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Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing - What's what?

Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing - What's what?
Magnet used to illustrate inbound marketingCINCINNATI -- The term “Inbound Marketing” is being tossed around the marketing world a lot lately. The term is kind of ambiguous, so you might be wondering exactly what it is and what the difference is between inbound marketing and its obvious opposite, outbound marketing.

First, let’s talk about outbound marketing. It encompasses a lot of tactics that are common to traditional marketing including direct mail, TV commercials, telemarketing, email marketing, and website display ads. They’re “outbound”, because it requires the marketer to be reaching out to potential customers in the hopes that they’ll be seen, recognized, and remembered when a purchase situation arises. However, companies who are dependent on those tactics have probably noticed it’s getting more and more difficult to get people’s attention that way.  According to a Mashable article:

  • 44% of direct mail is never opened.
  • 86% of people skip through television commercials.
  • 84% of 25 to 34 year olds have clicked out of a website because of an “irrelevant or intrusive ad.”

Yikes, right? The world is changing and the way people access information and entertainment is changing so quickly, it’s becoming clear that the old ways of doing things aren’t going to work forever. Luckily, there’s a solution to the dilemma – inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing in that its primary goal is to make it possible for customers to find you when they are looking for the product or service you provide. Instead of interrupting their regularly-scheduled programming or day with a, “Hey you! I’m heeeere! Buy my stuff!” message, inbound marketing takes a different, less interruptive approach. 

Accomplishing this takes a combination of content creation, promotion of that content through social media and other outlets, and search engine optimization. Combining these tactics successfully results in the ultimate goal of “pulling the customer toward you” as opposed to pushing them to purchase your product or service, which is what most traditional marketing does.  Here’s a quick overview on how it works:

  1. A marketer creates a piece of content that would be of interest to his customers or potential customers. For example, if you are in the business of selling vacuums, you might write a blog post on good ways to keep carpets clean in a home with pets.
  2. The marketer posts the content on his website and promotes it with posts on the social networks where his customers hang out most often.
  3. Customers discover the content, and share it with their friends and family.  More people sign up to receive updates from the marketer when he posts new content.
    1. This also increases the SEO value of the marketer’s website. Thus, a search for “keeping carpets clean in a home with pets” is more likely to yield the marketer’s blog post as an article, which brings more potential customers to the marketer’s website.

That’s the basics of inbound marketing.  But there is a lot more to learn.  Why should we make the effort? Well, marketing managers are turning to inbound tactics more and more, evidence of their faith in its effectiveness.  But it’s not just faith. There are stats to back them up:

  • 67% of B2C companies and 41% of B2B companies have acquired a customer through Facebook
  • 57% of businesses have acquired a customer through their company blog, and 42% have acquired a customer through Twitter

Inbound marketing works, you guys. Want to learn more? Contact us.

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