Ever noticed how Apple, Google and other huge companies with great products still run marketing and advertising campaigns?

Even if your product or service is one of the most innovative ideas ever, you still need to invest time and money in marketing it.

When it comes to choosing a marketing strategy, you can choose to use inbound marketing, outbound marketing or both.

However, as a small or medium-sized company, you may not have the budget to invest in both. So, it might be more prudent to choose one that works for your business.

In this article, we’ll compare inbound marketing and outbound marketing, and help you choose what’s best for your type of business.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a relatively new phenomenon that has come about thanks to the internet and how it connects us.

It involves the use of content marketing, search engine optimisation, marketing automation, and social media to get your message out and attract customers.

Let’s take a detailed look at these key components of inbound marketing.

Content Marketing

You’ve probably heard it multiple times: content is king. And for good reason. Showing people the right content at the right time educates and empowers them while building your authority as a trusted resource.

Content marketing is simply the creation of videos, blog posts and other digital media, and sharing them with your audience via the web or email.

Used properly, content marketing can draw up to 7.8 times more traffic to your website. And obviously, the more traffic you get, the more sales you are likely to make.

Best of all though, content marketing completely repositions you from being just another “vendor” and more into being an expert and teacher in your field. Who would you be more likely to choose to do business with? A random person you find in the phone book, or someone who’s been teaching you about how to do something for weeks or months?

This is the power of content marketing, it takes the focus away from “selling” and puts it into “teaching”, which is better for everybody.

Social Media

Although the origin of social media can be traced to 1997, it wasn’t until the launch of Facebook in early 2004 that it really took off.

Today, social media is a juggernaut. We can’t go a day without it.

Businesses use it to share content, build a following and even market and sell their products and services.

Search Engine Optimisation

In this digital age, obviously your business needs a website.

But with thousands of websites being launched every day, it can be difficult to get it ranked by top search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

So what do you do?

You can deploy SEO strategies such as keyword optimisation and backlinking that can help you rank higher in search results, so more people with high buying intent find you.

The benefit of SEO over paid ads is that it keeps on giving. You’ll continue to get “free” reach once the work has been done. With ads, once you stop paying for reach, it stops immediately.

Email Marketing

Once you’ve used some of these techniques to attract an audience of people interested in what you have to say, you need to build and maintain the relationship.

Email is often looked down upon, but the fact remains it is the most effective way to keep getting your messages in front of people. And like SEO, email is a “free” medium – once you’ve acquired the contact’s email through permission based marketing, you can email them freely for months or even years, staying top of mind until they need what you are selling.

Outbound Marketing

Put simply, outbound marketing is a fancy name for traditional marketing.

Think television and radio ads, trade shows, brochures, magazine ads, face to face meetings, cold calls, newspaper ads, newsletters and flyers.

In general, outbound marketing involves the use of marketing channels that aren’t web-based and involves “interruption” marketing.

Outbound can definitely be effective for some industries – especially B2C businesses with a large potential customer base. But it becomes less effective the more complex your sales process.

Inbound vs. Outbound: Which Way to Go?

Both of these marketing strategies have their upsides and downsides.

Inbound marketing, for instance, delivers an impressive return on investment (ROI), because it helps businesses to reach the ever-increasing number of internet users.

It also enables advertisers to track the performance of their campaigns thanks to web analytics, which means you can see the ROI (or lack thereof) on any given inbound marketing campaign.

On the downside, it’s complex to execute. Without sufficient digital marketing expertise, it’s difficult to run successful campaigns, so businesses often end up outsourcing their inbound marketing. 

On the other hand, outbound marketing has the potential to deliver your message to the masses. The problem? It’s difficult to track ROI, and getting a spot on prime time TV can cost a fortune, especially for small businesses.

So, which way?

Inbound marketing is increasing in popularity and it’s more effective and cheaper, costing 62 percent less per lead than outbound marketing.

On the other hand, inbound marketing won’t work for cheaper products, or those with a short buying cycle, because it relies on educating and building a relationship with the customer.

Ideally you’ll use a mix of both inbound and outbound, but if you have to choose then base it around your customers and your product or service, as well as your budget.

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