Do you know the difference between inbound and outbound marketing? You might know these marketing strategies by other names. What you call them isn’t important. What’s important is that you understand the “what” and “why” of the strategy.
Some marketers use “pull” versus “push” to describe the same strategy as “inbound” versus “outbound” marketing. That’s not accurate according to the classic definition of these marketing terms. Content marketing is another term used interchangeably with inbound marketing. The chief difference in these terms is that inbound marketing is a child of the Internet while content marketing describes a marketing strategy that applies to both the offline and online world.
Inbound marketing is a term first used in 2005 by Brian Halligan of HubSpot. It describes an online process of attracting qualified prospects to a website or landing page using useful and engaging content. Once there, prospects are converted, over time, into customers using high-quality content personalized to the particular needs of the person accessing it. Obviously there is a lot more to the process.
Content marketing describes a similar marketing approach, i.e., using relevant and good quality content to engage, build trust, credibility and loyalty. It’s a common offline marketing strategy. Think about it. Those alumni magazines, newsletters, coupons, etc. you receive are meant to keep you engaged with the brand. That’s “content marketing” in the offline world.
The relative importance of using “content” to attract and “convert” online prospects into buyers has increased dramatically. The Internet has changed the fundamental dynamic between sellers and buyers. Search engines, content and social media sites give consumers ways to find and research brands and their products. They are no longer restricted to “outbound” marketing channels, such as TV, email blasts and print ads, for information.
Think of it this way. Outbound marketing is like “buying” your way through the sales cycle while inbound marketing is more like “earning” your way through it. The latter provides a much better return in consumer loyalty, trust, credibility and sales. It’s also the gift that keeps on giving. Unlike traditional (outbound) advertising that stops when spending stops, good content continues to attract prospects for months and even years after it is published.
Both approaches to marketing have a role to play depending on your product, budget, timeline and objectives. Your job is to understand when and how to use them.
The continuing trend in 2013 is that marketing organizations are putting more of their resources into inbound or online content marketing. That’s because it works. According to the HubSpot 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Annual Report:
- 73 percent of marketing agencies are implementing inbound strategies
- 48 percent of marketers will increase spend on inbound marketing in 2013
- Inbound practices produce 54 percent more leads than traditional outbound leads
If you are not integrating inbound marketing with your larger marketing goals, you should think again.
Are you using inbound or online content marketing as part of your marketing approach?
What specific tactics are you using?
What results have you seen?
Share with us so we can all learn together.