- As CEO of a digital marketing agency and inbound marketing evangelist, I’m always talking about the drastic differences that can be easily found between inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing, or, more to the point, “Why inbound marketing is better than outbound marketing?” In case you can’t tell it from my tone by now, I’m more attracted towards to the complexities of inbound marketing, rather than the simplicity and primitivity of outbound marketing. But seriously, I’m quite confident that people keep asking this question because the same answer seems to be given no matter whose blog you read. It’s as if someone (Hubspot and Pardot) wrote an answer and then it gets snubbed, without any real life experiences or other reasoning attached to a rejection…
The canned answer usually goes something like this: Why try to buy customers with traditional “outbound marketing” when consumers aren’t even paying attention?
45% of direct mail never gets opened, 200 million people are on the national Do Not Call Registry 85% of people fast forward through commercials 84% of 25–35 year-olds are likely to skip a website with excessive advertising. That makes it more likely for you to win a lottery than get a sale out of a banner ad.
While that’s a good enough answer with compelling stats that back it up, but there’s more to inbound marketing than this. In this post, I’m going to give you my insights. I’m not just going to harp on how outbound is reaching increasingly smaller audiences and how inbound is more engaging and more accessible — although both statements are very true.
I’m going to speak from experiences that are my own.
And in the spirit of full disclosure: Vital is a Hubspot Partner Agency, so I could simply repurpose Hubspot’s experiences and playbook like most partner agencies. But we also consider ourselves a Moz shop, with a Moz Pro account, and we develop using the WordPress CMS with the Yoast SEO plug-in (not the Hubspot COS), which means we have some independent experiences and additional tools that play into our perspective.
No experience is more related to that perspective than our own inbound transformation. Over the past three years, we went from referring to ourselves as a creative agency (web design, SEO, and branding) to wholeheartedly embracing the moniker “inbound marketing agency.” But we weren’t sold inbound — we experienced it.
― Stacy Rogers
We are our own best inbound marketing case study. In an industry many say is difficult to estimate, Vital has experienced 300% growth in revenue and 300% growth in employees, all of which is solely attributed to our inbound and content marketing strategies.
First, let’s define inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing, keeping in mind two aspects of marketing strategies: distribution and message.
Inbound marketing — if Hubspot didn’t coin “inbound marketing,” they have certainly spent a lot of time and money branding it as their own invention. Here’s how they define it: “Inbound marketing focuses on creating great content that can attract people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.” This is a decent definition, if somewhat oversimplified.
The term “inbound” is actually quite nouvelle. It took Vital a while to accept the term “inbound” to describe what we were doing with our clients. At the very start we referred to it as “SEO” and “content marketing,” and although while not exactly a Hubspot partner agency, we were reading their content. We knew a term was needed for the paradigm shift we were seeing in online marketing, because SEO had fundamentally changed and digital marketing was becoming increasingly more disparate from traditional marketing. Digital distribution made analysis highly measurable and results-oriented, showing that inbound marketing was X times more successful than outbound marketing, when done properly.
It’s not just that traditional distribution was so different from digital distribution; the message was another one as well… And the more we were learning about the message, the better the results we were getting. The terms “digital marketing” or “traditional marketing” only spoke to the distribution aspect of the message, and “inbound marketing” conveyed a new message itself.
This new message was educational, it involved thought leadership, and was transparent and engaging. So, due to a lack of anything nicer, we drank a little of the Hubspot Kool-Aid and gave in — today we call it inbound marketing, too. But there’s more to inbound marketing than the statistics on the dwindling audience of outbound and the engaged and accessible audience of inbound.
Outbound marketing is inherently obfuscated, duplicitous and full of shit.
By Peter Mayhew • March 25, 2016 • 2 Comments