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Inbound vs Outbound Marketing (And Why Apartment Marketing Pros Should Care)

Alex Middel
May 10, 2016

For decades, apartment marketing consisted of traditional outbound tactics. Mailing out postcards, distributing flyers, and paying for ads were the go-to solutions for apartment marketers. Fast forward to today, and things have changed dramatically thanks to the growth of inbound marketing.

The Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing

  • Outbound marketing = Your company finds customers
  • Inbound marketing = Customers find your company

Most of you are very familiar with outbound marketing. Outbound marketing involves putting your message in front of as many people as possible through promoting your products and services (in this case, your rental property).

Outbound marketing has started to become referred to as “interruption marketing,” because you are putting your message in front of people who often aren’t looking for your services at the moment. For instance, you may send a flyer to someone who has no interest in moving at the moment. It’s unsolicited.

Another word used to describe outbound marketing is “push” marketing because you are pushing your message out in front of people.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is inbound marketing, also referred to as “pull” marketing. Inbound marketing involves providing value to your target audience, and letting the renters come to you.

Some common inbound tactics include:

The foundation of inbound marketing is content. You produce content that helps potential renters, which in turn gets them to know, like and trust your multifamily community.

Even if they don’t intend on renting at the moment, you will be the first place they think of when it’s time.

This graphic from Hubspot, the creators of the term “Inbound Marketing,” outlines the process a potential renter would go through using inbound apartment marketing.

 inbound apartment marketing

Inbound marketing has exploded in popularity over the last few years for one main reason: it works.

Inbound marketing generates 54% more leads than traditional paid marketing. On top of that, companies save an average of $20K a year by investing more in inbound marketing than outbound.

 Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing

The biggest advantage of inbound marketing for apartment marketers is it caters to the way renters look for apartments today.

When people are looking to move and rent new apartments, they have several questions. Thanks to the internet, they go to Google to get answers. For instance, an apartment hunter might want to know:

  • Is the neighborhood safe?
  • Is the school system good?
  • How’s public transportation?
  • What are good restaurants in the area?

Your apartment community can use inbound marketing to provide answers to these questions and pull potential renters in. Then you can capture the leads by collecting information on your website such as their phone number or email address.

Now you have solid leads that are interested in renting, instead of spending money pushing your advertisements in front of people who may not even be interested in renting.

Crushing The Big Myth

Since inbound marketing has become so popular, some multifamily marketers question whether or not they need to do any outbound marketing.

While there are several businesses that have succeeded solely through inbound marketing, that doesn’t mean outbound isn’t necessary.

Outbound tactics are still alive and well, particularly for multifamily marketers. Google AdWords and Facebook Ads are very viable tactics if you have the budget.

If your business has historically had success with direct mail, and it generates a nice ROI, you shouldn’t completely abandon it for inbound.

Another aspect of outbound marketing that gets overlooked is that it isn’t the same as it was 15 years ago. Thanks to social media advertising and the amount of data advertising platforms collect, outbound marketing has become much more targeted.

You have more control over who your ads are displayed to, which increases your chances of conversions. Granted, inbound marketing still converts better overall and generates a better ROI according to Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2015 report, but outbound marketing shouldn’t be completely overlooked.

 inbound marketing vs outbound marketing roi

The best solution is a mixture of both inbound and outbound marketing tactics.

Combining Inbound and Outbound Marketing

Have you ever clicked on a Facebook Ad that took you to a landing page asking for your email address to receive a free eBook or guide? That’s an example of how inbound marketing and outbound marketing can be combined. Let’s break this down.

The ad is an outbound tactic. However, it leads you to a landing page, where you have to enter your email to download a free gift, also known as a lead magnet. This part is inbound, because you’re being given valuable content for free.

Hopefully, the company follows up with a series of emails or some kind of newsletter to continue to build trust with you. That’s another inbound tactic.

Now that you’re inside their funnel, they can pitch their products and services to you at any time.

Compare that process with what most apartment marketers do. Here’s an example of communities running ads on Google.

 apartment ads

When you click on any of these, you’re either taken to a page with a list of available units or the home page of the website.

 outbound marketing example

Here’s the problem, if someone isn’t immediately interested in renting, they’ll close out of the tab. You don’t have any way of contacting them in the future when they’re further along in the rental process.

What if instead, you directed your ads to a landing page where you could collect their information. That way, even if they don’t want to schedule an appointment right now, you’ll have a way to contact them later on.

At a basic level, you could include a lead generation form. That way, you’ll have their email address so you can keep in touch with them through email marketing which is another inbound tactic.

 lead gen form

Another option is to create a resource for people to download. It could be a packet with information about the area or even a new renter’s checklist. As long as it entices people to enter their information and provides value, it can work.

Just don’t forget the most important step in the inbound marketing process, which is following up. Send occasional emails with helpful content or promote your latest blog post. Every now and then, include a call-to-action to schedule an appointment or check out some of your latest deals.

Stop Pushing & Start Pulling

Understanding the difference between inbound and outbound marketing is crucial for apartment marketers.

There’s a strong chance your current strategy is heavily skewed towards outbound tactics at the moment. If you want to cut your costs and improve your chances of conversions, start implementing more inbound marketing strategies.

Whether it’s starting a blog, building an email list or experimenting with videos, modernize your strategy.

Apartment hunting has evolved. Has your apartment marketing strategy?

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