Inbound Vs Outbound Marketing

You might not have heard the terms inbound and outbound marketing before, but you have most likely experienced both without realizing. Read the scenarios below about inbound vs. outbound marketing.


Outbound Marketing:

You’re in the middle of working at your desk and the telephone rings.  

You: Hello, this is John.

Marketer: Hi John, this is Sam from [insert name of Company X here]. Company X manufactures widgets. We pride ourselves on our quality and superior service. We have managed to help other companies transition to our widgets, and in doing so, we were able to help one company raise their retention rate of clients by 50% in six months. I’d like to ask a few questions to see if I can provide you with our services.

You: Well, right now is not the time for me to talk. Let me think about it, and I’ll get back to you.

This is an example of cold calling, which is an outbound marketing tactic. You’ve probably experienced this before and felt caught off guard. This type of tactic doesn’t form a relationship with the prospect and is interruptive. It shows a marketer-centric mindset and usually is not very efficient and rather costly. Other types of outbound marketing are mass emails (spam) and interruptive ads.

While each of these tactics may have a place as part of a larger marketing campaign, they do not work on their own in a vacuum. Let’s take a look at an inbound marketing scenario.

Inbound Marketing:

The sales process has changed dramatically in the past few years. Instead of relying on salespeople to inform them about new products and services to solve their problems, buyers are doing research on their own and arriving at a buying decision often without ever speaking to a salesperson at all! For this reason, marketing companies are transitioning from outbound to inbound marketing. Because of this, buyers feel more connected to the brand or business because of the relationship building aspects of inbound marketing. Read this scenario and think of a time you might have experienced this:

Steve is the production manager for an outdoor product manufacturing company. He has a problem with a bottleneck on his production line that has slowed down operations and decreased efficiency. He hits the Internet to search for a solution.

While researching, he happens to come across a blog post outlining areas that most plants usually incur wasteful production and how to remedy such issues quickly. At the bottom of the post, he finds a call-to-action that asks for his email in return for an e-book entitled “10 Steps to Immediately Increase Production Efficiency.” Steve is happy to give his email in exchange for such valuable information. Thus he has moved to the next stage in the buyer’s journey, or into the sales funnel.

After receiving his ebook, Steve receives subsequent emails promoting content and videos that help Steve to solve further his problem as well as other related issues that production managers like him have encountered in the past. Through this process, the company promoting this content has accomplished a few things:

  1. They’ve established a relationship over time through a contact frequency that made sense to the stage of the buyer’s journey where Steve was at the time.
  2. They have established a high level of expertise in Steve’s mind. He trusts this company with helping him to solve his problems.
  3. The company has nurtured this lead (Steve) all the way through the Awareness and Consideration Stage of the sales funnel to where they can now position their product or service in a way that Steve would be very willing to listen - sure beats a cold call!

How is it different?

In this scenario, Steve didn’t get bombarded with spam emails that were irrelevant to his interests or feel caught off guard with cold calls. Steve decided on his own time whether he felt that the company’s services were for his business, and he made the decision to call.

With inbound marketing, the consumer can give permission to be contacted instead of the marketer acting as an interruptive sales person in the consumer’s day. Inbound marketing conveys a customer-centric mindset.

Inbound marketing uses tools such as blogging to create interest, social media to engage leads, email marketing as part of the sales funnel and providing value with free resources, such as a downloadable ebook. All of these tactics build relationships with consumers over time.

Inbound vs. Outbound. Which one would you choose?