Marketing can be separated into two categories, inbound and outbound. While these terms might be relatively new, the tactics involved have been around awhile, especially the outbound tactics.
Outbound marketing is essentially traditional push marketing. Outbound marketing tactics include TV, print, and radio advertising, public relations, direct mail, and telemarketing. This type of marketing has also been called “interruption” marketing and has a “hey, look at me!” kind of approach. The target is usually very broad and there isn’t much immediate return on investment. It’s about trying to attract an audience that may never have an interest in your product or service. It’s like throwing a bunch of information, deals, promotions, etc. at the wall and hoping that something sticks. Sometimes it works, but it typically works a very low percentage of the time.
Inbound marketing is a strategy to attract an audience that you know is already interested in what you have to offer. It’s about joining the conversation, rather than starting the conversation. Inbound marketing is opt-in marketing. The target audience chooses to receive the information. Inbound marketing includes tactics such as SEO, PPC, social media, and blogging.
Inbound marketing has become the “cool kid” in marketing, due to the change in customer behavior over the years. Consumers are wary of what’s out there and don’t trust the information that they receive when it’s being marketed “at” them. The days of consumers thinking, “if they say this about their product, then it absolutely must be true” are long gone. If anything, consumers just don’t want to hear it. They find “in your face” advertising to be annoying and have learned to just tune it out.
Inbound marketing is about being there only when the target audience wants you to be. Unlike the billboard on the highway that targets everyone that is driving by (whether they need a new cell phone service provider or not) PPC and SEO is all about targeting specific keywords that relate to specific products and services. The only searchers that will find you are the searchers that are looking for you. You aren’t interrupting them, you are assisting them. It’s very niche and targeted, and therefore much more cost efficient.
This doesn’t mean that you should scrap traditional outbound media entirely and spend all of your dollars on inbound. They are most effective when working together as part of a diverse marketing strategy. Outbound focuses on brand building and increasing recognition. It’s broad and focuses on the early stages of the decision process, which is still an important piece of the puzzle. Inbound marketing focuses on consumers that are in purchase mode that will be more likely to click on an ad or website of a company that they have already heard of via outbound traditional marketing.