What is the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing?

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In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between inbound and outbound marketing.

As a lead generation executive, your responsibility is to generate high-quality, sales-ready leads helping clients to make solid ROI for their marketing campaigns.

If you talk to an average marketer about how they generate leads for their business, the most probably the answer would be an outbound marketing.

Although this marketing methodology is used for the last many years, it’s getting less and less effective nowadays.

The response rate and ROI both are very less for outbound marketing.

That’s why inbound has evolved as a mainstream marketing technique in the last few years.

The rise in internet users has added benefit to the inbound approach making it more efficient and user-friendly.

You can use different ways for your marketing program, whether it’s B2B or B2C campaign.

A proper combination of inbound and outbound marketing channels works great for most businesses.

Developing a strategy to produce a positive return on investment requires understanding the difference between inbound and outbound marketing techniques. 

It’s essential for maximizing the effectiveness of your marketing program.

Let’s understand the meaning of both inbound and outbound marketing before discussing the difference between them.

What is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing means pushing out your marketing message to a broad group of people hoping that it’ll resonate with the potential customer’s mind and you get the lead.

It starts with some basic knowledge of your audience that you want to target. Either you have an email list or mobile numbers, but you may not be aware of what people want.

Although it can be done in a meaningful way, outbound marketing is rarely targeted.

It’s about reaching everyone in the target user group to sell products or services even he/she is not interested.

You might experience that when you get calls for bank loans, credit cards, web hosting, and much more, even when you haven’t requested one.

Most likely, you ignore such calls, am I right?

Why does it happen?

Outbound marketing has zero to little relationship with their potential customers.

On the other hand, people most likely to buy from the trusted sources where they are already connected.

Typically, outbound marketing channels include cold calling/outsourced telemarketing, email blast, T.V. and radio advertisements, print ads, trade shows, events, and seminar series.

It’s a one-way process, and the marketer has to push his/her message out, hoping the customer will get it and make a purchase. That’s why it’s called outbound marketing.

Outbound marketing techniques are mostly interruptive.

An average person experiences hundreds of outbound ads every single day.

If you fail to balance your marketing campaign, people may ignore your ad even if you have a great product at a very reasonable price.

The budget required for outbound marketing is much higher compared to the inbound marketing making it less cost-effective for small to medium sized businesses.

What is Inbound Marketing?

In traditional marketing, you need to focus on finding leads by using outbound techniques.

The CTR and CVR are both terrible because the audience is poorly targeted, and you use an interruptive form of marketing.

You may get some leads, but at an higher CPL (cost per lead).

People find ways to block these ads, such as call block and spam filters, making them less effective.

Don’t worry; you can improve your overall lead generation performance by implementing inbound marketing tactics to your campaigns.

In simple words,

Inbound marketing is about getting visible to people searching for the products and services you have or the related ones.

Instead of interrupting people with your ads, inbound attracts and make them buy from you.

Isn’t it interesting?

How can it be possible?

How Does Inbound Marketing Work?

It’s an advanced marketing technique that leverages digital media as a primary source of communication.

Instead of interrupting people with T.V. ads, create the videos people want to see.

Similarly, other creative content types can convert visitors into customers instead of relying on display ads, cold calling, and junk emails.

Inbound marketing works like a magnet attracting leads rather than hammering people continuously with marketing messages and sales pitches.

Now, you have understood the main difference between inbound and outbound marketing.

Please note that inbound marketing is a technique to attract people to buy your stuff and converting them into happy customers.

Let’s break it into four steps.

1. Attract

It’s the first phase of inbound marketing.

In this stage, you try to attract strangers to visit and surf on your site.

SEO, social posting, and blogs are useful tools for gaining visitors on your site.

2. Convert

Once you have visitors on your website, try to convert them.

You can use opt-in forms, landing pages, and CTA to get those people to your list.

The main advantage of subscribing people to your list is building a customer base you can connect anytime.

You can send newsletters or special deals, pitch for product sales, or just say ‘Hello!’

3. Close

The next step of inbound marketing methodology is closing leads into customers.

Unless you sell something, there’s no point in developing a mega marketing campaign.

You can use CRM, email drips, and similar tools for effective closing and turning leads into customers.

4. Delight

Inbound marketing does not complete with sales unless the customer gets happy with his purchase.

Delighted customers often voluntarily promote your brand, helping you in the marketing program.

You can check this by the surveys, social monitoring and know how much popular your brand is.

Apart from that, some of the best inbound practices can make a difference in your marketing campaign.

