One of the most important questions for marketing managers in recent years has been whether inbound or outbound B2B marketing is more effective. In this article, we will examine the key points of each approach and what to consider when developing your B2B marketing strategy.    

What is outbound B2B marketing?

Outbound B2B marketing is a proactive approach in which you take your brand to your target customers rather than waiting for them to come to you. The marketer identifies relevant potential clients and initiates conversations through outreach efforts, which can be sent in bulk or personalised. It is also known as interruption marketing can be defined as the marketer choosing the interaction. Common practices used in outbound B2B marketing include: 

  • Direct mail
  • Telemarketing
  • Brand awareness campaigns 
  • Bulk email marketing
  • Banner advertising 

What is inbound B2B marketing?

Inbound B2B marketing is passive and allows the buyer to take action of their own accord instead of responding to direct proposals from the marketer. Here the consumers are exposed to content that allows them to make their own informed decisions. This method can help build trust and strengthen relationships. It is also known as permission-based marketing, as buyers give their permission by viewing content and then beginning a relationship. The techniques used in outbound B2B marketing commonly include:

  • Content creation 
  • Blogging
  • Social media
  • SEO
  • Lead generation 
  • Lead nurturing

Inbound marketing vs outbound marketing

The tide has recently turned in favour of inbound marketing, with a general belief that outbound marketing is less effective than it used to be. This is because buyers are becoming increasingly overwhelmed by invasive forms of marketing and advertising. Internet-enabled clients prefer to have more control over their purchases, usually carrying out their own research before making a commitment. A recent survey shows that more than 50% of B2B buyers use social media to learn more about products, services and vendors because modern business clients prefer to be fully informed. 

Inbound marketing holds the advantage of listening to clients and responding directly to their needs. As marketing guru,Seth Godin puts it: “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” Readers of your online content have already shown that they are interested and ready for nurturing. In this respect, inbound marketing gives your B2B clients agency and helps build long-lasting relationships that can form part of a sales funnel. A survey from Databox revealed that 67% of B2B marketers create top-of-the-funnel content most of the time as this is the most critical stage.  

But while outreach efforts to a broad range of contacts could be ineffective in the majority of cases, where the target is more carefully defined they are more likely to pay off. Outbound marketing still holds particular relevance for high-end products that require a personal touch. 

Outbound marketing is often aided by marketing automation tools that make it easier to instantly connect with higher numbers of potential clients. It’s worth noting, though, that improvements in AI are making it increasingly possible for outbound marketing to be more specific and personalised. A recent report shows that more B2B organisations are making personalisation a priority in 2021.   

Budgeting is an additional consideration. Outbound marketing efforts are generally much more costly than their inbound equivalents. For large corporations, this is less of a concern, but it is another reason why small businesses and entrepreneurs warm to inbound marketing. 

In B2B marketing, there is a place for both inbound and outbound marketing. The question is which approach is best suited to each individual case, database of clients, or stage in the sales process. While the “pull” of inbound marketing is increasingly popular in an age that is empowered by information, there are still certain occasions when there is a call for that extra “push”.

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