To understand inbound marketing vs outbound marketing, let’s first look at outbound marketing; for instance, a telemarketer cold calling your home is just one example of outbound marketing.

You sit down for a nice family dinner and the phone rings. How many times has this happened to you?

When you answer (if you answer) a telemarketer starts trying to upgrade your cable, sell you a vacation package or run a survey about your household. In fact, most of the time this outbound marketing phone call is unrelated to anything currently going on in your life. Maybe you hang up or politely say you are not interested; either way you are always eager to get off the phone and on with your meal.

Why Outbound Marketing Doesn’t Work

From a consumer’s point of view, “outbound marketing” is any advertising activity that interrupts your normal activities. A lot of the time outbound marketing speaks at you rather than with you; engaging in a conversation is nearly impossible.

The unsolicited interruption common to “outbound marketing” is ineffective because the consumer has not identified that they even need or want the product or service. At some point outbound marketers need to admit it: consumers who are actively seeking specific products or services will be much more receptive to hearing what one has to say than those that are not actively seeking.

Consumers are living in the era of “information overload” where they are presented with over 2,000 outbound marketing messages each day (on average). Eventually, they begin to tune you out – meaning that one’s entire hard spent marketing budget can quickly be wasted on ineffective outbound marketing.

The Big Shift from Outbound to Inbound Marketing

From newspapers, magazines and posters to modern technology including the phone, television and email (think spam mail) outbound marketing slowly evolved up until the mid-1990’s when marketing took a drastic change in direction.

In 1995 Yahoo! and Alta Vista launched the very first Search Engines which allowed consumers to find the information about products and services they actually wanted and needed. In just two years, the number of people using the Internet to search for what they wanted and needed nearly quadrupled from 16 million to 70 million people!

There probably wasn’t a light bulb moment where a single marketer realized, “Why not promote our business to an online consumer searching for our type of products or services?” Surely there had to be a way to promote a website when a consumer expressed a need for a specific product or service. By 1997, the first generation of Search Engine Optimizers starting offering their services and the Search Engine Optimization industry was born.

Over the ensuing years inbound marketing companies have evolved to include a number of marketing activities such as:

  • Search Engine Optimization (our specialty)
  • Social Networking
  • Email Marketing (using pre-qualified email lists)
  • Online Videos
  • And Blogging

The focus of Inbound Marketing firms is on engaging interested customers, building customer retention, offering responsive customer service and generating leads

Benefits of an Inbound Marketing Strategy & SEO

Because inbound marketing services is more about getting found by consumers already shopping in your industry there are several benefits to this approach:

Long Term Strategy

Inbound marketing strategies offer a much more sustainable long term solution. Whereas with outbound marketing you have to keep paying for ads to run in magazines or hire people to cold call, with inbound marketing, the focus is on naturally drawing searching customers to your company. With proper execution, inbound marketing lead generation naturally attracts new customers without you having to actively search for them.

Right Timing

The inbound marketing process focuses on getting your customers attention when they are actually thinking of you, when the need or desire for your products and services are strongest giving you a great opportunity to fill that need.

Budget Wise

Inbound marketing leads are much more cost effective to attain. In fact, Hubspot reports that inbound marketing tactics costs companies 62% less than outbound marketing with a cost-per-lead that is 60% lower.

For instance, after running expensive door flier campaigns in his city, one of our customers decided to invest in our Search Engine Optimization services. His door fliers had an extremely poor response rate with a cost per lead of $684. The cost per lead through his website, which is inbound marketing online is now a respectable $22. Because inbound marketing leads are more qualified they also have a higher conversion rate (3.3% compared to 0.03%).

Consumer Response

There is a high level of control and monitoring with inbound marketing online. Thanks to Google Analytics and other data tracking services, marketers can collect deep insights into how their customers interact with their website. Conversion optimization (making improvements to generate better customer responses) is one direct activity made possible through inbound marketing for ecommerce.

Customer Connection

Rather than printing the same magazine advertisement for thousands of readers, inbound marketing online is highly customizable – it is possible to serve a modified web page specific to a particular visitor based on a number of factors. This allows marketers to connect with a user on a much more personal level.

In an era where consumers use the Internet prior to making many of their buying decisions, connecting with customers online gives marketers the opportunity to provide the most relevant information the consumer is searching for. By having all the information easily accessible on your website you are automatically catering to all the information they are seeking.

Whether you are a local or national company, a strategic inbound marketing online strategy that includes search engine optimization can greatly improve your lead generation and conversions, making each dollar spent more efficient and effective.

For more information about inbound marketing for ecommerce and other online marketing strategies or to enhance your existing inbound marketing strategy with search engine optimization, please:

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By Carissa Krause