Inbound Marketing Blog

The Gloves Are Off: The Inbound vs. Outbound Debate

30 September 2015
Chief woOER - Richard Burdge

inbound_vs_outboundAnd the award for the most infuriating ad distribution channel goes to: The pop up ad.

The Internet has created a whole flurry of new opportunities for traditional outbound marketing to interrupt and annoy us. But, the internet didn't rest on its laurels and allow companies to overwhelm and over share. It took back control and added a new dimension to modern marketing.

It empowered buyers. 

Instead of a sales message we want useful, engaging content.

The Internet facilitated a new form of marketing: Inbound.  

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing tracks, measures and understands a buyer’s journey from when they first make contact to when they become a customer. It does this through creating compelling and engaging content that pulls people towards your company, where they naturally want to be. How do you get them to see this content? You optimise it for search engine results and publish it to your social media accounts encouraging re tweets, shares and likes increasing your inbound traffic to your site. The channels of distribution and the message has changed. Instead of trying to sell and push products onto customers (like outbound marketing), Inbound educates and pulls customers in with engaging and compelling content.

It's less expensive: Inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional outbound marketing. 

And more effective: 54% more leads are generated by inbound than by outbound.

Especially for B2B: 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.

So to refresh your memory this is what outbound is:

If you were to ask 100 non-marketers what marketing was, they'd probably sigh/cringe/moan that it was an intrusive sales campaign dolled up with pretty colours and viral videos transmitted to them through the medium of radio/TV/newspaper/email/billboard/wherever they could get their ad up. Outbound gives marketers a bad name and is only getting worse due to dwindling audiences as people lose their cool with communications that are not relevant to their need. 

So let's pit them against each other and see how they measure up. 

Round 1: Enrage vs. Educated:

Ever been browsing and inundated with pop-up ads? Ever been tucking into your ma's Sunday roast and been interrupted by a cold caller? Ever just walked down the street minding your own business and been greeted with a flyer to the face? It's annoying right? So much so, 84% of 25 to 34 year olds have clicked out of a website because of an irrelevant or intrusive advertisement. This is the outbound strategy: Annoy and alienate the majority of the population and get through to the minority of interested buyers through expensive and intruding marketing campaigns.

So it's not surprising that 90% of consumers find personalised content useful and 78% believe that organisations providing tailored content are interested in building good relationships with them. There's where Inbound steps in. By creating useful, compelling and educational content that is specifically tailored to your buyers, it's more likely they'll engage with your company and eventually buy from you because you're helpful and not throwing your weight around like the outbound companies. 

OK your audience is significantly smaller, but they all brought tickets, queued up overnight and are shouting a screaming at your gig, they didn't stumble in by mistake, heckle you and then walk out. This audience you’re engaging with coverts at a 750% higher rate than interruption-based marketing. 

Round 2: Stab in the Dark vs. Cold Hard Facts

Although you can measure your outbound campaign, response and engagement rates are dropping of those that want to see them, and those that don't are getting increasingly enraged by interruptive and intrusive advertisements. So how can you maximise your marketing ROI?

We think you should start investing more in Inbound. And you wouldn't be alone, 32% of brands are decreasing spending on outbound to spend more on content marketing and marketers allocate 34% of budget to inbound tactics - 11% more than they dedicate to outbound.

Inbound is a better detective than your mother when you used to sneak down to the pub and have a beer before you were 18. It can tell you the content and website pages visited by a visitor or lead, what content they read and if they downloaded any. How they accessed the site, through organic search or social media. You can trace the whole buyer journey right up to when they become a customer.

So when your CMO comes over and tells you, (with a very unconvincing sad face) that regrettably they must to cut your marketing budget by 10%, you can turn around and inform them that they would then be cutting the revenue by 'x' amount (probably more than 10%). And seeing as no-one wants to lose revenue, you might win that battle. 

Round 3: D-List vs. Headline Act

Outbound marketing is the equivalent D-list celebrity who's ended up on I'm a Celebrity, Get me out of here. They're attention grabbing, annoying and most people want them to get off their screens. Outbound ads pop up and irritate consumers often enraging customers and pushing them away from the company that's promoting. No wonder they clicked away quicker than they pop out their box making them costly and largely ineffective.

Meanwhile Inbound leads potential customers gently on a journey, providing them with timely, relevant and compelling content that educates and engages them. People are there for the content and once they find something they like, they're likely to come back again and again or will enjoy receiving tailored content from you. Make your marketing the star of the show that people want to see, generating traffic to your site and social media, and increasing your email subscribers to improve email nurturing.

The outbound audience is dwindling rapidly. The educated consumer is fed up of listening to constant sales pitches. They want to be educated, enlightened and enthralled. So stand up and be counted, engage with your customers and start making your Inbound work harder. 

Sources: Content Marketing Institute, Mashable, Hubspot, Marketing Agents, Adobe, Earnest

Topics: B2B Marketing, Inbound Marketing

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