Inbound and Outbound Marketing: What’s the Difference?

Inbound Marketing Graphic with Magnet

A marketing strategy is important for drawing and keeping customers, no matter the business.

Marketing can take many shapes and forms. As businesses online grow, a lot of marketing happens digitally.

Whether on or offline, you’ll need to know the difference between two types of marketing: inbound and outbound.

Once you have a good understanding of inbound and outbound marketing, start working your strategy today.

The Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing

1. Technique

Outbound marketing is also known as “interruption marketing.”

This is because of its technique, which is to interrupt future customers with a lot of advertising.

A business using an outbound marketing strategy will make cold calls to customers, for example, or send direct mail to customer addresses.

An outbound marketer may also use emails and other forms of advertising meant to catch a customer’s eye.

Outbound marketing methods are direct and meant to reach the biggest crowd possible.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, does not directly try to advertise to customers through phone calls and mail.

The goal of an inbound marketer is to still promote a brand, product, or service but in a way that targets a general market rather than specific customers.

For example, a business may have an active blog on its website or post on social media in order to advertise a product.

Inbound marketing is often more open-ended than outbound marketing. It tries to target a customer market overall.

2. Medium

Inbound and outbound marketing strategies can use totally different mediums in getting their messages across.

Because outbound marketing relies on interruption in order to get a customer response, it often uses non-digital ways to do so.

An outbound marketer may print a lot of flyers, brochures, ads, or pamphlets. H/she may put posters up around the community or mail any of these paper products to customers.

A lot of businesses call customers to advertise. Some may send texts or email newsletters. You might hear a radio ad or see one on television.

Lastly, an outbound marketer may put up a billboard or sign that will be seen by many. A business may run ads in a local magazine or newspaper.

Inbound marketing happens nearly entirely online.

As the digital market grows, more and more opportunities exist online for inbound marketers.

A business using an inbound marketing strategy may use social media and engaging website content in order to get users interested.

Blogs are an extremely popular way to promote an inbound marketing scheme, as well as SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Inbound marketers may also send e-newsletters or other emails to customers.

3. Cost

It’s important when developing a marketing strategy to keep a budget in mind.

Cost is one of the biggest differences between inbound and outbound marketing.

Outbound marketing requires largely non-digital mediums, such as paper, advertising on billboards and in the newspaper, and phone communication.

It may require more work on the part of the business’s marketing team. After all, someone has to put postage on mailed advertisements and hang up posters around town.

Outbound marketing can quickly become expensive. Some businesses find the cost of outbound marketing to be too high.

Because inbound marketing happens almost entirely digitally, it tends to be much more cost-effective as a marketing strategy.

It is either entirely free or more or less cheap to distribute e-newsletters, for example, maintain a blog, and establish a website.

Social media sites are free to use by individuals and businesses.

Even if an inbound marketer chooses to pay for a few online ads, the cost for these tends to be relatively low.

Many businesses are switching over to inbound marketing for cost reasons alone.

4. Type of Communication

Inbound and outbound marketing are very different when it comes to the type of communication they present.

Because outbound marketing attempts to promote a business or goods to as many people as possible with an interruption method, it can be seen as one-way communication.

In outbound marketing, the marketer is less interested in creating a dialogue with a customer. It’s most important to get the overall message across.

Some customers, therefore, find outbound marketing to be annoying or even aggressive.

Inbound marketing, directed to a target market, often encourages dialogue between businesses and their customers.

Customers can post on a business social media site, like certain comments and ads, and share their reviews online. The business, in turn, can respond.

Customers are responsible for responding to inbound marketing strategies, rather than the other way around.

Some people may just choose to ignore outbound marketing by throwing away an ad that comes in the mail or not picking up the phone.

Customers who are scanning social media don’t have that ability to turn off a business’s message.

Inbound marketing communication tends to be passive but more engaging in this way.

5. Response and ROI

When it comes to marketing, customer or user response is everything.

With outbound marketing, leads are not guaranteed. A customer may just throw away a brochure received in the mail or choose to ignore a text or email.

It is also harder to track customer data or response with outbound marketing.

Inbound marketers find it easy to get customer data, especially if they are using a digital platform.

It is easy to assess user engagement and response by analyzing site visits, clicks, and comments.

SEO is proven to increase site traffic dramatically, and blog posts are a fantastic way to improve ROI.

If choosing between inbound and outbound marketing strategies, keeping the potential effect in mind is very important.

6. A different feel overall

Inbound and outbound marketing can have different effects and focuses when it comes to customer response.

Outbound marketers will feel that they are actually doing marketing, and so will customers.

Inbound marketers won’t really feel as if they are marketing. Neither will customers!

The Takeaway

Inbound and outbound marketing strategies are different in many ways. The biggest distinctions lie in approach and cost.

When choosing to employ one or the other, or a healthy mix, it’s important to keep in mind budget and overall presentation.

Either way, make sure you begin with a solid marketing strategy and identify your target market.

Once you have these in line, the decision on what type of marketing to pursue will fall into place.