Understanding the difference between inbound and outbound marketing


Small businesses often thrive or fail in relation to the time and money saved on promoting brand awareness. One way to ensure that a company makes an accurate appraisal of the costs and benefits of marketing is to concentrate efforts primarily on either inbound or outbound marketing.

Outbound marketing refers to traditional advertising efforts. Essentially, this type of marketing sends messages and media outward toward customers. Print advertising, radio commercials and direct mailing are all examples of outbound marketing. This process is usually more costly, and while it converts potential customers who may not have known about a brand, product or service, it requires investment in a sophisticated advertising campaign.

Conversely, inbound marketing seeks to funnel customers toward a company. It involves optimizing websites and social media for maximum views and search engine results. Inbound marketing’s three-pronged approach is formed by combining search engine optimization (SEO), blogging and social media.

Hubspot, an inbound marketing specialty firm, recently completed a survey of 644 small businesses and marketing firms. The results of this study show that when cost is the deciding factor in the battle between inbound and outbound marketing campaigns, inbound marketing is the clear winner. The results of Hubspot’s survey indicate that on average, firms whose marketing efforts were dominated by inbound techniques had costs that were 62 percent lower than those of outbound-dominated firms. Each customer lead generated by outbound marketing cost $373, while inbound leads cost only $143.

Hubspot also discovered that businesses derived a significant number of leads and customers from company blogs. In fact, 57 percent of businesses that participated in the survey reported that they acquired customers directly from their blogs. It is also important to note that 85 percent of companies rated their blogs as useful or important, and 27 percent deemed them critical.

This information is difficult for small businesses to ignore. Inbound marketing campaigns can always be supplemented with some traditional advertising, such as handing out promotional pens or personalized calendars or by engaging in direct mailings or print advertisements. However, the cost-effective and relatively passive techniques of inbound marketing are rapidly becoming an essential tool for small businesses that are working to attract loyal customers.

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