Outbound Marketing vs Inbound Marketing

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Sometimes when I feel a need to stretch my legs, I would take a short walk to my neighborhood Starbucks with just my phone, house key, and a book (currently it’s been Kevin Kwan’s Rich People Problems). And sometimes, I’d people-watch, peering over my paperback from time to time. I know that I am young, but I am still surprised by how fast the digital age, that started in the 1970s, would quickly consume many aspects of my life in just 20 years. Everyone’s on an electronic device. While I still prefer the smell of actual books over the convenience of kindles and looking at advertisements on Starbucks’ pinboard, I know I’d probably have an anxiety attack without my phone and that online marketing really works when I end up buying a super expensive hair dryer because some Instagram celebrities I was following, raved about it.

With the rapid development of the internet and the constant updates to technology over the years, it is no surprise that businesses are investing more in inbound marketing in their internet marketing. (Now that was a mouthful to say). To understand inbound marketing, we must also understand outbound marketing. My goal here is to compare the two and persuade you that one is better than the other especially if you want to target people my age (who will most likely be your major consumers when we start making big bucks after graduation), and of course, everyone else in the States that average 11 hours of screen time a day. Think of the endless opportunities in internet marketing!

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The Outbound Marketing in Traditional Marketing

Before explaining the new trend that is inbound marketing, it’s best to explain the past in order to understand the present. That’s what history class taught me anyway: we learn from our past so we can do better in the future. Although, not everyone adopts this method…

Jokes aside, outbound marketing is a method of traditional marketing that seeks to drive sales through mass publications in TV ads, radio advertising, print advertising, email salesletters, direct mail, yellow pages, telemarketing, and outdoor billboards. In other words, these are the annoying “I’m going to shove myself in your face” type of advertisements that we tend to avoid. Unless, of course, you actually do enjoy your favorite TV show/movie being interrupted by TV commercials or having to open the door to hard-working salesmen that you just don’t have the time to entertain.

As intrusive as these methods are in our daily lives, they continue to exist and are now considered traditional marketing because they still work. They work because they are everywhere you go so that you unconsciously remember bits and pieces of different campaigns you may come across. They’ll pop up in your mind when you least expect. Traditional marketing uses outbound marketing strategies to reach everyone.

However, outbound marketing is no longer working as efficiently as it did in the past because consumers have adapted and learned how to avoid or tune out the tactics of traditional marketing. For example, streaming services like Netflix and Hulu now allow consumers to binge watch their favorite shows without advertisements, and Spotify Premium lets consumers enjoy music without interruption. Some do say that because we are on our phones so much that we no longer have time to look at billboards anymore. I would beg to differ since I get motion sickness from being on my phone in a moving vehicle and I’d like to not be on my phone while crossing the streets so I can watch out for cars. And I love billboards (the good ones).

Although traditional marketing still works with its outbound tactics, consumers are becoming smarter and technology more advanced. Consequently, it’s important to turn to internet marketing and reap the benefits that inbound marketing can offer there.

The New Trend That Is Inbound Marketing

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Internet marketing, or online marketing, refers to advertising and marketing through the Web and email. Inbound marketing takes online marketing tactics such as search engine optimization, content creation, calls-to-action, social media, and emails to create communication between the business and its consumers that is beneficial for lead generation, which leads to sales.  

As internet and technology advance, consumers are given the tools to find what they want on their own, which means they are more likely to turn a blind eye to a billboard and jump onto Google searching “best specialty coffee in San Francisco.” Using inbound marketing, a marketer creates leads for the consumer by managing a Yelp page, a Google+ page, a website/blog all the while, improving SEO rankings for his/her company.  Consumers have access to a company’s leads simply with a few touches on a smartphone or laptop. Inbound marketing empowers and informs the consumer on the product they need or desire.

Inbound marketing not only benefits big businesses but also smaller business on a budget because internet marketing is considerably cheaper to run than buying billboard spaces, paying for TV advertisements, etc. Although it demands a smaller budget, online marketing can be very difficult and requires marketers who have an understanding of marketing in general, strong communication skills, and the ability to manage multiple channels constantly. Anyone can set up a website or blog, but not everyone can make it a successful one. There is more and more competition online as businesses are quickly learning the skills for online marketing, and one misstep could cause you to be bumped down in SEO rankings, meaning you’ll show up on the second page of a search rather than the first.

Inbound Marketing At Work

One of my favorite inbound marketing campaigns is Everlane’s Transparency Tuesday on its Instagram stories. Everlane is a clothing brand focused on “Exception quality. Ethical factories. Radical Transparency.” Although I have not purchased anything from the company, I’m already a fan and plan to purchase simply because Everlane does a great job at communicating and being transparent with its online audience. It allows consumers and prospective customers such as I to feel that they are friends and that the people in the company have our best interests in mind. I know that if I want clothes that are ethically produced, I can count on Everlane to provide that for me.

Potato Chip Thoughts on Internet Marketing

I personally think that the idea behind inbound marketing also extends to our work cultures. For example, old-school corporate companies threaten their employees with unemployment to enforce hard work, while new tech companies like Google and LinkedIn offer many employee benefits in exchange for hard work. Similarly, outbound marketing in traditional marketing puts their products on blast in order to reach more people and generate more sales, while inbound marketing lays out bread crumbs of interest for consumers to gain their trust and loyalty and then achieve sale results. There’s a whole shift from impersonal to personal as businesses move from throwing information at their customers to opening up dialogue with consumers in internet marketing. It seems businesses are empowering the consumers to be in charge… or are they?

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