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What is the best for business use: difference between Inbound and Outbound Marketing?

By on Mar 9, 2017 in Inbound Marketing

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Every marketing tool that we are using now has undergone certain evolutionary path. At its most, it was defined by technological advancements. Nowadays we have a lot of things that marketers might have dreamt about 15 and more years ago. However, for a better understanding of how marketing works and how to leverage it, we need to realize the way marketing has shaped up.

That’s why in this article we will explore the way inbound and outbound marketing have evolved and formed what modern marketing is.

In fact, the difference between inbound and outbound marketing is huge. But before we deep into the application of the both types of marketing, let’s start with the definition of inbound and outbound marketing. Even though outbound marketing tends to become less effective (with more web tools arriving) understanding of the difference is crucial for everyone who is dealing or going to deal with marketing.


Inbound and outbound marketing


Inbound and outbound marketing


Inbound marketing is the one that takes place on the Internet. The most important thing that you need to understand about inbound marketing is that it’s fueled by great content. You catch attention by means of, let’s say, target advertising.

Then if your content satisfies demands of your prospects they will want more of it. This is how you generate leads and convert them.

Inbound marketing meaning is about reaching people who are most likely interested in the type of products and services you offer by means of appealing and informative content.

Outbound marketing is the traditional one. Marketing has been around for many years, significantly more than the age of Internet era. Marketing that reminds the one that we know started with the printing. After that, radio and television arrived. With telephones in every home, telemarketing joined and became viral.

Today outbound marketing is about quite the same – transmitting advertising message to the large audience. It lacks the specificity of audience-oriented approach that is possible with inbound marketing.


evolution of marketing


The difference between inbound and outbound marketing is mostly defined by the characteristics of the space each of them takes place.

If your tools are banner ads, radio or TV advertising, it would be difficult to come up with the orientation at the particular kind of audience.

You just throw your message to everyone who will pass by and expect that someone gets interested. This is what in different words outbound marketing definition states.

In contrary inbound marketing is crowded with the tools that help you to aim at your prospects because the Internet is totally about information. The more you know about people who are buying – the more precise you can become while sending your advertising message. Inbound marketing doesn’t make you hope that someone may get attracted by your message. Instead, it provides you with the guarantees that your message is seen by an exact segment of Internet users.

However, if you have come to think that outbound marketing is useless, I would propose you not to hurry up with the early conclusions. Let’s get closer to inbound and outbound marketing and look separately at each of them.


outbound marketing


Outbound marketing


According to the outbound marketing definition, it’s a traditional methodology that isn’t considered as a targeted one. Of course, people still read printed newspapers and magazines when having breakfast, listen to the radio stations while driving cars and watch TV before going to sleep. Even though not as much as they used to do it before the Internet splash, certain audience obviously exists. But the problem with outbound marketing (in relation to the inbound marketing) is different.

The thing is that you never know whom you reach. This makes traditional marketing approaches just blind shooting. When there was no alternative and the audience wasn’t into the Internet at all, marketers were doing just what they could with what they had. But today is undoubtedly the star time of inbound marketing, which is proving its efficiency in every case.

Does it mean that you need to get rid of any reminders of traditional marketing just because of the difference between inbound and outbound marketing? No, it doesn’t. If you see that you are getting expected amount of leads from outbound marketing, just keep going but don’t stay rigid towards alternatives that can help you to improve.

Also, if you are starting your way in business marketing and development, don’t start with outbound marketing.

Instead, start with inbound marketing.

As you get to know business processes and types of marketing that are suitable for your case, you will be able to insert a portion of outbound marketing if needed.

And to prove my point I will show you examples of business cases for each of which outbound marketing remains effective.

Coming back to outbound marketing definition, we can come up with the most vivid features that characterize outbound marketing. They are:


cold calls


1. cold-calling and emailing (SPAM)

What used to be a normal practice in the times when target audience was an unknown phrase, today becomes a rare thing. However, some businesses (especially, the ones of B2B type) can still allow themselves to make use of cold calling and emailing. Because there are very few ways for them to spread the word and reach their prospects.

2. interruptive ads

TV, radio, magazines and newspapers – they all include advertising part. No matter who you are you will see them as long as you read, watch or listen to them.

