There are lots of online marketing strategies you can use to promote your business and generate leads. Email blasts to search engine optimisation or old-fashioned cold calls can all work. But every lead generation method ultimately fits into one of two categories: inbound marketing or outbound marketing.
So what is outbound and inbound marketing? How are they different? And where should you devote your time and energy to grow your business?
What is outbound and inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing focuses on ‘creating valuable experiences that have a positive impact on people and your business’. In other words, inbound marketing focuses on building a relationship with your ideal customers. The goal is that when the time comes to buy, customers already trust and believe in your organisation.
Unsurprisingly, inbound gets its name from the fact that your ideal type of customer comes to you. It sounds too good to be true, but I'll get to that in a minute.
Outbound marketing is the opposite side of the lead-generation coin. Outbound is about conversations that your company initiates. It’s most popular with traditional marketers.
Many 'traditional' kinds of marketing are great examples of outbound marketing. TV commercials, radio ads, trade shows, print advertisements and cold calls, for instance. This is more 'outbound advertising' than marketing.
But there are also lots of 'new' online forms of outbound marketing. Cold email marketing campaigns is an example of this. You could also argue Google Ads are an example, they are definitely blurring the line of advertising vs inbound marketing.
So which marketing tactics work best?
Let's be clear: both the inbound and outbound methods can be an effective use of marketing budgets when executed properly. Some of the most effective sales funnels start off with leads generated through both inbound and outbound marketing techniques.
Inbound marketing includes tactics like content marketing and case studies. These are designed to appeal to search engines, build trust and attract your ideal customer profile.
Outbound tactics include tactics as ad banners or even just picking up the yellow pages and calling. Since every business is unique, the exact tactics that will work for you are something that only experimentation will uncover.
With all that said, here at Refuel Creative, we have been inbound marketers before that was a term. We know that inbound marketing is the most effective way to get your goods and services in front of potential customers.
The benefits of inbound marketing
There are a few reasons why in marketing, inbound efforts are the best use of your budgets.
The world has changed
Your tap is leaking. You need a plumber. How do you find one?
You picked up your phone, went to a search engine and typed in 'emergency plumber' or something similar, didn't you?
The way we seek products and services changed because of two things - the internet and the smartphone.
Before these two things, sales and marketing used to have all the power. You'd open up your Yellow Pages, and look for a plumber, choosing from one of the plumbers that advertised there. You'd open up your newspaper, or local paper, and find your local tradie in the advertisements. Again, you'd only see those that advertise in the paper.
Now, we have a global marketplace of suppliers at our disposal in the palm of our hand. So as marketers, we want to focus on inbound marketing techniques to ensure we are found. This includes search engine optimisation and content writing to ensure your business is at the top. We want to appear in front of our target market when they are searching for us or what we provide.
We also want to share quality content that our customers want to share on social media. When someone posts to Facebook looking for a suggestion for a tradie, we want our content to be provided and our name to enter the selection.
Overcome consumer skepticism
In the internet age, we have become inundated with advertising and other forms of outbound marketing. This has had a profound effect on the collective consciousness. CMO reports over seventy per cent of Australians now say that "advertising can't be trusted".
Inbound marketing helps solve this problem by abandoning pushy ads for helpful forms of marketing. We include a call to action on your landing pages and content to capture that visitor and nurture them into becoming a customer.
Encourage repeat customers
Many have written about the fact that a repeat customer is worth far more than a new customer.
It should also be clear why inbound marketing is best tailored toward the purpose of creating repeat, long-term customers. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, it's all about building relationships!
Inbound marketing refers to three stages here - convert, close and delight. We convert the visitor into a lead, close the lead as a customer, then delight that customer to turn them into a promoter. Usually, we would use marketing automation to enhance your digital marketing efforts here. We can deliver precisely the needs of our buyer personas, helping them make a decision.
Leverage social traction
Millions of pieces of content are shared on social media every day, from silly memes to valuable insight and everything in between. Overall, organic, value-based content is always more likely to be shared than ads - even if the 'value' provided is nothing more than a laugh. This is precisely why inbound marketing and social media marketing go together hand in hand.
Enjoy the 'gift that keeps on giving'
Inbound marketing is more valuable because the content created can outlast your initial campaign. This is especially true as thought-leaders continue developing new methods for recycling content. Ads tend to lose their value as soon as the ad spend dries up.
This ensures you continue to get a positive return on investment long after your first investment.
Your content also becomes an indicator to search engines on your authority in your chosen area of expertise. This helps you build your search engine rankings over time.
The bottom line
Inbound and outbound marketing have their pros and cons. To us, inbound is one of the best growth strategies for most modern organisations. This is true, regardless of whether you work in a B2B or B2C industry.
Our team can help you create a marketing plan with inbound at the core, designed to maximise your budget. Book a free call with us today!