Inbound and outbound are marketing concepts that can sometimes seem a little obscure, especially in a web environment where the technical possibilities in terms of marketing are many and varied. And when it comes to the strategy of an SME, it is essential to make the right choices between these different techniques in order to succeed and generate the best ROI. Limited budget, tight deadlines, competitive market, we give you the keys to better adapt this balance between inbound and outbound for your activity.
Differences (theoretical and practical) between inbound and outbound
Inbound marketing is certainly the most popular strategy today because it is a concept that adapts particularly to the technologies and uses of the web. Inbound marketing has the main objective of attracting customers to its business, with the main “bait” qualitative and regular content that will make users want to know more about the company, or even exchange with your information (including your email), and pass the next step in their commitment to the brand.
The usual practices of inbound marketing include:
- Creating a blog with the creation of content such as articles, videos, podcasts etc.
- Presence on social networks with company information sharing, regular interaction and focus group participation
- Efforts in terms of SEO, which consists mainly of developing a presence on identified keywords, whether through natural SEO or paid Adwords campaigns.
In other words, inbound marketing practices are quite up-to-date because, with the intensification of the advertising messages to which consumers are exposed to on a daily basis, we are witnessing a run-of-the-mill and a real saturation among consumers. vis-à-vis advertising, and in all sectors that use traditional methods of communication.
But if we often talk about inbound marketing right now, outbound marketing is a marketing concept that is older. Outbound advertising tactics and push-oriented communication practices are generally described as outbound, that is to say, the purpose of which is to capture the attention of a target through some form of interruption in his daily life. In this case, the approach is proactive on a particular target to be able to bring out real prospects.
In this category, we find the usual advertising means to know everything that allows a company to communicate to a wide target:
- TV or radio advertising
- Inserts and press releases in magazines
- Urban display
- Exhibition events
- Cold calling.
All of these traditional practices have a clear purpose: to create, through a certain repetition of messages, an exposure of the targets to its brand and its products to generate interest and a purchase. To summarize, we can say that if inbound marketing could be compared to angling, outbound would typically fish for it!
But it must be noted that outbound marketing has evolved a lot in recent years with new opportunities that the web brings. Today, for example, we talk about outbound marketing to qualify e-mailing strategies or campaigns that include advertising and pop-up inserts on the web and social networks, or the use of influencers who would tout the products and services of a brand.
Is outbound marketing really suited to a web strategy today?
Is outbound marketing really appropriate for current uses? Just because inbound marketing has many advantages does not mean that it can completely replace outbound techniques. Indeed, outbound marketing has just as much its place in the web landscape as its counterpart. Because with the new evolutions, it has been able to adapt and propose means of communicating more modern and more effective. For example, we can group outbound marketing the following techniques:
- Automated e-mail campaigns
- Retargeting campaigns, especially those related to targeted advertising on social networks
- Key account marketing, particularly interesting in a B2B sector
- Chatbots that enhance the user experience on the company’s website while promoting a future purchase
- Video marketing, which can be likened to content creation, is also a great way to complement an outbound strategy by allowing exposure to a clear advertising message and the ability to educate its audience. easily.
In addition, the current targeting possibilities also counterbalance the disruptive or inappropriate nature of the outbound marketing concept. Indeed, it is possible today to apply push techniques to a more targeted audience, who are therefore more likely to respond favourably to a certain advertising message.
It should also be understood that some communication media and some advertising media can be considered both inbound and outbound. This is the case, for example, of video marketing, which can become an element of attraction or proactive advertising depending on the way in which it is used. In the same way, a call to action on your blog can also be considered in two ways: as an invitation in the context of inbound marketing (to download free content for example) or outbound if we consider that the basic message is interrupted to sell a product or service within that content.
The difference between inbound and outbound marketing is becoming subtler today. Typically, one may wonder whether an e-mailing campaign that one is about to launch is part of an inbound or outbound strategy. After all, the border is very fine between invitation and interruption as part of an email. The answer to this reflection lies especially in the concept of permission. If your target has explicitly given you permission to contact them, you can claim to be inbound because the will comes from the user himself. If, on the other hand, you have rented a database or if you are carrying out an e-mailing campaign linked to a retargeting ad for example, or if you have obtained your addresses via an opt-in form that is not necessarily very accurate.
So, inbound or outbound marketing?
Finally, the finer the line between inbound and outbound marketing, the more difficult it seems to be, if not impossible, to make a choice between the two. And for good reason: each technique has its own advantages and of course disadvantages for your company.
Take the example of inbound marketing, which is a very greedy practice in terms of time. Creating qualitative, consistent and effective content from a digital marketing perspective is far from easy. An inbound strategy, therefore, requires not only resources and careful planning beforehand, but also some experience and very fine monitoring to optimize results over the long term. The results can be more random and more difficult to control than outbound because they will not necessarily be immediate. Conversely, the results of outbound techniques will be faster and this type of marketing will be perfect to develop an active reputation in your market or even generate revenue faster for the company,
Be careful though not to consider outbound marketing actions as a miraculous shortcut! First, these techniques can be expensive, especially for a small business with a limited marketing budget. But we must also consider that the overly intensive use of outbound marketing methods can completely lead to outright rejection of your brand in the minds of your targets! Repetition is not necessarily synonymous with efficiency, and especially not in the long run.
In truth, both marketing strategies can very well be complementary. Inbound marketing is perfect for building brand awareness over time, creating interest from direct or indirect targets, and is also a winning strategy for small businesses that do not necessarily have scalable budgets. But outbound is also a very good way to promote these same contents, to find a place in a competitive market by developing the visibility of its brand on the web, and to accelerate the process and the return on investment for its activity. and for its growth.
How to balance the marketing strategy of your company for maximum results?
The importance of integrating both types of thinking and both strategies into one’s daily marketing efforts is easy to understand. But how to concretely balance this in the most relevant way for your business?
The first thing to do to find this balance is to focus on your target. And for that, the targeting techniques that outbound marketing advocates are absolutely essential. Creating personas will allow you to have a more effective approach because it would be not only expensive but also inefficient to want to target “everyone”. It is better to focus on a starting target and then diversify your efforts to limit investment. In addition, this thinking around targeting is what will accompany you throughout the implementation of your strategies and campaigns, whether they are inbound or outbound. Targeting is the key to good content and strong ROI campaigns.
But it is also possible to combine inbound and outbound in your daily life. Ask yourself how you could combine the two concepts at each stage of your strategy and in each of your campaigns. For example, how can you incorporate inbound concepts into a traditionally outbound campaign and vice versa? In practice, this type of thinking will allow you to counterbalance the disadvantages of each concept to get the most out of your marketing efforts:
- For example, rather than strictly communicating about your products and services during an outbound marketing campaign (TV ad, advertising insert, etc.), why not imagine instead of inviting your potential prospects to consult a free e-book or a webinar for example? Thus, the communication will appear less intrusive even if you use an outbound medium
- In the same way, you can very well participate in a trade show or thematic fair event, by offering visitors information about their particular problems rather than having communication-based solely on the sale of your products.
- Conversely, why not imagine promoting your products and services in a subtle and relevant way in your blog or social media publications with visible and attractive call to actions? Call to actions are perfect for inviting prospects who are interested in your content to be interested in your company’s paid proposals.
- You can also decide to link inbound actions with certain outbound actions. For example, send your salespeople a database of qualified leads that you have obtained via an inbound campaign so that they can call them directly by phone.
As you will have understood, the effectiveness of your marketing strategy lies in the way you will balance the push and pull actions against a correctly identified target. Take the time to refine your action plans in order to make the most of all the opportunities offered by the web.
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