Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing: What's the Difference

Marketing is one of the industries that has changed the most in the past 10 years. It used to be that you had a set number of options to choose from including outdoor billboards, newspapers, magazine print ads, direct mail, flyers, etc. The number of marketing options now has multiplied as business industries progress. A new era of digital marketing has also emerged, changing the way in which organizations need to attract new business.

Now a good combination of both outbound marketing and inbound marketing are often what makes a successful complete marketing plan for a company. So what is all this outbound and inbound marketing chatter about? Keep reading...

Outbound Marketing

The basics of outbound marketing is “marketing to the masses.” Examples of outbound marketing are:

The main idea with outbound marketing reminds us of the “If we build it, they will come” model of thinking. Unfortunately, many outbound marketing techniques are losing effectiveness with today’s consumer and “If we market to them, they will buy” no longer works.

Outbound Marketing Challenges

While many outbound marketing techniques can be made more effective when combined with other marketing tactics, there are many challenges that these strategies have.

  1. Lack of targeting

While there are definitely ways to target with outbound marketing tactics, they are not as specific as you can get with many inbound marketing tactics.

  1. Expensive

Unfortunately, many outbound marketing opportunities are more expensive than newer digital marketing opportunities.

  1. The message gets missed

Consumers are now inundated with thousands of outbound marketing messages every day. The chance of your marketing message getting missed is much higher with outbound marketing tactics.

While many outbound marketing techniques can be effective when combined with other inbound marketing techniques, but alone may not get as much bang for your buck.

Inbound Marketing

The main idea with inbound marketing is attracting the right consumers to you. Not being everything to everyone, but find the people that will be your biggest fans and best customers and focusing on them. Examples of inbound marketing are:

  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Blogging
  • Social Media

Inbound marketing focuses on allowing the people that want your information to find you, capturing their information and sending them the information and product or service that they want. The idea is that once you attract someone to you they are a much more qualified prospect to buy from you. These consumer tend to be warmer leads and also tend to buy more often than many people that come to you from outbound marketing tactics.

How does inbound marketing help your business?

Inbound marketing tends to be more focused on finding the right target audience to attract to you. These strategies also can be more cost effective when compared to outbound marketing tactics and allow you to keep in regular contact with both current customers and new prospective customers. This means that once you attract a consumer to you, you don’t just send them a message once, you can keep sharing information with them over and over again.

Inbound marketing also works best as a system, meaning all of your digital assets work in tandem instead of being stand-alone marketing opportunities.

The key difference in inbound marketing versus outbound marketing is that consumers are seeking and want the information you are putting out there with your inbound marketing efforts. Instead of having the ‘create the sale’ you already have someone who is interested in your product or service and often ready to buy.


Do you have questions about inbound marketing? Contact us here.