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Inbound vs outbound marketing

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Vladimir Milanovic

Marketing is a broad term that consists of many different disciplines, and when we talk about inbound and outbound marketing, it is related to the promotional aspect of marketing. The two forms of promotion essentially have the same goal – to grab someones attention. But the only difference is the way in which they do so, which can vary greatly.

Outbound vs Inbound marketing as a promotional tool

In simple terms, the outbound approach is based on the the theory that you must force someones attention to your particular message, product or service through relatively invasive means. What is meant by this is that you must interrupt their attention based on your marketing efforts. For example, with paid advertising (which is a common form of outbound advertising) you can pay for various forms of ads that someone may be exposed to whether or not they want to be. The idea is that it is essentially in their face and is something they have not initiated themselves but on the contrary – you have.

The inbound approach of marketing on the other hand, is essentially the exact opposite of outbound and focuses on grabbing someone’s attention in a non invasive way. With this approach, the goal is to produce valuable content that someone would naturally gravitate to due to the significance of it or what they can gain from it. Your job isn’t to force the content you are trying to promote on your target audience, but to provide information that they would want to see. It is about coaxing potential customers to seek out your company, products or services.

Forms of inbound marketing and its uses

There are various forms of inbound marketing that can be used to initiate and engage your particular marketing efforts. One of the most common methods is digital marketing. With the introduction of digital channels of communication, the idea of inbound marketing is positioned as the new gospel of 21st century marketing. This doesn’t mean that digital marketing doesn’t utilise any outbound approaches however, as it does. One example includes promotional SMS ads received via an SMS message. These ads are usually from companies that acquire phone numbers from businesses that purchase the information from other companies.

This approach has varied effectiveness based on whether the people that are receiving the advertisements are targeted or random. If targets are random, then the ad can be invasive as they may be promoting a product or service the receiver has no interest in, or vice versa, if it is targeted and they have signed up for promotional ads via a subscriber list, then it may be effective.

Aside from SMS mobile ads, digital marketing can include promoting various forms of content online. For instance, you can choose to present your content via brochures, case studies, articles, white papers and newsletters among many other forms of content marketing.  You can likewise promote it online via a number of different mediums and online marketing strategies such as an effective SEO campaign, blogging, social media, email marketing and video content approaches among others.

Each approach has its benefits and is dependant on what you are trying to accomplish via the certain type of marketing you have chosen to partake. For example, you may want to utilise case studies in setting an example of how a real life person or business was affected positively by your business. In contrast, you may use newsletters to promote topics of interest to either potential or current clients.

Forms of outbound marketing and its uses

Print ads are one of the most common types of outbound marketing as they are a disruptive approach to communication where advertising content is delivered to audiences that have not opted to receive the message (as mentioned above). For instance, whether or not you may want to, you can’t help noticing billboards and posters that have been plastered pretty much everywhere throughout countless city streets.
Gaining brand exposure and effective advertising is not an easy task. A combination of both inbound and outbound marketing approaches is required.

Outbound marketing approaches also consist of video ads, trade shows and events, pop up ads, tv and radio ads, telemarketing and sales calls, spam and random email lists as well as social media ads among many others. Akin to inbound marketing efforts, when it comes to effectiveness, the form of outbound marketing you choose to utilise depends on the main goal of your advertising campaign. For example, if your goal is to bring as much brand awareness about your company as possible, then placing ads everywhere would be a reasonable approach as your goal is to bring as much exposure to your company as possible and this method would ensure that happens whether or not someone wishes it.

One advantage that outbound marketing has over inbound approach, is the context in which the ad is presented and consumed. With outbound marketing, you can specifically tailor the context in which you present the ad to suit the target audience you are attempting to reach out to at the direct point of purchase. For example, if you are at the airport, it is perfectly sensible to see the billboards or ads about a rent a car as well as the coinciding booth where you would elicit the companies services.

The same could not be done so conveniently and accessibly via inbound content marketing approaches online, as the process between promoting a particular product or service is much longer (i.e. lead generation and lead conversion processes).

The final line

Now that there is a clear idea about what each form of marketing entails, it comes down to which approach is the better between the two when it comes to shaping the public’s opinion. And the answer is not what you may think because one form of marketing is not necessarily better than the other. Both have the potential to affect target audiences immensely, and when it comes to your specific marketing campaign, it would be smart to use a combination of the two versus one over the other.

The reason for this is that they both host a number of advantages and do not differ greatly when it comes to the end deliverable of your advertising campaign which is essentially universal in marketing be it inbound or outbound,  and that is to grab the target audiences or public’s attention.

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About Vladimir Milanovic

Vladimir Milanovic
Vladimir has been working with GCOMM since 2010 on the design and implementation of the recent branding and marketing strategies. He was also responsible for the rebranding of LiveBackup in 2012. Between 2006 and 2010 he was involved in the creation and launch of Imperial Tobacco’s European BTL platform for its Davidoff brand as well as for the rebranding of French icon, Gitanes. Vladimir graduated from the Belgrade University of Arts in 2005.
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