Inbound and outbound marketing share the same goal: increasing sales and getting new customers. They diverge nearly everywhere else, though. Rather than comparing these two types of marketing, let’s take a look at some of the ways inbound marketing can fill the gaps left by outbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is the strategy of bringing clients to you. Contrast that with traditional, outbound, marketing, which uses advertising to promote a product or services to consumers. Inbound marketing means providing quality content and information related to the consumer’s interests. It’s not an ad!
This recent type of marketing is the product of the evolution in the online landscape.
The relationship between customer and business has dramatically changed since the internet became a component in economic exchanges. Consumers increasingly turn online to research their decisions. Businesses that use inbound marketing aim to implicitly influence consumer behavior during this period.
Inbound marketing aims to win over a consumer’s engagement, rather than buy it. It’s more about arousing customers’ interest and less about promoting your product in a massive feed of information that influences customers’ decisions.
Customers’ negotiating power, based on the Porter analysis, has changed and redefined the relationship between consumer and business. Accessing such a variety of information on products and services has accentuated the balance of information and changed the power dynamic.
The goal is to initiate a dialogue and to communicate with our target audiences by establishing two-way exchanges. Creating and sharing worthwhile content (with a company blog, for example) can attract quality leads and generate more traffic to your website. This entails interacting with your clients less aggressively than with traditional advertising.
Marketing is dead. Long live marketing!
This new type of marketing has changed the way we think about Return on Investment (ROI), which is impacted by time. The ROI for inbound marketing doesn’t include the positive impacts on your brand, or the quality of leads that become clients in the medium term.
This progressive engagement, based on back and forth communication, isn’t available in an outbound marketing strategy that pushes for short term sales increases with a dedicated target market. The cost per lead is 62% higher for outbound compared with inbound. Leads are better quality inbound because they’re better targeted. There is substantial value-added for businesses that use inbound marketing, evidenced by a higher conversion rate and a lower medium-term client acquisition cost. This explains the explosion in this type of marketing, which seems to be used more and more widely.
It’s no longer about the quantity of people you reach, but the quality, so you can provide them with meaningful, engaging content. A 2011 infographic highlights the importance of producing and sharing content: 67% of B2B businesses attained new customers with their Facebook presence. Other venues, like Twitter or a company blog, where responsible for 42% and 57% respectively. This demonstrates that voluntary engagement works better than proactive advertising.
The Purple Cow
Who still believes in advertising?
Outbound marketing is less and less effective, according to Seth Godin’s book The Purple Cow. In the book, he demonstrates the importance of standing out to attract interest, like a purple cow in a herd. This praise of being different, new, and original challenges the premise of outbound marketing and promotional advertising.
You need to find and convince a niche: early adopters, which will lead the masses to consume your product. The analogy with a purple cow highlights the imperative in a global and highly competitive economy to bring a value added to customers compared with the competition.
As Seth Godin clarifies, inbound marketing reinvents the means of communication preferring quality over quantity, choosing a target market rather than mass communication.
Finally, the antagonism between push and pull marketing reflect the existing dualism between inbound and outbound marketing. Inbound marketing resembles pull marketing because it addresses an audience that has already expressed an interest in the business, its products, or services. Engaging with this target audience is voluntary and responds to a desire to interact with or at least to stay informed about the business.
Being found by customers, rather than the inverse, required regularly producing quality content on a blog, promoting your content widely on social media, and having good organic search results. Pull marketing is more associated with outbound marketing, with AdWords campaigns or other paid ads.
Are these two methods mutually exclusive? Can’t they be complementary to each other, like push and pull marketing?
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