Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing: A Comparison

January 14, 2022 | Digital Marketing

Deciding whether inbound marketing or outbound marketing is right for you can be tricky

Digital marketing jargon is everywhere, and it can be off-putting for some people.

If you’re getting into this industry, it can feel daunting. Even people who’ve been in marketing for years can feel intimidated by it all.

Luckily, there are two key terms that you can anchor your marketing to when the jargon gets too much. These terms are inbound marketing and outbound marketing.

Each term describes a different approach to marketing. And both are essential when creating a digital advertising plan to promote a product or service or your business in general.

In this blog, you’ll learn the following:

  • What each of the terms means, as well as their benefits.
  • When to use each digital strategy.
  • Which of these methods of marketing is right for your business.

Let’s examine the features and benefits of each type of marketing technique. 
Charlie Meyler, Content & Marketing Executive at SEO Manchester Agency Embryo, will be discussing this in detail.

Modern marketing focuses on inbound and outbound techniques.
Themed keywords on green blackboard background

Explaining The Two Digital Marketing Types

Billions of people see and hear millions of adverts a day – from podcast ads to good old-fashioned radio advertising.

It is vital that your particular marketing effort is laser-focused and centred around an effective approach. 

You need to go where your ideal buyers are, and inbound or outbound marketing will help you.

You need to ensure you know which marketing approach is targeting relevant people. So, let’s first examine each term and its associated features.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing efforts are how you entice your target audience to come and buy your products and/or services.

It involves creating content about your product that shows how it is a solution to a problem that your potential buyer may be facing.

This type of marketing message is magnetic in that it attracts people to your company, away from your competitors. It’s about aligning all your efforts so that people naturally come to your site.

This will happen because you have search rankings for key terms and phrases related to customers’ issues.

The theory goes that sales and the flow of leads will increase if you’ve positioned yourself as the problem solver.

Inbound techniques include paid and organic strategies. One of the most common paid strategies is pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements appearing at the top of search engine pages.

Organic inbound strategies are dominated by writing long-form content, which helps you rank on page one for relevant key terms.

Benefits of inbound tactics:

  • Higher quality traffic: Inbound methods involve targeting users searching for relevant terms. It is the opposite of attracting a wide audience and hoping that some of them will take an interest.
  • Increased trust: Inbound is a more solid strategy because you offer advice, answers, and valuable content. It’s all designed to build a strong base of credibility and trust with your customer.
  • A cheaper, more effective strategy: The nature of an inbound approach means you can focus your efforts on fruitful digital channels. It means you can reduce spending on unnecessary approaches.

What Is Outbound Marketing?

An outbound approach involves getting your products and services in front of as many eyeballs as possible.

It isn’t targeted and is very much about volume as well as making a sale rather than quality. 

They work on the theory that the more people see your product, the more potential buyers you have.

Outbound marketing strategies involve many advertising channels – from tv and radio to social media adverts.

The idea is that if a buyer sees your advert – for example, for a sofa – enough times, they’ll head to you because you’re the sofa company most readily remembered.

Social media adverts can be very effective for outbound marketing.
Over the Shoulder Shot of a Young Man at Home Sitting on a Sofa and Using Smartphone for Scrolling and Reading News about Technological Breakthroughs. He’s Sitting On a Couch in His Cozy Living Room.

Advantages of Outbound Marketing Tactics:

  • Reach a wide audience: As we’ve made clear, outbound marketing means the widest possible audience will see your business. There are potentially hundreds of people who might be interested in what you’re offering.
  • Great for products and services everyone needs: If you have a business that sells refrigerators, for example, then outbound marketing might work well. The reason is simple – white goods are essential and people are likely to be receptive to your sales message.
  • Can support your inbound methods: Opting for either inbound or outbound, independently of the other, may not always be effective. In some instances, your ideal customers can be found by using your outbound methods to enhance the effects of your inbound marketing.

The Key Differences

How It Works

Inbound marketing focuses on attracting visitors to your website through optimized content. You create valuable content and share it across platforms like blogs, videos, podcasts, etc.

Outbound marketing focuses on selling directly to customers. You reach out to leads via email, phone calls, text messages, etc.

The Intents 

Other differences include the intent of your efforts. Inbound is about pulling interested target audiences to your site, whereas an outbound strategy involves pushing your message to potential customers.

Outbound is one-way communication. You talk, people go through your sales funnel, and you earn revenue from selling goods and services. 

Inbound is about marketing your product as solving a consumer need.

Someone might be persuaded to buy some new trainers without actually needing them. 

However, a buyer who needs a new washing machine will look for blog posts and content that help their decision.

The Overall Purpose

Inbound strategies turn people from users to qualified leads who will buy your products. 

Outbound involves putting your content on as many mediums as possible – be it banner ads, YouTube videos, or TV advertisements.

When to Use These Strategies

Both types of marketing have pros and cons. Inbound marketing is great for building trust with new audiences and gaining traffic. 

Outbound marketing works best for converting those visitors into sales.

Inbound is great for brand awareness, while outbound is best for generating new sales.

A good marketing mix includes both inbound and outbound approaches. 

Here are inbound marketing tactics that you can implement:

  1. Writing blog content that targets relevant keywords
  2. Hosting a webinar that discusses problems in your industry
  3. Advertising on social media that helps you reach your target audience
  4. Building links to your website that help in ranking higher

Along with that, you can go for outbound marketing. Here’s what you can do:

  • Leveraging radio advertisements to reach people who tune into that station
  • Cold calling people on a data list that they’ve agreed to be on 
  • Hosting events for people who might be interested in your products and services
A webinar is a perfect example of an inbound marketing tactic.
View over businesslady shoulder seated at workplace desk look at computer screen where collage of many diverse people involved at video conference negotiations activity, modern app tech usage concept

Which Marketing Approach Is Right for Me?

It depends entirely on your business model and goals. 

Do you want to build awareness of your brand? Are you looking to make sales now? Or perhaps you want to grow your brand slowly over time?

If you’re still unsure, here are three questions to ask yourself:

  • What problem does my customer face? How can I solve it? Answering this can help you figure out which elements of outbound and inbound you need. 
  • Which channel works best for me? The key to any marketing, whether inbound or outbound, is to find the digital marketing channels that the majority of your audience is on. 
  • What is my overall goal? Every business has a different goal, and it’s vital you know yours when figuring out whether inbound or outbound marketing is right for you. 

Which Is the Better Online Marketing Tactic?

The best digital marketing strategy is dependent on the type of business you run and the audience you aim to attract.

In this writer’s opinion, inbound marketing is one of the best, most long-term ways of growing your business’s online presence. 

Establishing yourself on page one for relevant keywords can go a long way in improving a site’s domain authority, boosting your brand’s reputation in the digital space.

It is increasingly becoming the main way to influence people during their buying journey.

He has worked in the SEO industry for over 4 years and has developed a real skill of knowing how to ensure businesses, no matter the industry, are successful in this fast-paced online environment.

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