Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing
When people ask me what 9 Clouds does, it feels incomplete to say, “We’re an online marketing agency.”
Is it technically correct? Sure. But it’s leaving something out.
At 9 Clouds, we practice inbound marketing because of its power to make your website visible to the right people without the high cost of traditional (or outbound) marketing.
For a long time, businesses assumed they needed a slew of commercials, radio advertisements, billboards, and cold calls to get new leads. Those methods used to work really well (and still do, to an extent). But in today’s world, you’re better off implementing a strong inbound marketing strategy along with your outbound efforts.
The simple truth is that modern consumers have immunity to traditional marketing techniques. Their eyes glaze over billboards, they avoid pop-ups like dentist visits, and they fast-forward through commercials.
Instead, people turn to search engines to find exactly what they need, when they need it. And that’s where your inbound marketing web should be waiting.
Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing
The main difference between outbound marketing and inbound is that outbound interrupts and inbound attracts. With an outbound strategy, you’re casting a big net through the water and hoping the right fish are caught — and that only works if you’re not after specific fish, or, say, sea turtles.
With inbound, you’re trying to lure a specific audience, enticing turtles with the kind of food — or content — they want to consume, instead of hoping they’re snagged in Hail Mary sweeps of a net.
For example, if you’re an auto dealership, your outbound marketing is going to interrupt the morning news or Modern Family to have a man yell, “Come on down to the Spring-tacular Sunshine Sales Event, where we have blah blah whatever,” in your commercial. And maybe a few people who see it will be looking for a car, and maybe some of them will want the kind of cars you have.
But whether it’s radio, television, or print, you’re still forcing consumers to unexpectedly listen to your offer.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is all about setting up your website to attract people already interested in or in need of your product or service. Instead of interrupting, inbound enables prospects to easily and quickly find you when they need you, thanks to the information you’ve made available to them. And in this age of instant gratification, being available with a few strokes of a keyboard will do wonders for your business.
How does that lead to a sale? The inbound methodology defined by HubSpot lays out the sales funnel as follows:
With an inbound approach, you’re engaging people who actually share your outlooks, interests, and values. You can get started by making sure the right audiences are finding you online.
Think about some of your own buying habits. When you have a big purchase to make, don’t you turn to search engines pretty quickly? If anyone wants to know what I’m shopping for, a quick glance at my Google history will turn up research on customer reviews, prices, and features for whatever I’m after.
Your SEO Rankings
Not only do you want your site to be visible in search results, you also want it to be as high in the ranks as possible. Because where do you click — at the top of the page or the bottom?
Optimizing your company’s search engine rankings isn’t a small task, but it’s becoming increasingly vital.
The best strategy is to make sure that in a sea of content, you’re putting out the best information possible, moving your site up through the rankings. Not only will great content help with search engine optimization (SEO), it will also help your website be the one that prospects refer to and trust.
Your Saved Money
Doesn’t it seem like spending the time to set up a stellar inbound strategy is going to be cheaper than throwing cash at billboards, TV spots, and other forms of interruptive marketing? Plus, it continually builds upon itself, helping to improve your SEO rankings all the time. It’s a pretty simple concept!
But inbound marketing is not an instant fix. It can take about six months to start seeing results in organic traffic. Patience and continued, targeted hard work are key.
Your Original, Offbeat Content
Appealing to niche markets used to be a cause for concern in the retail world, whereas now the Internet makes it easy for any quirky business to reach exactly those who’d be interested in its product.
Even if your offering is ultra specific, there is a market out there interested in exactly what you have to offer. And search engines are almost always the first place shoppers go when looking for a specific product or service. So it’s important to use inbound marketing to make yourself visible.
So, how can you stand out in a vast sea of information without doling out Benjamins on traditional marketing strategies?
Create content! With inbound marketing, it doesn’t matter who has the largest budget, but instead who offers the best answers. Blog content lives forever, and it continually generates traffic as long as it stays relevant.
The key to being a great blogger is to create content that doesn’t just give the best answers; it also stands out. Find the unexpected, fun, shocking, emotional, and weird ways to share all the important things you have to say, like this blog post about how Macklemore rocks an inbound strategy with his music career:
Again, it’s also vital to make your content high quality. People are weary of traditional, outbound marketing because it’s full of empty messages. A commercial saying “Product X is the best because it’s just the best” doesn’t work for people anymore.
As Allen talks about in this blog post for auto dealers, offering the best information is vital to inbound marketing. If you’re going to put something out there, it needs to be true, well researched, and valuable to your potential leads.
Improve Your Inbound Marketing
No matter where your marketing strategy is, you can always improve. At 9 Clouds, we love all things inbound. So it only makes sense that a lot of our content centers around inbound marketing best practices.
Ready to learn how you can attract more customers without spending oodles of time and money on traditional marketing? Head over to our resources page. We offer a variety of free inbound-inspired resources that will help you to improve your visibility and attract visitors, like our beginner’s guide to SEO: