HubSpot’s founders invented and popularized the idea of inbound marketing. They wanted to contrast their marketing methods to the disadvantages of outbound marketing.
Outbound sellers work by reaching out to potential buyers. They contact buyers with advertising, direct mail, email, and phone calls. They even go door-to-door to find buyers.
With outbound marketing, sellers control the time and place of the interaction. But buyers view unexpected contact from sellers as an interruption in their life. Most of these people are not potential buyers; they will never become a customer. They resent the seller. This resentment leads to low conversion rates on outbound marketing. Low conversion rates are a waste of time and energy. They create a negative perception in the market.
Inbound Marketing Is Better Aligned with the Buyer’s Journey
Inbound marketing and selling is better aligned with the interests and the pace of the buyer. Buyers search for something on Google and see the seller’s entry on the Google response page. They click on the entry and absorb the material on the seller’s site.
The advantage for sellers of inbound marketing is that buyers initiate the contact. Buyers are better qualified and conversion rates are higher.
The disadvantage is that it takes a lot of work to create the content and the visibility for buyers to find and digest the information from the seller.
Inbound and Outbound Marketing Are Perceived to Be in Opposition
These two approaches to marketing and sales are often discussed as if they are in opposition to one another. Proponents of inbound marketing assert that they are aligned with buyers, that they avoid interrupting their buyers, and that they are focused on educating their buyers.
Traditional outbound marketers cite their ability to control the timing of their contacts. Especially in B2B markets and other considered purchases, they often know who their buyers are and they want to be able to reach out and cultivate a relationship with these buyers.
Here’s How to Resolve the Contradiction
How to resolve these apparent contradictions and disagreements?
Look to the buyer. Ask what will create value for the buyer at each stage in the buyer’s journey.
In the earlier stages, attract buyers to you with inbound marketing. Make yourself easy to find in the search engines and provide useful information about your industry, best practices, and trends. Invite buyers to continue to learn from you with tools, short education courses, and email subscriptions.
As buyers move along on their journey and become educated about the problems you know how to solve, invite them to learn more about your products and how they work.
For buyers who signal interest, reach out with outbound invitations to learn more about you.
Once your buyers become customers, continue to use both inbound and outbound methods to assist customers as they adopt and implement your product. Make tutorials and advice easy to find and easy to use. If a customer exceeds a threshold that indicates a problem, reach out to them and offer to help.
When HubSpot introduced the concept of inbound marketing a few years ago, it provided a useful counterpoint to the disadvantages of outbound marketing. But for B2B sellers, the idea of inbound versus outbound is a false dilemma. Both are valuable when they are used in ways that create value for the buyer and help buyers move forward on their journey.