While any emails you send out are technically outbound, when it comes to email marketing, they fall into the categories of inbound and outbound. Inbound email marketing is where you send messages to people who have already expressed interest in your products or services. This could include newsletters and discount codes for existing customers. Outbound email marketing, on the other hand, is where you’re contacting cold leads, letting them know about who you are and what you offer.
Most companies try to use a combination of both inbound and outbound email marketing, to ensure that they’re retaining their current customer base, and attracting new business. The question is, should you be investing more of your resources into one or the other? Is outbound or inbound marketing more successful? We’ve explored this topic in more detail below!
Inbound marketing as a concept is where you create tailored content for your audience, and then promote it. This will include things like blog and social media posts, as well as videos, infographics and email newsletters.
In terms of inbound email marketing, this is exactly what it sounds like! Email marketing has been found to be one of the most effective ways to market to your customers – according to Hubspot, it has an ROI of 4,200%. This is probably due to the fact that so many people have access to email – there are around four billion daily users. Though you do have to bear in mind that there is a lot of competition when it comes to email marketing!
There are several inbound emails you’ve probably received from businesses, without even realising it. Obviously if you sign up to newsletters or offers, you’ll get a welcome email, and then regular updates. But you may not have considered an abandoned cart email as being inbound marketing too. Customers often receive several of these emails – Shopify recommends sending a total of three: one after an hour, one after a day, and one three days later.
Other examples of inbound marketing emails include ones promoting a particular product or offer, one letting customers know something is back in stock, and a curated email, tailored to a particular customer group. You may also wish to consider summary emails, looking back on the last year or season.
The first part of a successful inbound email marketing strategy is building brand awareness. You can do this through a whole variety of mediums, such as social media posts, website content, and blog posts. Then once you’ve gained the interest of your audience, they will hopefully opt into your email lists, or start following you on social media.
Essentially, inbound marketing is about warm leads. Your followers have already expressed interest in what you have to offer, so you’re simply directing them to the sales funnel. This sounds great in principle, but you do have to remember that it does take time. It can take months or even years to build up a large list of email addresses, and getting the formula right in terms of the content you’re sending out can take just as long.
So when it comes to the ROI of inbound email marketing, it may take a while to see significant results. However, the return on investment tends to be much higher with inbound rather than outbound emails. This is because you’re probably sending fewer emails out, due to the size of your subscriber list, and you’re more likely to see results and you’re contacting warm leads.
The main difference between inbound and outbound email marketing is the target audience. As discussed above, inbound emails are sent to people who have already expressed enthusiasm for your product or service. But with outbound marketing, you’re reaching out to individuals who haven’t opted in – it’s essentially unsolicited contact.
The idea of outbound marketing is to gauge interest in what you have to offer. It’s often considered to be disruptive, as people are receiving communication from a business whether they’re interested in the product or not. Examples of outbound marketing include TV, radio, and display advertising, as well as emails and telemarketing.
There are several formulas when it comes to writing outbound marketing emails. For instance, you could present a common problem, back it up with statistics, and then present a solution. Alternatively, you could open the email with a compliment, then present your case, ending with a clear call to action.
Another common structure for outbound marketing emails is the AIDA model. This stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. So you start with a question or a fact, hooking the reader. Then build interest with a story, and convince your audience of their desire to buy from you. Finally, you need to provoke an action – present them with a clear and concise CTA.
In terms of audience engagement, outbound marketing doesn’t have a high rate. As you’re basically cold calling individuals, the tactic is to reach as many people as possible, and hope that a few of them express interest. It can be a quick way to gain more email subscribers and make a few sales, but doesn’t have the best ROI rate.
Because you’re likely to send thousands of emails at a time, and each email will cost a small fee to send, you’re unlikely to see a great return. The main benefit is the amount of reach you can get with outbound marketing – you’re not limited to a subscriber list, as you are with inbound marketing.
It’s difficult to compare inbound and outbound marketing, as they both serve contrasting purposes. You’re targeting different audiences, and will either be concerned with a good ROI or a wider reach. How much budget you have may also determine which strategy to opt for – if you’re trying to spend less money, inbound marketing is probably the better option.
Overall, it’s a good idea to use both strategies, and then see where to focus your efforts. If outbound marketing is performing well for you, it’s a great place to start! And then once you’ve built up your subscriber base, you can invest more in inbound marketing.