WHAT IS INBOUND MARKETING?
Inbound marketing attracts customers through interactions with content that is relevant and helpful – not disruptive. Inbound marketing does not browbeat customers into paying attention. It targets your ideal audience and creates content that addresses their unique needs. Inbound marketing attracts your best prospects, and gently builds trust and credibility.
OUTBOUND MARKETING IS OUT
For the last 70 years, outbound marketing has been the go-to strategy marketers shout on the radio, harass customers with loud commercials, and slap clichés onto billboards. The average consumer must wade through over 2,000 outbound marketing interruptions per day. This method of communication is no longer effective – in fact, in many cases, it turns customers away from a brand. Busy consumers don’t have time to waste on ads they see as irritating interruptions.
INBOUND MARKETING IS IN
Technology has empowered and overwhelmed us as a society. Consumers can gather information or get in touch with anyone in an instant, but constant connectivity has a price. We are plugged into the entire world 365 days a year, 24/7. With this level of access, consumers have evolved to ignore distractions, such as pop-up ads, to get on with their lives. The answer? Inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is one of the most effective ways to turn cold leads intocustomers. This approach uses content creation to attract the attention of prospects before they express interest in making a purchase. It is an attractive alternative to outbound marketing, which works by disrupting your target audiences’ daily lives. Inbound marketing is the new way to communicate with an audience, effortlessly turning strangers into promoters of your brand.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
INTERRUPTION VS. PERMISSION
The difference between inbound and outbound marketing comes down to invasion vs. invitation. Outbound marketing is an invasion of a consumer’s space and privacy. It infringes on their daily lives. Inbound marketing requests an invitation into the consumer’s life. It seeks permission to communicate through mediums the audience uses, then presents content that is useful and relevant.
Outbound marketing works under the premise that if you campaign by interrupting a medium with a large following, a small percentage of the audience will (hopefully) listen and become customers. This form of marketing used to work well enough to be worthwhile, but today’s consumers are sick of interruptive ads and pushy brands. Now they simply ignore them.
Companies that use inbound marketing, or permission-based marketing, convert at a rate 750% higher than those that use interruption-based marketing. With inbound marketing, you answer the questions your target audience asks, and spread these answers around the web to help other consumers seeking the same solutions. Inbound marketing anticipates the consumers’ needs and provides an answer.
DISASSOCIATED ADS VS. EDUCATE
Outbound marketing is notoriously disruptive and unsolicited. The ads can be totally disassociated to what the customer wants. It must be – marketers only have a few seconds to get a message across via the radio or TV. The main goal is to stand out. Inbound marketing gives brands the opportunity to provide a personalized, specific, and useful message, offering it up on a silver platter for the customer to take when desired.
With inbound marketing, brands do not force messages onto consumers. Instead, the consumer is in control. The customers have needs and questions. You have great content to answer these questions and meet these needs. Your content is meant to answer a consumer’s question, not force ideas into his or her head. Consumers respond extremely well to this type of marketing – they want to engage with companies that fill in the blanks rather than pound them with irrelevant advertisements.
RENTING VS. OWNING
On top of proven results, inbound marketing is also better for business than outbound marketing. When a company invests in outbound marketing, it rents the distribution. The company is only as good as the success of its last campaign. If it works, the company moves on to the next campaign. If it fails, jobs may be on the line. Leads may come in for a few weeks during a direct mail campaign, but then the company must start all over again – a new message, a new distribution. With inbound marketing, you own your distribution. It depreciates like an asset –you build up a subscription-based email list, earn a top ranking on product-related keywords, garner a following on social media, and voilà: you have created assets. Creating the content may be your cost of acquisition, but your investment continues to see returns long after the creation phase ends. For the first time in history, marketers can create value that will last beyond their tenure.
Companies such as HubSpot are in fact lobbying the federal government to allow them to write off inbound marketing as an asset instead of an expense. It makes sense – if you have 10,000 blog posts that generate 1,500 leads per month through online searches, and you stop posting for one year, your lead volume will only diminish slightly. Over the years, you might see some falloff, but it is much more like depreciation of traditional assets than outbound marketing.
IMMEASURABLE VS. QUANTIFIABLE
Outbound marketing has yet another pitfall – it is difficult for companies to measure its success. Asking prospects how they heard about the brand can only generate unreliable statistics. Thus, outbound marketing has a margin of error inherent in its design. This archaic, linear model of marketing does not work in today’s nonlinear sales funnel.
When a company assumes it knows the whole story about how prospects heard about the brand, a margin of error occurs. It may be comforting to hear that the call center received a few dozen calls because of a targeted marketing effort, or that a handful of new customers filled out the “How Did You Hear About Us?” form – but this does not give the company the full picture. Incorrect assumptions lead to underperforming marketing campaigns.
With inbound marketing, a company doesn’t make assumptions – everything is quantifiable because the marketing is digital. There is no need for guesswork. Companies use sophisticated algorithms to track and comprehend real data. They can immediately learn whether the marketing strategy is effective, and if it is converting potential leads into customers.
Inbound marketing is highly measurable; allowing for the analysis of returns on investment, which type of distribution method works best, and even laser-focused elements such as where to place the CTA button for the best customer interaction.