Nowadays it is impossible to escape the marketing industry, with the average person being exposed to 4,000-10,000 adverts every day. Whether it’s to increase brand exposure or you’re being sold to directly, traditional marketing strategies can feel intrusive and unwanted. However, the internet has slowly been introducing a new marketing strategy that returns the power back to the consumer. Inbound marketing has been shown to be extremely successful, but is it better than traditional outbound marketing?
A Brief History Of Marketing
Marketing, in some effect, has been around since the beginning of society. If it’s being sold, it’s being marketed. Whether it was through persuasive communication or some form of advertisement like a poster, sellers would have to make the product seem desirable and better than any of the alternatives for people to buy it. However, sellers had less competition due to the lack of connection to other parts of the world, something that we, as consumers, now take for granted.
Mass communication became available after Gutenberg unveiled the printing press in 1450, which allowed books, posters, and other types of printed media to be mass produced in an assembly line style production. Gone were the days where people would rely on word of mouth communication for important information as it became mass produced for everyone to see.
The 1900’s saw the emergence of new mediums, from radio in the 1920’s to television in the 1940’s. As new technology infiltrated the everyday home so did a new form of marketing. TV advertisements quickly became the most successful type of advert, and was quick to end the popularity of radio. By the end of the millennium we had entered the digital age, with computers making traditional forms of marketing easier and cheaper. As the internet and its users grew, so did the success of inbound marketing.
Outbound Vs Inbound
You may be confused as to what the difference is between outbound and inbound marketing, so let’s clear things up. Outbound marketing sends a message out to consumers, whether they want it or not. Whereas, inbound marketing allows consumers to find you when they need you.
Outbound marketing is disruptive; TV ads break up a programme, cold calls interrupt your day and consumers are constantly being pushed products that they don’t want or need. Traditional outbound marketing techniques are no longer as effective as they once were, with consumers preferring to feel like they have made a conscious choice rather than being forced into one. In fact, consumers will go out of their way to avoid outbound marketing since ad free options have become available. One study showed that 86% of people skip TV ads, as they are now able to fast forward through them or stream their favourite shows online.
Consumers have turned to search engines, social media, and referrals when looking for information, solutions, and products. By creating entertaining or educational content relevant to their target audiences needs, brands will indirectly pull the consumer to their products – this is the basis of inbound marketing. In comparison to outbound marketing, inbound marketing can be more complicated as it is less direct and needs to add value to the consumers life. To be successful at inbound marketing you must consider multiple areas including: SEO, content marketing, and social media.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Search Engine Optimisation, better known as SEO, is an incredibly important aspect of inbound marketing as it determines where your web page ranks on search engines. Appearing on the first page of search results is integral to getting more traffic for your website, with studies showing that 75% of clicks go to the first page of results. The last thing we want to do as a consumer is click through thousands of search results, so if your business isn’t ranking high you’ll be losing potential revenue and exposure. SEO is complex, and the ever changing algorithm means there is not a ‘one-answer-solves-everything’ solution.
Having a strong SEO presence may be important, but it is worth nothing without having the content to match. The content isn’t there to sell a product/brand but it should drive interest towards what you are trying to promote. It needs to answer a question or solve a problem that your target audience may have, whilst intriguing them with the miracle product that would be perfect for their dilemma. The content that you create can take the form of a downloadable document or a blog post, but keep in mind who your target audience is and what mediums they may prefer.
Social Media Marketing (SMM) content differs from other types of content marketing as it is usually used to increase brand awareness, as well as a way to open up conversation between the consumer and the brand. This two-way conversation is an important aspect of inbound marketing as it returns the power back to the consumer. It gives the consumer the opportunity to voice their opinions on a specific product or the brand in general. Although putting your brand or product in this position can sound intimidating, when consumers are recommending your product to others it shows that the product works and is trustworthy.
Using Both Inbound And Outbound Strategies
This isn’t to say outbound marketing doesn’t have its benefits, especially when it’s combined with inbound marketing. Outbound marketing pushes a brand or product into the public eye and if done right the product/brand will be remembered by consumers, locked away in their brain ready for when they need it.
For example, a TV ad for a drain unblocker catches someone’s eye by using a catchy song or a memorable character. However, they don’t need any drain unblocker so to go online and buy it would be pointless. A month or so later they are faced with a blocked kitchen sink, luckily they remember the funny TV ad that was for a drain unblocker – what an amazing coincidence! But how do they know the drain unblocker actually works? To make sure they are making the best purchase, they decide to go online and check out the reviews for the product and any related content. After seeing outstanding reviews and reading a blog post which mentioned how fast this product worked, they feel comfortable enough to buy it.
To summarise, inbound marketing is arguably the future of the marketing industry, which focuses on giving the consumer an enjoyable experience whilst indirectly selling a product to them. Inbound techniques allow for a more cost effective way to produce more leads than outbound marketing. However, this isn’t to say traditional outbound marketing is no longer effective. Using a mix of outbound and inbound marketing techniques means you will be able to reach a wider audience, increasing exposure and revenue.