Outbound vs Inbound Marketing – What you need to know

The trend from outbound to the inbound methodology

Classic marketing theory distinguishes between push and pull strategies. Outbound and inbound marketing basically follow the same principle: the former transforms a latent need – for example through advertising, aggressive pricing, or direct sales – into a conscious need, whereas the latter positions a product more based on the existing demand and on the basis of defined buyer personas of potential customers.

The most striking difference is that sooner or later the customer will ask for a product directly due to the influence of inbound marketing campaigns – in Compared to a simple purchase decision on a product that is offered to him.

  • Outbound: The seller asks: “Would you like to buy this Nike Free x Metcon?”
  • Inbound: Customer says: “I really want to buy the Nike Free x Metcon!”

Does that make the difference clear?

The current survey by smart insights on the most important marketing trends paints a clear picture in this regard (see below): For those surveyed, inbound measures such as content marketing and social media marketing have the greatest influence on the Company’s growth.

Relegated to the rear, are the classic push measures, such as display or search engine advertising (SEA).

In the middle, however, there is a marketing mix of push (e.g. mobile marketing and marketing automation) and pull (conversion optimization, search engine optimization (SEO ). In my opinion, this is where we will see the biggest changes in the next few years, especially in mixed forms such as online public relations and brand communities.

Origin & Definition: What is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound Marketing is probably (currently still) what most are under introduce the term “marketing”: Companies try to encourage potential customers to buy their products using classic advertising such as TV commercials or print ads (and I’m not saying motivating here on purpose!).

Rand Fishkin also used the term “interruption” to describe outbound marketing in 2012 and defines the goal as interrupting an activity in order to gain the user’s desired attention for other purposes.

The best example is the automatically opening pop-up on a website that, for example, asks you to subscribe to a newsletter or to start the free test phase of the software.

Studies also show that we deal with up to 10,000 advertising contacts every day are confronted with and have now adapted to such an extent that we hardly notice them anymore. We find spam emails, advertising banners, and annoying (!) pop-ups annoying and no longer believe the hackneyed advertising messages. This applies even more on the Internet than in print ads or TV advertising because the click rate on advertising banners is extremely low and is probably even declining. Ad blockers and spam filters make this form of contact even more difficult.

All in all, this form of online advertising is no longer particularly special effects. Due to the high wastage, the investment is less and less worthwhile or is subject to it in comparison to alternative options (e.g. e-mail marketing, your own blog, or social media). However, in combination with a well-thought-out inbound marketing strategy, outbound marketing activities can be very useful and successful. You don’t have to decide on one method, you can use both inbound and outbound measures.

Do it yourself take the test and count all the ads you encounter throughout the day tomorrow. You’ll be amazed how many there are! And you will also be surprised at how few you can remember in the evening. Or do you remember which brand was vying for your attention at the bus stop yesterday?

In comparison: what is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is the more modern marketing approach where the customer becomes aware of the company. “Inbound” means something like “coming in” or “arriving” (hence the comparison to pull marketing). Content marketing, social media marketing, lead nurturing or lead management, and customer relationship management (CRM) are closely linked to the topic of inbound marketing ) as well as sales and customer service. That sounds like pretty much everything, but the process behind it is crucial (see below).

The publication of high-quality content that is relevant to the target group and offers added value for the user is at the heart of every inbound strategy or content strategy. Useful and ad-free content should draw the attention of potential customers to the respective company.

Via search engines and social media channels (mainly networks, but also Sharing platforms), this content generates traffic and converts website visitors into qualified leads, for example by offering additional content such as white papers or e-books. Through lead generation, more precisely the collection of e-mail addresses and the e-mail marketing that this makes possible, direct contact with the interested party is possible, which is basically unattainable with other forms of advertising. All in all, this form of marketing is more sustainable and, above all, more credible.

What does the inbound marketing process look like?

The easiest way to describe the inbound marketing process is analogous to the AIDA model. HubSpot, whose founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah significantly coined the term, goes one step further and not only defines the process down to the action but also includes retention marketing, ie customer loyalty. The main focus is on creating content, generating leads, lifecycle marketing – both of customers and content (keyword: content recycling) – and personalization. The inbound marketing method is based on four phases:

Attract: We create relevant content and distribute it through the channels we use best to reach our audience – blogs, Social Media, and Websites…Convert: We convert our visitors into leads, ie we motivate them to interact and to provide their personal data (of course only on a voluntary basis) – through landing pages, calls-to-action, and forms. An important topic here is conversion optimization (also called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)). It summarizes all measures that contribute to increasing sales (conversions). For this purpose, the various mechanisms that lead to a purchase or a contract being concluded, for example, are analyzed and optimization measures are derived on the basis of this information. A common method is A/B testing.

Close: Through the content that fits the buyer’s journey, we convert leads in the long term, e.g. through E-Mail campaigns and marketing automation, converted to customers.

Delight: Even after the purchase, we offer our customers high-quality content, which we can even personalize on the basis of the data we have obtained in the meantime.

Inbound marketing is one of the most popular marketing tools today and should also be considered an essential part of the overall marketing strategy, including in e-commerce (keyword: content commerce). However, the goal is less the direct sale of products or services than marketing aspects such as brand awareness and image, customer retention, and brand loyalty.

What are the reasons for inbound Marketing?

Basically, inbound marketing is suitable for everyone, no matter how internet-savvy you and your company are. Provided that there is a need for optimization in your company. Inbound marketing is not a one-off, but a recurring and long-term measure that can be continuously optimized. Of course, medium-sized and especially large companies find it easier to raise the necessary resources. But smaller companies can also do inbound marketing. Due to the enormous flexibility, inbound marketing can be individually adapted to your goals, whether in the B2B or B2C area. In addition to the obvious factors, such as lower costs (which is particularly interesting for smaller companies) and better target group targeting compared to outbound marketing, there are other reasons for using inbound marketing:

Brand Awareness

Brand Loyalty

Image effect

Sympathy and credibility

Visibility on the web

The website becomes online hub

Content goes viral

User engagement increases

Generation of Qualified Leads

Integrated “Market Research”

Quite apart from that, more and more people are simply using the Internet to search for information, Solutions to their problems or just share with each other. In Germany alone, according to Statista, the number of Internet users rose to 63.3 million in 2018, which corresponds to around 90% of the total population. Online marketing itself should therefore no longer be an issue. Search engines represent the bridge to the digital knowledge database and offer individually tailored results – artificial intelligence makes it possible. To get a feeling for the dimensions and the growth, it is worth taking a look at the statistics: the Internet giant Google alone now handles more than 3.8 million queries per minute.

Conclusion: Inbound is in, but outbound is not out!

Overall, the requirements for inbound marketing are relatively complex. Instead of buying advertising, brands could simply pay an agency, but we’re not only talking about advertising here, we’re also talking about communication. And it just has to be honest and authentic. So the challenge lies in the linking of various areas of responsibility (Design, SEO/SEA, conversion optimization, social media, etc.) and Alignment to common goals. Large companies are therefore forced to rethink, possibly even restructure, and loosen strict divisional boundaries.

What do you think about that? Do you consider yourself an inbound marketer? Is outbound marketing still an issue for you?

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