Shifting to Inbound Marketing

in Internet Marketing Strategy

Companies and marketers continue to shift marketing budget and activities from outbound marketing to inbound marketing. Although the trend is significantly higher for B2B companies; B2C companies which have historically focused most on outbound marketing are also shifting more budget and activity to inbound marketing.

Outbound marketing is the traditional push style of marketing of sending messages to the masses to attract the attention of those who may have a need for a product/service/solution. Typical outbound marketing channels are TV commercials, print advertising, radio, direct mail, tradeshows, cold calling, telemarketing, email blasts, etc. Outbound marketing uses intrusion and interruption tactics to get attention in the hope that some people respond. The reasons for outbound marketing’s decline include:

  • People are tuning out from many of these channels. For example, TV viewership continues a multi-decade decline, newspaper subscriptions and sales are down substantially, tradeshow attendance has declined significantly and many have stopped running, etc.
  • People are blocking the intrusions and interruptions from these channels with methods such as do not call lists, call blocking, Tivo, spam filters, etc.
  • Outbound marketing channels tend to be high cost with low yield.
  • Difficulty to measure effectiveness and ROI on an immediate basis. Results are usually aggregated over time periods with limited specific feedback to make adjustments.

Inbound marketing on the other hand is a pull style of marketing focused on being found by prospective buyers. Typical inbound marketing channels are websites, search engines, blogs, social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter, videos, etc. Inbound marketing uses techniques such as permission, content, and relationship marketing for buyers to find the vendor. Think about how your own shopping habits have changed – most people first go online to do research and get information about what they want buy and then decide what and where they’re going to buy. Inbound marketing is about creating a presence and positioning for your business/product/service/solution to be found by buyers.

The key difference is that outbound marketing is about blasting something out to find buyers whereas inbound marketing is about establishing the right presence and positioning for buyers to find you. Some of the advantages of inbound marketing are:

  • Inbound marketing channels are where buyers go to find what they need.
  • When someone finds you, they’re already self-qualified as a prospective buyer.
  • Costs are lower and more directly scalable to results.
  • Geographic and demographic reach is granular and unlimited.
  • It is possible to target specific buyers for a particular product/service/solution.
  • Extensive tracking and measurement data to monitor, manage and fine tune marketing programs in real-time is available.
  • Much of what you do for inbound marketing is a lasting investment with longer term returns.

A Forrester Research survey on B2B marketing budget comparisons between 2008 and 2009 shows significant increases in budget allocations for inbound marketing activities such as websites, search marketing, video, podcasts, newsletters, social media , etc. The survey also shows significant decreases in budget allocations for outbound marketing activities such as trade shows, direct mail, outdoor, print, TV, radio, sponsorships, etc. Although B2C marketers still use outbound marketing heavily, many B2C companies in various industries as diverse as banking, automotive, apparel, insurance, etc. are making substantial moves into inbound marketing.

Outbound marketing still commands the lion’s share of marketing budgets, but continues to show declining returns. Inbound marketing is getting more attention and an increasing share of budget allocation with better results and continuing improvement of techniques.

How to use this information to benefit your business

  • If you’re like most companies, you’ve probably looked at reducing the marketing budget over the past year. Have you analyzed where to cut and where to increase in terms of these marketing and buying trends?
  • Have you considered shifting budget from less effective outbound programs to inbound programs with greater immediate and long-term potential?
  • Even though some types of marketing such as trade shows and advertising have worked in the past, it’s time to reevaluate what’s working now.
  • Inbound marketing is a huge opportunity to level the playing field with larger competitors and reach new buyers.
  • Inbound marketing is about being found by buyers when they’re ready to buy. If you’re not there, they won’t find you.

Copyright © 2009 Ingistics LLC and Marketance™ www.marketance.com

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Emily November 8, 2011 at 05:40

I completely agree with the advice you’re giving. I work for a B2B company and we use inbound marketing methods and find them much more effective than outbound methods. We tend to focus mainly on social media strategies, mainly Facebook and Twitter as we can build relationships with people through them. They can then link to our page and this will eventually improve our SEO. I think in a number of years – outbound marketing won’t exist so much. I think TV adverts will always be around but may not be valued so much by organisations.
We also wrote an article on the subject, it has some similar points but some different ones also, it may be of interest, so feel free to read if it is http://www.lucidica.com/blog/emilys-corner/is-inbound-marketing-the-new-way-forward/

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