How to use Email as part of an Inbound Marketing Strategy

Email as part of an Inbound Marketing Strategy

Email as part of an Inbound Marketing Strategy


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Email As Part of An Inbound Marketing Strategy:  An Introduction

Email has been used as a marketing tool since Gary Thuerk sent the first marketing email in 1978.  A lot has been said about how email can be used to enhance an inbound marketing strategy since the first marketing message was sent.

In the sections below, we outline how you can use email as part of an inbound marketing strategy and offer tips to improve the effectiveness of your campaigns.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

With an inbound marketing strategy, companies use their content as the means to attract customers who are interested in what they have to say.  The purpose of inbound marketing is to target the intended recipient(s) with the right content, in the right format, at the right time.

Inbound marketing strategy uses insights from customer data to personalise and tailor the way contacts are communicated with.  This enhances the effectiveness of marketing campaigns as contacts are receiving content created with them in mind.

The term ‘inbound marketing’ can be used to refer to a number of channels including:  Social Media, Email Marketing, Content Marketing, Branding and Search Engine Optimisation.  Whilst these channels can be used in isolation, the most effective marketing strategies integrate the marketing channels to provide a company’s contact with the most relevant content for their needs.

What is Outbound Marketing?

The term ‘outbound marketing’ can be used to refer to any marketing channel which attempts to get the message in-front of the customer in a disruptive way.  The marketer initiates the message and tells the audience what they want to tell them (rather than what the audience wants to hear).  This marketing strategy does not consider the needs of the customer or how they may want to hear the message.  Outbound marketing simply aims to spread the message as far as possible.

Outbound marketing channels include:

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Billboard Advertisements
  • Other broadcast media

Whilst it may seem like marketing using these channels may be effective, consider television as a marketing tool.  Millions of people may be watching television at the time the adverts come on.  Many will skip through the adverts to get back to the programme they were initially watching whilst others may simply ignore them.  Very few people watching a television advert are likely to take action unless they see and engage with it multiple times.

The Key Differences Between Inbound And Outbound Marketing Strategy

As a result of the different approaches of inbound and outbound marketing strategies, these strategies have very different benefits and drawbacks.

Outbound Marketing Strategy

Outbound marketing is focused on what the marketer wants to tell their contacts.  As a result, the same message is distributed to everybody who sees the marketing collateral.

The benefits of outbound marketing include:

– Increased Trust:  Outbound marketing channels have been around for a lot longer than more modern inbound channels such as email.  According to an article by Career Profiles, this results in a higher level of trust from consumers.  This trust results from increased familiarity with the medium.

– Brand Awareness:  Using outbound marketing channels gives marketers the opportunity to increase the reach of the company’s message.  Marketers can target people outside of the company’s usual target market.

– Older AdultsPew Internet recently reported that only one in four adults over the age of 65 has a smartphone.  Furthermore, the same report stated that just 67% of over 65s use the internet.  Use of outbound marketing strategies allows marketers to reach out to individuals who do not access the internet or struggle to use it.

– Audience:  You can hyper target your advertising campaigns.  You can focus your marketing campaign towards people who display a specific characteristic.  Viewers of a television programme can be analysed to identify shared interests and needs.  However, outbound marketing techniques do not give the marketer the opportunity to tailor the message to each person who views their marketing collateral.

However, the drawbacks of outbound marketing are:

– Redundancy:  When you produce a marketing campaign with an outbound marketing channel, you are not in control over how many times one person sees your message.  Also, if a contact has previously taken action as a result of your campaign, there may be a more appropriate message based on where they are in the conversion funnel and/or customer journey.

– Cost:  Traditionally, outbound marketing costs more than inbound marketing.  This is due to the large potential audience that you can reach quickly with your advertising campaigns.

– Engagement:  Outbound marketing techniques provide the receiver of the information with very few opportunities to engage with the company.  This creates a ‘them and us’ dynamic between the company and their intended audience.  This compares to inbound channels such as social media and content marketing where the reader can interact directly with the company in response to the marketing message.

Inbound Marketing Strategy

As we have discussed, inbound marketing relies on attracting customers and communicating with them based on their preferences and characteristics.  By comparison, outbound marketing strategies rely on getting the message in front of as many likeminded people as possible.  Demand Metric reported that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional outbound marketing methods.  This is not surprising considering that, in most cases, the only cost associated with inbound marketing channels is the time and labour associated with creating content.

Therefore, the benefits of Inbound Marketing over outbound marketing are:

– Cost:  Companies can save money by ensuring that they only market to people who are likely to take action.  As you are not paying to advertise, you are saving money.  The only cost associated with inbound marketing is normally the cost of creating the content.

– Conversion Rate:  The conversion rate of inbound marketing campaigns is higher than with equivalent outbound strategies.

– Return on Investment:  Email marketing has the highest return on investment of any marketing channel.  This means that for every pound invested in the channel, marketers can expect the most profit from email campaigns.

Wired Plus ROI Insights

However, there are some drawbacks of Inbound Marketing, these are:

– Targeted Content Not Audience:  When creating content for inbound marketing channels, you cannot guarantee that your intended audience will find, read and interact with your content.  You can only create the content that you know your audience will be interested in, in the hope that they find it.

– Time:  Inbound marketing channels take a lot of time to develop, grow and maintain.  You need a significant amount of time to research and create the content that you will distribute to your target audience.

Important Considerations when using Email As Part Of An Inbound Marketing Strategy

Collecting Customer Data

The first step when implementing an inbound marketing strategy is to attract contacts to sign up to your mailing list.  Building your contact list is both the hardest and the most important part of the inbound marketing process.  Only when you have collected and verified the data of contacts who want to hear from you can you start marketing.  The list building process may be time consuming however, when you have collected the details of customers who want to hear what you have to say, you have a ready made audience which you can target.

Data Collection

To attract more contacts to sign up to your mailing list, you need to demonstrate the value of signing up.  An effective tactic to increase the number of people who sign up to receive your communications is the use of a lead magnet.  Lead magnets encourage users to sign up to your communications even if your offering is similar to the competition.  The lead magnet shows your contacts that you value them over and above their monetary value to the company.

In a recent blog post, we discussed the differences between the UK and the US in inbound marketing strategies.  We concluded that the UK lagged behind the US when all aspects of inbound marketing strategy were considered.  Whilst this is still true in 2018, businesses in the UK continue to make progress with inbound marketing strategies.

Targeted Messaging with Preference Centres

One of the major benefits of inbound marketing strategies is that you can communicate with the contact on their level.  You can use preference centres to establish what kinds of content your contacts expect and would like to receive.  After collecting this data, you can personalise the content your contacts receive in line with their needs and preferences.  This means that you can tailor the content for a specific point in the conversion funnel and customer journey.


In this blog, we have compared and analysed both inbound and outbound marketing strategies.  Here at Wired Plus, we believe that the potential of email as part of an inbound marketing strategy is huge.  You can achieve a significant return on investment from your marketing efforts.  Email marketing can be used to reach a specific audience with a targeted and appropriate message which engages the recipient.

If you have enjoyed reading our post on email as an inbound marketing strategy, why not download your copy of The Complete Guide to Email Marketing.  The guide takes you through the seven steps needed to create an email marketing campaign.

Complete Email Marketing Guide

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