Humor yourself with a thought experiment for a moment. When was the last time you bought a product or service due to hearing about it from an advertisement, cold call, or flyer? If you are like most people, you may have realized that this form of marketing is a dying breed. Marketers can no longer rely on these traditional “outbound” marketing techniques. Instead, a new kind of marketing has taken over the internet. It’s called inbound marketing, and it’s ruling the web one click at a time.
Why Inbound Marketing Rules the Web
Outbound marketing seeks to go outside to bring customers in. By contrast, inbound marketing is more subtle, seeking to bring customers closer to the brand when they are already “in”. These examples help to illustrate the difference:
Examples of Outbound Marketing
- Direct mail
- Spam e-mail
- TV & radio ads
- Cold-calling/phone banking
Examples of Inbound Marketing
- Social media marketing
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Blogs, white papers & other forms of content writing
- Youtube videos
The Effectiveness of Inbound Marketing
What makes it so effective? There are a few qualities:
- Interruption vs. Permission: The inbound-outbound dichotomy is related to the concept of “permission” and “interruption”. When someone stumbles across your company (whether due to a Google search or a “Like” on Facebook), you already have their “permission” to market to them. This is far more respectful and effective than “interrupting” them with spam and cold calls.
- Organic Marketing: One of the biggest challenges in marketing is trying to disguise the fact that you are marketing. Consumers are suspicious by instinct if they know you are trying to sell them something. Inbound marketing resolves this with its more subtle approach, such as providing useful information. Example: you Google “how to fix clog in the toilet” and come across a search engine optimized website for a professional plumber. They have provided useful information and you have been brought closer to the brand.
- Respect for the Consumer: Above all, inbound marketing will always have something that outbound lacks: respect for the consumer. This is not to say outbound marketers mean to offend people. But there is no getting around how irritating it is to have a mailbox full of spam. When a marketer cold calls someone, they demonstrate little respect for that person’s time. By contrast, inbound marketing is implicitly respectful. As long as it continues to provide relevant, useful, and interesting information, it will always have the consumer’s respect.