Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing Today – Part 1

by John Eberhard

“Inbound marketing” is one of the newer buzzwords in the marketing world today, and unlike with many buzzwords, it is something worth knowing about.

Basically, “inbound marketing” can be defined as placing information about your company in an area where people will see it when they search for information about your products or services. This means search engines. The “inbound” part of the term refers to the fact that people are actively searching for you.

Outbound marketing is defined as more traditional marketing, where you place an ad or send out direct mail or send email. It’s also called, by the buzzword people, “interruption marketing” due to the fact that you are typically interrupting something else the person is doing to get out your marketing message. They inbound marketing gurus use the term “interruption marketing” as a sort of demeaning term, as they typically believe outbound marketing is a wave of the past.

Inbound marketing with Google (the largest search engine) is in three different forms:

Google AdWords: This is where you place text ads that appear on Google in the first three lines at the top highlighted in pink, and in the right hand column going down the page. Your account gets charged every time someone clicks on your ad. You select the keywords that you want the ad to appear for, you write your ads and you select a page where people will land when they click. You also select the geographical area where you want your ads to appear. Google AdWords typically works best at this point for high ticket items, i.e. items that cost say more than $100 or so. You cannot use it to sell things like books or CDs because the ads are just too expensive.

Google Places / Google Maps / Google+: Whenever you do a search on Google for something it considers is local in nature, it will show a map in the right hand column and listings corresponding to the map in the left hand column. These are different from the organic listings (see below) and the steps to take to get your business listing to rank well (i.e. on the first page) are different than for organic listings. But if you have a local oriented business, where you service people in a defined geographical area, such as a restaurant, a retail store, a health care practice or a home improvement company, it is vital to have a listing on Google Places. Getting your listing onto page one of Google requires getting online reviews of your business on Google and other sites, and creating listings on other business listing sites. Google notices these other listings and that helps move your listing higher.

Organic Listings: These are the other listings on Google other than the paid listings and the Google Places listings. They are located in the left hand column. There are usually several below the paid listings at the top, then the Google Places listings if it is a local search, then more organic listings below that. Getting your listing to rank well in the organic listings requires doing search engine optimization and link building and can take some time, often 6-12 months.

Proponents of inbound marketing say that it is the wave of the future and that the advent of inbound marketing has changed the basic nature of marketing. It works better than outbound marketing because you are putting your message in front of people who are actively looking for what you sell and deliver, instead of interrupting people while they are doing something else, like reading articles or watching TV or whatever. Some proponents go so far as to say that outbound marketing is dead.

Fair enough. There is no question that inbound marketing as described above has changed marketing in a fairly fundamental way. If you can catch people when they are actively looking for something, you are theoretically catching them at the peak of their interest cycle. And there is also no question that outbound marketing does not work as well as it used to. So all is rosy, right? If you’re doing inbound marketing, you’re on Easy Street.

Except that there are some flaws in this design. There are gaping holes for certain types of businesses, holes you could drive a space shuttle through.

What do I mean? Let’s explore.

  1. The Local Business in a Very Competitive Market
  2. The Business Selling Low Ticket Items

The inbound marketing paradigm just doesn’t work for these types of businesses. In addition, you have the fact that Google has for years been actively working against anyone being able to be cause over their organic listings. They pay lip service to the idea that they are working with SEO consultants. But their actions speak louder than words, because every one of their algorithm updates in the last few years has in effect taken away the tools that SEO consultants have been using to help clients improve rankings.

Next week I will discuss more on the holes in the inbound marketing universe, what you can DO about it, and how outbound marketing still plays a major part in marketing.

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