Since Google radically altered its algorithm with the Panda and Penguin search engine updates, the effects of which are still being felt, Internet marketing has become more cut-throat than ever before. Experts are now asking which is the better tactic to employ following the Google updates: outbound or inbound marketing?

Outbound Marketing

Traditional outbound marketing tactics focus on reaching out in many directions and hoping to ‘rope in’ customers using techniques such as seminars, trade show stands, all forms of ‘hard’ print (paid) advertising, unsolicited e-mail and even cold calling.

Today’s audience considers these techniques to be interruptive and is therefore extremely resistant to marketing of this kind. In addition, technology has made it easy for people to resist these techniques due to numerous tools being available to block them.

Some forms of outbound marketing are still applicable to certain businesses, and can work well. Nevertheless, they can be expensive and totally ineffective if not executed with care and intelligence.

Inbound Marketing

Theoretically, inbound marketing relies on outside sources linking to a website, adding to its popularity and in turn increasing its ranking with the search engines.

Based on the assumption that outbound marketing is ineffective and expensive, it could seem that inbound marketing is by far the softer and easier option, but this is not the case either. There is little doubt that inbound marketing has its advantages, but the ‘rules’ surrounding its effectiveness are becoming extremely specific.

For example, numerous webmasters have been receiving warnings and penalties from Google since January 2012 regarding ‘unnatural links’ to their sites. In some cases these are both welcomed and warranted by organic sites overshadowed by those less scrupulous, but for some they have been issued inappropriately and have been greeted with dismay.

Is There a Definitive Answer?

No, there is not. An overall Internet marketing strategy should be driven by tactics that are underpinned by following the fundamentals of marketing itself:

• A definition of the USP (Unique Selling Point) that the business is intending to exploit • A precise understanding of the target audience • Definitive limits on time and budget • Very clearly defined business aims and goals

Many businesses are currently floundering or failing, simply because they do not have these four simple items ‘carved in stone’ to work with or towards.

Whether outbound or inbound marketing (or a good mix of both) is right for a business can only be determined by an in-depth understanding of the business itself.

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About the author:

Alistair Harris is ClickThrough’s head of content. A double-award-winning senior journalist, Ali holds both the NCTJ and NCE qualifications and has more than ten years of experience in traditional press and PR. He has worked in digital marketing and SEO for the past three years and is passionate, enthusiastic and committed to quality.