Inbound vs. Outbound: which marketing strategy is best for you?

Inbound marketing. Outbound marketing. This type of marketing. That type of marketing. 

Marketing speak is full of empty buzzwords, but depending on your business objectives, choosing between inbound and outbound marketing can be a difficult decision.

You might struggle to get stakeholder buy-in if they’re confused about the difference between inbound and outbound. In this instance, the cliché “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rings true. Why try something that might work, when you can continue with activities that you know work? Especially if resources are tight. 

So even a decade since inbound marketing gained popularity and HubSpot, a marketing and sales automation platform, made it their core philosophy, confusion remains around what exactly constitutes inbound marketing. In fact, some businesses still prefer to fill the top of their sales funnel by going to costly trade shows or even cold calling. 

If this seems a bit outdated to you, you’d be right. More so, 2020 has made many of these traditional marketing practices nearly impossible. 

This is why ESM Inbound believes inbound marketing is vital. It enables you to get your products or services in front of customers without interrupting their lives or needing to meet face-to-face. When it comes to inbound marketing vs outbound marketing, in our eyes there is only one winner. 

We’ve put together the following blog post to illustrate the differences between inbound and outbound marketing and help you get senior management buy-in. 

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a methodology that attracts customers to your business with relevant and valuable content that aims to solve their most pressing problems at the right time for them.

You earn the attention of potential buyers instead of demanding it. At its core, inbound marketing is about getting found by people already learning about and shopping in your industry. 

Brian Halligan, CEO at Hubspot, has an illustrative analogy:

“The best analogy I can come up with is that traditional marketers looking to garner interest from new potential customers are like lions hunting in the jungle for elephants. The elephants used to be in the jungle in the '80s and '90s when they learned their trade, but they don't seem to be there anymore.  They have all migrated to the watering holes on the savannah (the internet).  So, rather than continuing to hunt in the jungle, I recommend setting up shop at the watering hole or turning your website into its own watering hole.”

How does inbound marketing help your business?

Inbound marketing is about building long lasting, valuable relationships with your customers. It puts useful content in front of customers that can help them solve their pain points.

This can be anything from a ‘How To’ blog about carbon offsetting your paper use or a highly tailored piece of content that promotes the benefits of your product or service. Even better, if you gate the inbound material, you can generate leads from potential buyers who are genuinely interested.

Making helpful content part of your inbound marketing creates a self-sustaining loop. It enables your flywheel to spin without friction and generate momentum for business growth.

Once you gain and delight enough customers, they may well promote your business and consequently generate new leads. Plus, you can turn their praise into more content (reviews, case studies, etc,) that might help buyers when they enter the decision stage of their own journey. Now, others are doing your hard work for you. 

But, what about ROI?

Let’s be honest, stakeholders’ main concern is often the return on investment (ROI) and bottom line. 

On average, inbound marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing per lead. 3 out of 4 inbound marketing channels cost less per lead than most outbound marketing channels.

Additionally, inbound marketing doesn’t just generate leads, it generates revenue. 

Examples of Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing involves digital and content marketing. The main channels include:

  • Blog
  • Social media
  • Whitepaper
  • eBooks
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Interactive workshops/fireside chats

Once you produce your content, it can be liked, upvoted, and shared on social media and has the potential to reach a wide audience. 

As your content becomes syndicated, backlinks to your website boost your trustworthiness and credibility, aiding your search engine presence. 

What is Outbound Marketing?

You may already be familiar with outbound marketing. But, a quick recap will help highlight the differences between outbound and inbound marketing: outbound marketing is a traditional marketing method that interrupts potential customers by shoehorning your message in front of them - often with a cold call or unsolicited mass email. 

Why Outbound Marketing is No Longer Suitable For Modern Marketing Efforts

The decline in outbound marketing is down to fundamental shifts in consumer behaviour. People are now in more control of what they receive and are already inundated with sales offers. For example, customers can block caller IDs, set up spam filters or ad blockers, and simply ignore direct mail.

Pushing outbound marketing techniques onto customers can damage your brand reputation as you are likely forcing them to interact with irrelevant content or worse, risk being seen as a spammy or annoying brand.

The second reason outbound marketing is declining is because shopping for information on the internet is cheaper and easier. Hosting a seminar service at a hotel is not only expensive for your company, but costs your customers time and money. They must commute to the seminar and take time off work to do so, whereas an on-demand webinar gives them the flexibility to watch when it’s convenient for them.

Of course, getting a sales rep in front of prospective customers can have its benefits, but it comes with a high price tag and its effectiveness diminishes every year. Why waste resources talking to people who don’t want to hear what you’re saying?

Examples of Outbound Marketing

  • Trade shows
  • Seminars
  • Print, TV, radio advertising
  • Banner ads
  • Cold calls

Why ESM Doesn’t Support Outbound Marketing Methods

It’s kind of in our name right, ESM Inbound

We don’t support outbound marketing because it’s no longer fit for purpose. Any blog post, ebook or website we create for you will entertain, engage and educate your customers. We believe in giving people what they want to know, instead of second guessing and giving them what we think they want to know. Outbound strategies often cost a great deal and take a lot of time while yielding few leads. We believe marketing should have an impact, even with limited resources. 

We understand that inbound marketing might not be for every business, but it’s worth a shot if you think outbound methods no longer work for your organisation.

If you’ve been trudging to tradeshows or spending a fortune on print ads with little ROI, why not reinvest that money in inbound marketing? Transform your organisation into an informative and engaging company customers actively seek out. 

ESM Inbound & Inbound Marketing

At ESM Inbound, we work closely with your company to build inbound marketing campaigns and strategies that attract, convert, close and delight more customers. 

Our content team drives traffic to your website with blog posts, pillar pages, SEO optimisation, ebooks and social ads beyond, every month. 

We can also optimise your website for inbound marketing efforts. You tell us where you want to go, and we’ll get you there!

Interested? Drop us a line and talk to an inbound specialist today.