Outbound is Over: Experts Say Traditional Marketing Campaigns Are Dead

The End of Outbound MarketingOutbound marketing is an outdated strategy that’s less effective than ever.

The early days of marketing have been both affectionately and derogatorily coined “the Wild West of the industry.” If you’ve seen the television show Mad Men, it’s easy to understand how opportunity and simple strategies helped shape success within a business, but times have changed. A catchy tune and a simple slogan don’t sell a product like they used to.

Consumers are wiser, goods and services are more specialized, and marketing strategies are more complex. The days of traditional outbound marketing are dead. 

Outbound vs. Inbound Marketing

To understand why traditional outbound marketing went the way of the dodo, it’s important to differentiate between outbound and what most successful marketers are using today – inbound marketing strategies.

Outbound marketing: Marketer-driven outbound efforts, often called “push” marketing, are attempts to push a product or service into a consumer’s life. The goal of traditional outbound marketing was to have your product prominently placed throughout media that would attract your target audience. For a long time, go-to outbound marketing tactics included direct mailers, radio ads, television spots, full-page magazine spreads, and just about anything that could jump out and scream “I’m here. Buy me!” to consumers.

Inbound marketing: The flipside of the outbound marketing coin is a more “pull” style of strategizing. Inbound marketing takes campaign fundamentals of “push” advertising and uses them to create content that’s appealing to consumers on a personal level. Common strategies include long-form blogging, social media campaigns, and local or international goodwill outreach. Inbound marketing success is more about building and maintaining relationships to cultivate trust, and proponents who put inbound above outbound argue that those relationships are better for business in the long run.

Both inbound and outbound marketing tactics still boil down to making a sale, but the difference is in how each attempts to do so.

The Death of Traditional Outbound Marketing Campaigns

As consumers become more tech savvy and less susceptible to traditional outbound marketing techniques, marketers need to adapt or business suffers. Instead of listening to a “push” advertisement on television, today’s consumers do a quick Google search for product reviews and customer testimonials to help make or break purchase decisions.

decline of outbound marketing's effectiveness Staples of the outbound marketing approach are no longer found to be effective, as found by Demand Metric

Opensource.com addresses the outbound vs. inbound marketing dilemma in a constructive way, defining why and how traditional outbound marketing just isn’t working like it used to:

“Quite simply, buyers today aren’t looking for products (there are so many products today, and most are pretty great). Instead, they’re looking for solutions to their problem and the confidence that they’re deciding on the right partner for these solutions. In that case, there’s usually only one option that works best for them—and it’s different for everyone.

We need to fundamentally rethink how we’re engaging with savvy and self-directed customers with clearly-defined challenges. Instead of pushing messages at them, we need to create relationships and environments that encourage people to pull from us what they need, when they need it.”

Consumers today are looking for solutions to problems rather than products, and it’s a smart marketer’s job to know the difference.

Modern Marketing is a Data Exchange

The experts at Advertising Age agree that traditional outbound marketing is dead. Rather, modern marketing is a data exchange between company and consumer, and through client studies, Ad Age often finds “over 40 different points of inflection where consumers make decisions and access information from brands.” That means consumers can spend hours interacting with content, and it’s your job to create content that’s engaging and informative.

Volumes have been written to clarify what quality content is to the modern consumer, and the mantra of “evergreen, always” is a good place to start. Evergreen content is created in such a way that readers find it as valuable months and years down the road as they do the day after it was written. To create effective evergreen content, marketers need to understand consumer motivations and craft inbound marketing strategies accordingly.

Don’t Close the Outbound Marketing Door Just Yet

Successful marketers realize that there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. Ever. Mixing old tactics with new motivations can often drive inspired campaigns into new territory, and plenty of marketers are still employing outbound strategies with an inbound marketing mentality. While traditional outbound marketing may be dead in a sense, don’t be quick to hammer that last nail into the coffin if you find your strategies can best be realized by mixing and matching.

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