What’s the Difference Between Outbound and Inbound Marketing?

    Marketing refers to the process of promoting your product or your services to potential and current customers. Both inbound and outbound marketing have this as their main goal, though each differs in methods and metrics. We’ll cover the biggest differences between them here, and outline why you need a good combination of both to succeed in business today.

    Defining Inbound and Outbound Marketing

    Outbound marketing refers to any form of marketing that targets a wide group of people. It may include demographic groups, interest groups, or people in a general area. Outbound marketing is sometimes called interruption marketing since this category includes cold calling prospective customers.

    Inbound marketing refers to marketing that is intended to deepen or extend the customer relationship. It includes marketing methods that connect with people already interested in your product. This can include PPC ads for people searching for your brand, product-based SEO, or subscription-based email marketing. It includes marketing to your followers on social media as well as any webinars the customer chooses to sign up for.

    While there are some similarities between inbound and outbound marketing methods, you can’t use outbound marketing methods in inbound marketing unless you want to risk losing your customers.

    Marketing Methods

    Most traditional marketing methods count as outbound marketing. For example, billboards, event sponsorships, and newspaper ads are seen by many potential customers. Digital marketing may be a form of outbound marketing too, such as when you send marketing emails to everyone on a list or show banner ads to everyone who fits a certain demographic (you can create these yourself using a banner maker).

    Inbound marketing is typically personalised. Digital marketing can be inbound marketing if you’re presenting curated content based on their personal interests and purchase history. For example, you send useful articles that your customers want to read rather than posting content that asks them to buy your product. A good inbound marketing agency will be able to help you create the right type of content for your audience or adjust your marketing campaign to better connect with your customers.

    Inbound marketing is generally multi-channel, while every interaction is tracked and carefully managed. This results in a consistent customer experience. It also improves the customer’s experience, since they can reach you through whatever channel they prefer to use and do so at their convenience. Outbound marketing tends to be a two-way street, since the process begins when the customer reaches out to you. By definition, outbound marketing is always reaching outward, since it seeks to bring in new customers who may not have heard of your company before.


    While inbound marketing may promote your business or website, the goal is to either get current customers to buy more from you now, or keep them engaged so that you increase their lifetime value. A key goal is turning customers into loyal followers who refer others to your company. This results in higher quality leads.

    Outbound marketing uses metrics like website hits and conversion rates. There will be a high rejection rate with all forms of marketing, though you can take steps to bring it down. For example, you may want to adjust your content’s SEO, or shift from traditional to digital marketing that targets your ideal customer demographic.

    However, outbound marketing generally lacks the detailed information on customers required for personalised marketing. Outbound marketing is evolving, since traditional marketing methods are losing their efficacy. This is why marketing departments are shifting toward inbound marketing. It costs less per lead and generates more qualified leads, resulting in a higher ROI for the invested effort.

    There is a growing emphasis on inbound marketing, though there is still value to outbound marketing. This is why your marketing approach should aim to include both types, so long as you take the steps to implement them correctly.


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