If you pay attention to marketing trends, you’ve likely heard the terms outbound marketing and inbound marketing. Marketing is constantly evolving and marketers continue coining phrases to navigate new tactics. But these two concepts go beyond the tactic level, they represent a cultural shift in how marketing works, particularly across channels. In this week’s post, we outline the differences between outbound and inbound insurance marketing to help you build a strategy for each.
What is outbound marketing?
Outbound marketing is what we understand as traditional advertising methods. Outbound describes any marketing program that pushes a message “out” to the public hoping it resonates with the right audience. This marketing approach includes television, radio, print (newspapers, magazines, brochures, etc.), cold calling, outdoor advertising, direct mail, and more. Outbound marketing is responsible for shifting the public’s attention away from what they are doing and towards the message that is being brought to them.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is the opposite of outbound marketing. Instead of pushing the message to the public, the goal is to attract your prospective clients by creating relevant content for them. In this case, clients will reach out to you when they are already looking for or learning about group insurance plans for their company. Some inbound marketing channels are content marketing, blogging, or social media marketing. This marketing approach attracts visitors naturally to your website and inspires them to download more information about your services or to request a quote.
When thinking about outbound and inbound insurance marketing, it is important to keep in mind that online marketing is not synonymous of inbound marketing and, in the same way, offline marketing is not equivalent to outbound marketing. For example, banner advertising or display ads are considered outbound marketing techniques since they are intrusive elements placed on a website the public has access to. On the other side, search engine advertising is considered inbound marketing because the ads only appear when people search for specific queries, which means they are already interested in a certain topic and want more information.
Shifting from Outbound Marketing to Inbound Marketing
Outbound marketing techniques were more effective when they were the only type of advertising. But, nowadays, the medium is saturated and marketing has become increasingly digital. In the last 10 years, outbound marketing has decreased in popularity for these reasons:
- Outbound marketing techniques target everyone. For people who aren’t prospective clients, it can be frustrating to keep receiving messages about something they are not interested in.
- Blocking techniques have increased (spam filters, TiVo, Ad Blockers) because outbound marketing is intrusive and interruptive. For example, ads on television and radio interrupt your show and email marketing campaigns flood your inbox.
- Outbound marketing has a high cost and is harder to track, which makes it more difficult to calculate the return on your investment.
When strategizing outbound and inbound insurance marketing, consider the characteristics above about outbound marketing. By contrast, inbound marketing doesn’t generate interruptions, it is based on creating relationships with the customer, and relies on online techniques, which decreases cost and makes it easier to track.
Is inbound marketing better than outbound?
Inbound marketing is less aggressive and intrusive, can be cheaper, and is easier to track, but it is not better or worse. Depending on what you want to accomplish, you can use an exclusive outbound marketing approach for your insurance agency, an exclusive inbound approach, or a mix of both.
If your objective is to get in front of a large number of people quickly to build awareness, outbound marketing is the right choice. If you launch an outbound campaign, you can be seen by millions of people in a short period of time and gain new customers quickly. The results will be always dependant on the money you invest. If you want your agency to be put front and center, you will need to invest more and, usually, when you stop putting money towards the campaign, the results will stop.
If your objective is a long-term ROI, you should choose inbound marketing to achieve your goals. This approach requires more time and brings slower results at the beginning of a campaign, but will increase your online presence leading to a higher online ranking in search engines. Digital assets and marketing programs in the inbound category, like blogs, can generate leads years after they were originally created. You will be providing value to your target audience, and not necessarily in a promotional way.
When thinking about outbound and inbound insurance marketing, determine how to strategize each approach to maximize your programs. Consider the specific market you are making business in and keep your goals in mind.
Consider who your clients are and how they shop for your services. Specifically, as an insurance agency, how do employers learn about health insurance plans? Do they research online? What are the most important attributes for them? You can start taking a look at the insurance industry marketing, what some of your competitors are doing, and determine the most common and effective marketing techniques.
Define what are you trying to achieve. Do you want to increase the number of clients in a short period of time? Do you want to gain online visibility for your agency? Do you want to become a thought leader in the insurance industry? As we mentioned before, outbound marketing is effective in bringing you new clients, unlike inbound, which is focused on long-term strategy. Identify each marketing approach advantages and disadvantages for your insurance agency and align them with your goals.
Final Thoughts About Outbound and Inbound Insurance Marketing
Outbound and inbound insurance marketing are two different approaches that can be used independently or together. Generally speaking, outbound is traditional marketing focused on a short-term solution with higher long-term costs. Inbound marketing, on the contrary, is digitally-based marketing focused on a long-term solution with higher short-term costs. Establish your objectives and research your target audience to strategize each approach and maximize your insurance marketing programs.