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The difference between inbound and outbound marketing

Let’s face it, growth is essential for any business. If you’re not growing, your competitors might be and this means you could be losing out on new business. According to Gartner’s 2019 CEO and Senior Executive Survey, growth remains the top strategic priority for CEOs of medium and large-sized companies in 2019-2020.

As we approach the end of the year, our attention turns to what trends will underpin a successful growth strategy in 2020. Utilising the right marketing mix can mean the difference between a healthy growing pipeline and a business dogged with challenges.

What is Outbound Marketing?

Historically, outbound was just ‘marketing’ before it started to be described as ‘interruptive’ or ‘push marketing’. It embraced the idea that you could get a message to a large number of people in an effort to sell what you do via a one-way conversation. Print, radio, TV advertisements, paid social and google display ads. cold calling, direct mail, email blasts, trade shows; this list goes on.

The general idea with outbound marketing is that through each outbound method, sales leads are generated and followed up by a sales rep.

A big plus point of outbound marketing, if used in the right way, is its ability to get in front of a large number of people and build awareness quickly. If executed well, you could get your brand seen by millions and be winning new customers within a matter of hours. The downside is that outbound marketing can be expensive and the longer term ROI is much lower compared to some inbound tactics.

As we approach the new year, there are three outbound tactics that are worth considering as part of your wider marketing plan. But it’s important to note that outbound is far more effective if it is laser targeted, clearly identifying an audience to which your product or proposition is perfectly aligned.

  1. Direct telesales and emails are still very much alive: the idea that every interaction your business has is an opportunity to connect. Relationship-based marketing and selling has never been more important.
  2. Direct Mail still has its benefits if used in the right way. Sales trainer, Rick Roberge, uses the following rule-of-thumb: if you have fewer than 100 leads per month per revenue line that are of a high quality then follow up with them manually via direct mail.
  3. The right trade shows and events can deliver great opportunities, especially when combined with inbound methods. Use events to attract new, interested customers and to engage with prospects on a one-to-one basis.

What is Inbound Marketing?

It’s safe to say that inbound marketing is here to stay, but with any marketing and sales method, it must continue to evolve.

In a nutshell, inbound marketing is the process of creating a digital marketing strategy to organically bring leads and customers to your business, engaging with them at various stages of the buyer journey.

It’s an approach adapted to the modern buyer who, reportedly, does an average of 70% of their research on a product on their own before contacting the company they are researching. Aligning your marketing to your buyer’s journey continues to be key.

In the Path to Marketing 2020 report from The Economist Intelligence Unit, there are a number of trends to look out for in 2020, all of which are routed in an inbound marketing strategy. Here are three of our favourites.

  1. Using data to personalise and drive engagement - what is different about 2016 through to 2020 is how CMOs are matching that understanding of the customer with direct action that drives engagement — and doing so at scale.
  2. Getting interactive with social and mobile - people conduct referendums on brands on a daily basis. They vote with their online searches, they vote with their transactions, their social networking, plus a host of other interactions that enhance or degrade the value of brands. Making the customer experience as engaging and frictionless as possible is vital.
  3. Invest in SEO - continue to strategise and plan to create high quality relevant content, structured in a meaningful way and optimised because it helps position zero rankings.

As we turn our attention back to the new year, it’s important to remember that whilst the marketing landscape has shifted, this doesn’t make outbound marketing tactics obsolete. If implemented in conjunction with inbound techniques, outbound marketing can help cement brand recognition with your target audience.

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