Inbound or Outbound Marketing – what’s the difference? Which is the most cost effective?

Let’s start with a few definitions; Outbound Marketing is reaching out to your customers by traditional means, before search engines came along, it could include television commercials, radio ads, print adverts (press ads, flyers, brochures, catalogues, advertorials, etc.), trade shows, cold calls, even billboards and posters, and direct mail/email campaigns. It’s all about targeting your product/services/message to your potential customers or clients.

Inbound Marketing is all about what we do now, and that is “We Google it” or search on social media.  This is Inbound Marketing; it’s about getting people to your website or social pages by generating content (blogs, articles, online newsletters, videos etc.) getting found on the Internet – or by paying for Ads on Google or Bing, these are Pay-Per-Click ads.

Which is best – Outbound or Inbound Marketing?

That depends on what your product or service is. If you sell high value items or services to a specialist target market that attend well established B2B trade shows, then Outbound Marketing maybe best for you – design an eye-catching exhibition stand that draws in visitors and invite the right potential clients. Combine this with some targeted trade press ads and you’ll have a classic Outbound Marketing campaign.

However, if you’re the exhibition promoter who needs to attract lots of visitors to your consumer show, then Inbound Marketing, creating a buzz on the Internet and in Social Media, will be key. You’ll need to generate lots of stories about the exhibitors and work with them to cross promote and link to their online content. Using Content Marketing promotion platforms such as Outbrain and Taboola, are an effective way of spreading your message across online media. You will also need to build a well-structured and targeted Pay-Per-Click campaign, through search and social media channels, which reaches out to consumers who have an interest in the exhibition subject matter.

This approach is an effective way to promote a show, however, what works best is a combination of traditional outbound promotions with a sprinkle of PR in the mix as well!

Inbound Marketing – how do you attract visitors to your site?

Please Google or Pay Google and get Social. For starters – pleasing Google, getting traffic to your website for free.

Firstly it’s not free, it will take a lot of effort to get pages that rank well in Google. Long gone are the days when you simply register a domain such as www.cheapcars.com and car buyers would flock to your site.

Content Marketing – building a presence, attracting an audience

Building a strong online presence is about developing great original, quality content, which is useful for your customers and wider audiences. It’s about gaining trust. Articles and advice on buying a second-hand car would be good for Motor Dealer, or short peace on which cars are the cheapest to insure for younger drivers. Not only will these articles give your website more credibility – you know what your talking about – it is great for Google! And long-term will lead to natural search traffic to your website.

What do Search Engines like?

There’s no magic bullet – here’s some suggestions…

  • Lots of great original content that changes regularly
  • This content should be search engine friendly (SEO’d)
  • Articles, videos that people read or watch – visitor engagement
  • People share your content, contribute and link to it

Producing great engaging content involves effort; it needs to be relevant and useful to the reader. The message should reflect your business/brands image both visually and in the tone of the language. Above all it should be trustworthy and be easy to read – people are great skimmers when it comes to reading online content.

Videos are a great engagement tool; they should to be short, snappy, well scripted and visually appealing. You need to catch the viewer’s attention in the first 10 seconds, whilst using other tools within Youtube, such as Link Cards, to drive traffic to other parts of your site. Above all – keep it simple!

If all this sounds very daunting and time consuming “it’s hard enough marketing and running a business without having to please Google”, I hear you cry. This is where TurnRound can help, let us develop your content strategies, produce creative communications that meet the technical challenges of well executed search friendly Inbound Marketing. We’ll even give your website a MOT to make sure it been SEO’d correctly and that it is easy to use. It’s no good generating web traffic that doesn’t drive users to other sections of your site; you need them to make contact and ultimately do business with you!

The Fast Option – Paying for traffic

Okay, generating content is going to take us a while to do, with obvious benefits moving forward. What you may need is quick results; this is when Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads come into their own.

Search engine advertising has become one of the most popular methods of PPC marketing, with Google Adwords being the most dominant platform, as it has the most successful search engine.

PPC Ads appear at the top of the page when you use Google’s search engine, these Ad’s appear biased on advertisers bids (an auction) and other factors. Such as quality score (a value given by Google that takes into account your click-through rate, relevance, and your landing page) and relevance of the keywords in the ad campaign, as well as the value of the keyword bids. Yep, all sounds very complicated, and not like any auction I’ve ever been to!

Optimising Pay-Per-Click Campaigns

Building a successful Pay-Per-Click campaign is all about researching the most relevant keywords, writing good ads and making sure your landing page is relevant to your keywords.

Sounds simple? Not really – a lot of effort goes into building a successful Adwords campaign, its very easy to throw budget at PPC advertising. What is important is to maximise your conversion rate, whilst minimising your bid spend. There’s no point getting loads of clicks from users who never convert into customers. TurnRound can help here.

The real beauty of PPC promotions, as is all Inbound Marketing, is that you track everything that happens online through Google Analytics. Allowing you to monitor performance of your keywords and ads, then track visitor flow through your website. Setup ‘Goals’ such as a sale, or a new client using a contact form.

Don’t ignore traditional Outbound Marketing

It’s far more difficult to measure the success of Outbound Marketing campaigns; you can ask “How Did You Hear About Us?” which often leads to unreliable recollections of ads, flyers, mailers and other media coverage. These results can lead to poor reporting and errors due to assumptions and inaccurate data. That said, Outbound Marketing has an important place in any campaign – brand presence and recognition are still important. Consumers and potential clients, still read newspapers, magazines, listen to the radio and watch telly. Keeping your product or service ‘top-of-mind’ or even ‘back-of-your-mind’ will result in new business long-term. Perversely it may even distort your endlessly traceable Inbound Marketing stats due to visitors remembering your Outbound Marketing activity and visiting your website directly.

More on this in future blogs, hope the above proves useful.

Please get in touch if you need further help or advice.

All the best, Ross