Why should you focus on inbound marketing vs outbound marketing? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, inbound marketing forms connections they are looking for and solves problems they already have. ~ Hubspot
The Problems with Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing is intrusive and without permission
Let’s start with the biggest issue with outbound marketing (cold calling and cold inboxing). It is intrusive and designed to interrupt. It is contact without permission. Let’s fully engage our emotional intelligence skills to better frame marketing and sales from your customer perspective. Ask yourself, how do you like getting cold calls and unsolicited emails? What narrative do you form about the business from those unsolicited emails, phone calls, and junk mail? If you’re like most people, that approach feels annoying and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
If you’re using permissionless marketing and sales strategies, those tactics show your potential client base that you’re focused on what you want, not what’s important to them, which is their time and boundaries. It casts you in a desperate light, seeking any client, not the best fit client for your products and services. Typically outbound marketing knows nothing about the prospect but their name, not their needs or if they’re even in the market for what you offer, in the way you offer it. It’s not client-centric.
There are times when semi-permissionless sales and marketing works, which I’ll address later in this post.
Outbound marketing is, by its very design, invasive. The type of clients we work with have a client base that is incredibly busy and hates being interrupted. That’s why we don’t recommend traditional outbound marketing to our clients. They have high-value and high integrity businesses, the intrusive (desperate) approach to marketing doesn’t align with how they want to be perceived. You want people talking about you in a positive light, not “that annoying business that keeps bugging me.”
Example: As I was writing this post, I received an unsolicited spam email in my inbox. This is how it read:
Message: For Anyone Looking To Start, Scale and Grow A Digital Business In 2021
New Book Reveals How I Built A 7-Figure Online Business Using Nothing But Ethical Email Marketing To Drive Revenue, Sales and Commissions…
$4.99 to access the secret email system.
This is obviously spam, unsolicited, and way off base for our business philosophy. In short, they cost me time.
Permissionless marketing is not socially acceptable, nobody likes getting these. Even if we were interested in what they were peddling, we would never buy from them.
Outbound marketing’s effectiveness is greatly diminished
Outbound marketing has lost its effectiveness over the years. People have found ways to avoid it and block it with ad blockers, gatekeepers, spam blockers, spam reporting, do not call lists, and do not sell my information requests. Nowadays, even if you do get someone to answer your call or read your email, they’ll most likely tune you out.
Time wasted on the wrong leads and less than ideal prospects
When you’re casting a wide net, you catch a lot of what you don’t want. Typical outbound salespeople are commission-based and may promise what you can’t deliver to make the sale or pass along the information to have you or your team generate a proposal. Outbound telemarketers or digital lead gen factories (think Linkedin B2B gurus) rarely understand your business philosophy and have no skin in the game if your business gets a bad reputation. That is not who you want to represent or advise your business.
If those leads or new clients aren’t a good fit, not only have you wasted your time and theirs, but if the sale has been made and the working relationship isn’t a good fit, you have a dissatisfied client.
Behavioral science shows time and again, people demonstrate a greater tendency to continue an endeavor once an investment of money, effort, or time, even if “winning” isn’t your best outcome. Spending time and effort on clients that are less than ideal, or worse, are likely to be a nightmare. Winning the client is not winning when they end up costing you time, money, frustration, and bad reviews.
Outbound marketing is not evergreen
When the outbound campaign stops, so do the leads. Outbound marketing has little to no residual or evergreen effect. Rarely someone may run across your junk mail they forgot to delete and contact you, but that’s not exactly your best bet. Outbound marketing has a short shelf-life.
Ads and “product placement” can generate leads, but those too are not evergreen. Once the ad ends, so do the leads.
The laws on permissionless contact are getting tighter
New laws like GDPR and CCPA are just the beginning to limiting outbound marketing platforms. Building your sales cycles on a shaky foundation is not the wisest approach. If the pipeline is shut off or breaks down, your revenue streams are gone. All the time, energy, and expense will have been wasted once consumer privacy protections are adopted globally and even more strict than they are now. GDPR is restricting, but as a consumer and business owner, I hope they get more strict about tracking, spying on, and selling our every move. I’m predicting they will.
Algorithms and computer systems are getting more sophisticated and tighter on tracking. The computer I bought last year blocks cross-site tracking for me and tells me which websites have attempted to track my every move. Those businesses go on my “do not buy from them” list. It’s likely your client base will do the same.
