Growth Hacking vs. Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing

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May 2016
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Author : Pete Peranzo

Being competitive in the marketplace requires having a wide variety of tools at your disposal. In order to get your business to grow, you need to understand the tools available to you. Understanding the pros and cons of growth hacking, inbound and outbound marketing will give you an edge in making the most of your business in the shortest amount of time.

Growth Hacking

Growth hacking is marketing that seeks to bring in users at a low cost through the use of technology. The world of business, just like most other aspects of life, has been completely revolutionized through technology. Growth hacking is the next wave marketing strategy that works to take full advantage of the innovations that technology offers for businesses. This tactic allows startups, small businesses and businesses with limited budgets to effectively draw in customers without having to expend a ton of capital.

Driven by experimentation, growth hacking is based on techniques like content marketing, A/B testing, search engine optimization, social media management and website analytics.

 

Benefits

  • Can be less expensive than other marketing.
  • Outcomes are constantly measured.
  • Innovative.
  • Generates quality leads.
  • Pay along the way.
  • Easy to implement piecemeal.
  • No initial need for expert advice.

 

Drawbacks

  • Very new, therefore unproven in the long term.
  • Quality growth hacking marketers are hard to find.
  • Constantly changing.
  • Steep learning curve for traditional businesses.
  • Potential for wasted time on ideas that don’t work.

 

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is essentially creating a destination for users. Rather than going shouting from the rooftop that your house is amazing so that passersby get interested and stop to check it out, inbound marketing is renovating your house and making it look amazing so that people drive by and can’t help but notice so they stop by to check it out.

Good inbound marketing consists of promoting a given company through podcasts, blogs, videos, whitepapers, SEO, ebooks, etc. The content is so useful that it brings users right to you. This kind of tactic is possible thanks to the online world of search engines and shareable content, which means that businesses don’t have to step outside of their sites in order to reach customers, people can stumble across them naturally.

Many of today’s top internet companies have found huge success through inbound marketing.  It’s a strategy that’s still relatively new, which means that it isn’t wholly fleshed out yet but it does have a track record in the marketplace.

 

Benefits

  • Inexpensive.
  • Product oriented.
  • Brings added value to customers.
  • Targets specific demographics.
  • Creates long lasting customer draws that can continue for years.
  • Builds upon itself.

 

Drawbacks

  • Relatively passive.
  • Dependent on others.
  • Can drive traffic without driving sales.
  • Requires creativity and high quality content.
  • Extended timeline for results.

 

Outbound Marketing

Outbound, or Traditional Marketing, was the dominant marketing strategy up until the last twenty years. It includes TV commercials, print ads, direct mail, cold calling, email blasting, radio, etc. Anything that reaches out to solicit the interest of potential customers is outbound marketing.

Outbound marketing is still the way that marketing is most often done today. Many people consider this strategy a natural and necessary part of doing business. Advertising is an essential part of the equation. Add to that the fact that it can be incredibly exciting for a small business to see their product on a billboard or in a magazine. It’s still an effective and popular marketing strategy with proven results.

 

Benefits

  • Proven track record.
  • Increases visibility.
  • Builds brand awareness.
  • Wide reach.

 

Drawbacks

  • Tracking return on investment can be difficult.
  • More people are skipping ads with technology.
  • Detailed targeting is difficult/impossible.
  • Production can be expensive.
  • High cost for placement.
  • Costs must be paid upfront.
  • Expert help often needed (many types of traditional ads in TV/radio/print require an intermediary buyer).

 

Leveraging all 3 methods for success

The best way to attack marketing is to utilize all three of these methods in order to get the best possible return. In fact, all three methods when used in conjunction can create a synergistic effect, leading to an even greater return than if they are used on their own.

Though it’s possible to begin with any one of the three, inbound marketing is perhaps the best place to get going. By starting off with inbound marketing, businesses build a solid foundation for customers to find when they get to the website. Jumping in with outbound marketing or growth hacking can be problematic because that all important first impression can easily be squandered if the content isn’t available when the traffic gets to the site. Rich, meaningful content that’s developed with smart inbound marketing techniques should be the first goal of any business.

Growth hacking offers a great next step for businesses once their inbound marketing has been well established. This low cost method of driving traffic can be labor intensive, requiring a good deal of trial and error on the part of companies in order to find those viral sweet spots. For growth hacking to be successful, businesses need to research techniques thoroughly and implement them with consistency. Though growth hacking has the potential to offer a quick boost to traffic, that boost isn’t necessarily instantaneous.

Finally, outbound marketing techniques, though they tend to get a bad rap for being outdated, can be a major source of sales for businesses. Choosing the right outbound marketing techniques is what it’s all about. For instance, you can still buy print ads in the yellow pages, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a useful way for most companies to spend their advertising dollars. However, a traditional billboard that’s positioned wisely or a print ad in a targeted publication can be incredibly valuable. The more potential customers are exposed to your message in a wide variety of places, the more likely they are to consider your product. The key is to spend smartly and in ways that truly offer a return and to tie advertisements back to growth hacking and inbound marketing through the inclusion of website information on every advertisement.

Tying all three of these strategies together gives businesses the best chance of breaking through the clutter and getting their message out to customers. Marketing is not a single strategy, it takes coming at the process from several angles simultaneously to achieve success.

 

 

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