Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing

Posted at May 30, 2013 4:05:01 PM by Ronald Busky | Share

Its no secret that there is a ton of buzz in the advertising and marketing world about "Inbound Marketing" and how it is replacing older more traditional mediums such as Billboards and TV spots. It's no suprise that as consumers are increasingly searching out products and brands, while getting better at blocking out all the noise, we would want to make sure we are part of the discussion.


"So what is the difference between inbound and outbound marketing anyways? How do you know where you stand on the spectrum of traditional and current?"

Below we've put together a simple guide to different forms of online (and offline) marketing to give you a good start...

New "Inbound Marketing"

  • Focuses on Communication With Customers. By building communities focused in and around your brand beyond the purchase decision, you are able to see a great increase of loyal, satisfied, repeat customers who advocate on your behalf.
  • The Customer Finds You! Your role as the Brand is to answer their questions. This is where marketing tactics like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC) come in. When people type in "Where is the best taco stand in San Francisco?", SEO and PPC help you and your brand to show up as an answer. This also makes for a high likelihood that this person will turn into a customer rather than tune you out.
  • Marketing Provides Value to Potential Customers. Any opportunity to teach or provide useful information via blogging, whitepapers, infographics provides an additional opportunity to build credibility and trust with your customers.


Old "Outbound Marketing"

  • One Way Communication - "we speak you listen". This is when companies only care about reaching as big of an audience as possible with their message. This includes anything that interrupts a consumers daily activities with a marketing message. There is no two way discussion. There is no personal feedback.
  • You Seek Out The Customer. Since there is no two way discussion. In order to gain more customers a company has to actively seek out customers via direct mail, tv, radio and phone with ads and marketing messages. Due to modern consumers increasing ability to tune these messages out, this tactic is becoming ever more ineffective at translating into sales.
  • Marketing Provides Little or No Value to Potential Customers. Once again there is no teaching or education or value being provided in the marketing message itself. Consumers are not asking for the marketing message and so interaction is limited.

If you were going to summarize the main difference between inbound and outbound marketing, you could in one word... Attention.

Do your marketing efforts seek to provide valuable information and open communication in order to earn someones attention? If you do, then you are an inbound marketer!

Do your marketing efforts seek to interrupt someones attention by pushing out your product or message out into a consumers daily habits, hoping that they turn into a customer? If you do this, then you are an outbound marketer...


"So what is all the buzz about?!? ...It's in the ROI!"


Inbound marketing has an extremely high ROI in most cases compared to traditional outbound marketing. Many studies show a difference of around 60% better Cost Per Lead than traditional methods.

Earning peoples attention through providing value leads to better customers and a stronger brand. By communicating with customers your company is better able to gain the Attention needed in the consumers mind to purchase from you. People are increasingly in control of the information they consumes as the knowledge of the world is literally at their fingertips. Trying to interrupt their flow of information and attention is more likely to frustrate the consumer than entice them to buy.

So real quick, here is a list of things that good Inbound Marketers do:

  1. Blogs - including whitepapers, ebooks, podcasts, videos, interviews, infographics and more
  2. Social Media - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube etc.
  3. SEO - Building a quality site and networking with other websites to improve your ranking in Google, Bing, Yahoo, AOL, Ask etc.
  4. PPC Advertising - Paying to show up as a potential answer to customer needs in the above search engines.

Types of marketing that Inbound Marketers avoid include:

  1. Telemarketing & cold call sales - Because everyone loves getting a sales call in the middle of dinner...
  2. Direct Mailings - When was the last time you saved that overpriced super glossy postcard in the mail?
  3. Radio & TV Ads - Ever record your favorite TV show and start watching it a half hour later so you can skip all the commercials and watch uninterrupted? If you don't already, your welcome for the tip.

Outbound Marketing is increasingly being traded in for Inbound Marketing methods. Not to say all Outbound Marketing is bad or entirely ineffective. It's simply wise to focus first on Inbound channels first to maximize ROI.


Tags: SEO, Social Media, Digital Marketing

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