Content MarketingMarketing Strategy

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing

There is a great deal of debate about which is more effective for lead generation – Outbound or Inbound marketing activity.  I think you need both. One supports the other and the relationship between the two is necessary for an effective integrated marketing communications strategy. I really do think that you have to get the message OUT in order to draw people IN.

For those who are not clear on what the difference is between outbound and inbound marketing, here’s my definition:

Outbound marketing = marketing activity that involves communicating a message out through traditional marketing methods like telesales, direct mail, trade shows, email campaigns to paid for lists, events. You push your message out.

Inbound marketing = marketing activity that helps you get found on the internet. People come to you, through their own searching. Your content draws them in. Inbound marketing includes content creation, SEO and social media activity.

Here is how Wikipedia explains inbound and outbound marketing

I am a big fan of Hubspot, who originally coined the phrase Inbound marketing. I do believe that there are some serious advantages to Inbound marketing techniques.

The first major advantage is that people come to you. They’ve opted to contact you. I am not an advocate of mass marketing or spam. Drawing people in may be slow at first. It takes time to build content, generate links and establish your site and blog.

The second advantage, I believe, is a shortened sales cycle. People have done their due diligence online. When they come to you, they’ve most likely cut through the chaff, and want to speak to the short list.

The third advantage, is reduced cost. Direct mail, advertising, events – they cost a lot of money. And you don’t get many chances to refine things. With inbound marketing, you can test, trial improve. It just takes time and energy.

I think that today, reaching prospects by phone is getting tougher and tougher. Most enterprise buyers are spending a good chunk the initial stage of the traditional buying cycle by themselves, on the web. They have to keep up in their industry so they are spending time researching on the web. Why sit with a salesman when you can watch a video instead? It’s difficult to get a meeting to demonstrate software and it can take multiple calls to identify and talk to the decision maker. I think this time is better spent creating valuable content that brings the decision maker to you.  One of my clients is looking to recruit 2 telesales people.  I will try to persuade him to recruit 1 and put more budget into inbound marketing.  I’ll let you know how we get on.

So I’m a big fan of inbound marketing, but I do also advocate outbound marketing. The two go hand in hand. Build your brand awareness through traditional outbound marketing, but engage in conversation with inbound techniques.

But how much of each? Where should you spend your time and money?  The thing that keeps me comfortable with the balance between the two is the understanding of how customers want to engage with you. Some like email, some like the post, some like online, some need face to face engagement. You need to go to them where they are. If they are social.  Be social. If they read traditional industry magazines and newsletters, talk to them there.

Let me know what works for you. Any comments regarding recent Inbound or Outbound marketing success would be great to hear. Thanks.

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