Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: Which is Better?

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Inbound vs Outbound Marketing_ Which is Better

Every business needs a marketing plan. Whether you’re a one-man service provider or a large company with 1,000 employees in multiple states doesn’t matter. Marketing drives sales; without sales, you won’t make the money you need to stay in business for the long haul. That’s why they say marketing is one of the most important things a business can do. But is it really that important? Well, the answer is yes. 

For a business, marketing is crucial because it informs and engages customers and ultimately helps them make a buying decision. Moreover, marketing plans play an essential role in creating and maintaining demand, relevance, reputation, and competition. There are a variety of marketing styles, but ultimately two are the most important: Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing.

Let’s first understand the difference between inbound and outbound marketing, starting with understanding the concepts of inbound marketing.

Inbound Marketing 

Inbound marketing is a strategy where you create content or social media tactics that get the word out about your brand so that people learn about you, check out your website, show interest in your product, and possibly make a purchase.

It is designed to create curiosity and engagement and attract customers. That’s why it’s also referred to as “pull marketing.” It’s also often referred to as content marketing, which is the main tactic of inbound marketing.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing uses many different types of content to engage and interest target audiences. This includes blog posts, social media, infographics, white papers, email newsletters, e-guides, quizzes, surveys, and more. Paid search and native advertising are other inbound marketing tactics that help people find and engage with marketers’ content.

The inbound marketing strategy aims to gently guide potential customers through the marketing funnel, engaging them with relevant content and brand experiences when they’re ready, to gradually increase brand awareness, increase customer engagement, and drive them to conversion and retention. Here’s how the inbound funnel works:

inbound funnel
Pic Credit – Outbrain

In inbound marketing, there are many types or even examples of marketing styles. Let’s understand these few types and examples one by one in detail.

Blog articles

An important part of the inbound marketing toolkit. Supposedly, blogs have taken a bit of a backseat lately as everyone rushes to try new types of content, but the reality is that well-written, informative, and entertaining articles are as popular and effective as ever.

As with all your content, make sure you’re writing blogs and articles that focus on solving problems and offering information, rather than just trying to sell something. Blogs that answer questions will drive more traffic to your website and make your business a go-to resource for prospects and customers.


Videos are quickly becoming one of our favorite types of content to create. Specifically, videos for sales. Videos are great because you can use them in all areas of your inbound marketing and sales. Whether you’re creating product demos or explainer videos, or posting videos on social media, they’re a really useful tool for creating personalized content because they show prospects and customers your face. 

Another reason we like videos and recommend them to you is that they work. Marketers who use videos generate 66% more qualified leads than those who don’t, according to the latest study.

Social Media

When it comes to social media, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you only use it because everyone is interested in what you have to say. They don’t. No one likes the person who shows up at a party and talks about themselves all the time, and no one follows anyone on social media who basically does the same thing. 

Sure, you should be using your social media to promote your content that is of value to other people, but the key benefit of these platforms is that you can have face-to-face conversations with people. Have conversations with people and engage your customers, prospects, partners, and employees, and you’ll see the value of social media for inbound marketing.

Here is a case study of a success story for you to trust more on this type: 

Brandon Amoroso, CEO and founder of ElectrIQ Marketing, said his company recently drove traffic and sales through a successful social media campaign for their client, Vertagear. ElectrIQ focused on organically increasing engagement, driving website traffic, building loyalty, generating buzz, and curating a community.

Their strategy involved developing strong creative content that aligned with the brand and posting it daily across all social channels. The result? A 35% increase in total transactions and a 24% boost in revenue from social traffic.

marketing casestudy


Don’t just rely on words to tell your stories. Visual content can be just as good, and in some cases better, at conveying complex information in an easily digestible way. Whether you’re converting existing content into a visual format or simply creating something more visually appealing for social media, don’t underestimate the value a good graphic can have on your inbound marketing.

Podcasts and webinars

We need to understand that people aren’t just looking for information. They want to be entertained, engaged, and get a break from their own work. Podcasts and webinars are great for providing just that.

If you have something interesting to talk about and can attract interesting guests, you’re on the right track. However, they’re only effective if done right – don’t use them as an excuse to pitch your products or chat with your friends. Offer real value in an exciting way, and you’ll really wow people.

Interview experts

Interviewing industry experts and publishing interview-style content can be very useful, setting you apart from the competition and making you an independent, reliable source of useful information that people will keep coming back to.

Optimization for search engines

This point can be better understood with a case study. Capitol Tech Solutions has run many successful inbound marketing campaigns for clients that focused on SEO. “When we acquire a new client, we do an inventory,” says CEO Bobby Reed.

