Inbound vs Outbound Marketing

This post is a detour from my usual ramblings. This is because is was originally written for my old company’s blog.

Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is the traditional way of doing marketing whereby companies focus on finding customers or clients.

Outbound marketing techniques:


Traditional Outbound Marketing is advertising based on quantity but that doesn’t mean it lacks in quality. In fact, when using outbound techniques your message has to be versatile and innovative as the average person receives over 200 interruptions a day (Hubspot). Essentially, the more you pay the more exposure you get, and for the outbound marketing skeptics, who believe that more traditional forms of advertising like TV ads are dying out. Google Chrome recently launched a TV ad campaign (which they haven’t done in years) that saw an increase in users from 70m to 160m downloading its product (

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It also allows for a direct sales message, especially with approaches such as cold calling, a seminar series or trade shows. These techniques add a personal touch to the message; allowing the discussion to evolve through interaction with the customer or client. This form of outbound marketing is extremely responsive and immediate, and it gets quick results.


Marketers have to find different ways to cope with rejections from potential customers. Also, advertisements have an expiry date; this can be a very expensive process with limited ROIs. Advertisements are often considered intrusive and are poorly targeted, therefore wrongly interpreted by consumers.

There is also a stigma surrounding certain outbound marketing techniques, such as sales, in B2B marketing for example, brand or marketing managers may have over 30 calls a day from outside agencies or sales representatives, thus becoming immune to the ‘spin’. “The Billy Mays approach of pounding a message into an audience is no longer effective because the multiplicity of information sources has softened people’s tolerance for the hard sell. Now people want value instead of pitch” (UnionStreet Media).

Inbound Marketing

Just as the outbound model grew out of the media that supported it, the inbound model was born out of the media from which it was conceived. Inbound marketing focuses on getting found by customers. It’s about earning your way in via value and content, as opposed to buying, begging or bugging your way in through outbound techniques.

Inbound Marketing techniques:

  • Content (Blogs, videos, white papers, eBooks, etc.)
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization and keyword analysis)
  • Social media (Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, etc.)


Essentially, if you build a solid web presence based on SEOs utilizing inbound principles and engaging in social media, you can build a brand cost effectively.

It can also be put into action by anyone who has the focus to use a website, on-site blog and twitter account successfully. You will find that your brand will come alive through supporters and critics, driving you to improve your message. This process will help you refine your brand and personalize it to your client base. Content value is essential to inbound marketing.


With Inbound Marketing comes the loss of control, leaving you wide open to commentary and criticism from every angle. This can present major challenges in attracting the right kind of attention in forming your message or brand. And of course, these online tools are only as good as the person who controls them; what gives them power is the skill and passion of the user.

Inbound marketing as a standalone strategy relies on the consumer or client to come to you through a sea of information; this is a lot to expect, even for a brand that is extremely good at it. For example, Hubspot, arguably the creator of the inbound concept, uses outbound marketing: anyone who receives an email from Hubspot is getting outbound communications.

Conclusion – The Circular Approach

We think that a combined approach is best, as both outbound and inbound marketing have their strengths and weaknesses. However, together these strategies could be unstoppable; outbound vs inbound is a push vs pull strategy. Working together, it balances each other out. Lead nurturing is an example: prospects that consume content on a specific topic may opt into download a white paper or attend a webinar (inbound). Thus generating ‘warm leads’ even before you start. You can then send an informed email or call, as they have expressed an interest in your brand (outbound).

Inbound is definitely critical for marketing in today’s information highway. However, we’d argue that it should be about integration and not domination.


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