Inbound marketing is getting lots of buzz lately—Hubspot reported that 27 percent of marketers say they will leverage it for the first time in 2022. But what is the difference between inbound and outbound marketing? Can they work in tandem, or is one more effective?
In this article, we’ll explore the strengths of each marketing approach and when it’s best to prioritize one over the other. First, let’s define these marketing strategies.
Inbound and outbound marketing approaches are similar to how we build professional networks. In the "old days," before we could connect with just about anyone via our smartphone, we met other professionals by putting ourselves out there, attending networking events, and meeting a wide range of people who may (or may not) result in fruitful connections.
Outbound marketing reflects this approach, relying on more traditional forms of marketing to reach potential audiences. Also known as “interruption” marketing, outbound marketing gets in front of as many potential customers as possible through radio, TV, and pop-up ads; direct mail promotionals; mass emailing; and even cold calling.
These days, we have more options for building professional connections. We can carefully construct and post a profile on LinkedIn or other professional sites and see who engages with us. We can also find like-minded individuals through social media or online networking opportunities.
Similarly, inbound marketing uses the strength of its content, such as blogs or newsletters, to attract a smaller—but potentially more interested—audience. Companies who use inbound marketing understand their audience and provide content that adds value to their lives. This approach is built on trust, and can often result in more loyal customers.
And, for new or growing businesses, inbound marketing is worth particular attention. Here’s why:
Targeting Your Audience
One important difference between inbound and outbound marketing involves how much time is taken to identify and understand target audiences. Companies that use inbound marketing effectively have taken the time to understand both their current customers and potential new ones. They have developed customer personas, exploring everything from demographic information like family status, age, and education level to psychographics like values, interests, and lifestyles.
Armed with this knowledge, they create content that is tailored to their target audiences and designed to add value. This is quality content presented in a variety of forms, including podcasts, newsletters, videos, e-books, etc. Ideally, the content is shared via email and social media and links back to the company’s website.
Even though inbound marketing has been around since 2005, it continues to evolve with new technology. Website content, for example, can take advantage of search engine optimization (SEO) copywriting to help potential customers find you. Businesses can also personalize emails to optimize their efforts to target specific audiences.
With holistic planning, companies can use inbound marketing to reach customers at any point on their journey, whether they’re just learning about your brand or have become return customers. Here’s an excellent explanation from Hubspot about how inbound marketing can be used to attract, engage, and delight audiences.
Finding the Right Fit
Much like networking at events or professional gatherings, there is something to be said for old-fashioned outbound marketing. As this article points out, outbound marketing can be effective in reaching people who weren’t already looking for a company’s product or service. If done repeatedly and through different platforms, brand awareness can increase.
But as consumers become more savvy, they lose patience for such interruptions. We block advertisements, click the X on the pop-up ads, and delete the mass emails. Buying email lists is often prohibited these days, and regulations against automated emails have been enacted in the U.S. and Europe. Ideally, companies have the resources and bandwidth to utilize both inbound and outbound marketing strategies.
Whether you want to add some inbound strategy to your outbound marketing efforts or you’re ready to focus on target audiences, we can help. From developing buyer personas and content strategy to strengthening email personalization and social media reach, our team of experts know how to engage current and potential customers. Learn more about our services, such as HubSpot onboarding and inbound marketing copywriting