outbound marketing

Inbound marketing vs outbound marketing

May 5, 2021
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Inbound marketing refers to paid search advertising, because your ads only appear when people are searching for products or services that you offer. Outbound marketing refers to any kind of marketing where a company initiates the conversation and sends its message out to an audience

A few decades ago, if you said the word “marketing,” most people’s minds would jump to classic ad formats. From huge billboards to radio ads to direct mail, traditional ad campaigns dominated the scene.

Thanks to the internet, things look a little different today! With more marketing options than ever before, it can be hard to know which methods to put into practice. After all, when do you opt for the tried-and-true marketing tactics, and when do you spring for the latest advertising trends?

While it can be hard to navigate the changing landscape of marketing, it’s always worth knowing the basics, and that includes two fundamental strategies: inbound and outbound marketing. Let’s take a look at when (and why) you should use each.

How Does Outbound Marketing Work?

Outbound marketing is considered the traditional marketing format, and you may also hear it classified as “push marketing” or “interruption marketing.” As those nicknames suggest, outbound marketing involves pushing your product or service in front of a wide audience. 

One classic example is the TV commercial. This marketing tactic gets a brand seen by a broad group of people, even though the brand’s target audience is only a small portion of them. It also interrupts the user’s behavior unasked. Other examples, like podcast or radio ads, billboards, printed ads, and paid search do the same thing.

How Does Inbound Marketing Work?

In contrast to the tactics above, inbound marketing takes a more reasonable approach. Designed to be less interruptive, it works by attracting prospects to the marketing funnel in a more natural way.

Classic examples of inbound marketing include content marketing, social media marketing, and SEO. All of these tactics can be geared to a much narrower and more relevant audience than the audience you’d see with outbound marketing, allowing you to create more focused messages. These messages are often non-promotional, and they work by engaging the audience with valuable, relevant content.

Which Format Is Better?

The bottom line is that both outbound and inbound marketing are better than nothing, offering higher open rates and conversions than you’d see without any strategy at all.

However, each of these approaches works in a different way. Outbound marketing offers generic content to a broad audience, for example, while inbound marketing presents specific content to a narrower audience. Outbound marketing “pushes” content onto its audience, while inbound marketing pulls readers in naturally. In most cases, inbound marketing content includes info a prospect has sought out on their own, while outbound marketing sends advertisements to an audience without asking permission.

There’s a time and a place for each strategy. Branding efforts may work best with outbound marketing, for example, while inbound marketing can be great for engaging an audience. In general, however, audiences view inbound marketing as less aggressive and more valuable. This value can help you ensure that your brand is associated with more helpful and relevant content—not overly promotional ads.

Of course, it’s worth noting that inbound marketing won’t show you results overnight. It can also require more expertise than outbound marketing, meaning you’ll have to work through a learning curve to see your content start performing. But if you don’t want to do it alone, that’s where support from an experienced marketing agency comes in! If you’re looking for help, consider working with a team that understands what digital marketing is all about.


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