Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

Rodrigo Silva

May 03, 2016

86% of people skip commercials on television. 91% delete email newsletters. 44% of mass emails aren’t opened.

Either by saturation, boredom, or lack of novelty, outbound marketing tactics have lost effectiveness and attractiveness and are increasingly resisted by consumers. These HubSpot figures prove it.

The phenomenon began almost ten years ago in the United States and Europe and expanded globally, which is just the factor that has opened the path for Inbound Marketing, a strategy that looks to attract, convert, close, and delight customers more efficiently.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound Marketing, a philosophy and method created in 2006 by Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah, and David Meerman Scott, founders of HubSpot- break away from how we keep in touch with our customers.

According to Carolina Samsing, HubSpot’s Marketing Manager for Latin America, it “helps users and potential customers to find you online and get to know your products and services. It is about adding value in a non-intrusive way, unlike traditional advertising, because customers don’t feel that the goal is to sell them something.

With inbound techniques, customers approach you, and with outbound sales, you must find them. The key is creating remarkable content in the first case, and the second one is securing budget."

👉  Related post: What is The Buyer's Journey and How to Use it in Your Marketing

Why doesn’t outbound marketing work like before?

Before continuing with Inbound marketing, we must understand why an outbound strategy is off the table, once efficient and successful for decades, and why they stopped attracting customers.

What if we check what  Brian Halligan, co-founder, and CEO from HubSpot, and MIT professor has to say?  “Outbound marketing included trade shows, seminar series, email blasts to purchased lists, internal cold calling, outsourced telemarketing, and advertising. I call these methods "outbound marketing" because marketers push their message out far and wide, hoping that it resonates with that needle in the haystack.”

I think outbound marketing techniques –he says- are getting less and less effective over time for two reasons.  First, your average human today is inundated with over 2000 outbound marketing interruptions per day.

It is figuring out more and more creative ways to block them out, including caller ID, spam filtering, Tivo, and Sirius satellite radio.  Second, the cost of coordination around learning about something new or shopping for something new using the internet (search engines, blogs, and social media) is now much lower than going to a seminar at the Marriott or flying to a trade show in Las Vegas.”

👉  Related post: What is a Buyer Persona and How to Create It

DigitalMarketing: Good! But…

As we can see, consumers now have the power to look for themselves for what they need and want. They share advice and experiences and even create groups and social communities around a product or service, rewarding a brand with good comments if it adds value and keeps its promise or burying it into the ground if it’s not honest and proves value for their money.

In this context, brands must connect in this new frequency with customers and speak the same language. Digital marketing has led brands to this pitch to build a brand personality accordingly, appealing to a hyper-connected culture, and in many cases, results have been successful. In fact, 64% of Facebook users are ‘fans’ of at least one brand, which involves a massive exposure to social media.

But we have also seen brands connected with customers in digital language but lost strength, probably because they focused on the style rather than the content or didn’t adapt to market changes.

For instance, in  70% of Internet searches,  people click on organic hyperlinks, which aren’t paid for by the company. Search engine ads worked very well for a while, but we must remember that the only thing permanent with consumers is the confidence that they will never stop evolving and changing.

On the other hand, brands started noticing that there was absolutely nothing certain about Return on Investment (ROI) in implementing a digital marketing strategy.  In many cases, corporate reports show how many Twitter posts were made, how many blogs were published, how many videos were linked on Facebook, and how many blogs, comments, sharing, and web traffic these actions generated.

Very well but, what does a marketing or sales manager do with it? How does he differentiate qualified leads from regular website visitors? How do you make the most of this lead generation to get new customers? How do you leverage all this to keep and delight new customers? In summary, how does this help my company succeed?

Could you show me the ROI?

The answers to these questions are the significant competitive advantage of Inbound Marketing. If digital marketing strategies were already a step forward to more efficient marketing, inbound has a series of attributes that lead to a higher ROI:

It aligns marketing and sales. These two areas do not communicate very well inside companies, but with Inbound Marketing, they can find a common collaborative workflow, where they can have mutual benefits. For example, sharing data and jointly following up their lead conversion process. In this way, a company optimizes resources in their work units, as they use the same system and data instead of investing in different software for each area.

Precise lead selection. Companies often deal with digital marketing strategy problems: even if they get high traffic on their websites, many visitors don’t qualify as leads. As a result, they must invest much money to reach an expected conversion rate.

With Inbound Marketing, the process is no longer a waste of money. Instead, the thorough research leading to defining and profiling buyer personas helps to identify a more precise and focused target audience, focusing on the people who can effectively become customers, bounding the conversion process, and having better success rates, as they work with people who better match their buyer’s description.

👉  Related post: The Case for Sales and Marketing Alignment ROI

Resource optimization.  Inbound Marketing has nothing to do with that enormous propaganda and advertisement artillery, which literally looks to bomb the consumer to choose a specific brand, winning the battle by exhaustion than by seduction. I insist the traditional marketing strategies have led to many success stories but, how much have companies invested in them?

Inbound is not about crushing but attracting and seducing, keeping the consumer feeling a need to know more about your brand. Inbound is a selective- not massive- set of appealing tactics and tools.

It develops a set of tools at the beginning (such as blogging and SEO), measured at all times, and then enriches them with calls to action and content offers, closing the sales when the prospect is certain they want to receive a product or service offer voluntarily and willingly.

In case that a person is not decided on buying, Inbound is not over. On the contrary, it continues to nurture the potential customer, who goes a step back in the conversion funnel and keeps in touch with interest until he can decide.

What are the results: Let’s see HubSpot figures:

  • Inbound generates 54% more sales opportunities than Outbound
  • Inbound Prospects cost 61% less than Outbound
  • 50% of companies who use HubSpot increase their sales conversion

What do you think about these Inbound Marketing results? How are you managing leads and prospects?

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Rodrigo Silva

Rodrigo is a journalist with over 10 year of experience in writing.

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