There is some confusion around the terms Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing. They may sound similar but they are very different. Outbound Marketing is what we are all exposed to daily – TV and radio ads, advertisements in newspapers and magazines, ads on billboards, placemats, pizza boxes, etc. Advertisers buy these ads based on the number of impressions (eyeballs) the ad is expected to deliver. This is the advertising of “the glory days” of advertising portrayed in the series, Mad Men.
The ads are pushed out to the consumer regardless of what he is doing. They are interruptive. They interrupt the consumer while they are watching a favorite TV program, reading an article, or driving along the highway. Advertisers hope their ad is seen: That the consumer isn’t in the kitchen getting a snack during the ad; that his newspaper doesn’t get thrown into the neighbor’s bushes that day, or that he didn’t take an alternate route to work! (To compensate for these eventualities, advertisers buy lots and lots of ads hoping that some of them get seen, as anyone who watches television knows all too well!)
Inbound Marketing on the other hand is the future of marketing and advertising. It fulfills the promise of advertising made years ago -- Deliver the advertising message to people looking for the information and not to those who aren’t. John Wanamaker famously said,
"Half my advertising is wasted, I just don't know which half."
John Wannamaker (1838-1922)
Inbound Marketing such as Google Ad Words enable an advertiser to not waste their advertising budget. These ads deliver an advertiser’s message to consumers when they are seeking information. These ads are seen and are actionable because rather than interrupting he consumer, they are answering his call for help. For example, a local appliance store can run their ad for refrigerators just to people who query Google about refrigerators (and they only pay Goggle when someone clicks on their ad and goes to the appliance store’s website.) Compare this to outbound marketing where the store runs an ad during the local news, a prime time TV show or on a favorite radio station. Sure, some people who are exposed to the ad will be in the market for a refrigerator, but the vast majority of those who see the ad are not likely buyers. They represent the wasted dollars.
That being said, there is still a place for outbound marketing, especially for branding an advertiser and delivering a message to many people quickly. They key is to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.