Inbound and outbound marketing

This post has been taken from an excerpt from our book: Digital Marketer, published by the BCS.

Marketing can be outbound or inbound depending on your goals and your desire to connect with your customer – or have then connect with your brand.

Outbound marketing

Outbound marketing reaches you, the consumer in many ways. Brands reach out to you to get you to buy their goods or service. They do this by advertising, phone calls, door-to-door leaflets, or by direct mail shots. You might think that this kind of marketing is a distraction, but a  necessary evil for our consumer society with seemingly endless leisure time.

Brands or advertisements appear wherever consumers are. relevant to the customer, event when the customers are not expecting to see their message. There might be a surprise takeover of an online ad, or a pop up shop in London to sell goods or promote services. It could even be an unexpected advertising billboard placed incongruously on a road in Montana, US.
Outbound marketers would need to:

  1. Create a campaign that appeals to as broad an audience as you can which will improve the chances of it reaching  your customer.
  2. Time the campaign delivery to capture attention in a certain venue, or place. This could be ads on the subway, or a leaflet flyer in your letterbox at home.
  3. Determine from the volume of sales or service bookings during and after the campaign whether it worked
  4. Start up a new campaign again as you decide you need more customers.

Inbound marketing

On the other hand, Inbound marketing is a term coined by HubSpot. In the digital arena, a digital marketer creates and provides content for an online property such as a company blog, podcast, ebook or email list that the interested customer can sign up for. With such an approach, the business is making it worthwhile for the customer to find and engage them.

To attract customers, you offer something of value – usually content – for free, making sure that the content closely aligned with your brand. You need to make sure that you are wooing your customers and building up a relationship rather than trying to do a hard sell at once.

Once you have attracted the right kind of customer, you must convert them to align with your brand. Perhaps you could send them a free ebook on a topic of interest, or gather their email address for your marketing list.  Your customers might listen to your podcast to understand how to do something that is in their own interest and see how your product helps them achieve their goals.

You then have an opportunity to close the deal. The ‘close’ is the opportunity to market to the customer again, and repeat the sale to make them even more delighted with your company or brand.

Marketing to customers who have bought something becomes easier because now you have a relationship and they will want to hear from you next time it goes on sale, or gets an upgrade.

The main thing to remember is that inbound marketing must be on-going. Instead of a campaign having a definable beginning and end, marketing becomes part of the company’s lifestyle and infrastructure.  You will oversee all stages of this inbound marketing process, making sure if, and how much, the strategies are working.

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