Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing: a Quick Comparison

 In Inbound Marketing

Any business looking to build their digital presence and attract customers should be familiar with the inbound vs. outbound marketing debate. If you’re not, no worries. We’re about to break it down crystal clear.

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing: what’s the Difference?

What is Inbound Marketing?

Defining the Term

As our pals at HubSpot define it:

“Inbound marketing is focused on attracting customers through relevant and helpful content and adding value at every stage in your customer’s buying journey. With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media.”

In other words, you make your business very, very easy for potential customers to find. This way, when they’re looking to make a purchase, you’re one of the first companies they see.

inbound vs outbound marketing difference

Key Aspects

Good inbound marketing meets all of the following criteria:

  • Two-way communication. That is, your brand engages in a conversation with your audience. You ask them questions, listen to their answers and take them into consideration to improve your product and marketing materials.
  • Easy availability. As stated before, inbound marketing is all about being accessible to your customers. Whether through search engines, social media or anything in between, make it easy for your customers to find you.
  • Piques customer interests. It’s critical to speak to your customers’ interests through educational and entertaining content, rather than pushing your products or services on them incessantly. They’re able to download content and purchase products on their own accord.

What is Outbound Marketing?

Defining the Term

Let’s defer to HubSpot again:

“Outbound marketing is a traditional method of marketing seeking to obstruct potential customers… Outbound marketing included trade shows, seminar series, email blasts to purchased lists, internal cold calling, outsourced telemarketing, and advertising.”

In other words, it’s (mostly) a bunch of outdated marketing tactics that don’t really do much besides annoy people. If people think your brand is annoying, they’re not going to purchase from you, plain and simple.

inbound vs outbound marketing

Key Aspects

  • One-way communication. Outbound marketing is interruptive. It involves you talking at your audience, telling them over and over again to buy your product. It doesn’t work.
  • Low availability. If the majority of your marketing budget is dedicated to outbound methods like cold calling and radio ads instead of inbound methods, your customers will have a hard time finding you.
  • Demands customer interests. Rather than letting customers come to you,outbound marketing advertises your products and says, “Hey, you need this!” to your audience.

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing: Which is Better?

Clearly, inbound marketing is the clear winner of the inbound vs. outbound marketing contest. It’s all about empowering buyers, and people like to feel empowered.

However, that’s not to say that all outbound marketing tactics should be burned in a dumpster fire. Advertising on social media, PPC and even other, more traditional mediums like radio and TV are still worthwhile for businesses.

The trick is to put an inbound spin on these outbound methods. For example, a TV commercial may tell a story that entertains your audience and encourages them to engage with your brand, not say “BUY! BUY! BUY!” over and over.

So, the inbound vs. outbound marketing debate is settled. We’re staunch supporters of the inbound revolution, but also believe that outbound methods can be reworked and used for generations to come.
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