What is the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing?
Digital & Marketing Strategy

What is the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing?

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Marketing is a big business, and the success of your campaigns has the ability to make or break your entire venture. In fact, studies show that the average person can now be exposed to 10,000 forms of advertisement every single day. Consequently, then, the battle to stand out from the crowd is fiercer than ever.

As a marketer, you’ll naturally encounter many different terms as you look to build the most effective strategies and campaigns. The concept of inbound marketing versus outbound marketing is likely to feature prominently, which is why you must get to grips with the finer details ASAP. Here’s all you need to know – from the definitions of inbound and outbound to which is best for your venture.

Inbound Vs. Outbound Marketing At A Glance

Before thinking about the implementation of either inbound or outbound marketing, it’s important to pay closer attention to what actually constitutes the two concepts. While both strategies ultimately set out to achieve the same objectives, including increased brand awareness and conversions, but use contrasting tactics to make it happen.

What is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing, which is often referred to as ‘push marketing’ or ‘interruption’ marketing, covers the type of advertising campaigns that most marketers would associate with traditional marketing. Outbound techniques aim at broadcasting a message to the masses with a clear focus on securing a sale, which is ultimately the only barometer that will dictate your success.

Common forms of outbound marketing include but are not limited to;

  • TV and radio advertisements,
  • Magazine adverts, billboards, posters, and printed media,
  • Social media and PPC digital marketing,
  • Cold calling via telephone or door-to-door sales
  • Email blasts and mail marketing.

Whether outbound marketing is facilitated through digital media, analogue media, or face-to-face interactions, the tactic focuses on a one-way conversation while the promotion itself focuses almost exclusively on the product(s) and/or services(s), along with the reasons why the potential customer should complete a purchase.


  • It is often possible to reach the masses without vast investments of time,
  • Content is geared towards the product(s), turning interest into sales,
  • Reach a wider audience including consumers that wouldn’t research the products,
  • Ads can be repeated rather than needing to keep building new campaigns,
  • Conversions generated from these methods often come very quickly.


  • A large percentage of marketing content reaches audiences that aren’t interested,
  • Customers might not be ready to purchase your products right now,
  • Outbound marketing often prevents any dialogue for the consumer to seek further info,
  • The campaigns can be very costly per impression and, crucially, per conversion,
  • Analysis is often limited to the returns without feedback or insights into reasoning,

What is Inbound Marketing?

In contrast to the interruptive nature of outbound marketing, inbound marketing is often described as ‘magnetic’. It is a tactic that aims to pinpoint the most likely prospects, including people that are actively searching for the products or services in question. The content often plants a seed of interest but encourages users to find products for themselves.

Inbound marketing can take many forms including but not limited to:

  • SEO that allows consumers to find you organically,
  • Social media engagements including blog posts and vlogging,
  • Free eBooks and branded downloadable content such as podcasts,
  • Competitions and positive PR, particularly in related fields,
  • Webinars and social commentary on your industry.

Inbound marketing often focuses on brand awareness rather than the more invasive forms of product promotion. The two-way interactions and encouragement of a personal journey can attract customers in a vastly different way to outbound marketing. There is pressure to ensure that the info they require is easily found, but it can yield incredible results.


  • Content can be easily targeted to a key demographic and won’t get caught by adblockers,
  • SEO and other tools help consumers actively search for your products, yielding high ROIs,
  • This type of marketing builds familiarity with the brand or lasting influences,
  • Analytical tools can be used to gain insights into all aspects and make big changes,
  • When done well, the costs per interaction and conversion are far greater. It is cost effective


  • Inbound marketing often stops you from reaching customers outside of your target market,
  • The need to consistently create content and update strategies is very time consuming,
  • You are required to master brand personality as well as promoting products,
  • The timeframes between first interaction and completed transaction are long and varied,
  • Some users may not interpret the brand message as desired, focusing on the wrong items,

Industry Stats – Inbound and Outbound Sales

The importance of successful marketing cannot be emphasised enough. Consequently, then, it’s imperative that your decisions are driven by data to ensure the best outcome for your time, budget, and sales returns.

