Outbound vs Inbound Marketing: Traditional Marketing Is Dead

Our world has been turned upside down over the last decade. Technology has been a game changer, no doubt. One of those ways is how it has altered the marketing landscape. The way executives spend their marketing dollars can be much more effective than it ever has been before. Outbound marketing is the traditional method used for decades. Mentality: go out to find customers.
Billboards Trying to fight for 3-5 seconds of a drivers attention going 75 mph down a highway.
Radio Ads Radio is nearly obsolete with satellite radio, ad free streaming services, and iTunes.
TV Commercials Also obsolete with ad free streaming services: Netflix, Hulu, HBO, etc.
Newspaper Ads Online news has taken over this sector. Do people even read the newspaper anymore?
Direct Mail Expensive printing and postage cost result in being thrown in the trash.
Telemarketing Annoying. Also obsolete with do-not-call lists.

These methods used to be the best option available for getting the word out there about your product or service. It’s now been coined as “Outbound Marketing”. We call it the “spray and pray” approach: spend a ton of money on implementing costly ads without real targeting options and hope that customers see it and take some sort of purchasing action. It’s not really effective anymore in comparison to the options available today.

Traditional advertisers sell their ads using impressions. “This billboard will get you around 200,000 impressions.” That’s great. But how many of those “impressions” are to people who actually want my product or service? How many of them are in the market to spend money for the thing that I offer? If you want to raise brand awareness and have more people see your logo, no doubt a billboard can make that happen. If you want to increase your sales, there are better ways.

Customers are numb to ads. They are bombarded every day with companies trying to get their attention. You have to be unique and you have to customize your ads to the individual you are targeting. You can’t use the same message for everyone anymore. Technology has enabled us to transform our marketing strategies from this outbound approach (spray and pray) to a more strategic approach where we can target individuals that fit a specific criteria and customize the messaging for them.

This has been coined inbound marketing: pulling in customers in your target that are already in the market for your product or service.

Examples of inbound marketing channels:

Google Ads

In Google search, users type in a specific search term for what they are already looking for. You can place an add at the top of that search result page so when they type in that term, you are the first thing they see. There is no better way to get your name in front of a customer who is already looking for your product or service.

So if you’re a bicycle shop and you want to sell more bikes, you can put an ad on Google so when someone types in “new bicycle”, you show up first. Someone typing in “new bicycle” likely has a high intent of getting a new bike. Plus you can add a location target to make sure that these users are near your store. There isn’t a more targeted approach available. The best part? You only get charged if that user actually clicks on your ad, so you don’t waste money showing that ad to them. The next best part? That click only cost you a couple dollars.

Let’s compare… what is better?

Spending $5,000 on a billboard and hopefully someone driving down that highway sees your ad and also needs a new bicycle and also is ready to purchase a new bicycle and then also remembers your store name to go look you up and drive to your store.


Spend $5 on an ad click for a potential customer already looking for a new bicycle that’s close by to your bicycle store?

The answer is pretty obvious. Especially if you take that $5,000 budget and put it all into Google Ads because now (at $5 per click) you can get 1,000 people in your area that is already looking for a new bicycle to see your ad and get them onto your website. The cost per click will vary based on keywords and industry, but you get the point.

Social Ads

With Facebook ads, if you know what you are doing, you can generate ad clicks for under a $1 per click. Really dialed in campaigns can even get under $0.10 per click. The best part? You can get really specific with your targeting here as well.

Let’s go back to our bicycle shop example. In Facebook, you can tell it that you want to only target people who are really into bicycling. So you use the interest targeting to tell Facebook to go find people that like bicycles and all the other bicycle-related interest out there. Then you can also add location targeting so that the ads are only showing up to people that are within a close proximity of your store (you set the distance) AND they have an interest in bicycles.

So if you have a $10,000 TV commercial budget, you can film a commercial and place it on a network hoping that it gets viewed by people who like to bicycle, or you can put it into Facebook ads for $0.50 per click and get 5,000 website visitors from people who already showed an interest in bikes.

Traditional marketing is dead. Outbound marketing is a great way to burn lots of cash and can work if you’re Nike or McDonald’s where you have deep pockets and an extremely high net worth for your brand. For the rest of us, inbound marketing is the way to go. Pull in customers with a strategic targeted approach and your advertising dollars will go a lot further for you.

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