Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing: Which Is Better?

Antonio author


Guest Writer

⏱ Reading Time: 6 minutes

It is estimated that the average person sees between 6000 and 10 000 ads per day. So the question that first pops into every marketer’s head is inevitably – how to stand out and catch the attention of your customers with such competition?

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Today there are two basic approaches marketing can take – inbound marketing and outbound, or the more traditional one. If you are looking for a simple answer to the question „Which is better?“, there isn’t one. So let’s explore what each of these approaches includes and what are their pros and cons.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is the concept where marketers attempt to “pull” potential customers with interesting content. It involves creating and using a blog, social media, infographics, ebooks, white papers, email newsletters, and other content that people want to read.

People interact with content, read and share, and come away with a positive impression of the brand, which can influence later purchasing decisions. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.

Inbound marketing has a lot of advocates lately. Facts that support their statements are on point: 45% of direct email messages never get opened and 84% younger than 35 years-old leaves a website with excessive advertising. So, they praise to the heavens the “new ways” of marketing, all because it works by earning someone’s attention, rather than buying it.

What is Good About Inbound Marketing?

1. Spreading Brand-Awareness

Since inbound marketing is based on two-way communication and content delivery which is continuously looking to solve their customers’ problems, this type of marketing helps in building strong relationships with customers. With the right type of content it builds your authority in the marketplace.

2. It’s Cost-Effective

Research shows that inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than outbound. To put it in simpler terms – setting up a website doesn’t have to be so expensive and creating content is basically „free“ (depending on your skills, of course). This is somewhat disputable, but in any case it can be much cheaper than outbound.


Picture 1. Benefits of content marketing

3. In the Right Place at the Right Time

Inbound marketing is unintrusive, meaning that its goal is to be present and relevant when a potential customer encounters a problem, i.e. when they are looking for a solution.

What Is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing is what is today known as traditional marketing. It uses „push“ tactics, meaning it’s interruptive and it imposes itself onto a certain audience. It includes TV, radio and telemarketing, billboards, newspapers and magazine ads, etc. It’s about using the mass media to show your message to as many people possible, hoping that a certain percentage of them will get interested and become your customer.

Outbound marketing is nowadays widely used in the online sphere as well. Some of the digital formats used include emails („cold emailing“), banners, display ads, PPC, spam messages, etc. In contrast to inbound marketing, outbound doesn’t take the buyer’s journey into consideration and precisely because of that it has fallen out of favor. Still, there are certain benefits of outbound marketing and they are the reason why many marketers are not willing to give up on this strategy yet.

What is Good About Outbound Marketing?

1. Faster ROI

If your outbound marketing campaign was set up in the right way, it can show a return of investment almost instantly. If an ad appears in the right place, leads can start to appear in no time.

2. Easier to Measure

This is probably the most important reason why many marketers still turn to this type of campaigns. Online advertising, for example, comes with a detailed set of analytics showing you everything you want to know about your audience and the quality of your ads.

3. Personalization

As mentioned before, analytics can give a pretty detailed outline of your customers. This is what enables you to create personalized messages (or emails and calls) to your potential customers and increase the possibility of a conversion.

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing – Differences

In their most basic forms, outbound marketing uses push tactics while inbound marketing uses pull tactics. Therefore, we can say that outbound marketing is interruptive, and it seeks attention from people. While inbound is permissive and it isn’t as aggressive as its counterpart.

So, as you can, inbound is all about drawing people in and communicating with them. Outbound marketing seeks out customers and in one-way communication, coming from brands, not customers.

A big part of inbound marketing relies on creating valuable content and attracting visitors with it. It relies on the development of modern communication technologies like the Internet, mobile phones and social media to attract consumers. Instead of pushing a message out onto a large population, inbound marketing attracts specific audiences that are out there looking for information.

Here is a chart where both marketing models are compared toe to toe:


Picture 2. Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing

Which Strategy to Choose for Your Business?

In a perfect situation, the answer would be – both. Inbound as well as outbound strategies have their own pros and cons and if your financial resources allow it, a mix of both approaches can do a lot for your business. There are however a couple of questions you need to ask yourself before determining which tools, when and how to apply.

1. What Are Your Goals?

Is your campaign out just to build brand awareness? Are you trying to sell a new product? Or do you simply want to drive more traffic? The desired outcome of your marketing campaign should be one of the key factors in determining your marketing strategy.

Inbound marketing is a long-term strategy which will not bring many results in the first period. Outbound marketig on the other hand will make you noticeable really fast, but it doesn’t promise great returns.

So depending on your goals, set your priorities!

2. Who is Your Ideal Customer?

You don’t use the same forms of expression in all conversations, right? You wouldn’t probably speak in the same way to your best friend and to your boss. This is precisely why it is important to create your imaginary ideal customer before creating a marketing strategy. Who is this person, what are their interests, when and how do they buy and what are their interests? Creating an ideal customer can solve some of your future dilemmas right on the start.

3. How Will It Affect You?

Remember that whichever strategy you use, it will add up to your brand’s image. Whether you opt for cold emailing or content marketing, make sure you choose a strategy you can justify and be proud of.

Which One Is Better?

Inbound and outbound marketing are two separate approaches that can be used effectively on their own or together. Both of these approaches have their own unique set of advantages and drawbacks. But, most businesses find that using both types can be the most effective. The key point to bear in mind is that you should always try new things and combine them with old trends that work well. Technology, audience, and rules change. Therefore, what works now, probably won’t work tomorrow.

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Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing: Which Is Better? was last modified: June 12th, 2021 by Milica Vujasin
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