What's The Difference Between Inbound Marketing & Outbound Marketing?
B2B companies must understand the difference between inbound and outbound marketing strategies if they want to get the best results from their campaigns. In most instances, it is sensible to use a mix of the two strategies for increasing conversions, generating more leads and boosting sales.
In this article, we will offer a definition for both inbound and outbound marketing before highlighting different techniques within each category and drawing your attention towards the benefits of each.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is the process of creating written content, videos, infographics, and anything else that will help to generate interest in your business for many months or years into the future. Instead of having to reach out to potential customers and clients, inbound strategies ensure those prospects can discover your products or services naturally and organically, whilst building value and trust.
For example, publishing informative blog posts that solve problems based on your key personas and answer relevant questions is an excellent inbound technique. B2B researchers will make a search query for the information they require, see the links to your articles, click, them, read the information, and then get in touch to learn more.
So, it is possible to generate leads and increase sales without having to contact prospects individually.
Inbound strategies might include:
- Publishing video content online
- Creating infographics and other imagery
- Writing persona driven blog content
- Social media campaigns
- Designing enticing landing pages
- Writing white papers or ebooks
- Using emails to nurture leads
What is outbound marketing?
Outbound marketing usually refers to any promotional technique where your company initiates a conversation with a potential customer and clients, rather than the other way around as is the case with inbound methods.
There is still a place for some outbound marketing strategies within your wider promotional plan. However, brands that solely use outbound ideas will lose out to their competition fast. That is because most outbound techniques are nowhere near as effective as their inbound counterparts.
That said, if you’re going to try some outbound concepts this year, the following ideas have worked well for some B2B companies in the past:
- Telemarketing or cold calling
- Email marketing
- Attending trade shows or exhibitions
- Sending out press releases (can also become an inbound technique if published online)
- Direct mail
Which is best - inbound or outbound?
As mentioned a moment ago, most B2B companies will need to use a combination of both inbound and outbound strategies to ensure they cover all the bases and generate as many leads as possible. However, if you had to pick between the two - inbound usually produces better results, and it doesn’t tend to expose your brand to as many risks as outbound ideas might. Look at our 20 Inbound Marketing Statistics to see some more comparison.
There aren’t many downsides to inbound marketing, but it is possible that cold calling and using other outbound techniques could create a negative impression of your brand within the minds of some B2B researchers and buyers. At the end of the day, nobody likes being bothered with unsolicited marketing calls when they’re trying to work, and it is likely that most people will never read unsolicited emails.
Your company could spend a fortune buying lists of email addresses only to discover that every single one of your messages heads straight for the spam folder and never sees the light of day. With that in mind, it’s sensible to put more time and effort into inbound tactics that will produce the desired results over and over again.
It is much better for everyone involved if the potential client or customer strikes up a conversation with your brand rather achieving results the opposite way around. Your team saves themselves a lot of time and effort, and there is no need to worry about annoying potential prospects by getting in touch with them at inappropriate times.
Read more: Guide to Inbound Marketing for B2B Tech CMOs