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Greg Shnerer- The Difference Between Inbound and Traditional Marketing Techniques


If you don’t work in marketing or have interaction with that department at your job, then you may not know that there are different types of marketing. Marketing, in a general sense, is the process by which goods and services move from the developer to the consumer. Marketing ties in closely with other business departments, such as sales and advertising, because it often requires several disciplines to market a product or service to a customer. Marketing entails the development of a product or service, the determination of a price for that product or service, the selection of a distribution channel to market to the target audience, and the development of a strategy to make it all happen.

Marketing is more complex than its basic definition. It involves many moving parts which must come together to effectively bring a product or service from conception to consumption. Marketing used to be much simpler, especially before the emergence of the Internet. Nowadays, marketing strategies are complicated by the introduction of inbound tactics. However, as most will argue, inbound marketing is a more effective and less obtrusive way of advertising to customers. Anyone interested in marketing should understand the difference between traditional (outbound) and inbound marketing.

Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing, also known as outbound marketing, describes conventional advertising methods. It is called “outbound,” in direct contrast to inbound marketing, to distinguish it from newer methods. Think of a television commercial from the 90s (or even earlier if you were around then). Would you describe it as annoying? In-your-face? Did it have a catchy jingle that you just couldn’t get out of your head or feature a celebrity that you’d come to associate with the product?

Outbound marketing relies on outside sources such as television, radio, print ads, trade shows, billboards, telemarketing, and email blasts to promote a product or service. Outbound methods aim to interrupt. They may have been effective in the past, but today, in a fast-paced, technology-driven world, people don’t want anything to slow them down. They would rather have the ability to pursue their purchasing options in a manner that integrates seamlessly with their daily lives – for both tangible and intangible goods.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing focuses on pulling audiences in naturally and organically, increasing brand awareness through the use of social media and quality content. Inbound marketers connect with customers through tactics such as SEO (search engine optimization), social media, blog posts, paid advertising, websites, and mobile apps.

In the most basic sense, outbound marketing relies on push tactics whereas inbound marketing uses pull tactics to attract customers. By creating valuable content, inbound marketing is able to attract interested customers and establish brand loyalty without resorting to one-way communication. Inbound marketing values engagement and transparency, and due to a shift in consumer behavior, it appears that inbound marketing is the way of the future. Plus, the numbers don’t lie:

  • Inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional marketing
  • According to 2013 Hubspot statistics, 79% of companies with a blog reported positive ROI

Customer behavior is changing and old strategies can become outdated over time.