Inbound Marketing & Outbound Marketing: Don’t Limit Yourself To One

Alan Meyer on B2B Marketing Strategy

Marketing techniques are a constantly evolving beast sparking debate about the newest effective trends to increase lead generation, sales, conversions etc. Some people stick to their ways while others jump ship to join with the newest technique.

If you go to Google and search on inbound marketing or outbound marketing you’re going to find a very high number of articles talking about how much better inbound marketing is.

You may even find some articles calling outbound marketing outdated, dead, and generally just being the worse marketing tool. This is oh so far from true.

Inbound marketing and outbound marketing are both great tools when used properly in the right situations. Most of the negativity around outbound marketing is based on the well known, outdated, and badly executed techniques used previously for outbound.

Inbound Marketing Vs Outbound Marketing: Time To Define

Whether or not you are familiar with a formal definition for inbound or outbound marketing, you encounter both on a daily basis (unless you are living under a rock). They are everywhere, both good and bad uses of each.

So what exactly is the difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing?

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is marketing efforts that will get customers to come to you rather than reaching out to them, such as through advertisements. Inbound marketing does this by making their site easy to be found and enticing customers with good content.

Examples of inbound marketing techniques are:

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of a site
  • Writing Copy, such as blog articles
  • Social Media Campaigns
  • Viral Video Marketing

Take for example any of your favorite companies that you choose to follow on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social networking site. This is a tactic put in place to keep you and other customers/potential customers interacting with their company.

Let’s say you had a pipe burst in your office and you have to find a good plumber to come fix it. How do you go about doing that? Most likely you’re going to hop onto Google and search local plumbers.

So then who do you pick? Well, generally you’re going to click on one of the first few that show up in the listing. Then if you go through their site and it seems professional and looks good, and especially if their contact information is easy to find, you’ll most likely call them.

This is what good SEO and good inbound marketing in general will do for a company. By ranking in the top search results for a certain industry, businesses will see a much higher number of visitors and generally also conversions/sales.

Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing seems to lack an in depth definition but is commonly known as “classic” marketing done by reaching out to find customers from large audiences. It is the exact opposite of inbound marketing.

Most people know outbound marketing in an outdated manner. They know it as an “in your face” marketing technique filled with snakey marketers trying to trick you into buying a product.

That or the good ol’ fashioned telemarketer calling about a “Great new product perfect for you!” that you couldn’t give two…well you know where that’s going.

Once digital marketing became a standard, outbound marketing did see a major change.

Now there is outbound marketing that people don’t even realize is in front of them. Every time you do a Google search and select from one of the top results that has the little yellow “Ad” image by it, you are going through a PPC ad.

Some examples of outbound marketing techniques include:

  • Television & Radio Ads
  • Billboards
  • Print Ads
  • Telemarketing/cold calling
  • PPC Campaigns

Although outbound marketing techniques like these are still in use, most times they are done well and in a productive way, even cold calling.

For example, let’s look at a hypothetical situation where a high end software company is looking to get more clients. The only issue is that the type of clients they have don’t tend to go out looking for software.

This is where their marketing team is going to employ outbound marketing tactics. So they do their research and find companies that would legitimately have a need for their software.

They research that company and really get to know their needs to make sure that they can create a good value offer. Only then do they reach out to them with a phone call, a cold call, to try and make a sale.

Generally, as they already expect and plan for, the sale will take more than one call, possibly with multiple people, but the continued calls are not unsolicited or harassing. They are simply an extended sales conversation that was started by the first call.

Although outbound sales can be a slower, more labor intensive technique, good outbound marketing can create great, high value, customer relationships.

What’s Working With Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a fast growing, ever evolving technique that is constantly proving itself as an effective technique for online business.

Three of the top reasons people utilize inbound marketing are:

  • Appealing to ideal customers
  • Getting customers to come to you
  • Easy to track success and ROI

Appeal to the Ideal Customers Using Inbound Marketing

A common issue that many online businesses run into is attracting the wrong customers to their site. It may be that the customer misunderstood the product or service, or they got to the site by accident.

Either way, it is bound to happen from time to time.

Inbound marketing is a great option for getting the ideal customers for your business and helping to avoid attracting the wrong customers.

By creating content to attract a specific demographic you can create a better customer lifetime value by providing the right solution to the right problem for your customers.

Inbound Marketing Gets Customers To Come To You

Inbound Marketing makes use of SEO techniques so that customers find you rather than you finding customers. This goes back to providing the right solution to the right problem.

One main idea with inbound marketing is to use SEO so that your business will show up in the top search results for specific search types.

This also helps to create more qualified leads because your web visitors went out of their way and arrived at your site by their own searching. When done well this can bring in huge numbers of web visitors to fill the top of your company’s sales funnel.

Understand Success And Track ROI With Inbound Marketing

Possibly the best aspect of inbound marketing is all of the tracking that is possible. Every time a new customer comes onto your site you can see where they came from, where they went from the landing page they came in on, whether or not they were a conversion, etc.

When you put all this tracking to use you can determine which pages are converting, which pages are not, and what content is the most successful. With all this information it is much easier to track the ROI on your marketing efforts.

The Advantages Of Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is not dead, in fact, it is more alive than ever. Of course we have all been interrupted during dinner time by some telemarketer cold calling with an irrelevant sales pitch.

That is bad outbound marketing. Although the cold call can still be effective, calling random strangers is not effective.

Using outbound marketing well still definitely has advantages including:

  • Reaching large audiences
  • Pulling in high value leads
  • Ability to segment audiences

Outbound Marketing Reaches Large Audiences

When people think of outbound marketing they think of a sort of shotgun effect, getting the ad in front of as many people as possible to try to get sales.

Although this is still somewhat used in print, radio, and TV advertisements (even those are more targeted than people realize), digital marketing has brought a huge change in advertisements.

Using pay per click (PPC) campaigns, marketers can now have ads that they only pay for when someone chooses to interact with (click on) the ad. To make it even better, these ads are targeted so that they will show up for people who have shown interest in similar subject matter.

This means that there is a higher likelihood of a conversion than sending an ad out to the masses that may only apply to a quarter of the people viewing it.

Another technique that outbound marketing uses that works really well is participating in conferences and conventions. By setting up a booth for their company, companies can attract leads that are specifically interested in their product/service.

Plus, when participating in conferences/conventions for specific industries, there will be a much larger sample of people that are great potential leads.

Get High Value Leads With Outbound Marketing

Although outbound marketing has a lower conversion rate than inbound marketing, outbound marketing tends to have higher dollar value leads overall.

The people that do convert from outbound marketing do so because the product/service is exactly what they want.

Because the leads generated by outbound marketing are so well targeted, they often have a higher lifetime value and a lower rate of churn than leads that come through inbound techniques like SEO.

Also, in certain cases such as products with big price tags, the consumer will only make a purchase after a conversation is started through an outbound marketing technique such as “cold calling” or meeting at industry conventions.

With leads such as these the dollar value per purchase tends to also be higher than with inbound marketing.

Outbound Marketing Audience Segmentation

A key tool outbound marketing uses that is very effective is audience segmentation. This is important so that the company’s marketing efforts are not going to waste by sending ads out to the wrong audience.

Think of all of the different ads that you see from a single company on television. Depending on the channel you are watching you may see one ad versus others that are shown on a select number of channels.

Inbound Marketing And Outbound Marketing: Get The Best of Both Worlds

Although both inbound and outbound marketing have their advantages and do well on their own, why limit your marketing to one or the other?

Combining your inbound marketing with your outbound gives your marketing efforts the extra oompf needed for better lead generation and conversions.