The birth of the internet and the development of new communication technology has revolutionized modern life. Easy access to information along with the rise of new online media platforms has changed how we view the world and how we interact with each other. This new paradigm has had its effect on how we search for and buy goods and services, and some marketers have been quick to develop their strategies to adapt to the new environment and the changing consumer behavior. Although the basics of marketing have been around for over a century, the rise of the internet has allowed a new form of marketing to flourish. The new buzzword is ‘Inbound’.
What is Inbound?
Its roots can probably be best understood by a quote from Peter F. Drucker, the business visionary whose writing is widely recognised as having contributed to the practical and philosophical foundations of the modern business corporation.
In 1974, on the essence of marketing, he said ‘The aim of marketing is to know the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself. Ideally, marketing should result in a customer who’s ready to buy’.
More recent developments have seen the introduction of the concept of permission marketing as developed by Seth Godin, where marketers seek permission from customers to send them emails and promotional literature. Inbound marketing seeks to take advantage of the point where a potential customer is seeking information by providing information and then guiding them through their buying decision process.
It uses the following tools to initially, attract consumers through their online searches for information. Blogs, SEO( keywords). links, page content, social media and website.
What is Outbound marketing?
Outbound marketing is the equivalent of someone coming along, just as you are out enjoying a relaxing walk in the sunshine, tapping you on the shoulder, and saying ‘Hey, I’d like to sell you something! I know you don’t need just it now but maybe someday in the future you might, and then you’ll remember me!’. You try to ignore him, but no matter how much you protest your disinterest, they just keep talking.
How many times have you been watching your favourite TV show and then, just at a crucial moment, an ad comes on for dishwasher soap. What do you do? Do you watch it intensively, hoping to catch the nuances of the storyline and production? Do you mentally switch off? Go and make the tea?
This is at the core of how outbound marketing works; bombarding people with ads on the TV, radio, print, junk mail and posters in the hope that when someone does decide to buy something they will remember the brand. The chief flaw in this type of marketing is that it is interruptive. It’s intended to grab your attention regardless of whether you are interested in the product or not. The outbound method of advertising on the net has resulted in the proliferation of pop-up Ads, banners, click-bait, spam emails and fake websites. As a result, outbound marketers are faced with Ad blockers, spam filters, saturation, expense, wasted resources and difficulty getting to the right buyer at the right time
So how does Inbound differ from the traditional Outbound marketing?
Inbound is perfectly suited to online marketing because it is permission-based. It makes use of the way people instinctively use the net to research for product and service information. A potential customer will typically go online to do some research before making a decision to buy. They then use this information to learn, compare options and then make a buying decision. Even those who initially visit a bricks-and-mortar store will often just use it as an opportunity to inspect a product close-up and maybe test it out, before then going online to further research and then buy. So a typical shop that uses Inbound will have a website, a blog that caters to the interest of the consumer by providing information, solving consumer problems, and answering questions as well as providing the product. The more a business understands their customer and their needs the more they can cater to those needs with their business.
Outbound marketing is designed to be interruptive. It aims to hammer you with the same message over and over so often that resides in your memory ready to trigger if you ever decide you want to buy that type of product. It goes after the masses with a one-size-fits-all approach in the hope that a few per cent of those it reaches will convert to sales.
What are the advantages of Inbound
Inbound works exceptionally well online because it relies on using the web’s core advantage; instant access to unlimited information at any time. By using customers’ intuitive search for information a business can attract them to their website and products or services. And because, once a company puts the relevant content online it’s always available, a business can attract customers twenty fours a day. It’s considerably less expensive and more effective because the customer finds the product or service through their own research.
Hubspot’s State of Inbound Report says “Inbound campaigns achieve higher ROI than outbound. This holds true across different company sizes and budgets.” Inbound can cater to specific minority interests and is not geographically restricted. So for any business, large or small, in today’s world economy Inbound marketing has to be a key element to their marketing strategy.