Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing: Which is Better?


Are you familiar with the distinction between inbound and outbound marketing? These are terms that everyone talks about these days, but many people aren’t clear about the difference. It’s actually an important distinction and one that can significantly impact your results. While you can succeed with either type of marketing, one of them has some clear advantages. Let’s explore the differences between inbound and outbound marketing and try to determine which is better.  

Limitations of Outbound Marketing

As the name indicates, outbound marketing refers to tactics where marketers broadcast their messages outward. Most traditional, pre-internet types of advertising fall into this category. For example, TV and radio commercials, print ads in newspapers and magazines, telemarketing, billboards, and direct mail are all forms of outbound marketing. Yet, many digital marketing strategies are also outbound. Spam emails, banner ads, and untargeted website ads are all outbound.

Outbound marketing has several distinct disadvantages that are only getting more pronounced over time. People are getting tired of advertising and are getting more creative about avoiding it. For example, spam filters block many unsolicited messages. With caller ID features, it’s easy for people to avoid talking to telemarketers. Technology such as ad-blockers let people avoid many digital ads. The main problem with outbound marketing is that it’s untargeted. Before the internet, there wasn’t much choice. Now, however, there are increasingly sophisticated tools to target your audience more precisely. This raises the bar and makes people less tolerant of random ads and messages. This is why more and more businesses are discovering the advantages of inbound marketing.

Benefits of Inbound Marketing

While outbound marketing is all about broadcasting your message as loudly and broadly as possible and hoping someone responds, inbound marketing is about getting the right audience to find you. In this case, you focus on creating quality content and informing people who can really benefit from your offers. A good example of this is building an email list. While spamming or sending out emails to random people is definitely outbound marketing, creating a list of subscribers who opt into your list is inbound. You might, for example, offer people a free report or white paper to entice them to sign up for your list.

Blogging, social media marketing, and SEO are also good examples of inbound marketing. By creating helpful content that the search engines index, you make it easy for customers to find you online. Posting content on social media sites is another way to reach an audience that’s looking for information on a certain topic. Still another possibility is video marketing, where you create informative videos that your customers find on YouTube or by doing a search on Google.

Just as email marketing can be either inbound or outbound, so can paid advertising. Placing ads on high traffic websites (whether these are banner ads, display ads, popups or any other kind of ad) is an outbound approach. However, highly targeted pay-per-click or social media ads are actually inbound. Facebook ads, for example, let you place your ad in front of the exact audience you want to reach. Google Adwords, while not as targeted as Facebook, are still targeted by keywords. Many of these inbound marketing techniques work well in combination. For example, your blog posts, social media posts or videos can direct people to your opt-in page where they can join your email list.

Some of the benefits of inbound marketing include:

  • Better ROI. Since you’re only trying to reach a specific audience, even smaller campaigns can be effective. This makes it a good way for smaller businesses with limited budgets.
  • Helps you build credibility. While people consider traditional advertising intrusive, inbound marketing involves creating helpful and educational content. This helps you build trust with your audience.
  • Better for building customer loyalty. Many inbound marketing strategies, such as email marketing, are ideal for cultivating long-term customers who buy from you again and again. Rather than simply aiming for one-off sales, you focus on building relationships.

These are some of the benefits of inbound marketing. It’s getting harder and harder to capture people’s attention with traditional outbound techniques. Readers and viewers are learning to tune out advertising. When you focus on creating the kind of content people are seeking, however, you can bypass their defenses. This is what happens when you do inbound marketing the right way.

To learn more about how to improve your marketing strategies, give us a call at 661-702-1310!

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