Is all the hype about B2B inbound marketing really justified? Does inbound marketing really deliver more high quality sales leads at lower cost? This article considers those questions and compares inbound with traditional outbound marketing.
There is little doubt the effectiveness of traditional outbound marketing is in decline. Consumers are more resistant to push marketing techniques than ever before. With the rise of the internet potential customers are much more likely to seek out the information they need to make a purchasing decision online. They are highly likely to consider the reviews and comments of their peers online as an input to their decision making process.
Bad practice and overuse of outbound marketing techniques such as telemarketing and Email marketing has built a strong resistance to these techniques. There is a general cynical response to advertising and the use of printed media is in decline. All of these issues have contributed to an ongoing steady decline in the use of B2B outbound marketing.
As outbound marketing has declined inbound marketing has filled the void. Much of the marketing comment online now relates to the effectiveness of pull marketing and how to deliver its various elements, outbound marketing is rarely mentioned. However, as with any new shiny marketing object, an element of the comment and discussion is over hyped.
Inbound marketing is based on delivering useful, valuable and engaging information to prospects to allow them to make informed purchasing decisions. The information is not pushed in their direction but strategically placed so it has the best chance of being found and read by the target prospect group. The information is not designed to be sales message based in any way but designed to be helpful and engaging. Much of the information will point back to a website for more information where the message may be a little more sales based.
The purpose of inbound marketing is therefore to inform, to build credibility and to ensure the business is front of mind when a prospect reaches the point of potential purchase. Unlike outbound marketing it is not invasive but relies on the prospect coming in to the business to learn more. The quality of the leads is therefore much higher with pull marketing than with outbound. The lead is also more likely to come at a later stage in the sales process.
There are however some major issues with inbound marketing that are rarely touched on. The process does not deliver short term results and it is resource intensive which means many businesses that start the process stall before they achieve meaningful results. The process also requires a significant new skill set which can mean either re-skilling a marketing department brought up on outbound marketing (which again takes time) or outsourcing marketing at least on a short term basis.
In fact outbound marketing is not dead but only changed. Many traditional outbound techniques can be modified to support the B2B inbound marketing process. They can speed the process along and improve results. What is really required is a mix of the best outbound and inbound marketing can offer and not more hype of at just one process may offer.