Inbound and outbound marketing are more than just some popular marketing buzzwords. These are two distinct paths a marketer can use to reach their target audiences. But, which type of marketing is right for your business? Let’s look at inbound vs outbound marketing.

Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing refers to the use of marketing tactics like radio and TV commercials, print advertisements, cold calling, trade shows and direct mail.

The idea behind this type of marketing is using mass media to push messages to the public. It’s more effective when done strategically and supported by quality data analysis. You will want to make sure your target audience is likely to see the message you’re putting out. For example, if you’re trying to reach athletes, you may want to run a commercial on ESPN, rather than pushing it out through one of the popular cooking shows.

Who Uses Outbound Marketing?

In today’s digital age, outbound marketing has lost a lot of its longstanding appeal. However, some businesses continue to allocate most of their budget to this type of marketing. Outbound marketing helps in lead generation, a key component in gaining customers.

outbound marketingOutbound marketing is effective if your customers are comfortable with radio and television ads [or whatever outbound marketing channel you use]. Some will even scan through the newspaper, looking for ads. What’s more, this type of marketing can be used in transactions involving high-end products. Sometimes, a business may need to network at industry events or establish contacts through a face-to-face meeting.

Ideally, when you use outbound marketing, you will convey that your target audience “needs” what you’re selling. With an established target audience, you can create something that elicits a positive customer response. If you’re dealing with a mass audience, you can conduct mail campaigns or distribute flyers. Your audience isn’t typically looking for you when they see your outbound marketing message. So, you need craft your message in a way that will get their attention and convince them they need your product or service.

If you’re using emails or cold calls, you should establish a human-to-human connection. To increase your odds of success, you should do your research before reaching out. In addition to that, you must personalize your message. When you’re targeting a specific niche, focus on quality. This shows you have done some research, so the response will be higher. It’s an opportunity to show what sets you apart from the competition.

Advantages of Outbound Marketing

While most professionals in the business world are pushing for new social media, search engine optimization and PPC plans, outbound marketing comes with many benefits. It draws customers to your brand, products or services. Also, it’s often more effective for businesses targeting older demographics. This means customers accustomed to radio, television or newspaper ads may look forward to your promotional marketing messages that are pushed through these channels.

Another advantage to outbound marketing is that this is a very trusted strategy. The mindset is that if you are on TV, the radio, in the newspaper, on a billboard and other places like this, then you must be more credible and established.

Disadvantages of Outbound Marketing

This type of marketing is often not the best fit for businesses, especially smaller businesses that have a limited marketing budget. It’s estimated that more than 3.5 billion people use social media. The likelihood of reaching your target audience on social media, or through Google, is very high. Outbound marketing doesn’t typically have the same reach as inbound marketing.

Apart from that, outbound marketing tends to be much more expensive than digital forms of advertising. Unless you have a significant marketing budget, this is perhaps the greatest disadvantage to outbound marketing. In fact, about 14% of all small businesses close because of ineffective marketing. And we believe a significant contributor to this is the business owner spending money on outbound marketing channels that are less effective for smaller budgets.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing refers to a type of marketing where you promote your business or website through SEO, content marketing, infographics, social media, newsletters, blogs, eBooks, whitepapers and so on. With outbound marketing, you’re pushing your message out to people who aren’t typically looking for it. With inbound marketing, you are offering up your message to people who are looking for it.

inbound marketingThis is a customer-centric approach that provides value to the target audience without the pressure to buy. The idea is to distribute relevant content to customers. Inbound marketing is effective in generating traffic and building a brand.

The content often comes in the form of blog posts, podcasts, YouTube videos, PPC ads, websites and more. Your target audience wants valuable information to solve their problems. Therefore, you should position your business as an expert. The easiest way to collect information from customers is through eBooks, webinars, whitepapers and contact forms on your website.

How to Succeed in Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is all about creating long-term traffic growth. There are many effective ways to achieve this. Our blog post titled “What’s Included in Online Marketing” gives more information about this. We would recommend reading that post, if you’re interested in learning more about how to get started with inbound marketing.

Advantages of Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a proven way to drive sales and grow your business. Unlike the traditional methods of advertising, inbound marketing is far less expensive. This is because it broadcasts to a wide and very targeted audience. The cost per lead also drops significantly, so you can focus on getting more qualified leads at a lower cost than you would with outbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is measurable. If there’s a huge spike in sales, you can track what it was that caused the spike. You can also calculate return on investment rather easily with inbound marketing, which is much more difficult to do with outbound marketing. As you analyze your results from this type of marketing, you can refine your strategy. This way, as months and years go by, you will be able to get more leads at a lower cost.

Another benefit is that inbound marketing is not intrusive. The truth is, very few people want to see a TV ad when watching their top shows or listening to their favorite radio station. Inbound marketing offers remarkable content and is less intrusive. And when you share content that is enriching and enjoyable your brand gains trust.

Finally, inbound advertising invites participation. When you place an ad through a social media platform, the users can give their views, as well as other types of engagement. Being able to engage with your audience is fantastic for developing your brand reputation and credibility.

Disadvantages of Inbound Marketing

It requires a diverse skill set like content writing, web design, social media expertise, etc. to do inbound marketing. You will likely need to create a website, social media accounts, set up Google analytics and more. If you can’t find a good agency, you may need to hire multiple companies to handle everything you need, which means more conversations. This may, or many not, be a challenge for you.

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Another disadvantage, or challenge, with inbound marketing is that many companies will offer their services and tell you what you “need to spend” on your marketing, without having a full understanding of what you you are financially and realistically about to do. Be sure to find a company that will guide you on what you need, based on your budget.

Depending on what marketing channels you use, results can be anywhere from instantaneous to several months down the road. Be sure your timeline expectations are clear and realistic, based on what exactly you’re doing and who you’re trying to reach. This same point applies to outbound marketing as well.

Which Is the Most Effective? The Inbound vs Outbound Standoff

Inbound marketing is usually better because it focuses on providing value to prospects. Also, because it aligns with the buyer’s journey, it attracts the appropriate audience to your brand and gives long-term ROI.

It’s estimated that more than 76% of marketers in North America use this marketing approach to do business. Most companies don’t use an outbound strategy because it requires higher investment and takes longer to show the results.

While inbound marketing is effective, most experts recommend that you supplement it with outbound marketing tactics to achieve the ideal desired results. The ratio to use will depend on the target audience, specific business, and marketing objectives. Of course, you marketing budget will largely impact the marketing channels you should use.

Final Words

The best marketing strategy is the one that works. You must analyze your data frequently to understand the areas that need improvement. Keep in mind that what worked last year may not necessarily work as well this year. Always refine your strategy and budget.

Make sure you come up with the perfect mix of inbound and outbound marketing to meet the needs of your audience.


Joshua Lyons Marketing, LLC was established in 2015. Since that time we have provided digital marketing services to business and professionals. We help our clients increase their online exposure as a means to increase sales and revenue. Our core services include search engine optimization (SEO), website development and content creation. We also provide other online marketing services, such as email marketing, marketing consultations and various types of advertising. Our team is based in the Milton, Pace and Pensacola, Florida area. However, we work with clients throughout the United States. Read More



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