Every year there are new marketing buzzwords that leave business owners scratching their heads. Knowing what’s useful and what’s jargon is a nightmare for anyone wanting to know where their marketing priorities should lie. 

When it comes to inbound vs outbound marketing though, it’s time to sit up and pay attention. These two forms of marketing are umbrella terms for many of the other marketing methods you would already have heard of. 

Inbound marketing has received a lot of attention in recent years and we can tell you now, it’s not going anywhere. Inbound marketing is one of the most powerful ways to gain organic traffic. 

But what does that mean for outbound marketing? And what’s the difference anyway? Don’t worry, all will be explained. Read on to get the low-down on everything to do with inbound vs outbound marketing strategies. 

What’s the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing?

With both inbound and outbound marketing, you’ll be producing marketing materials. The nature of those materials, however, is very different. 

Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is the name for the traditional technique of marketing. Businesses create marketing and advertising materials and send them out to an audience.

This audience could be as general as everybody, such as putting up a billboard. Or it could be more targeted, such as sending out an email blast to subscribers. Either way, you’re pushing your marketing into the hands of other people. 


The most common form of outbound marketing, adverts have been around for generations. The aim of adverts is to be seen by as many people as possible in the hopes that they’ll remember your business and seek it out. 

From magazines and billboards to radio and TV adverts, targeting is minimal and the cost is high. 

Email Marketing

You’ll know how pervasive email marketing is. We all have inboxes crammed with hopeful emails from businesses listing new products and offers. This type of outbound marketing pushes its way into inboxes in the hope it’ll be read. 

Cold Calling

Especially common in B2B (business to business) industries, cold calling means you call someone you want to buy your products without an existing relationship in place. 

Sales staff try to get the right person on the phone and sell their products or services directly to them. 

Benefits of Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing, while increasingly overshadowed by inbound, still has benefits. B2B cold calling is an effective way of scheduling sales meetings with prospects. You’re making it easy for them to get quotes without your prospect having to do much legwork. 

Good adverts also still work. The best adverts leave a lasting impression of the brand or product with the viewer, even if they weren’t paying much attention. Through repeated exposure to a company’s adverts, the audience naturally becomes more familiar with the brand. 

Problems with Outbound Marketing

It’s impossible to know the exact figures but in general, we each see thousands of adverts every day. From sidebar ads and pop-ups to magazine adverts and billboards, adverts are everywhere. 

This can cause us to ignore obvious adverts entirely, a phenomenon called ‘banner blindness‘. Even if we do look at adverts, the prevalence of them can be irritating. 

Email marketing can be amazingly effective but it can also be a source of frustration for the receiver. With so many emails advertising products, it can be tempting to delete them all. 

In short, many people are savvy about outbound marketing techniques and sick of them. 

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing works in the opposite way. Instead of putting your business out into the world, you’re using marketing methods that draw your audience in. Creating an inbound marketing strategy will allow you to more effectively build a targeted audience, increase website traffic, and establish your brand as a leader. 

Your inbound marketing strategy is about selling but not in the direct way that outbound is. Instead, you’ll be drawing in prospect with useful information and gaining their trust before you sell. 


A popular form of inbound marketing, blogs allow companies to provide engaging content for free. By using SEO keywords, blogs appear in related search engine results and draw organic traffic to your website. 

By providing searched-for information in blog format, readers will recognize your business as an expert and are more likely to buy from you. Businesses can also guest blog, creating written content that’s published on other, related sites and further expanding their reach. 

Video and Audio

Youtube is a search engine in its own right and creating video content is a valuable form of inbound marketing. From how-to videos to entertainment and practical tips, businesses can organically draw in traffic using this medium. 

Audio such as podcasts is another valuable form of inbound marketing. You can provide relevant information that draws in listeners who follow and buy from you without feeling sold to. 


Providing information in eBook format has become increasingly popular thanks to its easy-to-use, portable nature. eBooks give the reader an opportunity to download the information and refer back to it whenever they wish. 

As it’s in digital book-form, it’s easier to store and locate than a blog post they may have to search for again. Books of all types give the impression of authority and by providing eBooks, you can boost your business’ standing. 

Benefits of Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is far more cost-effective than outbound as the content you create is permanent. While adverts are short-lived, your blogs and videos will keep drawing in prospects indefinitely. 

Inbound marketing also focuses on giving information for free and generating a relationship with your audience. This differs from outbound where the pure aim is to sell. 

Problems with Inbound Marketing

Creating the amount and quality of content required is time-consuming. However, with a more targeted and long-term effect, the effort put into inbound marketing pays bigger rewards than that put into outbound. 

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing Is an Important Balance to Achieve

When it comes to inbound vs outbound marketing, it’s important to have a balance. While outbound marketing strategies can work well, the expense and generalization can be a problem. 

As you can see, inbound marketing is a long-term strategy that focuses more on generating awareness, trust, and customer relationships. It has a compound effect over time as you add more content and provide more information. 

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