This year will see an increase in companies focusing on inbound marketing and moving away from traditional outbound marketing processes. It’s about time, too; customers no longer wish to be constantly bombarded with advertising when watching TV, surfing the web, or opening their post. In this day and age, there is simply too much of this kind of advertising to have any kind of positive effect – people skip TV adverts, put direct mail in the bin without opening it, and leave websites that have too much obvious advertising. This leads to a shift in customer behaviour, as they are more aware of the methods businesses use to target them, and are also more in control of the information they are receiving. This is where outbound marketing starts to become redundant and where the more subtle idea of inbound marketing comes into play.
What is outbound marketing?
Outbound marketing refers to the more traditional way of advertising to customers, such as TV adverts, direct mail, pay per click online ads, cold calling, and any other method of marketing that can be considered ‘intrusive’. Communication is generally just one-way, and there is no effort on the part of the company to inform or entertain the user. Businesses ‘beg’ customers to pay attention to them.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing utilises social media sites to create an approachable online presence, as well as making use of content marketing such as company blogs, ebooks, white papers and infographics. Communication is generally two-way, encouraging interaction with and participation from customers, and the goal of the marketing is to inform or entertain, rather than going straight for the hard sell. Businesses earn their right to target customers.
What are the advantages of inbound marketing over outbound marketing?
1. The Cost
Whereas businesses have always had to have big budgets for traditional marketing methods, the costs of inbound marketing processes are much lower, leading to a higher ROI.
2. Customers Discover You On Their Own
Outbound marketing relies on constant work to make sure advertising is being generated and seen by their potential client base, but this isn’t necessary with inbound marketing. Especially if you have created an informative blog that encourages participation, and have a strong social media presence, interested web users will share your content and get other people interested for you. Word of mouth in the internet age shouldn’t be underestimated.
3. Building Customer Loyalty
If you have taken the time to build your brand online and actually interact with your potential clients through social media, blogs, Youtube, and other channels, then your business suddenly seems more personal and more approachable. Also, if you provide new and intriguing insights on industry developments through these channels, people will begin to associate your business with specialist knowledge; they’ll keep coming back because they trust what you are saying.
Whatever you decide to do with your marketing, if you ensure that you identify your target audience, know what your desired action is (buy a product, sign up to a mailing list etc), and can measure your success rate to see what is and isn’t working, inbound marketing could help your business gain new customers and a whole new brand awareness online.
By Chelsey Evans