What's the difference? inbound marketing vs outbound marketing

21.02.18

by Thomas Emmerson

Both terms are growing in usage as marketing undergoes a bit of an internal split.  In one direction we have outbound marketing, which is significantly more popular as more marketers have been doing it for longer.  On the other side of the fork sits inbound marketing, which is increasing in popularity.  But what's the difference?

1) Outbound marketing seeks to take your message to the customer.

2) Inbound marketing focuses on helping people who are seeking a solution.

inbound marketing or outbound marketing

 

Outbound marketing

Many of your typical marketing activities are outbound marketing actions.  The idea behind many outbound principles is that you try to get your message out as far as you can, so reach is often a key metric for identifying a good outbound strategy. This is why magazines quote circulation in their advertising material and why radio, billboards and TV are stalwarts of traditional advertising.

The objective with outbound is to go out to as many people as possible with the understanding that a certain percentage of those people might take action.  The percentages are unknown so ROI is harder to measure.
  

Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing generally focuses on a smaller target group, but one that is actively looking for your business' product or service as a solution. The idea is to use content marketing to nurture these people from the initial thinking stage about their problem, to educating themselves on the real-world solutions to their problem.

The key to successfully implementing inbound marketing is to understand the prospect buying process, and the questions they ask as they go from not knowing much to becoming more educated. This is done by creating buyer personas.

Main differences

While outbound metrics mainly focus on reaching people whether they are ready or not, the real metrics that matter for most businesses are actually conversions, leads and sales opportunities.  Much of outbound marketing is hard to measure to a tight degree, because it is difficult to attribute which sales leads have been influenced by outbound marketing tactics. This means you can never really be sure of whether it has delivered results to the bottom line of your business.

"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." - John Wanamaker (1838-1922)

If you are monitoring website traffic, you may see a spike in the same period that a radio advert was running - but how can you be 100% sure it created the surge, and do these website visitors end up becoming leads?

Because inbound marketing focuses on a smaller target audience of people actively looking for your products or services, businesses that have adopted inbound marketing strategies often see higher conversion rates. This ultimately means more leads for sales teams.

This is supported by stats which found that inbound marketing provided the highest quality leads, where 66% of leads came from inbound activities versus only 15% of quality leads provided by outbound activities.

So what marketing tactics is your business using? If you're not using inbound yet, maybe you should consider some small ways you can integrate it into your current marketing strategy.

Want to see how other businesses have successfully implemented inbound marketing strategies?  We've collected 32 awesome examples of inbound marketing which you can access, for free, by clicking the link below.
 

Discover 32 enviable inbound marketing examples

 

filed under Content Marketing