“This includes current organic website traffic, current web leads … and the current ranking on Google. Improvement comes from constantly optimizing the site and content to outperform the competition.”

YouTube videos

The Slumber Yard creates helpful YouTube videos for its core audience. COO Matthew Ross says these videos have allowed the company to rank organically on the first page of search results instead of buying ads.

“We’re able to reach potential customers looking for similar services or products at a very low cost,” Ross says. “Last year, our internal video content was viewed over 2 million times and drove a significant amount of relevant traffic to our website at a fraction of what other marketing strategies would have cost.”

While the fruits of inbound marketing may be less “eye-catching” than other advertising techniques, they’re much more valuable to your business in the long run.

Here are some key benefits of inbound marketing

Lower cost

Aside from being highly ineffective in the digital age, mass marketing is costly and risky. It’s like putting all your eggs in one basket. Or shooting an (expensive) arrow into the dark and hoping it hits the target. With leaner, more targeted advertising spent on inbound marketing, your company can save money and achieve a higher ROI over time.

More trust and credibility

Empowering your customers to do their own research and find you organically makes you seem more trustworthy than a billboard screaming, “Buy this now!” Plus, about 85% of consumers research online before deciding to make a purchase. Inbound marketing techniques like creating helpful content and using social proof help reduce the risk consumers associate with your brand.

High-Quality traffic and leads

Inbound marketing isn’t just about creating brand awareness. It’s about generating the right kind of leads and traffic. With a targeted and informed approach, you can attract leads that are more likely to be interested in your solutions.

Opportunity to learn and evolve

Engaging with your customers on social media and listening to their conversations, questions, and feedback can help you better understand how to improve your products and services.

Yes, it has many benefits, but at the same time, inbound marketing isn’t quite as simple and straightforward as it first seems.

Let’s explore five challenges of inbound marketing

You need a well-planned strategy

Since inbound marketing is all about attracting qualified and targeted leads and customers, it requires careful planning and research. For example, if you’re starting a blog, you’ll need a thorough content strategy, including persona mapping, blog topics that match the customer’s journey, and keyword research.

For social media marketing, you’ll need to identify the best social sites on which to engage your customers, create a posting schedule, and perhaps run some paid advertising campaigns.

It’s labor-intensive

To put your inbound marketing strategy into practice, you either need to create a lot of relevant and noteworthy content or outsource the task. Building a website, maintaining social media accounts, sending emails to properly segmented lists, and creating engaging videos or other inbound tactics takes time. To do this, you need either a solid team or a reliable agency to handle these tasks for you.

You need good analytics to measure ROI

It’s necessary to track all aspects of inbound marketing to make sure you’re using the right approach. Proper inbound marketing is an investment in your business, not an itemized expense. Your increased website traffic, social media activity, email marketing open rates, PPC campaigns, and all other inbound tactics require accurate metrics to prove your ROI.

On a positive note, there are now many excellent software programs and services to help you with this challenge, such as HubSpot.

It requires an optimized website

Your website is the central hub of your inbound marketing strategy. Building a professionally designed, user-friendly, and conversion-optimized website requires research and ongoing work.

Today’s websites also require responsive design so mobile users can access them. In addition, the style, layout, and graphics must match your target audience’s preferences, not your own tastes.

Results take time

You can’t expect to have more visitors to your site, create lots of good content, generate new leads, and attract new customers overnight. It takes many months of inbound tactics to reap the rewards of your hard work.

If time isn’t on your side or you can’t muster the patience, inbound marketing may not be for you. On the other hand, a solid inbound marketing strategy pays off in the long run.

That was all about Inbound Marketing, now let’s understand the concepts of Outbound marketing.

Outbound marketing

Outbound marketing is a traditional form of marketing. In it, companies publish their ads on television, in the newspaper, or on the radio. The marketer waits for people to peruse these ads and respond positively if they’re interested.

It relies on proven marketing and advertising methods. As the name implies, the marketer communicates a message to the general public. In doing so, the marketer expects people to hear or see the advertisement and respond to it. 

In this way, the prospect is converted into a lead and then into business. It uses a proactive approach to building a customer base. And it helps the company make an impact on the target audience.

More specifically, it’s interruption-based marketing. This is because people have to interrupt their work to hear, read or see the marketing message. Therefore, it’s annoying. The focus is on quantity, i.e., getting the message across to the largest number of people possible.

outbound marketing

Types of outbound marketing with some case studies and examples

Traditional Advertising

Traditional advertising is also known as above-the-line (ATL) advertising and includes media such as television, radio, print media (newspapers, magazines, etc.), and billboards. These methods help you get your message out to the masses, but they lack more refined ways to target audiences. ATL advertising media are effective for top-of-the-funnel activities such as brand awareness campaigns.

