannot simply say that inbound marketing is better than outbound, or vice versa. We need to assess how they can complement each other to improve our overall strategy and drive business growth. Thanks to technology, inbound and outbound approaches can peacefully coexist in social lead targeting. This includes using automated technology to search the social web and identify the attributes of your ideal customers; including their industry, work functions, blog postings and the forums that they have participated. Using this social web profile, you can determine the people that will likely be interested with your business, and contact them or send them ads. Through their profile, you can also create content that is highly relevant to their needs or their interests.
One such company that gained from using social lead targeting is graphic design company Visually. In one of its early attempts in marketing, the “growth hacking team” at the enterprise used their intuition to identify potential customers. This approach did not fare well, so the company tried its hand at social lead targeting. Visually used automated search technology to analyse its customer base. Eventually, it was able to identify the characteristics of its ideal client, and create a profile. When it is considering doing business with other companies, Visually checks if they possess these attributes and if they match the profile. As a result, its outbound sales grew by 250%.
What we can learn from this experience is that outbound and inbound approaches can work together, instead of being pitted against each other. With technology, both of them can be used to enhance the marketing strategy, reach out to the right customers and drive business growth.