Marketing Tug-of-War: Inbound vs. Outbound

kelseyads / September 9, 2015

Marketing in the past was all about pushing rather than pulling. À la “Mad Men,” marketers bought ad space in mainstream media like television, radio, magazines and newspapers. Advertising was being pushed to the consumer – meaning beyond turning the page or changing the channel, the viewer had no interaction with your advertisement. Now, it’s all about engaging with customers and pulling them to you. In today’s tug-of-war for consumers, here’s how the pull of inbound marketing stacks up against the push of outbound tactics.

Also known as interruption marketing, outbound marketing focuses on grabbing the attention of as many people as possible through a variety of channels, hoping your message resonates with the right people. This can be an expensive marketing model. Especially for small business owners with limited local marketing budgets, it’s hard to run commercials and print ads in heavy rotation. That’s the beauty of inbound marketing.

Back in the early 2000s, blogging hit the scene and slowly evolved from personal diary-like entries, to news stories and commentary, to articles written by experts looking to sell their services or expertise. This content is picked up by search engines, shared by other users via social media, and promoted by means such as email newsletters. This content acts as a magnet to “pull” visitors in, hence the name “inbound marketing.”

Mashable said it best:

Inbound marketing focuses on earning, not buying, a person’s attention, which is done through social media and engaging content, such as blogs, podcasts and white papers. This content is interesting, informative and adds value, creating a positive connection in the eyes of the consumer, thus making him more likely to engage your brand and buy the product. So it costs less and has a better return on investment (ROI).

You can build YOUR inbound marketing program by developing a plan that includes the following tactics to pull customers to you:

  • A blog on your business website that provides relevant, engaging posts on a regular basis.
  • Engaging social media posts (including your blog articles) on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn. This content should be re-shared since it’s a good chance that not all your followers saw it the first time.
  • Your content can also be submitted to social bookmarking & news sites such as StumbleUpon, Delicious, Digg and Reddit.
  • An RSS feed on your site that automatically delivers new information to those who sign up for it.
  • An enewsletter distributed on a regular basis to your “followers.” Having at least one original article in the email provides incentive to sign up for your mailings.

Inbound marketing tactics like these allow you to improve your customers’ experience and to truly add value – whether it’s educating, entertaining, providing solutions – or all of the above. Of course, in a perfect world, you’re utilizing a mix of both inbound and outbound marketing – providing interesting content to your customers and backing it up with paid advertising that boosts your image and builds brand awareness.


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