For example, Spotify Ran a Witty Billboard Ad Campaign in December 2017 to Highlight the Listening Habits of Spotify Users.

Spotify Ran a Witty Billboard Ad Campaign
Pic Credit – Bored Panda

Through-the-line (TTL) Advertising

In TTL advertising, the brand’s advertising mix consists of ATL and BTL ad formats. For example, a brand may run an awareness campaign on television, in newspapers, and on social media platforms. TTL can also include digital-out-of-home (DOOH) advertising, an emerging advertising format that leverages traditional outdoor advertising for dynamic ads.

For example, Burger King Worked With Vizeum, an Ad Agency to Run a DOOH Ad Campaign.

Cold Calling

Cold calling, or telemarketing, is known to be the most notorious form of communication. In cold calling, the salesperson calls a database of people who might be potential customers to determine their interests and convert them into paying customers. The salesperson usually has no prior communication with the customer, hence the term cold calling. 

The next stage of telemarketing is warm calling, where a potential customer has expressed interest in your offer. Cold calling is one of the most difficult marketing/sales methods when it comes to increasing sales, for example, because the answering machine is activated or the recipients are not willing to participate in the call.

Events and Tradeshows

Events and tradeshows offer companies the opportunity to meet their prospects and customers face-to-face to generate leads, convert prospects, or retain existing customers. Companies can organize their own events, such as Salesforce’s Dreamforce, or participate as a sponsor or attendee in conferences or events organized by a third party. The success of conference participation depends on the preparatory activities.

Common outbound marketing challenges

Difficult to track the return on investment (ROI)

Calculating a proper ROI does not look or sound complicated, but sometimes it’s very difficult to determine an accurate ROI, especially with traditional outbound marketing strategies such as cold calling, direct mail, or TV commercials.

The challenge of determining an accurate ROI is one of the biggest hurdles of outbound marketing because it can be very damaging, especially when executives are also busy with other complex tasks and do not have time to look more deeply into the success of their marketing efforts.

High cost and low yield

Having a large budget for outbound marketing campaigns is a big challenge for small businesses. The cost usually depends on the type of advertising. Online methods are usually much cheaper than offline ads.

It can be a one-way communication system

When you hang banner ads on the side of the road, you do not have any real opportunities to connect with your target audience. It’s difficult for advertisers to track the performance of outbound marketing and connect with their potential customers.

The most common way to find out how people are responding to your traditional outbound marketing campaigns is to conduct surveys. Organizing groups and surveys are time-consuming and will cost you a lot of money.

You can say that some traditional outbound marketing strategies are a one-way street. Companies only tell people what they want their target audience to know and leave the rest up to them.

It’s not targeted

One of the main drawbacks of traditional outbound marketing is that it is not targeted. This makes this marketing approach less effective and more costly. To be successful in this saturated business world, it is crucial to find a target audience and create ads that are specifically tailored to that audience. This is much more difficult in offline marketing than in online marketing, where these tasks can be completed in less than an hour.

People pay less attention to advertisements

According to a recent study, over 90% of internet clicks are generated by inbound marketing and only 10% by outbound marketing. People are not interested in advertising, they want to find something themselves.

Now, as we have understood both types of marketing, the question arises

What’s More Effective, Inbound or Outbound Marketing?

And the answer is Both. How?

Well, Older customer segments who are not digital natives like Millenials and Gen Z are comfortable and familiar with radio ads, billboards, and TV commercials, and outbound marketing can definitely tap into their comfort zone in these ways.

Whereas Inbound leads have been shown to cost around 60% less than outbound leads, and 80% of business decision-makers say they’d prefer to learn about a brand through a series of articles, rather than an ad. 

Probably the most important data point about the effectiveness of inbound marketing is simply this: there are 5 billion internet users worldwide (more than half the global population) and 4.65 billion users on social media. With inbound marketing, your audience may be located anywhere in the world, and you’ll be able to reach them.

Ultimately, the best marketing strategy for your business is the one that works. Remember that audiences and markets change, so analyze your data regularly. What worked last year may not work this year. Therefore, your mix of inbound and outbound marketing is sure to change over time, especially as ad technology becomes more sophisticated and offers new opportunities for targeting and engagement tracking. 

The most important thing you can do with any marketing campaign is the measure, optimize, and repeat. Whether you choose inbound or outbound marketing, make these three steps your goal – wherever and whenever possible – and you’ll get better results.

But the usage of marketing is a must. Because Marketing simply is the function that reaches and conveys the message to an audience. You can’t sell a product or service without marketing. If your prospects don’t know who you are, or don’t have a want or need your not going to sell your product. Take action now and plan your marketing strategy!

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