Some years ago, the only suitable way for a person to advertise his business was through what we now call “outbound” marketing. This type of marketing uses mainly aggressive methods like cold-calling, direct paper mail, the painfully annoying TV advertisements, spam, telemarketing, etc.
It worked great till it started becoming so annoying and aggressive that people blocked it out. There are countless of free tools to block the old generation outbound marketing. We have an AdBlock plugin for the popular browsers that hides the ads on web pages. There are apps and services for phones that will stop telemarketers contacting user's phone. You can watch your favourite shows on video sites online and avoid the commercials too. Despite of the fact that it is not as effective as before, the costs of ads are going up, drastically. A lot of web media for example charge over 10$ per CPM, which is 10$ per 1000 shows of your banner/ad and they do not guarantee any clicks/leads. So in the end you pay 10$ and your banners won't be even seen by half of the visitors, as some use AdBlock, some have JaveScript disabled, while there are also a lot of robots/spam bots that will use your impressions.
The outbound marketing has some cons for the advertisers too. Tracking the effects and the actual RoI on your advertisements is nearly impossible. You have no idea exactly how many people watched the TV commercial for example, as a lot of people leave the TV on and mind their own business but you still pay for it. You can't figure how many people purchased a product from your website because of a specific billboard, too. It is possible that a billboard on a city centre doesn't generate you even a single new fresh lead but a billboard on a small road generate a few and costs 10x less. No business likes such random things.
So it doesn't come as a surprise that some businesses especially startups and small businesses started using the alternative marketing - the inbound marketing. This is when a company earns his way in front of peoples eyes, instead of buying their interest. The goal of a high quality inbound marketing is getting fresh leads through search engines, social networks and referrals and in order to achieve it you should provide value to the end user. Also the inbound marketing is usually a two-way communication so it is way easier to measure its effects. One of the best and easiest ways to start using the inbound marketing is setting a blog for your company, where you should post high quality and relevant articles about your niche, helping your clients to solve different issues and share those blog posts in your social profiles. Usually these articles generate a fair number of natural shares in social networks and people are more willing to buy when your company/product is recommended by their friends.
The transition from old generation outbound (also called SPAM) marketing towards the modern inbound marketing is already a fact. Even big corporations started seeing the positives of it and it is widely used from small and medium businesses. Even Google AdWords one of the biggest platforms for buying traffic started using a lot of techniques from inbound marketing - tailoring the ads towards each and every user so the ads are more effective.
The future of online marketing? Google, the biggest website online is setting a new trend right now, as they combine both outbound marketing (AdWords), inbound marketing (search results, SEO) with big data analysis. Mobile ads? Or Google Glass ads? Whatever it is it should have the high conversions of inbound marketing and the big outreach of outbound marketing.