What is inbound vs. outbound marketing?
Outbound marketing is like buying a shiny new sports car. Apple red. Maybe it’s an impulse buy — somebody tells you that you deserve it, and you fall in love at first sight. They walk you around it in the showroom, and you feel your heart race. Its sleek body, chrome wheels and leather interior all have you saying, “Come to Mama!”
Or maybe the salesman sells you on performance. You’re a gear-head. You love the idea of all that power under the hood. It’s got 450 hp, 383 cubic inches, a limited slip differential, a rev matching gear box and does zero to 60 in four seconds. Man, oh man.
That car really looks good on you! You’ve never felt so spectacular!
For about two weeks.
Then it begins to wear off. It’s just a car. It takes you to work and back home, and to Wal-Mart. Just like the Ford Taurus you used to own. Only, it’s not as comfortable to get in and out of.
And the car payments begin. Wowza! You’ve got 60 months of that? What were you thinking?
Compared to this:
You have 20 percent of your income deducted from your paycheck every pay period. These funds are invested in your 401K so that by the time you are 65, you will have enough to live on for the rest of your life. You know that you are building solid assets that will pay dividends in the future, because you occasionally discuss your investment strategy with your financial adviser. She sits down with you and analyzes your portfolio and makes recommendations for ways to adjust your investment strategy to fit your individual circumstances.
Nothing glitzy here. Just good, solid, long-term planning. Even if you stop contributing to your 401K today, it will continue growing and earning money for you. You feel secure, knowing you are using your money responsibly to build a future for yourself and your family.
How is this relative to inbound vs. outbound marketing?
Outbound marketing is sleek. It is apple red. It is Madison Avenue. It is advertising. It is, “STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND LOOK AT ME!!!!” Outbound marketing has to be ever louder and more outrageous to capture the attention of your audience, because it interrupts people from what they want to do, which is watch their favorite TV shows, or read the paper, or listen to music on the radio, or talk to their friends in the car, or look at scenery out the car window, or search for answers in Google, or connect with their friends on social media.
Outbound marketing doesn’t listen. It only talks. It doesn’t care what your customers have to say. It just talks, talks, talks, talks, talks.
Outbound marketing is really fun. You can do some really cool stuff with outbound marketing. But it’s really easy for people to tune out. They can Tivo their TV programs. Skip over the ads in print. Change channels on the radio. X out the ads on YouTube. Ignore the AdWords on Google. Chuck the direct mail into the trash without opening it.
Outbound marketing is expensive. You have to pay a lot of money for the creative. Then you pay a lot of money for the media to run it. Sure, you may get some quick results. But then after it runs, it’s gone. There’s nothing to show for it. It’s vapor.
It’s the red sports car of marketing.
Inbound marketing on the other hand, is like investing. You build a solid asset on your website through content creation.
After creating a strong marketing strategy that includes developing personas for your ideal customer, you begin creating your online portfolio. This consists of regular blogging; adding landing pages with premium content, such as ebooks, white papers or check lists; lead nurturing through email marketing; and ever-so-gently promoting your content through social media.
It’s quiet. It doesn’t interrupt. It let’s your customers find you. They are already interested in what you have to offer, because they were searching for terms that brought them to your virtual front door.
Inbound marketing listens. OK, it talks, too. But it lets your customers talk back. You engage in a conversation, back and forth. Through comments on your blog, or through social media.
It doesn’t give you results immediately. It takes a little while to get rolling. But then …. it really rocks. Most people begin to see significant results in two to four months.
In 2013, an MIT Sloan MBA student completed a research study on the ROI of using HubSpot software for inbound marketing. The following are highlights of the key findings. HubSpot customers generated 33% more leads per month after only three months of use.
In 12 months, active users experienced an average 2.7 times increase in traffic and — get this — a lead database growth of 30.4 times greater. Outbound can’t compare.
Inbound marketing costs less. Much less. According to a 2012 Hubspot study, inbound marketing costs 61 percent less per lead than outbound marketing. The average cost per lead of outbound leads is $346, while the average cost of inbound leads is $135.
And, unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing is an investment that continues its value — even if you stop contributing! When you add high quality content to your blog and website, it is there forever — serving as a magnet for customers, long after you have posted it. You are creating a new source of leads every time you add another piece of content targeting your personas to your website, and it will remain so until you take it down. It grows in value — just like your 401K!
Inbound vs. outbound marketing — which will it be for you?
So what will it be for you and your business? Will you choose the shiny red sports car of marketing that gives you the excitement today, but after a little bump in results, its thrill is gone? Or would you prefer the steady approach of investing long-term in inbound marketing? That’s the inbound vs. outbound marketing question.