When it comes to inbound marketing, most marketers think about landing pages, conversion rates, and marcom softwares. But — it’s way more than that.

Inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a fundamental shift in marketing. Yes, nowadays we focus more on list building, content, themes, call-to-actions, lead magnets, viral loops, conversion rates, content upgrades, deep content, landing page optimization, a/b-testing, marketing automation, and all of that fancy stuff often associated with online marketing in general, and inbound marketing in particular. But inbound marketing is so much more than just using various types of software to capture online leads.

What is inbound marketing — and is there such a thing as ‘outbound marketing’? Here’s a slide with a few examples to illustrate the difference:

Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing
This issue is black-and-white.

This way of drawing the line between those who know you and those who don’t know you is nothing new:

  • In traditional marketing, this has been referred to as the difference between “push- and pull marketing.”
  • In sales, this is the classic difference between “hot- and cold leads.”
  • In public relations, we refer to inbound audiences as various types of “publics.”
  • Seth Godin coined the phrase “permission marketing.”

Still, this doesn’t mean that inbound has ever been a priority in marketing. Most organizations see inbound audiences as already paid for and thus in no need of further attention. Hence, most companies rather pour their marketing budgets into various outbound activities. “Why spend more on those already ‘acquired’?”

But in a wired world, not bothering about your existing community is a poor strategy.

Jerry Silver aka Doctor Spin.
Jerry Silfwer (Doctor Spin) speaks about inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is a mindset as much as a practice

Most companies want more traffic, more fans, more emails, and more sales. But in most cases, reaching new outbound audiences isn’t the real problem:

If you pay to 10x your traffic to compensate for lack of organic growth, then what? Now you have 10x the number of people who are bored and not engaged. Brands simply cannot afford to ignore their existing brand communities anymore.

Or, in other words: Advertising is the tax you pay for not being remarkable.

However, if you manage to activate and engage your existing audience, it won’t stay small for much longer. Because in a wired world, people influence each other. And that’s the real power of inbound marketing.

Photo by marcos mayer on Unsplash.