Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing : What is the Difference?

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Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing
Businesses and marketers alike look for numerous ways to connect with their audience. From a general perspective, both parties are shifting from outbound marketing methods to inbound marketing ones. 

Outbound marketing may not be working as efficiently as it used to and there’s a reason for that. The strategies did not cope with the change of how people use and interact with brands.

Inbound marketing is seen by many marketers as the quintessential marketing strategy. However, the only way inbound marketing is done effectively is if it is done properly.  

This article examines the difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing, and outline inbound and outbound marketing examples.

Definition of Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing can be easily distinguished from one another. Outbound Marketing is thought of as a hammer, whilst Inbound Marketing is a magnet.

Inbound Marketing

Outbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing Examples

Inbound Marketing involves the adoption of a more subtle, customer-centric approach; here are some of examples:

Content Creation

It is the contribution of valuable information via different mediums, such as blogs, for the target audience in specific contexts, in a way that addresses their pain points and purchasing problems. A two-pronged approach can be adopted for content creation: Onsite content, which is when a business publishes blogs, articles, on their website. Offsite content marketing is when a business provides well-written, targeted and valuable content on other distribution channels, such as other websites, webinars, e-books. Content creation in all its forms generates traffic towards a business’ website and enables it to gain more exposure, hence increasing the probability of turning prospects into leads.

Search Engine Optimization SEO

It is the process of increasing the digital visibility of a company for relevant searches via search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing. These search engines crawl pages on the web, go from site to site, collect information about web pages and put them in an index. SEO is a comprehensive strategy that involves improving website speed, optimizing it for mobile devices, targeting niche, and specific keyword phrases.

Social Media

It is the use of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to connect with the target audience, in order to build brand identity, increase sales, and drive website traffic. It can involve publishing curated content on social media profiles, engaging with followers, and running social media advertisements.

Email Marketing

In both Inbound and Outbound Marketing, email campaigns can be devised. The difference is that in Outbound marketing, there is little to no strategy involved, no personalization or the use of segmented lists for qualified leads. Regarding Inbound Marketing, email marketing takes an informational approach rather than a promotional one. It involves distributing valuable content and using call-to-actions to persuade customers to learn more about businesses, their products and services, and the value that they bring to the table. This is why Inbound Email Marketing can also be labeled as Email nurturing.

Chatbots are becoming increasingly popular as they are proving to be an effective tool to help answer common questions to those visiting a website. Instead of having a human 24/7, chatbots are always ready to help facilitate those answers.  

The use of animation video to promote a business’ brand identity, products and/or services. Several video types can be regarded as Inbound videos: For example, demonstration, or demo videos, which is the showcasing of a product or a service in action, thus outlining their value to the target audience. Another example can include testimonials, which are videos where existing customers talking about a company’s products or services and how they have addressed their problems.

Outbound Marketing Examples

Outbound Marketing generally consists of the following methods:

Cold Calling

Which is the process of making unsolicited telephone calls to prospective customers in an attempt to sell a product or a service.

Trade Shows

Public exhibitions or conventions at which businesses overtly promote their products or services


A direct marketing strategy in which a salesperson solicits customers to buy products or services via different mediums: over the phone, web conferencing, tv commercials.

Paid Advertising

The process where marketers pay the owner of an ad space (television network, newspapers, magazine etc.) in exchange for use of that space.

Email Blasts

Email blasts, or mass emails, is the strategy of sending a single email to a large customer base, or distribution list, simultaneously.

Differences Between Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing

By using Outbound Marketing techniques, businesses and marketers are pushing the marketing messages out to the target audience, and hoping to get a response, and/or hoping to generate a lead. In essence, companies are HAMMERING OUT the marketing message.

In contrast, Inbound Marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people IN to businesses and their brand identity. Customers are already searching for answers to their purchasing problems online, checking out the various competitors on the market, and trying to decide which company’s products and services suit their needs best.

The objective is to have content optimized by SEO, Email nurturing etc. that speaks to the stages of the inbound marketing methodology in order to convert the prospects into paying customers. Essentially, businesses align the content they publish with the customers’ interests, thus organically generating inbound traffic that businesses can convert, close and delight over time.

While Inbound Marketing has become the standard approach to generate more revenues and drive business growth at the expense of outbound marketing, the former is not meant to completely eliminate the latter from the equation.

Companies can harness the potential of both Inbound and Outbound marketing techniques. Businesses can attract prospects with inbound marketing, and drive action with outbound marketing. 

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