Have you ever been tasked with creating or modifying a marketing plan for your company? It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of information and advice available.
How should you start? Should you focus on networking with possible leads at an industry event or establish a digital-only strategy? If you operate in B2B marketing, you have a budget to consider, goals to achieve, and stakes to set. Making such decisions can be challenging, but keep in mind that everything is about balance!
Fortunately, inbound and outbound marketing is here for you as two universal marketing concepts that might help you narrow your reach. These are two of the most prevalent broad marketing techniques, each with its own uses, advantages, and drawbacks.
Each strategy necessitates focusing on a distinct set of channels and media to attract prospects.
But what’s the best way to find the right match?
For many marketers, the argument between inbound and outbound marketing has raged on for years. Some experts believe that outbound marketing is no longer effective, while others believe that inbound marketing is useless for B2B sales and that outbound B2B is the only viable alternative.
It isn’t easy to know where to start with so much information, so let’s look at the bigger picture and see how these techniques can help your marketing activities!
What’s the difference?
When you do outbound marketing, you ask prospects if they’re interested: you use one or two channels to reach out to more potential customers. This could involve door-to-door sales or cold calling, in which a salesperson or marketer approaches someone without first determining whether or not they are a qualified lead.
When you use inbound marketing, prospects indicate they’re interested in what you offer: the amount of work you put into making your message available across different channels is related to the number of leads you generate.
Inbound marketing is a method that involves creating content or using social media to raise brand recognition so that people learn about you, visit your website for more information, and ultimately express interest in or buy your product.
You would say you only needed to implement inbound marketing in 2022, but don’t rush too much with the decision!
First things first: let’s see what outbound marketing is all about!
Billboards, television commercials, magazine spreads: these platforms are used to communicate a brand’s message to the public.
Interruption marketing is another term for this form of traditional marketing. It’s because it displays the message in front of the audience regardless of whether or not it is relevant to them or if the timing is appropriate. Nonetheless, this is the more traditional way of marketing, and it focuses on media that is best used to draw attention and reach out to potential customers.
- It’s more intrusive.
In contrast to inbound marketing, it is delivered without “permission;” outbound marketing seeks you out. Prospects see advertisements while surfing the web, watching YouTube videos, and generally going about their daily lives.
2. It’s more expensive.
Because outbound marketing relies on advertising, you’ll need to set aside a significant portion of your budget to position your ads in your preferred media channels and then keep them there for all of your prospects to see.
3. It’s catchy.
Outbound marketing’s purpose is to launch a one-of-a-kind commercial offer into the microcosm of prospects and see how they react. This is why most outbound messages don’t offer all the information, instead urging prospects to investigate further on their own.
Some examples for outbound marketing channels
- Display advertising
- Telemarketing / cold calling
- Traditional media (TV ads, radio, magazines)
- Out of home (billboards, street furniture, transit)
- Prospecting email marketing
- Direct mails
In the modern digital era, that list has grown to include Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and other paid media strategies on platforms like LinkedIn.
However, these tactics have traditionally been seen as interruptions.
Inbound marketing was not invented because some marketers were bored and wanted to try something new. Instead, in the last 20+ years, consumer behavior has radically changed thanks to the internet.
According to Google, buyers now conduct 70% or more of their research about a purchasing decision before even thinking about contacting a salesperson or customer service for more information.
While certain outbound techniques require a lot of time and work and may not result in any leads, inbound strategies allow you to contact a larger audience of people who are easier to qualify as a lead prospect.
Inbound marketing is a set of tactics for automatically attracting customers to your product by providing content that meets their wants and preferences. Because inbound marketing is highly reliant on organic growth and natural awareness, it also encompasses SEO and content marketing.
Inbound marketing has several advantages that can help you decide if it’s the correct strategy for your company:
- Prospects can read your blog postings or attend a webinar on their own time with inbound marketing.
- Because your website and content are updated regularly, inbound marketing attracts qualified prospects over time.
- Inbound marketing material is instructional and tailored to each stage of the sales process.
- Inbound marketing is quantifiable because each component of your approach is linked to a metric that can be tracked over time.
Inbound marketing is essentially the inverse of B2B outbound marketing:
- It’s unique to you.
Inbound marketing content is created using the information of your potential buyers, their worries, and their objectives in mind. It’s sometimes divided into several types of content to appeal to different age groups.
2. It’s a permission-based system.
Inbound marketing tracks your prospects’ journey as they learn more about your brand and product. They allow you to send them content whether they subscribe to your blog, email newsletter, or social media profile.
3. It is nourishing.
Inbound marketing isn’t exactly known for grabbing people’s attention right away. It has a cumulative effect, giving prospects that reach the first stage of the inbound sales funnels something of value.
Given recent shifts in B2B buyer behavior, inbound marketing may appear to be the best option for promoting a B2B company. Inbound marketing provides a more comprehensive collection of tools for cultivating high-quality business-to-business interactions. Being primarily content-based allows you to show empathy, connect with your prospects, and will enable them to freely contribute their perspectives.
Inbound marketing channels:
- Websites & blogs
- Gated content (whitepapers and eBooks)
- Email newsletters
- Social media
- Online events
- Digital media
- Search engine optimization
“88 percent of shoppers research online before even considering making any purchase,” according to the United States Ecommerce Country Report. This is one of the reasons why inbound marketing (i.e., targeted content) has become the primary lead generation strategy for 76 percent of marketers and continues to gain popularity. Today, it is the most effective, cost-effective, and long-term marketing technique for establishing trust and high-value connections with target clients.
By optimizing content that answers your ideal client’s questions, sharing valuable knowledge, and providing solutions to your target audience’s unique problems, inbound marketing positions your business as an expert and industry thought leader for your target audience.
Not only does it make you more appealing than your competition, but it also ranks your business higher in Google searches, putting your brand in a better position to appear as the go-to solution provider in topics relevant to your ideal prospects. This establishes confidence and encourages potential clients to seek you out and contact your company.
What is the best option for your company?
Anyone who claims that inbound or outbound marketing is better than the other is giving you a biased answer. You must consider your specific business, audience, and marketing objectives to see which is best for you.
Inbound and outbound marketing are two different approaches that can be used effectively, separately, or together, as each has its benefits and drawbacks. Outbound marketing is better as a short-term solution with higher long-term costs, while inbound marketing is a better long-term solution with its own investment costs.
In the end, the answer will be determined by your unique circumstances.
Small businesses must choose a channel that provides a steady stream of leads and a high return on investment.
A blend of marketing channels is the optimal strategy for many brands, including medium and large businesses. This way, you’re not overly reliant on a single channel that could be taken away at any time – whether it’s due to a Google algorithm update or a virus designed to disrupt modern life.
It shouldn’t be a question of inbound vs. outbound pitching. Imagine the two approaches working together in perfect unison; increasing brand exposure through content marketing, nurturing prospects through email and social media, and being top-of-mind.
If you have questions on how to implement inbound or outbound marketing or would like to discuss the process, contact us! With our expertise in online content marketing and lead generation, we can support you in any way.