In a perfect world, your customers would just come to you. You wouldn’t spend any advertising dollars. That’s sort of the idea behind inbound marketing. Though people are coming to you, and not vice versa, it takes a lot of work. So what is inbound marketing? It’s about becoming the expert in your market. You release great content, blog posts and videos. You answer the most commonly asked questions and you keep your audience updated on the latest industry trends.
Outbound marketing, in contrast, is when you go out and try to bring in customers. As far as online marketing goes, it often means banner advertising. In most instances, outbound marketing is much quicker (and pricier). You make your ad spend and you’re all set. The problem is you’re screaming in a crowded marketplace.
I bet it’s a lot easier for you to remember who wrote the last interesting blog post you read as opposed to the last company you saw a banner ad for. I bet you can’t even remember the last banner ad you saw. In fact, over the past few years, I’ve saved the banner ads that have actually gotten my attention in a special folder. There are a grand total of two banners in that folder.
Think of outbound marketing like a child who has ten siblings. He is constantly competing with those siblings for the attention of his parents by screaming for their attention. Is it worth the effort? Or would it be better for the child to do something like get straight A’s on a report card to get his parents to come to him?
Here’s a real example of an inbound marketing success we’ve had here at A2 Hosting. A few years ago, we became a popular place to host the Kloxo control panel on a VPS. How? It wasn’t by posting Kloxo VPS ads. Trust me, I tried that. No, it was actually kind of by accident, but taught us a great inbound marketing lesson. All we did was post instructions on how to install Kloxo to a VPS. These instructions actually became one of our most visited pages thanks partly to Kloxo sending their users to those instructions. We posted quality content and people came to us. We became the Kloxo Hosting experts.
Now I’m not saying you should pull all of your outbound marketing efforts and go all in with inbound marketing. Outbound marketing can certainly be effective when crafted properly. Just be mindful of both techniques the next time you look at your marketing strategy.