There’s an old saying in the marketing world that states, “half of my advertising works, I just don’t know which half.” The other adage commonly heard was that if you throw your ad dollars against the wall like a bowl of spaghetti, half will stick and half will fall to the ground.
Outbound marketing is similar to the two adages referenced above. When newspapers were strong and full page ads in a major Sunday metro publication cost tens of thousands of dollars, many ads were ROP, or run of the press. What this means is that they are randomly placed throughout the paper. The problem with this outdated approach is that it is “spray and pray” or a “shotgun strategy.” Advertisers who used this strategy hoped that a reader who needed their product or service would see the ad and take action including making a phone call or visiting a store. It was not targeted marketing.
The same could be said about a radio ad. The desired outcome is that an interested consumer hears a commercial. The only problem, however, is that the odds of this happening are slim. When you consider how many radio stations exist and how many people listen to an ad that answers a specific need the consumer has at that moment, the potential audience of potential buyers is fractional.
Outbound marketing is mass marketing. It does not deliver a message to a targeted audience. Rather, it blasts a promotion or pitch that tries to sell to people that have little to no interest in what is being sold. Typically, this form of marketing sells to the consumer and does not educate them based on their specific needs. Consequently, a high percentage of ad dollars are wasted.
Shift From Outbound to Inbound Marketing
Fast forward to today, where inbound marketing has had a revolutionary impact on the way people seek information and purchase goods and services. There are profound differences in the manner that consumers obtain information to purchase products and services. The advent of inbound marketing has everything to do with the internet. When people search on Google, they provide keywords or phrases for exactly what they are looking for. In an instant, they are provided an endless array of options to browse through.
The biggest change in this paradigm shift in marketing is that the consumer is now in control. While sitting at their desk at work or on their couch at home, they are able to seek solutions to their needs on their terms. The days of flipping through the Sunday newspaper to find what you are looking for are over. Trying to remember an ad on TV or radio is a thing of the past. Inbound marketing has created efficiencies in the way we obtain and process information. Websites have enabled any individual or company to have complete control of their information.
Not that long ago, a company would buy an ad in the Yellow Pages and they would be stuck with the same static message for a year. With a website, the message may be changed in a moment’s notice. Furthermore, the volume of information contained on a website is exponentially higher than any form of outbound marketing options that previously existed.
What does this mean for the consumer? It means that they obtain information when they want it and how they want it. With behavioral targeting, the messages they receive are sent to them because they either asked for it or it was sent to them with content that is based on their online profile of places they have visited on the web. The most important aspect of this change in marketing is that the consumer is able to educate themselves prior to making a purchase. Most people prefer to buy something rather than be sold.
What does inbound marketing mean for the advertiser? It means that they are now able to precisely target their ideal buyer of their product or service. This could be done with the following digital media:
- Paid Search – This is typically paid advertising on Google or other sites that are highly targeted.
- Retargeting – These ads that appear online target people who have been on your website or have expressed interest in your line of business.
- Social Media – With sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, you are able to deliver ads to people who fit exact profiles of your ideal buyer.
- Organic Presence – The organic section of Google and other search engines that occupy the main section of a search page. There are no costs associated with having your website listed here.
In conclusion, marketing today is far more efficient and effective than it was a few years ago. Buying habits and profiles of consumers have become so sophisticated that advertising is geared toward people who are interested in what advertisers are selling. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the marketing is easily measured. The days of hoping that half of an advertiser’s marketing is working is over. With inbound marketing, it’s now easy to target a potential buyer and know with a high degree of certainty that the advertising is working.