What’s the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing?

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Two Ways to Market Your Business

By now, you may have heard of the term “inbound marketing” — and if there’s an inbound form of marketing, what’s “outbound marketing”? And what’s the difference between the two?

The two forms of marketing represent different methods of connecting with customers. Inbound marketing is all about pulling people into your hub through various channels. This can be achieved in a variety of methods, and a robust inbound marketing campaign often uses almost all of these: content that gets search engine traction, clickthrough engagement on social media, clickthrough engagement on pay-per-click ads, etc. The goal is to use these various methods to get viewers to a targeted landing site or page.

Outbound marketing is the opposite of that. Rather than pulling people in, you send your message/brand out (outbound) in front of as many targeted groups as possible. This can be in the form of pay-per-click ads, paid ad content online and in traditional broadcasts, print ads, etc. In a traditional marketing flow, ads are broadcast and a certain percentage of viewers act on them to make purchases.

inbound-and-outbound-marketingIn terms of cost, inbound marketing is an ongoing effort. New content must always be created, someone must always be monitoring social media accounts, and channels should constantly be updated to ensure there is value for customers. Outbound marketing can be performed in measured campaigns. For example, a deal is negotiated for broadcast commercial placement or a budget is set for a pay-per-click campaign. In those cases, outbound strategies can be as long or short as a budget/need dictates.

Which provides the most value to business owners? Both inbound and outbound marketing have their pros and cons. Inbound is a long-term strategy built around relationship management with the goal of customer loyalty. Outbound is focused on getting a message out. In most cases, a business will want to use some combination of both, and the balance depends on target audience, budget, competition, and industry. In many cases, they can work together. For example, outbound can be extremely effective for a short-term promotion (new product launch, etc.), something where a mass announcement gets information across quickly. Once that person converts, a customer relationship strategy should be in place to get contact information and engage them on all possible channels so that they find their way back (inbound).

If you’re having trouble deciding which strategy you need right now, think of it this way: inbound marketing is about building a large customer base while outbound marketing is about getting immediate sales. Both are necessary parts of business, and depending on your current situation, one may be better than the other.

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