Before you even start to reach your audience you must know what type of channels are you going to use. Inbound channels, outbound channels, or both?
Inbound vs. Outbound in Real Life
To better illustrate the difference between inbound and outbound marketing I came up with two basic stories with two characters: You (the business) and Jason (your audience).
1st Story – Jason on the Street
Imagine yourself trying to sell a card trick to Jason randomly on the street. You need to be very good at selling it, and Jason needs to be in the right mood. You approach and ask in the nicest way you can ask. Out of politeness, Jason will say that he’s in a hurry and needs to arrive somewhere – even though he’s not really rushing.
2nd Story – Jason at the Flee Market
Now imagine yourself selling that card trick at the flee market and a crowd is already gathered around you. Jason happens to pass by this circle of people. He doesn’t know what’s happening. Naturally, like most of us will, he gets closer elbowing his way through to the center to voluntarily ask for a card trick (maybe not verbally, but in his mind he asks for it.)
Remember, the same person, Jason acted differently even though you were selling the same thing. The big difference is you were in a different place, he had a different mindset, and people were already there as social proof.
In the 1st story, you performed Outbound Marketing (pushing the message out).
In the 2nd story, something different happened. You created the environment for Jason to come to you. That is Inbound Marketing.
What is Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing is the process of sending your messages out to a broad audience for driving awareness to your product, service, or brand.
Some classic examples of outbound marketing channels are TV/Radio advertising, cold calling, newspaper advertising, press releases, direct mail.
What is Inbound Marketing
Compared to outbound marketing, inbound marketing starts with what the user wants. It is about pulling your audiences to your brand through content.
Let’s say you are selling cakes online for birthdays and weddings. In this case, you create a post with Top 10 Cake Ideas for Birthday and another post with Top 10 Cakes Ideas for Weddings.
At its core, this is about offering value to your audience by creating content that is educational, entertaining, or both.
Think of inbound marketing as creating the beehive for the bees.
Outbound Marketing Channels
- Website optimization to create a good user experience and a good association with your brand.
- Social Media Marketing can be used as an inbound channel as well as an outbound channel. For example, you run ads on FB to attract interested audiences to your page, and then you post how-to articles, checklists, step-by-step guides as part of an outbound strategy.
- Display and Video Advertising are used for the lower funnel of the buyer’s journey to help drive awareness and interest in your brand or product.
Inbound Marketing Channels
- PPC (Pay Per Click) is widely used by marketers to trigger ads in search engines based on user’s search queries that have a buying intent behind them, such as ‘marketing services for small businesses‘, or ‘cheap keyword research tool’.
- Content Marketing is an important outbound channel that creates brand reputation and affinity with your audiences. The idea is to produce educational, interesting, and fun content that generates not only brand awareness but creates trust in you.
- Email Marketing is another channel that can be considered as an inbound channel. Sending emails to your subscribers with exclusive content, discounts, special offers you stimulate your existing customers to come back to your website and buy again.
Traditional vs. Modern Outbound Channels
Compared to traditional channels, online channels can gather actionable data about who saw your ad.
If you spend $5000 running a campaign on a broad audience on Facebook, you will get real data about who clicked on your ad. You learn that females aged over 40 clicked your ad but didn’t convert as much as males below 34.
Based on that data you can now get a better return on the same money by spending $10,000 more on showing ads to higher converting types of audiences.
Disadvantages of Classic Outbound Channels
1. Using traditional channels such as billboards, TV Ads it’s impossible to gather data about your audiences.
Did the driver’s passenger noticed the big billboard on the side road or had his eyes on the phone? Did they change the TV channel during commercials? Or maybe they actually grabbed their phone and saw an interesting ad on Instagram while your ad was playing on TV.
2. Billboards, ads in magazines, on the radio, or on TV can’t be customized based on users’ interests or behavior.
For someone who had a bad experience buying a second-hand car in the past, your TV and Radio ads about your car deals don’t sound too exciting to him.
3. Due to their intrinsic nature of pushing the message broad and wide without depth, classic outbound channels are lower in ROI.
If like me, you are a small business and don’t have money to invest in advertising, you still have options.
Using modern channels you can grow a business. Start educating people about your story, about what you sell, and why you sell it. Create valuable content that is relevant to your industry. It doesn’t have to be content super focused on your niche.
It takes more time but the results will come if you actually offer value.
Open a blog, create social media accounts and start writing content, and engaging with influencers in your industry and with their audiences. You need to build awareness first, and at the right time, you sell.