The Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing

Written by
Luke Marthinusen

Inbound Marketing is hot property in the ever-changing world of digital marketing. But truly understanding its intricacies takes a bit of guidance if you want to fully leverage the methodology.

According to HubSpot:

  • 86% of people skip TV ads.
  • 91% of people unsubscribe from emails.
  • 44% of direct mail sent is never opened.
  • 200 million people ask to be on the Do Not Call list when receiving unsolicited cold calls.

With the effect of traditional marketing methods dwindling, now is the time to consider Inbound Marketing. But, what makes Inbound Marketing so different from traditional Outbound Marketing? Find out below

What makes the Inbound Marketing approach unique?

Inbound Marketing turns old marketing tactics on their head and differs from traditional Outbound Marketing, where you interrupt someone to gain their attention.

Inbound Marketing is permission-based where you communicate with your target audience on their terms by offering them value within their time frames and when they are most receptive to your messaging. 

With the Inbound approach, you answer the questions your target audience are asking via the content you create and share online. You are educating your potential customers with your messaging and content, and positioning yourself as the an expert in your area of expertise.

Instead of blasting your messaging and marketing out with Outbound Marketing, you are gaining the attention of your target users in a more natural way. 

Inbound Marketing makes use of clearly defined personas, highly targeted landing pages, eBooks, white papers, infographics, blogging, targeted social media posts, content marketing, online video content and online thought leadership to attract website visitors.

What is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound, or traditional, marketing is the type of marketing we all grew up with in the past. Think of TV ads, radio ads, print ads, pop-ups, display banner ads, spam, billboards and bought email lists. Outbound Marketing throws a broad marketing message to the widest possible audience with the hope that something sticks.

“It’s interrupting people with an email while they’re at work; with a cold call; with an ad while they’re watching their favourite TV show - it’s irritating. It’s just working less and less. People’s tolerance for it has gone down and their ability to block it has gone way up.”

Brian Halligan CEO of HubSpot, Inc.

Inbound Marketing provides value

With Inbound Marketing, the major difference from traditional marketing is that you are attracting customers by providing them with something of value informed by their needs and wants, which in this case is quality content.

Providing value to potential customers is the focus of Inbound Marketing. Inbound Marketing aligns the content you publish with the interests of your audience and answers the problems faced by customers, which helps to naturally attract visitors to your website and offerings.

From there, you nurture prospects into leads and customers through the four phases of the Inbound Marketing methodology (awareness, convert, close and delight).

In more simple terms, the Inbound marketer utilises marketing tactics that earn people’s trust and interest, instead of attempting to buy it and push sales from the outset. By comparison, outbound marketers will make use of any marketing tactic that pushes sales of products and service to customers.

In more technical terms, from our friends at HubSpot:

“Inbound Marketing is a holistic, data-driven approach to marketing that attracts individuals to your brand and converts them into lasting customers.”

Overall, the Inbound Marketing approach is far more holistic than Outbound Marketing, which is linear and limited to specific marketing channels. Inbound Marketing lets you utilise a number of digital channels, optimisation and content marketing approaches to achieve the digital marketing results you desire.

Why is the Inbound Marketing methodology successful?

Consider the following statistics from Inbound Marketing agency, Ironpaper:

  • 68% of inbound organisations strongly believe that their digital marketing strategy is effective because of the inbound methodology.
  • Content marketing is super effective and costs 62% less than traditional marketing methods and in total generates 3 times more leads.
  • 46% of marketers have reported that the inbound approach has resulted in a higher return-on-investment.
  • 59% of marketers say higher quality sales lead generation is due to adopting Inbound Marketing practices.

Inbound Marketing is a successful marketing approach because it provides you with a solid framework to mobilise and distribute quality content. Through well-written, relevant, targeted and educational content, you earn the trust of leads. Your content draws the right type of visitors to your website where you nurture them through your inbound sales funnel according to the stages of the buyer’s journey.

Final thoughts

Successful inbound marketers offer value and don’t push sales onto their customers immediately, which is vastly different to their outbound counterparts. By producing and publishing valuable content, we have seen the Inbound Marketing methodology work wonders for our agency, where Outbound Marketing has paled in comparison.

Find out more about Inbound Marketing and how to implement it in your business, by clicking the download button below.


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