Inbound Versus Outbound Marketing: There’s No Debate

The “inbound versus outbound” marketing debate is something business owners and marketing professionals have been disputing for years. Which is better? Which offers the highest return? Which builds brand equity quicker and lasts longer? While the arguments are interesting, there’s really no other choice in 2015: Inbound marketing is far more effective, by a landslide.

Understanding the Two Strategies

Outbound marketing, as you likely know, refers to a marketing strategy in which businesses push products and services onto people by presenting them with information and marketing messages, regardless of whether or not they’re looking for it. When you think about outbound marketing, think about TV commercials, billboards and radio spots. The very nature of outbound marketing has led many to refer to it as “interruptive marketing.” While there is certainly some value in outbound marketing, it’s hard for anyone other than big brands with strong brand recognition to benefit from it.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is much more affordable and natural. “The idea of inbound marketing is that you target a core audience by providing useful and quality content to entice them into finding out more about your products or services,” says marketing professional Theresa Goodwin. “So, in essence, you give them something in order to get them to come to you.”

Out With Outbound Marketing

The internet community as a whole has singlehandedly pushed inbound marketing into the lead. Consumers rarely rely on print advertisements to make purchase decisions. They simply head to their computer, strike a few keys, and find what they’re looking for. As a result, traditional outbound marketing techniques are converting at all-time low rates.

Approximately 44 percent of all direct mail is never opened. Eighty-four percent of 25-34 year olds have abandoned a website because ads were irrelevant or intrusive. Eighty-six percent of people skip through television commercials when watching recorded shows. In other words, people are trying their hardest to avoid outbound marketing. They see it as invasive and annoying. Instead, they prefer to consume useful content and make conscious decisions regarding where they click and what brands they engage with.

In With Inbound Marketing

“Inbound marketing, which finds its roots in permission marketing (a term coined by Seth Godin), manages to attract, engage and convert prospects primarily as a result of its methodology,” writes Todd Mumford, inbound marketing specialist.

Quality inbound marketing understands that customers find interruptive marketing objectionable. They want to control their own buying destiny. As a marketer, this means letting customers research solutions and determine (on their own) that your brand offers the best solution, based on the content they’ve engaged with.

Choosing Inbound Marketing

There are dozens of reasons why inbound marketing is preferred over outbound marketing in the modern internet-based marketplace, but here are a handful of the most important ones:

  • Price: Inbound marketing is substantially more cost-effective than outbound marketing. Whereas outbound marketing typically costs a fixed amount and only exists for a predetermined period of time, inbound marketing scales accordingly and lasts indefinitely.
  • Natural: Inbound marketing is polite and courteous. It allows the user to engage as much or as little as they’d like. This natural feel results in healthier brand-customer relationships over the long run.
  • Two-way communication: Have you ever talked to a billboard? When you ask questions to your TV, does it answer them? Obviously not. With inbound marketing, customers can and will communicate with your brand. And you get the chance to respond. This two-way communication is invaluable.

Make Inbound Marketing a Priority

There’s no real debate when it comes to inbound versus outbound marketing. Sure, outbound marketing still holds value for certain major brands, but it’s not a cost-effective, long-term solution for smaller brands seeking to engage customers. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is. If you haven’t yet invested in the creation of quality, original content, there’s no better time to start than today.


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