Last month, I discussed the differences between inbound and outbound marketing. This month, I decided to stay on topic and dig a little deeper into the subject of inbound vs. outbound marketing. From my research, I found that one strategy seems to have a slight edge on the other in terms of effectiveness, budget, and success.
Is “Inbound” in and “Outbound” out?
It’s not a matter of one strategy being better than the other; both inbound and outbound marketing can be valuable strategies for your brand when used in the right ways. However, there has been a recent trend favoring inbound marketing as a more effective marketing method.
In my research, I found some interesting statistics about the future of inbound marketing:
- The average budget spent on social campaigns and blogging has doubled in the last few years.
- The number of marketers that see Facebook as “critical” or “important” has increased by 83% in the last few years.
- 2/3 of marketers label their company blog as “critical” or “important” to their business.
- 67% of B2C companies and 41% of B2B companies have acquired a customer through Facebook.
- 57% of businesses have acquired a customer through their blog and 42% have through their Twitter account.
So why is there such a push towards inbound strategies? Today, most business technology searches and software research efforts begin on the Internet, where your potential customers are actively seeking informative, relevant material to help them solve a problem. They may not know that your solution exists to help them solve their problem, but they’re self-identifying themselves as relevant prospects by digesting online content (blogs, videos, pictures, reviews…you name it) to help answer a question. Don’t you want to be the one to answer it? Think of it this way…if someone knocked on your office door asking for information about your product or service, would you slam the door in their face? Of course not! Inbound marketing is the equivalent of inviting that person in and talking them through why they should be your new customer.
What the Rise of Inbound Means for Your Business
Inbound marketing should be an important part of your marketing strategy. But it shouldn’t be the only strategy, as many outbound tactics are effective too, depending on your end-goal. To ensure success from your inbound marketing campaigns, you should focus on the following three tactics:
- Develop Content – Content is the media through which you communicate with your target audience, so it needs to reflect your brand. You could be using every possible inbound strategy, but if the content’s not right, you could lose customers, potential and current. For example, a blog post about the many benefits of using a project management solution would be very helpful for buyers doing research about it, but if there’s no call-to-action about your product, then you’re no closer to making a potential sale. On the other hand, a Facebook post about how great your software solution is, with no information about the product itself, is encouraging people to consider you without giving them any reason to buy. Content that’s informative and persuasive is the right content to have.
- Optimize for Search – How will consumers find your content? They start by searching for it, so make sure your content is SEO-friendly. For example, place the right keywords throughout your content, and make it share-able. SEO-friendly content gives your customers a better chance of finding you, which gives you the opportunity to convert more of them into leads, and then sales.
- Engage in Social Media – 2-way communication is a huge benefit of inbound marketing. Using social media is one of the easiest ways to engage with your target audience, through direct conversations with your customers, both current and potential. Also, if your customers share your message with their network, it makes your message seem more authentic to others considering your product or service (and maybe even a few who hadn’t considered it before).
Inbound strategies are dominating the current marketing trends, so it’s important to take advantage of these new tactics to reach your target audience. Because, guess what? Your customers are looking for information about your product right now, and might even be ready to make a purchase. Remember the stats from earlier in my post? Here’s one more that should have you drinking the inbound Kool-Aid in no time: inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than outbound marketing. So don’t try inbound marketing because it’s popular; try it because it works with today’s buyers, without breaking the bank.
I will say this: there’s also no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding on inbound and outbound tactics for your marketing plan. Do what makes sense for your company, and your bottom line.
Do you use inbound marketing, outbound marketing, or both strategies? Has one worked best for you?