Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

Posted in Social media and marketing.

To some outbound marketing may seem old-fashioned since it is associated with cold-calling. Especially in this day and age where you can reach people more effectively via social media avenues thus putting trust in the fact that the people that need to reach you will with minimal effort from your side.

In essence, inbound marketing is where you allow your customers to find you before you go looking for or calling them. Inbound marketing could mean a potential client calls you for an enquiry after looking at your website and browsing through your products. Outbound marketing is the action of drawing up a list of people you think would be interested in your product or service and then contacting them directly without any effort from their side.

Customers are becoming more and more savvy due to easier access to information. No longer do they have to rely on a salesperson to provide them with information that they might not have wanted in the first place or might not find all that helpful for their needs.

Now customers find out what they want to know beforehand from websites, other customers, friends, family and social media. It becomes the salesperson’s job to clarify the information the customer has, clear away any negative perceptions they may have picked up along the way and then convince the customer that despite all of the other competition, that their company is the best. Remember, because customers have access to so much information, it will be less likely that they will be fooled by old-fashioned techniques of selling.

The rise of inbound marketing has changed the way salespeople can and should interact with their potential customers. Salespeople now need to listen more and talk less. Salespeople need to be able to provide timely, relevant knowledge to their customers. If the customer has a question, the salesperson needs to be able to answer it without the need to follow a script – a big problem when it comes to outbound marketing. You won’t know what knowledge they have gained beforehand so there is a larger need to find out what they know, match that with your own knowledge and handle questions with confidence.

People who participate in inbound marketing have already entered the sales cycle. There is no need to lure them into it by convincing them they need something. Inbound customers already have a need, contacting you is the way they will figure out if you are the right company to give them that something that they need.

Effort in inbound marketing situations now has to be made to ensure that customers get the correct information directly from you. Content therefore needs to be created that attracts, informs and educates prospects. Content can be created on websites, via slideshows, white papers, videos, ebooks, webinars, blogs and social media. Creating this content isn’t about selling, it is about creating interest and drawing customers to your company in an organic manner.

Inbound marketing costs much less than outbound marketing and it may cost you nearly nothing to write something up using only your own and your colleagues’ knowledge. Content seen by customers without it being forced upon them is usually more trustworthy to them than, say, advertising pitches – something that they have not sought out themselves.

There are cons to using inbound marketing though. The wrong content will scare customers away instead of luring them in. Costs in some areas fall when using this type of marketing, but hiring a website developer and so forth will push up the costs again. Inbound marketing also doesn’t have that immediate result that outbound has. Creating content and putting it out there requires a certain time period for it to work alongside patience.

Considering that both inbound and outbound marketing has pros and cons, a dual technique would be best for all types of companies. This way the cons of inbound are counteracted by the pros of outbound and vice versa. By using both types of marketing you will receive the benefit of getting customers to your company organically as well as search for people who have not entered the buying cycle yet. With outbound marketing you have more time to tailor your product to your customers’ needs while with inbound marketing, the customer already knows that you have what they want and thus a sale will occur quicker.

It needn’t be an either/or situation when it comes to marketing. Outbound marketing can still provide you with value if it is used correctly and using tactics that are modern in nature. Inbound marketing is there to compliment the efforts made by outbound marketers. Outbound was there long before inbound came to be a term so it is best not to ignore the impact it has made on the way we sell today. Cold calling has brought millions of customers to companies throughout many many years of sales so why take it out the loop completely?