3. market-centric approach

It doesn’t matter for outbound marketing whether you are one of the potential audience or not. You just see advertising wherever it can be placed and exposed to the eyes of as many people as possible. Therefore, outbound marketing is definitely not about quality but quantity.


inbound marketing



Inbound marketing


Outbound marketing is going to lose all its positions as soon as everything moves to the web space (which is already happening). Therefore, relying just on the traditional ways is risky. In this situation, even if you refuse to say “no” to traditional marketing, you need to take into consideration new ways of getting clients.

The more Internet-oriented business is – the more profound web representation it has. Perhaps at dawn of Internet era, only special types of businesses were racing to get into the online space.

However, very soon it turned out that every business from the smallest would benefit from the Internet.

Of course, exceptions exist. For instance, local stores, which don’t really need to be presented across web space because their audience comes from the houses nearby. However, if one can look at it from another angle, he/she would see that for such small businesses getting on the Internet can become a major chance of enhancement.

Today you can find almost everything on the Internet. Just think about Google Maps where you can take a look at any corner of the world and find any tiny store. However, the problem is that there is no information about every tiny store. You want to buy something but you don’t want to waste your time visiting a place to find out that it doesn’t have what you’re looking for. Consequently, you would turn to the Internet and try to find information about the products, which you can buy in the store. Would be upset if you couldn’t find any information about it? I bet you would.

Consider another case. You start looking for a store with a particular product. On your way through the web, you saw target ad with an information about this product (it may be whatever – how to cook it, how useful it is, what kind of combinations with other products can improve the taste and so on) with the link where you can buy it. Would you find it useful? Well, probably depends on the content. But this is where inbound marketing starts.

Definition of inbound marketing tells us that it’s a type of marketing that unites numerous tools for drawing attention to the products/services by means of content.

In fact, content is a god of Internet marketing, which is quite logical. You turn to the Internet for information. Therefore, to appeal you, this information should match your demands and be outstanding in some way.


inbound marketing methodology


You can divide outbound marketing activities into four stages. At the first one, your main goal is to attract prospects. For this, you would need to show your content to the right audience. You will need to use social media channels, websites, landing pages, blogs, search engine optimization, and marketing.

At the second stage, you need to convert visitors into the prospects, which means that you need to get their information to start building connections. Here you can leverage landing pages and social media with calls to action and submission forms. You can give away useful information in exchange for the contacts.

At the third stage, you start looking for the opportunities to transform your prospects into users. This is where you will need information gathered at the previous stage.

Make use of email marketing and tools for marketing automation at this stage to get the highest ROI.

Finally, at the fourth stage, you expect your users to spread the word about your product. If they truly enjoy your product they will do it to the certain extent even without you. But if you can wisely encourage them, you will get much more. Consider using surveys and inserting calls to action. Besides, the best encouragement always remains the same: giving away something helpful in exchange for inviting colleagues and friends.

To help you to get to the core of inbound marketing meaning, I suggest taking a look at the key issues that differentiate inbound marketing from outbound one. They are:

1. search engine marketing (in particular SEO)

At the top of the results search engines come up you see only the most informative and qualitative websites because of search engine marketing. SEM helps to draw traffic to websites by means of optimization (SEO) and target advertising.

2. blogging

As we all may remember inbound marketing is totally about content. Therefore, there should be ways to put it somewhere. Blogging is the most popular one. You share your knowledge by means of creating high-quality content for your blog. The latter can be either your own site, your channel on one of the popular blogging platforms or even social media channel.

3. attraction marketing techniques

Inbound marketing helps you to attract potential customers by means of exceptional content that can be really useful for those who choose you. This one is simple: you attract those whom you can help.

4. customer-centric approach

Inbound marketing has a highly targeted orientation. Everything starts with a “portrait” of your potential customer. You need it to develop a special approach to a particular kind of audience. You don’t need them all – only those who would most likely want to buy from you. Therefore, inbound marketing is about quality over quantity.




Inbound marketing vs outbound marketing is the everlasting issue of marketing. However, as the technological progress becomes only faster, the answer gets only more evident. Inbound marketing is more effective than traditional marketing. But it doesn’t mean that you need to stop doing it right now if it is already generating leads for you.

In fact, nobody will ever require you to completely get rid of traditional marketing tools and choose just one between inbound and outbound marketing.

You just need to be able to review your priorities according to the situation on the market. If you’re really able to do that you will also be able to find harmony between inbound and outbound marketing in the beneficial proportions for your case.

Success lies in a wise combination. The same thing is about inbound and outbound marketing.


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