While some forms of marketing march up and place their room key on the bar, inbound marketing takes the subtle approach. It takes you out for a nice dinner, strikes up a thought provoking conversation, and kisses you goodnight on the cheek. The result? A long-term, valuable relationship that will eventually lead to... sales.

In this article I'm going to define inbound and outbound marketing. I'll give you the reasons that outbound marketing is on the decline, and I'll also give you 6 reasons you should consider using inbound marketing techniques for your ecommerce store.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Simply put, inbound marketing is marketing that's focused on getting found by customers. It's the antithesis of the annoying telemarketer that calls you at precisely the worst possible moment. Inbound marketing doesn't aggressively steal your attention, it earns it by providing you with interesting and useful information. Inbound marketing waits for you to discover it, then it offers something valuable in exchange for a few moments of your time. Here are some examples of inbound marketing: 

  • Blogs
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • YouTube Videos
  • Webinars / Podcasts
  • White Papers
  • Infographics

What is Outbound Marketing?

Most people consider outbound marketing to be the more traditional and less technologically savvy way to acquire customers. It's where companies focus their marketing endeavors on actively finding customers. At times, it can be difficult to target properly, and oftentimes it's expensive. Here are some examples of outbound marketing:

  • Print Ads
  • Television / Radio Commercials
  • Telemarketing
  • E-mail Blasts
  • Trade Shows

The Problem With Outbound Marketing

Over the past few years there has been a steady decline in effectiveness of outbound marketing, especially when it comes to online companies. There has been a fundamental shift in consumer tolerance for "interruptive" advertising, and some consumers are starting to revolt. For example, according to a study by HubSpot, 84% of 25-34 year olds have left a favorite website because of intrusive or irrelevant advertising. Here are some more reasons outbound marketing is becoming decreasingly relevant:

Inbound Marketing for Ecommerce

Inbound marketing is an effective way to attract potential customers to your online store and massage them until they turn into customers. For an ecommerce store to effectively use inbound marketing it starts with good content that's optimized for search and tempting for people to share.
By investing resources into inbound marketing, ecommerce merchants will see the following 6 benefits:


1. Become a Thought Leader

By creating and publishing thought provoking content on a regular basis, you'll quickly get your name out there as a thought leader. Shopify store Wingset has a blog that compliments their online store perfectly. They sell organic health products, and their blog is an emporium of articles dedicated to helpful information about nutrition and wellness. Thousands of people go their ecommerce store for content: DIY projects, recipes, warnings, and even some myth busters. They have become an authority in the wellness industry and people go to them for information, help, and advice. Sales always follow. 


2. Save Some Money

Have you seen the prices of print ads? Or even a display booth at a major trade show? For the most part, outbound marketing is expensive! How much does good content backed by a strong social presence cost? Start small and it won't cost much at all. Give yourself a reasonable goal like publishing one valuable blog post per week. Spend a few hours writing something that people in your industry will find interesting, then spend a few hours promoting it through your social networks. Although inbound marketing takes more effort than simply buying a newspaper ad, its costs run an impressive 61% less per lead than traditional marketing.


3. Target Self-Qualified Customers    

Do you think buying a giant roadside billboard for a month would be an effective way to promote your online store? I'll give you a hint and save you some money - it's not. The net ia too big and the vast majority of people looking at the advertisement aren't qualified. Same goes for cold-calling, buying email lists, and other forms of outbound marketing... they're all poorly targeted. With inbound marketing, you only approach people who self-qualify themselves. They show an interest in your content, so it's quite likely that they will be interested in the product you're selling.  


4. Increase Organic Search

It's no secret that Google loves fresh content. When you publish search optimized content on a regular basis that gets a bit of social media attention, your ranking will increase. Good search engine rankings are essential for a successful ecommerce store. You want to get your store on page one for as many of your terms as possible, because studies show that the second page of a Google search only receives 0.85% of the traffic. Furthermore, 61% of consumers use search engines to read about products before making a purchase. 


5. Boost Social Presence

It's been proven that prospective customers who are linked to your social media platforms show increased loyalty. Studies show that 41% of B2B companies have acquired a customer through Facebook, 42% through Twitter, and 57% through their company blog.  When you're promoting good content through your social networks, you'll naturally gain a larger social following. When it comes to your social presence, make sure all your guns are firing: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, Pinterest, and all the others. 


6. Recover Abandoned Shopping Carts

Prospects sometimes abandon their shopping cart before a sale is closed. It can be for any number of reasons: high shipping prices, a long checkout process, or they simply get distracted by something else. With traditional marketing, you focus your efforts on acquiring people who have never been to your ecommerce store, or people who have already made a purchase - but that's leaving out a whole demographic of those who have almost made a purchase. With inbound marketing you can cultivate their interest over time by having an active blog, engaging social media sites, or by providing them with free resources via email marketing. You can also use a cart abandonment tool to identify those who have jumped ship and re-engage them. Shopify merchants can choose from Abandon AppElasso, or Jilt to recover lost sales.