Have you heard the term “inbound marketing” and wondered just what exactly that means? In this video I’ll zero in on this term, and a few others that are relevant to understanding how inbound marketing works. Let’s get started!

What is inbound marketing?

So… inbound marketing. What is it? Well, it helps to compare this term with another term you may have also heard, which is outbound marketing.

I like to think of inbound marketing like a magnet, whereby your overall strategy and the marketing tactics you use are aimed at pulling people in to your website, your social media channels, and so on.

Think about it, you probably ignore advertisements — maybe even go out of your way to avoid seeing them altogether? You’re not alone. The majority of people ignore ads.

Instead, people self-educate. They want to do their own research and find the information they need to make a decision on their own. Oftentimes, a consumer will have made up their mind long before they ever reach out to your business. What this means is that you have to be in the right places, at the right times, with information that will nurture toward a purchase. In other words, share content that is not only helpful and valuable, but that is welcomed.

You aren’t insisting that they “Buy Now!” but you are inviting them to learn something useful. You build trust with people because they don’t feel like prey.

How does inbound differ from outbound marketing?

On the other hand, outbound marketing should be thought of like a megaphone.

Cold calling, for example, is a form of outbound marketing, in which a business sends out a message targeting people who may or may not welcome it. Outbound marketing also means you’re shoving ads in front of people without any indication they might actually be interested.

The challenge here? People put up defenses and tune it out. It can feel intrusive to a potential customer or prospect if they haven’t expressed any interest.

Examples of inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing

So, what are some examples of inbound versus outbound marketing? Remember, inbound is helpful, educational, and like a magnet. Outbound can feel intrusive, pushy, and like a megaphone.

On the inbound marketing side, you’ll find tactics that include things like:

  • Educational webinars
  • Emails and newsletters with helpful info
  • Blog posts and website pages
  • White papers, how-to guides and other downloads
  • Video content and podcasts
  • Thought leadership
  • Social media posts that are helpful or educational
  • Marketing automation
  • Search engine optimization, or SEO

Remember, your aim with inbound is to position your business as a trusted advisor, and then pull prospects in like a magnet.

On the outbound marketing side, these are some of the tactics used:

  • Advertisements online, on TV, radio, and in print
  • Cold calling and telemarketing
  • Email marketing that is sales-y in nature
  • Social media posts that are sales-y
  • Trade shows and events
  • Press releases
  • Direct mail — including brochures, post cards, and catalogues
  • Promotional items — water bottles, T-shirts, and other tchotchkes with your logo

Now, some tactics overlap between the two, as is the case with emails and social media posts. The key questions to ask yourself is: Has someone expressed an interest in receiving this? And is this plain ol’ sales-y?

Is one methodology better than the other?

Not necessarily. There are benefits to both. Outbound marketing can provide you with faster near-term results. But inbound marketing in the long run can yield more closed sales and higher revenue, so you’ll want to deploy a good mix based on your goals.

Other terms used in relation to inbound marketing

Another term that’s used frequently is “content marketing.” But where does it fit into all of this? Typically, content can be thought of as a subset of inbound marketing. Inbound is a methodology.

Think of inbound marketing as a vehicle for your content — the manner in which you deliver helpful information to prospects.

And while we’re talking about methodologies, subsets, and vehicles, another term that’s thrown around in the world of marketing is “thought leadership.” I won’t delve into the specifics of thought leadership in this post, but I will tell you that thought leadership is a subset of content marketing.

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Wrapping up, those in a nutshell are the differences between inbound and outbound marketing. If you have any questions about making inbound marketing part of your overall strategy, we’re here to help! Reach out to the Lumen Marketing team at 720-722-2987 or click the big blue button below.