It’s annoying and hurts your brand reputation and prominence
As I mentioned above, cold contacting makes you look desperate for business and diminishes your value in the eyes of your ideal clients.
I’ve been cold contacted by people stating they are “The World’s Top XYZ” which made me question if they’re the world’s best, why in the world would they need to solicit new business from someone they don’t even know is in the position to spend six or seven figures or more for their product or service. The world’s top anything usually has a line formed around the building and an extremely high price tag. The story didn’t line up. Yours won’t either. None of us are the world’s best to everyone. We’re only the world’s best to the right buyer.
The ROI is low
The ROI for inbound marketing is approximately 62% higher than outbound marketing. That’s based on stats before the pandemic. That figure is anticipated to jump dramatically for 2020 and continue as a new precedent has been set with new buyer behaviors going forward.
When is it okay to cold contact?
There is software out there to help you identify businesses that are actively in search of products you sell. Those predictive technologies can be a good tool for sales and marketing if used properly and with what’s deemed socially acceptable.
If the prospects are in the market for what you offer, and perhaps don’t know you offer that product or service, they may appreciate the outreach. Keep in mind, it could seem a bit creepy that you just happen to know they were in the market and contacted them out of the blue. That’s an aspect for you to gauge for your business and brand.
Using that type of service is a fine line that needs to be clearly drawn for your sales and marketing teams to understand your company policy around using these tools.
The Benefits of Inbound Marketing
What is inbound marketing?
The inbound methodology is built on trust, relationships, and value. It’s the art of strategically placing and crafting content to give technology, potential clients, and industry influencers what they need to attract them to you and your website. When you produce content that is informative and of value, you build trust and authority. They could find your content from search results, content someone has shared from your business, social media or industry group, industry influencer, or from word of mouth, but when they come to your website, they feel “you get them” their needs and what matters to them. You demonstrate your unique selling point (USP).
Your content tells the story of how you provide what they need, in the way they need it. It speaks to their frustrations and pain points and demonstrates your business personality, what they can expect from working with you.
- Casts your content wide across the internet to be found by search engines, and delivers your website pages to people who want your services or products or who want to gain the knowledge you possess.
- Informs industry leaders, collaborative service providers, and potential clients what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and for whom you do it.
- Site visitors experience your promise and value by engaging with your business through your content and messaging.
- Showcases your content and demonstrates the breadth and depth of your knowledge, skills, and abilities. You become the go-to website for knowledge seekers and researchers (and buyers).
- You weed out the wrong clients by allowing them to self-qualify. If your brand and integrity standards don’t align with theirs, you don’t want them as clients.
- You can accurately measure your KPIs and make adjustments to your approach for better results.
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” ~ Peter F. Drucker
Inbound marketing helps you and your team get clearer on your USP
When creating valuable content focused on your ideal client’s problems, you and your team all become clearer on the value you deliver, your unique selling points, and the best fit for both you and your clients. When you acquire the clients who are best aligned with your business model and approach, you gain more than revenue. You gain reputation elevation and prominence in your industry. Word gets out about the high level of product or service you provide, Your lead generation, online presence, and industry leadership position grow as a result.
When everyone on your team understands the relationship and approach from the perspective of your ideal clients, it makes sales, marketing, and customer satisfaction performance go through the roof!
Inbound marketing strategies include evergreen content
When you craft valuable content for your ideal clients, that content remains valuable for many seasons or years. Some content may need a refresh, but it will always produce quality leads and deliver great value to readers and search engines. The leads don’t stop if you turn off the content hose for a while.
The content and strategies continue to attract ideal clients long after you’ve spent the time producing it.
The ROI on inbound marketing vs outbound marketing
Inbound marketing has an ROI of around 62% over outbound marketing. Not only are you able to perform the cost-benefit analysis on inbound marketing, but you’re also building the value of your brand and business across the digital world. You’re building a library of value for your industry to be the go-to resource for anyone who’s looking for quality thought leadership they can’t get anywhere else.
If you have more questions about inbound marketing vs outbound marketing or want to improve your inbound marketing, get in touch with us for a consultation. Consider filling out our SEO and inbound marketing questionnaire.