With marketers fighting to grab the attention of the clients, words like inbound and outbound marketing strategies are thrown around. Let’s see they mean and how can one leverage them to their aid.
What is Outbound Marketing?
As a consumer, one comes across outbound messages more than they realize. For instance, try to remember when you last saw a direct email, commercials, or banner ad?
Outbound marketing is the traditional school of marketing strategies. It follows a push methodology to deliver the marketer’s message in front of the audience in an interruptive manner. So, they rely on grabbing the viewers’ eyes while they are going on with their activities.
Primarily, the messages have a promotional tone to them and steer towards getting sales. These marketing tactics employ a linear one-way model of communication and do not give the audience any method of interacting with the message.
What is Inbound Marketing?
If you’ve interacted with materials like newsletters, SEO, blogs, social media, etc you’ve already explored many inbound marketing tools.
Inbound marketing on the other hand follows a different approach, it follows a new pull method. This aims to attract the audience to come to the marketer’s owned channels by will. Rather than having a noticeable sales pitch and messaging, value-driven content is created around the brand offers. This allows for the viewer to convert into a purchasing client.
Another facet of such a pull model is the two-way communication stream relayed by interactive comment. Here, users can engage and interact with the content and thus, the brand as well.
(Also Read: Inbound Marketing – A Comprehensive Guide)
Relationship between inbound and outbound marketing
Now that we know about the different strategies of marketing, let’s examine the relationship between the two.
The marketing world usually finds itself split in a heated debate about inbound vs outbound. We often find many a saying that outbound strategies are old school. So, they should be left in the past. Others argue that inbound strategies can never compete with the kind of metrics yielded by outbound.
Like most practices in business, marketing as well requires a balance with its different tactics. A marketer must realize the impact of both ways. Above all, they need to align their usage with their business goals for the best results.
Broadly, three factors can help one decide what approach should be employed. These are the business category, target audience, and marketing goals.
The marketer needs to take the brand’s niche and image in cognizance to realize what kind of messaging will align with the brand’s mission and goals. In addition, the marketer needs to examine the target audiences’ habits to see what kind of content they consume and where. This can mark how effective the efforts will or will not be.
Moreover, the biggest deciding factor in all of this is the marketing objectives. If a brand wishes to have a high reach and awareness outbound strategies are the way to go. Because they allow for a quick and broad reach to the targeted consumers. On the other hand, if a brand wishes to have higher conversion and purchase actions, inbound strategies are the way to go.
What is the difference between Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing
Let’s look into the various parameters of how Inbound Marketing differs from Outbound Marketing.
Audience and engagement
Inbound Marketing takes precedence when it comes to audience and engagement. As the model follows a value-driven approach, the audience consumes and interacts way more with such messaging. On the other hand, as outbound primarily focuses on promotional messaging, the audience often chooses to ignore the message altogether.
This realm mostly deals with how organically the brand name is positioned in front of the viewer’s screen. In the case of inbound, the spotlight is at the brand as the audience has visited brand-owned properties for example a blog. But with outbound, the message is always an add-on to other pages. Such messages get little to no limelight on the host pages that they’re published on.
This is primarily where the inbound vs. outbound marketing debate stirs heat. As outbound messaging has a small-time to display the message, the messaging becomes broad and complex. This is because it must capture the attention of a wide and diverse audience in one go. With inbound, the problem of a limited duration goes away. This enables marketers to focus on a specific audience cohort and curate specific messages. These can relay some worth to the reader who wants to consume the content by will.
This facet directly deals with the real estate of content and its tenure of existence. With outbound marketing, marketers always find themselves renting out space from other hosts (eg- radio channels, search engine spots, trade shows, etc). This means that the messaging that has been created will only last for as long as that space has been rented for. This results in erratic leads and hits, spiking when a campaign is up while a lull persists when the next campaign is being designed.
This completely changes with the rise of inbound marketing. As the content is posted on owned media platforms the content once posted, certainly stays there forever. This results in consistent and growing leads over a period as both old and new content can be consumed as per the comfort of the viewers.
Therefore, we see why the inbound vs. outbound debate thus often claims the better ROI derived from inbound marketing.
Data and Analytics
Marketers certainly have a bunch of platforms available to them. It has become integral to measure the success of each with data metrics. However, with a one-way communication model in outbound, measuring success becomes very hard and often inaccurate.
There is no way of knowing the real success of how many leads potentially came from traditional platforms. With inbound marketing, the real true benefit lies in the statistics. As everything is purely digital, measuring the clicks, conversions, etc becomes easy.
In short, this allows marketers to analyze what works and what doesn’t and create better campaigns the next time.
With such discourse between the two schools, we see many trends emerge that use the best of both strategies:
Inbound in Outbound
An up and coming strategy utilize the benefits of both. Rather than creating mere promotional messages for outbound, curating resourceful and helpful content that subtly seeds the brand’s product or service for promotions through outbound strategies is the new name of the game. This creates user engagement because they receive the content they wish to consume.
This strategy results in a higher reach and awareness than typical inbound messages because it uses the pull of outbound. Such a plan can derive a high ROI for the brand.
Often labeled as the next big thing, these are outbound initiatives where the advert smoothly blends into the host page. This approach lends relevance to the viewer rather than being interruptive like usual outbound messages.
Apart from these, we see several trends coming up in the inbound space. Short format videos have become very popular. This is because of the dropping attention spans.
After a deep look into the world of inbound vs outbound marketing, we see that rather than being competing methods, they can often aid one another. What do you think about this approach?