The difference between inbound and outbound marketing

What’s The Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing?

It doesn’t matter if you’re starting a new business, or if your brand is well-established, using the right marketing strategy will give you an edge over your competition and catapult your brand recognition into the digital age.

Discover the differences between inbound and outbound marketing so you can choose the best strategy for your brand and for today’s consumers.

What Is Outbound Marketing?

The more traditional of the two types of marketing tactics, outbound techniques push a company’s brand, product or service message out to potential customers. Outbound marketing strategies aim to motivate those people to pick up their phones or go to the company website to get more information about what the brand is offering and hopefully purchase it.

Outbound marketers use traditional marketing methods such as cold calls, direct mail, trade shows, TV ads, radio ads and more to try to convert potential customers into loyal brand advocates, not an easy accomplishment these days.

Even though there are plenty of people who watch ads or look at their mail, more and more are tuning out these conventional approaches by screening their calls, fast-forwarding through the ads, and ignoring print media.

This disconnect is making outbound campaign proponents think twice about spending time and money on these more costly and less profitable, more disruptive, less eco-friendly, and more hit and miss marketing tactics.

So, with that list of negatives, should businesses throw outbound strategies out the window? Not necessarily. There are still many valuable tools that businesses can use to directly approach customers and nurture relationships.

Email marketing, for instance, is holding on as the channel with the highest engagement. In fact, millennials spend more time on email than any other age group. Email is also one of the most dependable sources for ROI, and it’s the most popular way for businesses to communicate with potential customers and nurture loyal relationships.

While it isn’t as common as email, many companies still use cold calling as their main marketing strategy. Telemarketing may be the only way to reach some prospects, and many business owners feel they can give a more personal presentation of their product which they have tailored to their target audience.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Today, the majority of marketers around the globe use inbound marketing tactics. The opposite of traditional digital marketing that pushes out information, inbound is all about pulling in interested, potential customers to a business or brand. And if inbound strategies are the engine that is pulling customers in, then the content is the gas that drives that engine.

Through inbound strategies, marketers build successful campaigns that deliver interesting, relevant, quality content – strategically placed where people can interact when they notice that the brand offers solutions to their problems or pain points.

Consumers are choosing the content they want to see, not deleting content they don’t want to see. Inbound is less invasive, more time-efficient, and more finely focused on a target audience and where they are in their consumer journey.

What Type Of Content Should Your Brand Use For Successful Inbound Campaigns?

Building a successful inbound marketing strategy requires the right type of content. To get the best results, your content needs to speak to your brand’s buyer personas, address their specific pain points or issues, address the stage of the buyer’s journey, and fit in with your campaign’s aims. Successful content can be anything as long as it isn’t obvious advertising.

Thanks to the internet, marketers have countless ways to use different types of content that reach target audiences all over the world in seconds. Which type of content you use depends on your target demographics because different types of content fit different types of personas.

For example, if your company is selling the latest trends in athletic shoes, you can probably attract and convert more customers with short, exciting video content and infographics on social media sites. If your brand is more popular with older, educated professionals, textual content like articles and blogs on websites might be the best tactic.

Here’s a closer look at five types of online marketing content that inbound marketers are using the most today.


Blogging is an effective and inexpensive way to produce high-quality content for your business. Businesses with blogs generate over 55% more site visits and 97% more links to their site. This greatly helps your website’s search engine optimization along with your leads.

You can write a blog yourself or hire a content marketing company to write about interesting topics that are related to your brand, products, or services and speak to your buyer personas’ pain points without being overtly commercial. These tactics not only boost SEO, but they also build consumer trust and turn potential buyers into loyal brand advocates.


Inbound marketers love using infographics. They are eye-catching visual tools that present a lot of complex information compressed into images that are pleasing, understandable, and more engaging.

Depending on your target audience, you can post infographics on social media sites like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Infographics also add value to websites, blogs, whitepapers, and email marketing.


Inbound marketers know that video content is all over the Internet and it’s the type of content that gets the highest rate of shares and likes. Video content is hot and getting hotter, so companies should do their best to use this type of content, especially if their target audience is young and on the go.


Podcasting isn’t new, but it’s gaining popularity as an inbound marketing tool because it’s a great way to connect with consumers who are searching for solutions to their pain points.

Once you have an idea for a podcast and have made a small investment in the necessary equipment, you can connect to a podcast distributing network and get your podcast out to the masses of people listening today. You can also provide links to your podcasts on your website or through social media sites to drive up traffic and spread the word even further.

Social Media

Both inbound and outbound marketing strategies use social media platforms to promote brands, products, and services. But where outbound tactics advertise directly to anyone and everyone, inbound tactics are more subtle.

Inbound campaigns on social media concentrate on enhancing social media engagement rather than just gaining followers. They know that if they post high quality, relevant content, they’ll catch the interest of their target demographic and bring in a higher number of inbound leads than outbound campaigns do.

Inbound Vs Outbound Marketing: Which Should You Use For Your Company?

Even though making the case for inbound or content marketing techniques seems to be easier than for outbound marketing, it doesn’t mean that it’s the perfect answer for every business or every type of marketing campaign.

Many companies only use outbound tactics in their marketing campaigns and are hugely successful. Some consumers don’t want to be wooed through content or wait for businesses to earn their attention. Some people just want to see what you are selling and make a choice based on what you have to offer in comparison with other brands. Every business and industry is different.

Today, there are no rules that bind your business to one strategy or the other. You can even combine inbound and outbound marketing techniques to come up with the perfect marketing strategy that works best for your brand and your target audience.

Whether you put all your marketing budget towards inbound marketing campaigns or outbound, make sure that you’re strategy is backed by data and research. Work with a leading marketing agency to make sure that your marketing efforts aren’t wasted.