Understanding Inbound vs Outbound Marketing

Online SearchBefore you begin marketing your business you should first consider the two basic types of marketing, inbound and outbound. While I normally try and stray away from the jargon for small business, understanding the difference between these two concepts could save you thousands of dollars and countless amounts of wasted time.

 Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is about your customers finding you. This can be achieved by being found on the search engines (SEO), Google Adwords, even through your audience consuming your blog posts, content, etc. and then arriving on your site where they hopefully complete the actions you want them to make.

Outbound marketing

Outbound marketing is about you finding your customers with your message. This typically includes (but is not limited to) direct mail, social media advertising, display campaigns, billboards, email marketing, etc. You are actively pursuing your customer, they are not finding you.

Why is it important to distinguish between the two?

Quite simply, if your customers aren’t looking for your product, then there is absolutely no point in being found. If your customers need your product, but they aren’t sure what to look for, you need to actively get your product in front of them, educate them on your solution and then hopefully they will buy from you.

How do I know which one to choose?

First of all, it all comes back to the customer first approach and your marketing persona. If you’ve taken the time to map out what makes your customers tick, what their pain points are, motivations, etc. then you should have an idea whether or not they are actively seeking your services.

However, to be certain people are looking for your services, I recommend using the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. It’s a free tool available to anyone with an Adwords account (which is also free), simply go to http://adwords.google.com to sign up.

The Adwords Keyword Planner will tell you approximately how many times a month people search for particular keywords in a particular geographical region. This will allow you to gauge the size of your SEO market, SEM market and determine the possible return on an investment in these types of marketing.

Some examples

adwords search volume

Looking at the table above, we can see that in Sydney alone body wraps gets 480 searches/month so that is a prime candidate to focus on inbound marketing for the time being.

Whilst handmade birthday cards has only 90/month, so it would require you to get started with an outbound strategy where you get in front of people.

Lawn mowing and manual handling training are in a tricky in-between area which will usually require a mix of inbound/outbound because its important that you remember you will never capture 100% of the search market.

Next steps

If you haven’t done so yet, complete a marketing persona, you can find some guidelines in my 100-point online marketing checklist (sign up on the right).

After you’ve got an idea about who your customer is and the words they are using to find your product, go to http://adwords.google.com , sign up for a free account and use the keyword planner tool to check on  the amount of people looking for your product/service.

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About the Author

About the Author: Luke Hodges is a digital marketing specialist that has experience spanning across large corporates, government, not-for-profits and SME's. He has a passion for applying the digital marketing techniques used in large organisations to small businesses to help them succeed and grow and has consulted for over 200 Australian small businesses. Luke comes from a strong technical background and has developed digital marketing strategies for a number of organisations, giving him a complete understanding of topics such as lead generation, conversion optimisation, web development, email, search and social. .


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