Once upon a time, there was a loud, disruptive, and often annoying type of advertising that was part of what we now call outbound marketing.

It interrupted our favorite TV and radio programs.

It filled our mailbox with colorful, aggressive ads.

It flamboyantly disturbed our newspaper and magazine articles, making us flip pages if we wanted to continue reading.

It littered the highways with large, colorful billboards, screaming at us to buy products.

Every night, telephone bells would cut through the solace of our family time, with a telemarketer on the end of the line, trying to get us to buy something.

In the days before the internet, all the advertisers and marketers out there had no other choice but to use these tactics. There was no other way to reach the masses.

Enter the internet. Seemingly overnight, advertising and marketing people made a major shift in the way they marketed to their audiences. Marketing gurus like Hubspot co-founder and CEO Brian Halligan began to realize that the internet made it quick and easy for consumers to search for the information they wanted to find. So why not give them what they look for—valuable content that helps inform them about the products and services they want most.

Instead of reaching “out” to find their market, the market could reach “in” to what each business could offer in the way of valuable content and information about their products and services.

Halligan coined the term “inbound marketing” and the rest is history.

Hello, Inbound Marketing!

Back in the day, consumers had to accept these outbound advertisements in our mailbox, on our TV screens, and in our reading material because they were more or less unavoidable. Outbound marketing was intrusive. Inbound marketing is invitational.

What is inbound marketing? It includes the information that you may come across about products and services that during your daily interaction with your phone, computer, tablet, or other digital device, like:

  • Blogs and helpful content with answers to product questions
  • Online reviews
  • Opt-in email newsletters
  • Podcasts
  • Unboxing, product, and technical support videos
  • Social Media posts and ads
  • Online ads and banners
  • Special landing pages and offers
  • Downloadable reports and ebooks

Inbound marketing can get pretty tricky. In each of the above categories there are many different strategies and types of programs to get your information in front of the eyes of people you most want to reach. And all of it can be extremely effective.

But does that mean outbound marketing is dead?

Let’s look at the advantages of inbound marketing efforts, over those ads that we find in front of our face, uninvited.

What makes inbound better, you may ask? I’ll give you the top three reasons:

  1. It’s very specifically targeted. Let’s say you were trying to reach red-headed women in Minnesota. You could put up a billboard in Minneapolis and surely reach some red-headed women. However, for a lesser cost per lead you could find these people via digital marketing efforts throughout the state, or the country for that matter. A good digital marketer can help you reach your market in the most efficient way, at the touch of a button.
  2. It’s non-disruptive. We live in an impatient society. Where once we had to endure the outbound marketing efforts of advertisers who made us sit through television commercials, we can now watch that same show online without commercials, or press “skip” to get to our show faster. We like to be in control of what we see (or at least believe we are!) Therefore, we respond better to “non-disruptive” marketing, like online reviews and blogs that give us the information we want, when we go looking for it.
  3. It’s efficient and measurable. Through Google Analytics and other reporting sites, it is very easy to see how many people clicked on an ad, a site, a post, or a landing page. You can accurately track their digital journey to a desired result, whether that is a phone call, filling out a form, downloading information, or making a purchase on the site. In that way, digital marketing can easily express ROI in a way that is much more difficult to do for outbound efforts. Often, people who employ digital marketing over print notice their cost per lead continue to drop as the marketing program is creatively tweaked, based on the reported results of each campaign.


So goodbye, outbound marketing?

Ok, you might be thinking, if inbound marketing is so much better than placing a print ad or sending a postcard in the mail, how come we still see and hear plenty of ads targeted to a mass audience? Why are we still seeing lots of billboards on the side of the road? Or expensive color ads in magazines?

It’s because outbound marketing, while on the decline, is still effective.

While we all know and recognize the importance of SEO and digital advertising, there’s a place for outbound ads and direct mail in the marketing mix too!

There’s no denying the intangibles about direct mail, or the neuroscience behind them.  Studies show our human brains light up when we open the mailbox or process the sensation of the printed paper in our hands.

It even helps us remember the message, too, since we’re experiencing it in a multi-sensory way.

Some clients use their own curated and targeted list while others take part in “postcard packs” or ongoing direct mail programs.

Even marketing gurus like Neil Patel agree that direct mail is not dead, but can be used in conjunction with digital marketing to track ROI with..

  • QR codes to drive website traffic
  • Unique phone numbers
  • Specific landing pages
  • Targetted email or personal followup

There’s no question about it…inbound marketing is a winning strategy for most firms, but outbound is not dead yet. For some products and services, it may even be the best way to go!

If your marketing is out of balance—too much inbound or outbound in the mix—let’s talk! Together we can develop the right strategy for your products and services with an innovative recipe that gets results!