Inbound vs Outbound Marketing : What is the Difference and What is The Best Approach?
The emergence of inbound marketing over the last decade has dramatically changed the landscape of every company’s marketing efforts and how marketing is received and consumed by prospective customers. Instead of bombarding people with generic advertisements, suddenly companies were able to personally reach out to qualified prospective buyers and maintain an open dialog with them.
What is Inbound Marketing and Why Choose It?
Inbound marketing is designed to align your online presence and every piece of marketing you create with the buyer’s purchase journey, the process a modern buyer goes through when searching for a solution or product. Your company has the ability to actively have a “conversation” with an interested party (i.e. engineers and their team) – they know about you and are looking to find more from you to satisfy their specific need.
An engineer’s buyer’s journey typically follows these 3 steps:
- Awareness – They recognize they have a problem they need to solve or an opportunity they need to seize.
- Research and Consideration – They research their problem, fully understand it, and are aware of all potential solutions. Typically 60% to 70% of their buying decision has been made through the research and consideration portion of the process.
- Decision – They have narrowed down their options and have decided which to purchase.
Marketing tactics that help take a prospective customer through the buyer’s journey include:
- Email marketing
- Social media posting
- Blogging or article writing
- White papers
- Content creation
- Case studies
- SEO efforts
- Video creation
- Landing pages
- Targeted ads
These tactics are designed to help the customer discover your business at the very early stages of the buyer’s journey and keep in constant contact so that you can educate them and build trust as they prepare to purchase a solution to their problem.
One of the biggest strengths to this marketing approach is that it is focused on the value you can provide to your customer. The approach is education focused and generally non-promotional or minimally so. The marketing seamlessly aligns with the buyer’s own journey, it builds the relationship between your company and your prospect, and it aligns your company to be in the right place when the customer reaches the point of purchase. Buyers generally prefer this less pushy, stress-free marketing approach.
Inbound marketing also gives your company long-term ROI (Return on Investment) on the overall marking efforts. Over time the value of these assets you have created increase at a higher rate than they cost to maintain or to improve. Digital assets like articles, videos, white papers, blogs, case studies, CAD drawings, and social posts continue to generate leads for years after they were originally created without any additional costs.
What is Outbound Marketing and Why Choose It?
Outbound marketing is almost the opposite approach to capturing the attention of prospective clients. This type of marketing aims to reach as many people as possible, even if they are not actively looking to buy or even the right kind of customer for the business. Outbound marketing is often referred to as interruption marketing and is aggressive, disruptive, and unsolicited.
These marketing tactics include:
- Pay-per-click ads
- Print ads
- Trade Shows
- Direct mailers
- TV and radio commercials
Outbound marketing does not take the buyer’s journey into consideration and simply casts a wide marketing net hoping to snare a customer or two.
One of the biggest strengths to this marketing approach is the ability to get in front of a huge number of people very quickly. If done correctly, the campaign will be seen by millions, build awareness, and result in new customers within a few weeks. However, the results are directly related to the amount of money that you spend on the campaigns. You need to spend a lot more money, on an on-going basis, to see any tangible results from these types of marketing efforts. When you stop spending the money on these campaigns, the people stop seeing your business, and tend to forget quickly. Any prospects will go with the next business they are bombarded with. This marketing approach tends to also turn people away from businesses as they perceive the efforts as pushy and annoying.
Which would be the best approach?
Your primary objective is to be the optimized solution provider for your customers by helping them get their job done with the greatest degree of expertise that makes them look good. You are selling your ability to solve a specific problem using your particular products, methods, and expertise. To determine which marketing approach would be best for you there are quite a few factors that you need to look at.
Factors such as:
- Your industry
- Your ideal customer
- Your ideal market
- Your specific business
- Your staff
- Your process
- Your target market and ideal buyer
- Your marketing objectives
Generally speaking a blend of both marketing approaches is best to be truly successful in today’s marketplace. Grab attention with outbound marketing practices and keep your prospects interested utilizing inbound techniques that drive people to your content.
Focus your marketing efforts more on helping prospective customers learn about your offerings, rather than simply selling, and you are more likely to get the right people engaging with your company in positive ways, long-term.
Need assistance? Let us help!
With over 30 years of experience, The Rico Group specializes in helping B2B companies grow their business and diversify their customer base. We know how your customers think and what they are looking for. We know your processes, equipment, and materials. We also know that you have very little time to take away from your business and getting your customer’s orders delivered.
Grow your B2B business with better marketing with The Rico Group.