Is there still a place for Outbound Marketing in an Inbound Marketing World?

We’re living in an interesting time during which marketers compete to create ads that are more like 30 second sound bites of entertainment. Commercials are compelling, funny, even shocking. People not only watch, but share with their friends. Super Bowl ads are an example of this. The digital format of these ads were purposely watched, shared, and voted on by thousands of people. Myself, I sat down and watched almost all of the 65 ads played during the big game. I skipped through several because I could tell right off that I wouldn’t be interested. My two favorite Super Bowl ads were the Cheerios ad in which the little girl bargains for a puppy when her daddy tells her she’s going to have a brother; and the Hyundai commercial where Dad repeatedly saves the boy from near disaster. I love how Hyundai makes Dad the hero and compares their braking system to Dad’s heroic protection.

Today in  a class for my Internet Marketing Masters Program at FSU, we discussed the difference between inbound and outbound marketing.

Outbound marketing is a term used to describe methods of marketing developed prior to the Internet. Traditional Marketing strategies such as television, radio, direct mail, and billboards are a few of the commonly used methods of outbound marketing. Characteristic of these methods of marketing is that most of these were positioned to interrupt the consumer with the advertising message. For example, the consumer may be watching a movie on television and the show would be sponsored by several advertisers. The station would play sponsors commercials at intervals that interrupt the movie multiple times throughout, to play a 30 to 60 second commercial or marketing message.

According to Rick Burns in an article on (2008), inbound marketing is focused on getting found by customers.  Burns states that there are three components to inbound marketing, content, search enginge optimization, and social media. The content can be published on a blog or in a video on YouTube. The content is said to be “optimized” when it contains words and phrases that might be used by someone searching for more information using those key words. Social media is a tool to spread the word in a format of word of mouth sharing.  He uses the following word picture to help readers visualize the difference between outbound and inbound marketing, “Instead of driving their message into a crowd over and over again like a sledgehammer, they attract highly qualified customers to their business like a magnet” (Burns, 2008).

Generally speaking inbound marketing cost less, allows for better targeting of interested parties, and is an investment, not an on-going expense. Unlike outbound market, which usually has a very short distribution life (today’s newspaper ad – tomorrow’s bird cage liner), inbound or Internet marketing can last as long as the blog post or video is kept live by the company or organization hosting it.

Outbound marketing isn’t limited to traditional off line advertising. You know those annoying ads that you’re forced to sit through for a few seconds before you can “skip ad” on a YouTube video? That is one example. Another example is the email newsletters that are sent out to remind consumers to shop at their store. These emails that contain adversising usually come with some regularity (weekly, monthly, etc) and are considered interruptions even though the recipient may have signed up to receive emails from that particular company.

I think there are some very strong advangages to both types of marketing. Some say that outbound marketing is on it’s way out. My personal opinion is that since Inbound marketing is data driven it can provide insight formerly unavailable to be used in outbound marketing strategies; improving the ability for outbound marketing to be more precisely targeted to the right audience.

So, how can small business owners use inbound marketing and attract customers? Hate to leave you with a cliff hanger here but we’re going to cover the “how to” in future posts. This post was originally a homework assignment for the Internet Marketing Fundamentals Class in my Masters Program. When I got done, I thought, “Hey, this would make a great blog post!” I have lots more homework coming up. I’ll be sharing what I learn and applying my experience to “brick and mortar” small business owners (as opposed to online businesses).

Looking ahead in the homework I see that I have an assignment on search engine optimization coming up later this week. Guess what I’ll be writing a blog post about next?

I’d love to hear from you – what do you think? Is outbound marketing obsolete or is there still a place for both?

2 comments on “Is there still a place for Outbound Marketing in an Inbound Marketing World?”

  1. Victor Mbazigwe Reply

    Hi there Melody! Just want to share my thoughts about inbound and outbound marketing. I have a strong conviction that both strategies are still “In” for the reason that there are still people who use and prefer radio, TV and written media to get informed. It’s just that inbound marketing is a little bit of an advantage since almost 40% people are now internet and technology savvy. Knowing the lesser advantage of outbound marketing, Inbound marketing’s downcast is that it is usually being abused. I’ve been reading a lot of feedback from Youtube viewers that sometimes Ads are that annoying. Anyway I’m doing marketing right now, and both of which actually helps.

  2. Steven Boehle Reply

    I believe that inbound marketing should enhance your outbound marketing strategies and increase conversion rate on your outbound marketing. For example, if you create a landing page for your direct mail campaign and get contact into your database, the percentage that you will close the customer is greater. You can continue to use marketing automation to continue to nurture the lead.

    Great article!
    Steven Boehle recently posted…Daily Social Media Plan TemplateMy Profile

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