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Outbound vs Inbound Marketing: What's the Difference?

by Michelle Nessman | April 06, 2017 | content marketing

Inbound vs. outbound marketing showing the importance of the differenceThe internet. A product of the digital age. At the time of creation, we knew not the extent of its capabilities, only that life was about to change forever. Marketers daydreamed of the potential this powerful force now added to the ability to reach target audiences in a entirely new way. And so began the global race – a race that consumed the world. Companies fighting for prospect attention by building websites, identifying keywords, and utilizing strategies like pay per click and banner ads to take outbound marketing strategies online. However, as time evolved, buyers have changed, interrruptive ads (whether in print or digital form) have become less effective in reaching target audiences. With interuptive marketing tactics decreasing in effectiveness, enter the era of inbound marketing. How are these two strategies different? Let's take a look:

Outbound marketing

Outbound marketing focuses its efforts on getting your message to a large audience through visiting tradeshows, sending email blasts, cold calling a purchased list, and other tactics. Communication is seen as a one-way street, forcing intrusive ads and promotions upon prospects whether they want to hear it or not. Besides being interuptive in nature, it’s costly. The fact of the matter is, today's technology allows us to avoid outbound marketing messages in the following ways:

  • TV ads: People can avoid ads by recording their television shows and fast-forwarding through the commercials.
  • Online ads: Can be blocked by ad blockers, and even if they aren’t blocked they usually are ignored or not seen by the user because they consciously or subconsciously ignore ads when visiting websites.
  • Direct Mail: According to CMO 44% of direct mail is never opened.
  • Telemarketing/Cold Calling: There is do-not-call lists and is frustrating and annoying for the recipient.

The transformation to Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing doesn't fight for prospects' attention and has truly transformed the way we reach our audience in the digital age by focusing on attracting and engageing with your target audience at the right time on the right platform. Inbound marketers create educational content that is relevent and interesting to your target audience. Content includes white papers, eBooks, blogs, videos, infographics and more. Once you've attracted your target audience (specifically targeting specific buyer personas) to your website,  an oppotuninty to convert them to a lead, and then nurture them online until they are interested in speaking further with your business occurs.

With the transformation of our world, outbound marketing tactics are much less effective than in years past. We live in the digital age where people expect information at the touch of a button without being interrupted by advertisements. It attracts potential customers rather than trying to lure them in and in the end positions you as a trusted resource with useful and relevant information they want and are looking for. 

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