What is Outbound Marketing?

What is Outbound Marketing?

A long time ago, people got their news from this paper-based medium called a “newspaper.”  This paper, full of news of the day’s or week’s events, provided the masses with information about happenings within their community, nation, or world.  Newspapers had two sources of revenue that enabled them to continue to produce and distribute their publications: 1) subscriptions/sales and 2) advertisers.  Some papers were heavy on news and light on ads.  Those papers charged more per copy.  Other papers that were heavy on ads and light on news, well, they were cheaper to buy or sometimes free.  While we are talking about newspapers in the past tense here, they still exist.  But their readership is down as more and more people get their news from their favorite internet sources.  Some of those internet sources include web versions of newspapers.

Why even mention newspapers?  There is an old clichéd image of a young entrepreneur attempting to sell newspapers.  He would stand on a busy sidewalk or street corner with his pile of newspapers shouting, “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”  And then include something of a headline like “Astronauts land on the moon!”  Newspapers used to issue a morning edition but if there was some big news, they would issue an evening edition as well.  That evening edition was known as the “extra” edition of the paper.  Anyway, this young entrepreneur was doing outbound marketing.  Click here for a high-level introduction to and comparison of inbound and outbound marketing.

Outbound marketing is a shout-it-from-the-rooftops approach to getting the word out.  The idea is that if enough people encounter the ad, some of them will likely be interested.  Going back to our young entrepreneur selling newspapers, he knows not everyone will buy one.  He would sell out in a few minutes if that was the case.  But he had a reasonable expectation that some of the people in the crowd would buy.  He would not interact with each passerby individually.  Instead, he broadcast his sales pitch to as many as possible, hoping that some would respond.

Outbound marketing on the internet, while not paper-based, is alive and well.  Examples of outbound marketing include email blasts, banner ads, social media ads and such.  Email blasts can be spam (unwanted, unrequested junk email) or they can be the result of having done business with a company and either opting in or not opting out of their marketing programs.  Some email campaigns are intelligent about which addresses they send to.  Perhaps they can reduce the number of emails they send by focusing on addresses consistent with a particular demographic.

Ads posted on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube (and their companion mobile apps) are targeted at people meeting a set of criteria selected by the advertiser.  Users of these websites and apps volunteer a treasure trove of personal information about themselves and it is a marketer’s dream to have access to such details about their current and future customers.  While this type of advertising is not the completely indiscriminate advertising like in newspapers and radio and TV ads (even those can be tailored for the expected audience), it is still outbound marketing because the potential customer wasn’t seeking the information. It was just presented opportunistically as they spent time on the internet.

Outbound marketing is presenting information about a product or service to someone who didn’t really request that information.  They weren’t searching for it; it just showed up in front of them by one means or another.

Does outbound marketing still work in the internet age?  Ask the advertisers who spend millions on TV ads.  If it didn’t work, they would not do it.  If your product or service can appeal to a wide variety of consumers irrespective of age, gender, economic status, or other demographic information, then outbound marketing in traditional mass media might be exactly what you need.

The low cost of sending email compared with printing and sending through the postal service (aka “snail mail”) can make email marketing very tempting, especially if there is a limited marketing budget.  Email campaigns are becoming more sophisticated and can now track which messages were delivered but not opened, opened, and even responded to.  A reputable email campaign will follow the dictates of the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act of 2003 and allow recipients to unsubscribe from receiving future unsolicited emails.

The line between outbound and inbound marketing can be blurry at times.  Many large websites are now interconnected such that if you search for something on Amazon.com, ads for similar items will appear in your Facebook and other social media feeds.  While your searching would make the marketing to be of the inbound variety (more on that in the next piece), the resulting ad stream that will hit you is most certainly outbound marketing.

Which type of marketing do you need?  Contact Landau Consulting and we will help you sort it out.  We can guide you through the process and help you make decisions to promote your business effectively.  You need not limit yourself to only one form of advertising; you can blend them and use the strengths of both.  For more information, you can check out our ad in Sunday’s extra edition (just kidding).  You can request more information at the bottom of this page.