Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is the process of having the potential customer begin a conversation with you. Before the potential lead is ready to make a purchase, they begin to interact with a brand and business because content has been shared with them in some way.

Inbound marketing is the type of marketing that is used most often on the internet. Creating content, being focused on lead generation, and providing something of value without a direct expectation for return are all classified as methods of inbound marketing.

Outbound marketing is what would be considered the “traditional” type of marketing that has been used by companies since the first businesses opened. This form of marketing requires the business and brand to begin the conversation with their leads.

Any form of reaching out to a potential customer is classified as part of the outbound marketing arena. This includes advertising, attending a trade show, picking up the phone to call someone, or sending out an email to someone.

How Inbound Marketing Differs from Outbound Marketing

Inbound marketing follows a four-step process to push someone towards a conversion.

  • Attraction. This process pulls people in toward the brand and business. People might be attracted to the content on a blog, be looking for something based on their own keywords, or looking to establish connections on social media.
  • Conversion. There must be some way to convert a lead into a potential customer. This is done by using sign-up forms, a call-to-action within the text, or specific landing pages that promote a value proposition that has been developed through target marketing.
  • Closing. The leads might initiate the conversation with inbound marketing, but it is up to each brand and business to follow-up and close the deal. This occurs through workflows, email confirmations, follow-up marketing, and various signals that push the potential customer forward another step through the sales funnel.
  • Happiness. Once a sale occurs, follow-up marketing is required to maintain the happiness of a consumer. Even if a promised value is met, that value decreases over time. Think of how a new car depreciates over time and this is what a value proposition does. By creating more smart content, offering customer-specific events, and other social promotions, brands can keep customers happy while keeping themselves at the top of the mind simultaneously.

One of the issues that brands and businesses face with inbound marketing is the type of lead that that is attracted to them. Not every potential lead will convert into a customer, but some are more likely to do so than others. Rather than attempt to be a one-size-fits-all solution, the best inbound marketing campaigns target the best possible leads and push them forward while attempting to accommodate others as much as possible.

Outbound marketing attempts to improve sales and brand exposure by reaching out to specific groups of people. This may happen on a targeted scale or through a mass marketing effort. This means brands and business are going to the people instead of having the people come to them.


Although the benefits of a successful outbound marketing campaign are the same as a successful inbound marketing campaign, there are certain challenges which must be addressed.

There must be metrics in place that can help a brand and business track the return on their investment when conducting an outbound campaign.
Considerable blocking techniques are in place for consumers to use, from pop-up blockers to spam filters to commercial skippers, that must be accounted for during the initial design phases of a campaign.
A value proposition must still be offered in some way to a potential consumer, even though the brand and business doesn’t know which consumers are going to be receptive to the initiated conversation.

For many businesses, outbound marketing is a high-cost solution to grow revenue streams or brand reputation. Despite the typically low yields, however, the average business will spend up to 90% of their marketing budget annually on outbound efforts.

Advantages of Outbound Marketing That Must Be Considered

When comparing inbound marketing to outbound marketing, it can be easy to believe that the inbound process is far superior. It may be cheaper and relatively easier to create an inbound marketing campaign, but there are certain advantages that outbound marketing can provide that make it a more effective solution.

Think about it like this: can you name the last blog that you read? What was the information in that blog? What did it make you think about?

Now answer this question: what happened the last time you were called by a telemarketer?

Outbound marketing is a form of interruption. People remember interruptions more often than they remember something that was informative – even if that informative item held a strong value for them.

There’s a good chance that you’re not going to enjoy a phone all with a telemarketer. There’s an equally good chance that you hate the flashing banner advertisements that are plastered all over the internet today. Yet if the product or service is interesting and offered for a fair price, you might take a telemarketer up on their offer.

You might decide to click on the banner advertisement to explore the offer a little more.

That’s the power of outbound marketing and why it can be superior to inbound marketing. Inbound marketing focuses on long-term wants and values. Outbound marketing focuses on short-term needs and instant gratification.

What Both Types of Marketing Require for Success

Inbound and outbound marketing can be successful for a brand and business, but each lead that is generated by the effort must be nurtured for the experience to be successful for all parties. A potential customer can find you from a targeted Google search or they can find you from an advertisement that aired on the local news.

Either way, there is no guarantee that the lead generated is ready to make a purchase right away.

That means inbound and outbound marketing are equal in terms of effectiveness. For success to occur, there must be a focus on the pros and cons of both marketing efforts so that results can be achieved.

You may need highly reliable data to make an outbound marketing effort be successful, but you need a high volume of new content to make an inbound marketing effort be successful. Each can be difficult to maintain from a time or monetary cost perspective.

For this reason, both inbound and outbound marketing campaigns tend to coordinate with each other, passing leads back and forth to maximize their potential. This allows for a nurturing process to be initiated, no matter how the potential customer came to the brand, and that sets up a better chance at creating a conversion.

Without marketing, a business cannot be found. These options make it much easier for that finding process to get started.

Here are the secret tactics I used to build my website traffic to over 2 million monthly visitors and grow my email list to over 100,000 subscribers:
9 Secrets to Increasing Website Visitors and Email Subscribers