Some of the most significant factors relating to marketing efforts in 2020 and beyond are listed below;

  • Inbound marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing while the ROI figures are up to 3x higher,
  • Organic leads are 8x more likely to generate a closed conversion than those gained through other means,
  • Only 22% of businesses are happy with their current marketing strategies and the conversion rates they bring,
  • Global spending on social media strategies now outweighs the level of spending on newspaper ads,
  • Up to 84% of millennials have abandoned a website due to intrusive advertising pop-up impressions,
  • Converting leads and contacts into converted customers remains a huge challenge, especially for inbound marketing,
  • Consumers now conduct 70% of their research independently before reaching out to a company,
  • It takes an average person seven interactions with a company before they commit to a purchase,
  • Most consumers, as well as 80% of business decision-makers, prefer getting info via content over adverts,
  • Global spending on marketing is now at around $700 billion, with over one-third coming from the U.S.

The facts underline a changing landscape in which today’s consumers’ habits have changed. Humans are now happy to encounter a journey of self-discovery or gain recommendations from trusted faces, while the way they interact with explicit advertising has evolved too. There has been a significant shift in a buyer’s journey.

While the one-way interactions of outbound marketing can still influence decisions in a big way, consumers enjoy getting to know brands and products. This is something every marketing team must now appreciate.

Inbound Marketing Vs. Outbound Marketing Differences

The easiest way to understand the contrasts between inbound and outbound marketing is to consider some examples.

Inbound Marketing

Company A is a fitness website and eCommerce platform that wants to focus on inbound marketing strategies.

Rather than using TV adverts that advise people to “buy this”, they provide a list of blogs and YouTube videos that teach consumers about the benefits of using those products. It isn’t overly aggressive or salesy, but it allows them to imagine their lives after using the products.

Emails, SEO, and social media are all used to help new audiences find the content organically while content can also have links to the products that are gaining light promotion from the content. The reach of paid content is focused on potential customers that have shown an interest in health and fitness.

The strategy focuses on building brand awareness that leads consumers to do their own research and find the exact products that feel tailored to their needs.

Outbound Marketing

Company B is a life insurance company that is hoping to increase its sales of income protection insurance.

They use mass email marketing, TV ads, and traditional media placements as well as telesales and door-to-door interactions. The adverts needn’t be too targeted as the service can be sold to individuals from a wide range of backgrounds. A lot of content will reach the wrong people, but each conversion is potentially worth big money.

The product focuses on the need to secure immediate coverage and insurance. The one-way interactions are clear about the benefits and, in this case, the potential problems that could surface from not buying the product. Clients should be left wanting to make the call or contact an advisor right away.

While prospective leads need to trust the brand, the priority remains on the product itself, which is why the more aggressive standards can be utilised.

Conclusion: So which Is Best For Your Business In 2021 & Beyond

The modern marketing arena is more complex than ever, which is why both inbound and marketing endeavours can be used at the same time to attract new clients, generate leads, and secure more sales revenue.

For the very best results and a comprehensive approach to marketing, combing elements of both inbound and outbound campaigns is essential. This will allow you to gain brand awareness and build the strongest rapport with your target audience (both potential and existing customers) while still catching some business from secondary markets. It’s also a great way to secure immediate gains followed by long-term stability, simultaneously managing your time and budget in style.

However, building a comprehensive and sustained marketing strategy requires a lot of skill, time, and experience. For most marketing experts, the concept of outsourcing – or at least partnering with an outside agency – is very appealing.

Whether seeking professional support with your inbound marketing and/or outbound marketing endeavours, our marketplace of marketing agencies can connect your business to the best service for the task at hand. To find out more, give us a call today.


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