  • Understanding the buyer’s persona
  • Understanding the buyer’s journey
  • SWOT analysis of your business
  • Creating great contents
  • Promoting contents as much as possible
  • Analysis of your marketing campaign

Key Components of Inbound Marketing

As I said earlier, inbound marketing primarily focuses on digital.

Instead of using traditional marketing strategies and harassing people (yes, I mean it), you can concentrate on four key inbound marketing components.


Content is the base of inbound marketing.

Unless you have great content, forget about getting success with inbound.

The content attracts people and engages them on your site.

Nowadays, almost every company is focusing on content as people are most likely to love that and make a purchase after researching.

You can use any form of content to drive traffic and leads, including articles, videos, images, or podcasts.


SEO is an abbreviation for search engine optimization.

Basically, it’s a technique of getting your site rank higher in SERP organically by optimizing the web pages.

Good SEO can get you on the top of search results.

When people search for the particular keyword you are focusing on, you can get targeted traffic that may be interested in your products and services.

The best thing about SEO is you can be visible there until other people replace you with a better SEO score.

It may seem complicated, and yes, it is. Actually, SEO is complex but divided into two parts.

1. On-page SEO

It mainly focuses on optimizing the page content, URL, title, heading tags, images, meta, and some technical things such as site speed and security.

You can optimize your website yourself by putting in little effort.

2. Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is all about how much popular your site is.

You can use legit link building, social bookmarking, directory submission, and reviews to boost your off-page SEO score.

Please note that SEO may take time to drive traffic and generate leads. However, it depends on how much effort you are putting and what advance SEO tactics you are using.

Social Media

Using social media for getting new as well as the returning audience to your website is a no-brainer.

At least in the initial days of inbound, social traffic helps a lot in sharing content, driving traffic to your page, and building relationships.

According to the type of your business, whether it’s B2B or B2C, you can focus on social platforms where you major potential customers are hanging in.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest are the major social platforms you must focus on.

If you are consistently posting valuable content, the chances of growth are unlimited on social media.


Many people compare it with the traditional ads and say it’s an outbound marketing technique.

It’s not 100% true.

It’s a topic for debate but let’s see why it’s inbound.

PPC (Pay Per Click) ads are mostly targeted on shown to the people who are searching for the related queries.

It means people may be interested in your products and make a buying decision if you are offering a great product.

As you are promoting your sales to the people searching for similar products or services as yours, properly optimized and targeted PPC ads are definitely inbound, at least I think so.

Google AdWords and Bing Ads are a couple of examples of PPC ads.

You can run PPC campaigns on social media too, e.g., Facebook adverts or Twitter cards.

Why Does Inbound Marketing Make Sense?

You might have observed that this article is inclined towards the inbound but why I’m doing so?

The traditional outbound is becoming less effective, and you must focus on inbound as a primary marketing methodology.

That’s why the big sports brand ADIDAS has stepped out the traditional T.V. ads focusing more on digital marketing.

Still, not convinced?

Here is a table showcasing the difference between inbound and outbound marketing.

Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing

Outbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing

The traditional form of marketing where marketer reaches to the audience.Advanced & trending form of marketing where the audience approaches the business via different channels.
An interruptive form of marketing; hence, most likely gets ignored by people giving very less ROI.Permission-based marketing and people are interested in what you are offering them.
Marketer provides zero to little value to the potential customer often marketer-centric.Marketer provides value on every step of a sales funnel, which is customer-centric.
One way communicationTwo-way communication
Short term, higher cost marketing methodology that’s generally expensive.A long-term, lower-cost marketing technique that’s cost-effective.
Uses print ads, T.V. or radio ads, cold calls, and email blast, etc.Uses SEO, social media, valuable contents, and targeted PPC ads.
Fewer chances of targeting and marketers need to push message to the broad audience.Options for running highly targeted campaigns, ensuring greater ROI.

Which is the Best: Inbound or Outbound Marketing?

From the above table, it’s obvious to choose inbound, which is better than outbound marketing. But, you might see the line between these both techniques is blurred.

If you are using inbound for your client’s business, combining it with outbound in a strategic way would be better.

You can use inbound to capture the long-term data and regular business and give a try to outbound for nurturing other leads to buying decision that you may seem useless.

Together, you can create an integrated marketing campaign with the ultimate goal of making a profit.


I have shared the difference between inbound and outbound marketing. Now, you can choose a better marketing channel or combine them to create an integrated marketing strategy to grow your business.

If you think this article has helped you clear the doubt about the difference between inbound and outbound marketing, don’t hesitate to share it with your friends.

If you are using any of these marketing techniques, let me know how it works in the comment section below.

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