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Inbound Marketing Vs. Outbound Marketing

While inbound marketing is cost-effective, outbound marketing has a better brand recall. This Buzzle article will give you more details about the difference between the two.
Inbound vs. outbound marketing
Tip

Understand which kind of marketing, inbound or outbound, will work best for your brand and implement it. If required, it is recommended to incorporate the right marketing mix for your business.

Over the years, the debate between inbound and outbound marketing has become even stronger. Proponents of the former claim that it supersedes the rigid traditional methods of outbound marketing. However, there are people who believe that it is worth investing in outbound marketing for generation of leads and revenue. Inbound marketing has relatively lower average cost to acquire customers than outbound marketing. Also, while the former needs generation of entertaining and informative content, the latter is fueled by repetition and high-budget investment. Also, the cost per lead is comparatively lesser in the former than the latter. As it is relatively inexpensive to implement, the former marketing strategy is recommended for both small as well as large players, while the latter is preferred by medium and large companies. However, due to its repetitive nature, brand recall is best achieved with the latter, which is outbound marketing. Here are a few more points that delve into the debate between the two.

Inbound Marketing Outbound Marketing
A strategy where the company recognizes the target market for a product/service and provides valuable content and useful information about it. The traditional form of marketing, where the marketeers advertise products/services by bombarding and imposing prospective customers with information that they do not want to seek.
Nature
Attracts customers to the products/services; hence, participative in nature. Interrupts customers to inform them about the products/services, and hence, it is interruptive in nature.
Key Difference
According to David Meerman Scott, a popular American online marketing strategist, marketers ''earn their way in.'' On the other hand, David says that marketers "buy, beg, or bug their way in."
Communication
It being interactive, it leads to a better target market engagement and response; customers feel cared for. Communication is one-sided, where the customer is bombarded with product/service information and does not generate the kind of impact anticipated. As it is passive, customers may not like it.
Marketing Help
Here, marketers provide help to the existing and prospective customers in. Marketers only inform the target audience about the product/service; they do not provide any kind of help.
Intention
Here, marketers provide help to the existing and prospective customers in. Marketers only inform the target audience about the product/service; they do not provide any kind of help.
Cost-effectiveness
employs lesser expensive marketing vehicles like SEO, social media interaction, blogs, and white papers and is definitely cheaper. Employs traditional marketing vehicles like TV/video advertisement, hoardings, etc., which tend to blow the marketing budget out of proportion.
Trust Factor
As it provides credible and useful information, it enjoys the trust of the customers. Customers tend to ignore it as it breaks their flow of activity and intrudes in their work.
Lead-to-customer Conversion
It not only generates leads but also creates customers and generates revenue. It generates more leads than revenue.
Tapping the Customers
It allows the prospective buyer to get in touch with you when he requires your product. It mostly caters to an old and updated database and may lose out on new prospective customers who want to buy your product.
Buying Habits
As it allows interacting with the core target market, it provides a greater understanding of their buying habits. It only pushes its own agenda to a general target market and does little to define their buying habits.
Return on Investment
It has a better return on investment, as it helps in generating leads. It needs a lot of investment, and the returns may not necessarily be great.

Other Differences

Targeting the Core Market
With inbound marketing, you will generate content about your products and their utility for a particular industry. Let us suppose you put articles related to this on your company's blog. Purchase managers or decision makers will be fascinated by your innovative product and shall approach you for knowing more. Hence, this type of marketing allows you to focus on people who are genuinely interested in your product.
With outbound marketing, you approach people because they fall in a certain criteria. For example, you are into the business of engineering parts of automobiles. You send a mass mail to all the purchase managers of automobile companies to inform them about your products. Most of them will not even open such direct mails and mark them for deletion. Few of them will read; however, they may not make a buying decision based on this type of marketing only. This fails the very purpose of reaching the right target market.

Limitation
Imagine that your website does not rank when your target customer types in the regular keywords. With an inbound setup, one may lose the prospective clients to a competitor who is still using traditional marketing methods.
Outbound marketing keeps on reminding the client about the existence of products/services, and this may make you easily accessible to the customer.

Level of Difficulty
Inbound marketing requires that the right intelligent content is created, it gets recommendations (many likes and shares), and even gets reflected in top Internet search results. It has to be undertaken properly and can be tedious to implement.
Outbound marketing implements all kinds of different medias to approach a prospective customer, and hence, it can be easier for implementation.

Viability
Many people browse the Internet while they are looking for products/services to buy. Hence, if you have a good online presence and incorporate inbound marketing, it will work in your favor.
Most of the people choose to ignore cold calls and have added their numbers on Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) 'do not call list'. They skip TV commercials, ignore the direct mail and company emails, and hence, the impact of outbound marketing may be weakened.

Though there are differences between the two forms of marketing, people often argue that the two types supplement each other. For example, if you are hosting a webinar, a tool of inbound marketing, you will also have to promote it through mass mail which is outbound marketing. Even when inbound is growing popular among the marketeers, it will not kill the traditional outbound marketing.
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Published: December 7, 2013
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