As the world of sales and marketing rapidly changes, it’s important for business owners to understand the difference between inbound and outbound strategies—and how to use them effectively.
In the past, outbound sales and marketing reigned supreme. Businesses would buy lists of leads and blanket them with cold calls and unsolicited mass mailings. But thanks to the internet and the rise of social media, that’s all changed. These days, consumers are bombarded with so many marketing messages that they’ve become much savvier about ignoring them.
That’s where inbound comes in. Inbound is all about creating content that’s interesting and useful to your target audience. By providing value upfront, you can build trust and credibility with potential customers—and eventually, turn them into paying clients.
Let’s take a closer look at each strategy to see how they compare.
Inbound Sales & Marketing
Inbound sales and marketing is a newer, more targeted approach that focuses on attracting customers to your product or service through organic means like search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and social media. The goal is to build an audience of potential customers who are already interested in what you have to offer.
Inbound sales and marketing are all about starting a relationship with your customers before they’re even ready to buy. It’s a slow-and-steady approach that focuses on providing valuable content that educates, entertains, and inspires your target audience.
The goal of inbound is to earn permission from your leads to start a conversation with them—rather than interrupting them with a cold call or unsolicited email. Once you’ve established trust and credibility, you can slowly start selling to them until they’re finally ready to buy from you.
The most important thing to remember about inbound is that it takes time— typically, it takes months or even years to turn a complete stranger into a paying customer using this method. But when done correctly, it can be an extremely effective way to build your business for the long term.
Outbound Sales & Marketing
Outbound sales and marketing is the traditional approach of actively going out and finding customers through techniques like cold-calling, print advertising, and email blasts. The goal is to reach as many people as possible in the hopes that some of them will be interested in what you’re selling.
Outbound sales and marketing is the traditional approach that most businesses are still using today. It involves interruption tactics like cold calling, buying lists of leads, and sending unsolicited mass emails (also known as spam).
Because outbound is so interruptive, it tends to be much less effective than inbound these days. In fact, studies have shown that more than 90% of people ignore outbound marketing messages completely.
It can still be useful in certain situations—for example, if you’re trying to reach C-suite executives who are difficult to connect with—but for the most part, outbound has become less and less effective as time goes on.
So Which One Should You Use?
The answer isn’t always clear-cut. In general, though, we recommend focusing on inbound tactics like content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media marketing. Not only are these methods more effective at generating leads than outbound techniques like cold calling or buying lists, but they’re also less expensive.
And if you don’t have the internal resources to handle your inbound marketing strategy, partnering with an agency like The Checklist Group can help you get started quickly and easily.
There’s no question that inbound sales and marketing offer a number of advantages over outbound strategies—but that doesn’t mean it’s right for every business. In some cases, outbound might still make sense, depending on the products or services you offer, your target market, and your overall goals.
If you’re not sure which approach is right for your business, our team at The Checklist Group can help. We specialize in developing customized sales and marketing plans that generate results. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you grow your business.