If you don’t have much experience with marketing, you probably don’t know what the difference is between Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing.
No sweat! That’s why this blog exists; to teach you all about ways to make a bigger impact with your business.
First, it’s important to clarify:
In some circumstances, the term “marketing” can be interchangeable with “advertising” (and sometimes, albeit rarely, “sales”). After all, marketing just means you’re actively trying to reach your market as a business of some kind. But today, when we talk about marketing, it’s best to think of these two things as separate. Let me help define them.
Outbound Marketing: Definition & Examples
Outbound Marketing is all of the traditional advertising channels you likely think of. These are things like:
- Billboard ads
- Bus ads
- Door-to-door flyers
- Snail mail
- Magazine ads
Understand the correlation yet?
Outbound Marketing is when you are actively pushing your business on your potential buyers without providing real value and no means to track your success.
If you’re still confused, hang tight: I’m about to explain more.
Inbound Marketing: Definition
By contrast, Inbound Marketing tends to be more modern advertising tactics that don’t always feel like advertising; things like:
- Blog articles
- Case Studies
- Landing pages
- Social Media ads (sort of)
Inbound Marketing is when you are passively pulling your potential buyers into your business by providing value with metrics to track your success.
Hopefully you’re starting to see the differences now.
It seems like every other day I get a flyer in my mailbox for a local realtor (I won’t give her the pleasure of using her name but she’s a prominent figure in the Hamilton real estate world) advertising her services. I’ve had everything from a simple flyer to a “Someone wants to buy your house!” to a notepad with her contact info at the top.
I hate these types of marketing with a passion.
Know what I do with every single one of them? Throw ’em right in the recycling bin. Why?
Because, like most people, I can see right through these marketing tactics as cheap and outdated. All she’s trying to do is push me to make a sale; to line her pockets with my money. On some level: Do I blame her? Nah. But do I hate the way she’s doing it? Absolutely.
She’s not considering what it feels like to be in her buyer’s shoes when receiving these handouts once a month (on average). She’s not considering that she can’t track whether they’re successful.
Good inbound marketing gives you the opportunity to know who saw your business, when they saw it, how they saw it, and whether they stuck around to learn more.
The Beauty of Analytics
I’ve talked before about your website is, in my opinion, the most underrated marketing tool available today. What’s one of the biggest reasons I believe that’s true?
If you install Google Analytics on your website, you can track (as in, Google will LITERALLY TELL YOU) metrics such as:
- The age range of visitors to your site
- Days your site peaked and got more visits than usual
- What pages people spend the most time visiting
- The average length of how many minutes people spend when they visit your site (a session)
- A statistic of what pages people visited and in what order during a session
- From where in the world people accessed your site (geographically)
- What websites refers you traffic (other sites or social media platforms)
- SO. MUCH. MORE.
This is just scratching the surface of some of the benefits of inbound marketing.
All of these statistics give you a better look into how your target audience is reacting to your marketing efforts.
If you don’t know what’s working and what’s not, there’s no way you can refine your marketing to maximize your spending of time and money.
It’s as simple as that.
A Time for Everything
All of this being said; Outbound Marketing is not all bad. Although I do think it still misses many of the key aspects that make Inbound so much more powerful.
Consider your target audience. Are there trade magazines that you know the average customer of yours reads? Without a doubt? Then a print ad might not be a waste of money.
Do be careful, however: Magazine companies, while they great, often will inflate their “statistics” in order to sound more promising when trying to make a sale out of you. Take their responses with a grain of salt. Any industry where the primary money-maker is through giving vendors a platform to advertise should also be included in the skepticism. If YOU can’t track your successes personally, you take a risk on someone else being truthful.
But going back to the magazine ad; do you know what might be better? Ask them if you can write an article on something you’re an expert in. Chances are they’ll allow you. Not only do you instantly up your credibility by being able to say you’ve been published in a magazine, but you also could use that article in a blog post on your own site. Win-win.
Social Media Ads
Remember how I said Social Media ads were a sort-of in the Inbound examples? It’s true; they share characteristics of both inbound and outbound tactics, but with one major exception.
You can still track analytics with social media ads; which I argue is the biggest thing that makes them worthwhile.
Facebook is a pay-to-play platform, which I wrote about when discussing why I love Instagram Stories so much. While that means that you have to pay to make an ad (pushing your business on your target audience), you at least get the benefit of seeing how people react and how successful your campaign was.
You have the ability to use these tactics to your advantage. The best part about an inbound marketing tool like Google Analytics is that it’s free! Even Facebook will give you statistics on the people that respond to your ad.
Stop wasting your money on Outbound, outdated marketing tactics that don’t indicate their success. Provide value to your inbound marketing leads and watch as your sales increase.
Want to keep learning about Inbound Marketing? Check out what is essentially “Part 2” of this series below: