Is all the hype about B2B inbound marketing justified? Does inbound marketing deliver more high-quality sales leads at a 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. They are 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 have 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 B2B inbound marketing has filled the void. Much of the marketing comment online now relates to the effectiveness of pull marketing. However, as with any new shiny marketing object, an element of the comment and discussion is overhyped.
A B2B inbound marketing process delivers useful, valuable and engaging information to prospects. It allows them to make informed purchasing decisions.
The information is not pushed in the direction of the prospect 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.
The purpose of inbound marketing is to inform, build credibility and ensure the business is front of mind. Unlike outbound marketing, it is not invasive but relies on the prospect coming into the business to learn more.
The quality of inbound 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. This 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 or outsourcing marketing at least on a short term basis.
Outbound marketing is not dead but only changed. Many traditional outbound techniques are modified to support the B2B inbound marketing process. They can speed the process along and improve results. What is required is a mix of the best outbound and inbound marketing can offer and not more hype.