Inbound Marketing VS Outbound Marketing

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Inbound vs Outbound - how the right marketing approach can help grow your business


You may have heard the term "inbound marketing" a few times if you work within the digital marketing space. However, many marketers may still be more familiar with "outbound marketing”. Not knowing the difference between these two approaches could make you feel out of the loop and lead you to poor decisions - when the differences are simply a matter of approach.

You don’t have to feel misinformed any longer - in this blog, we’ll go over what inbound and outbound marketing are, how they fit into your marketing efforts and how the right marketing approach can help grow your business.

Outbound Marketing

As one of the original methods of marketing, outbound marketing has been around for a long time. It was commonly accepted as the only and best way to reach a wider audience until the dawn of the internet and inbound marketing.

With outbound marketing, advertisers and marketers use as many messages wherever possible with little to no interaction.

What is Outbound Marketing?

In the past, businesses would rely on this mode of marketing and flood the market through constant radio advertisements, TV commercials, and even billboards and flyers to promote their product and keep their businesses top of mind for their target market. This method is known as outbound marketing.

It can be thought of as anything that involves a one-way marketing method to obtain leads. Unlike inbound marketing, outbound marketing relies on a constant stream of advertising and cold approaches to keep their product top of mind for potential customers. It does very little in nurturing a lead, and rather relies on reaching as wide an audience as possible for as little effort.

outbound-marketing-exampleBillboard advertising is often used as an Outbound marketing tool

An effective way to think of outbound marketing is that it refers to companies going out to attract customers rather than focusing on inward tactics.

Examples of Outbound Marketing

  • Billboards
  • Email blasts
  • Flyers
  • TV commercials 
  • Radio ads 
  • Print advertisements 
  • Trade Shows 
  • Outbound sales calls 

Effect on the Buyer’s Journey

The focus of outbound marketing is to grab attention and gain a large audience for as little investment as possible. Because of this, outbound marketing does very little for the buyer’s journey itself. If anything, it only generates awareness and assists with some aspects of educating customers. 

However, it is important to note that the awareness stage (where outbound marketing shines) is one of the most important stages, as it gathers leads to be nurtured later. Unfortunately, while outbound marketing gains traction and interest early, it does little to encourage conversion from that interest into sales.

Inbound Marketing

Around the dawn of the internet and information age, consumers started gaining control over what messages and marketing they received from companies. The internet allowed smaller companies to compete with larger companies who had since dominated the market through outbound marketing techniques. They did this by offering consumers content that they wanted to engage with. This later became known as inbound marketing.

What is Inbound Marketing?

In contrast to outbound marketing which relies on a one-way stream of take-it-or-leave-it communication, inbound marketing seeks to offer content that consumers want to consume. This content can be entertaining, interactive, informative, or simply interesting enough to be shared. Often, this content is offered freely in the hopes that it will function as marketing - and it’s often effective.

The term inbound marketing was coined by HubSpot’s co-founder and CEO, Brian Halligan, in 2005. Inbound marketing slowly gained popularity until it became fully realised in 2012 and was accepted as the best way to market to an audience. It envisioned a way to sell a product or service through content creation and a two-way conversation between businesses and consumers.

inbound-marketing-exampleVideos are a great example of education, as an Inbound marketing tool

You can think of inbound marketing as the company attracting customers inward rather than going out and getting customers from the outside.

Examples of Inbound Marketing

  • Whitepapers
  • Research papers
  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • Competitions
  • Social media
  • Webinars
  • Viral videos

Effect on the Buyer’s Journey

The nature of inbound marketing is to offer value in the form that will help the consumer in some way. Depending on the kind of value the specific piece will offer will affect where the piece fits in with regard to the buyer’s journey.

For example, an entertaining viral video may not do much to educate customers but sure helps generate awareness. A whitepaper is not the best at gaining an audience through awareness (unless shared), but it helps educate leads and promotes consideration.

guide to inbound marketing

Outbound Notification and Inbound Participation 

Outbound marketing effectively gains widespread attention. However, it traditionally has a high ‘bounce rate’, that is, the rate at which people ignore what you have to say once you have their attention. On the contrary, inbound marketing has more of a slow-burn effect. It’s slow to gain an audience, but they typically stay once you have their attention. In other words, inbound marketing has a low bounce rate.

Combining both inbound and outbound marketing is possible by focusing on their respective strengths. Outbound marketing can focus on notification, while inbound focuses on participation. Outbound marketing’s job is to get eyeballs to your inbound marketing content - inbound marketing’s job is to keep them there.

For example, it is far more effective to let everyone know - through adverts, emails and even cold calls (outbound) - about your outstanding research paper (inbound), than to simply let everyone know about your product (only outbound) or just produce a research paper (only inbound).

Using them together

As marketing efforts become more sophisticated over time, the line between inbound and outbound marketing becomes more blurred - but this is not a bad thing. You can use outbound marketing to promote your inbound marketing assets. Inbound marketing will have a large audience to nurture towards a sale.  

Both inbound and outbound marketing strategies can promote and support each other - each salesperson, flyer, and advertisement becomes an ambassador for your content marketing, and each piece of content marketing should encourage participants to speak to a salesperson. 

Find what works for you

Finding a balance between the two marketing techniques will garner the best success for your sales and your company. By combining both inbound and outbound marketing, you give your company the best chances of success with your prospects.

However, you may need more guidance in effectively creating a strategy that fuses both approaches. To do this, you need years of experience and expertise - or at least a partner who can offer them to you.

We know this because we’ve been there. At Demodia, we understand how digital marketing tools contribute to success, and we’ve learned how to make them work best. By using sales and marketing automation ourselves, we are able to engage prospects and customers at any stage of the journey in a seamless way

Contact us for a quick 30-minute meeting, and we can present you with a personalised plan for converting more customers efficiently with both outbound and inbound techniques.