Marketing Resources

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: Which is Best for You?

4 minutes

Carrie Tennick, senior digital content specialist, October 06, 2021

Knowing the different forms of marketing can help you narrow down what your firm should be focusing on to enhance its ROI.

Marketing can be broken down into two forms: inbound and outbound. They reflect different approaches to finding potential customers.

Both have their benefits and their drawbacks, so which is the right approach for you?

What is inbound and outbound marketing?

The main difference between inbound and outbound marketing is that the former attempts to draw leads in, while the latter seeks them out.

Inbound marketing is when your prospective client reaches out to you, rather than you approaching them. This could be through search engine optimisation, social media or types of content marketing, such as ebooks. Inbound marketing takes advantage of newer technologies and aims to provide helpful information for those with problems to solve.

Outbound marketing is when you actively approach leads. This can be done through TV or radio advertising, cold calling or direct mail, for example. It’s a much more traditional form of marketing and is often closely tied to the sales or business development side of a business.

There are certain tactics that could fall under both umbrellas, however. For example, pay per click (PPC) can be seen as either inbound or outbound. This is because although you’re not directly reaching out to specific people, you are putting your brand somewhere they may not be expecting it.

Advantages of inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is typically much cheaper than outbound marketing. All it costs to produce a How To guide that could see dozens of leads generated is the writer’s time, after all. Compare this to the cost of a TV advertising campaign or the materials needed for direct mail.

There’s also less chance you’ll be ignored. If you’re optimising your inbound marketing efforts appropriately, you’ll be found by the people who are looking for that information – the people who are going to fill out your web forms or pick up the phone.

In contrast, when you engage in outbound marketing, a significant proportion of the people you target will have zero interest in what you’re offering. They’re likely to block out your attempts at convincing them that your services are just what they need. This means that inbound marketing could have a bigger ROI than outbound. And when competition between law firms is continuing to grow and budgets are tight, this could be a significant factor.

Furthermore, when you supply someone with the information they’re looking for and they then find it themselves, this can improve your credibility and trustworthiness.

Advantages of outbound marketing

Because you’re casting your net wider and targeting more people with your marketing, you may achieve greater brand recognition when you engage with outbound tactics. Outbound marketing has also been referred to as interruptive marketing because it does exactly that. It interrupts your targeted prospect and forces them to focus on your brand.

This could be beneficial when someone who saw your campaign suddenly needs legal help and thinks of your firm. However, there’s also the risk that it could put prospects off. People’s patience with advertising has worn thin and they’re not as receptive to it as they may have been in previous generations.

It can also be more persuasive. This is particularly true with marketing that involves the phone or face-to-face contact. When you’re talking to someone, you can address any concerns they have, answer any questions, and provide them with the specific piece of information they need.

But if you do pursue outbound marketing, don’t forget to be vigilant when it comes to data protection laws surrounding third-party list suppliers. Getting hold of the personal details of people who haven’t agreed to be contacted could get you in hot water, as well as labelled as spam or fraud by the leads you target.

Which is best?

Your firm will have its own way of doing things. Yours could embrace digital and the benefits of inbound marketing, or it could maintain the outbound methods that have worked for years. If something is successful, it makes sense to keep doing it.

However, if your data tells you that your efforts are flagging, you may want to give them a boost by exploring other options.

Your target audience will also be a major factor to consider. If you are looking to reach older clients, outbound tactics could be the most appropriate. But younger people are more likely to be found in digital arenas and have less tolerance for interruptive advertising methods.

Both forms of marketing require resources. For example, your subject matter experts will have to have the time to either produce or approve inbound content marketing efforts. Alternatively, your firm will need the financial resources to fund a radio advertising campaign if you want to go down the outbound route.

Whichever form of marketing your firm focuses on, the important thing is to ensure your decisions are backed up by data and that you monitor your new campaign’s performance. This will help you make the right decisions for your future plans.

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