“Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.” – Doug Kessler
Maybe you’ve noticed that some advertisements make you feel more at ease than others. Some of them are friendly and inviting, while others are pushy and salesy. As a marketer, you want to focus on the type of message that makes people feel at ease and like they have a choice to respond or not.
There is a reason why there seems to be a difference between these two approaches. The one is called inbound marketing and the other outbound marketing.
Outbound marketing is basically what we call traditional marketing methods. Traditional marketing is seen as intrusive, sales-oriented marketing. It doesn’t care about what the customer wants, it only cares about pushing sales. These include television and radio ads, telemarketing, banner and display ads, newspaper and magazine ads, cold-calling, pop-ups, and billboards. As in the quote above, this is the type of marketing that talks AT people.
Inbound or content marketing, on the other hand, is inviting. It doesn’t interrupt what you are busy with and it gives you the choice to be interested, as well as rewarding you for responding. This is still “normal” marketing, but with a slightly more customer-centred approach. It cares about what the customer is interested in and how the customer feels; it talks WITH the customer, opening the channel for communication. Examples of inbound marketing include blog articles, search engine optimisation (SEO), specific landing pages, call to action, sign-up forms, and keyword targeting.
Which is more effective in a business?
In your business, you should aim for inbound marketing. People are tired of being told what to do and are much more likely to show interest when they feel that they made the decision instead themselves of being manipulated.
Let’s look at some examples of why outbound marketing is more likely to fail:
- People ignore display advertising
- The invention of ad blockers prevents users from seeing display ads
- People can skip TV ads by fast forwarding through commercials on recordings (of those that actually still watch TV)
- Digital music allows people to avoid radio advertising
- People get their news from the internet, so advertising in print media gets avoided
- Email sales letters end up in spam folders or get deleted before people read them
- People ignore calls from telemarketers
- Billboards don’t get noticed because people are concentrating on the road
Now, let’s compare that to an inbound marketing approach:
- When someone is looking something specific, they use the internet to look for it.
- Inbound marketing focuses on attracting attention online. This is done with interesting blog posts, keywords that get used in search engines, and on social media platforms.
- Next, it focuses on conversion. It creates a desire for the potential client to have something or be a part of something. It’s not manipulating statements, but rather invitations. This is achieved by call to action buttons, sign-up forms, and specific landing pages.
- Only after they are convinced that they want what you offer, the communication actually starts. Because they initiated the conversation, you are more likely to close the deal.
Implement an inbound marketing strategy
If you don’t already have an inbound marketing strategy in place, you should consider adding it to your to-do list. Nobody likes feeling manipulated to buy – rather focus on initiating a conversation with your potential customers.