Distinguishing between Inbound and Outbound Marketing

As somebody operating their own business or website online, you have probably heard the terms “inbound marketing” and “outbound marketing”, among others, thrown around.

These are two important marketing terms and are far more than marketing ‘buzz words’ that you can just ignore, but what do they mean?
These two terms cover the concept of how marketing works across different channels and it is important to know what they mean.

Outbound Marketing

To put it simply, outbound marketing is the type of marketing that is aimed directly at your customer; it interrupts them, popping up right in front of their faces so that it is there and ready to be engaged with.
Have you ever searched for a product online, say razor blades, and then seen ads for razor blades appear later on in your Facebook news feed? This is an example of outbound marketing—it ‘chases’ a potential lead.

Whether an audience wants to see your marketing or not, they will see it. This is what embodies outbound marketing. Examples of it include…

  • Television and radio ads
  • Banners and display ads
  • Ads in Google searches; and
  • Pop-ups and cold calling.

As digital marketing has gotten bigger than ever over the last ten-or-so years, marketers have largely fallen out of love with outbound marketing. It is oversaturated, often seen as obnoxious when not done properly, and can be blocked by browser-based ad blockers.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a relatively new concept where marketing professionals employ tactics to engage and “bring in” potential leads with interesting and engaging content. It is highly popular on social media—Instagram posts are a great example—and is also known as content marketing.

Blog posts, infographics, email newsletters, Instagram posts, and Tweets are all examples of inbound marketing. They aren’t pushy and they don’t get thrust upon a potential lead.

When deploying inbound marketing content, an SEO company in Toronto focuses more on search engine optimization to help it be found rather than paying lots of money to have it shown to potential leads. If somebody comes across a piece of inbound marketing content organically and they find it interesting, they will interact with it. Liking, sharing, and following the call-to-action are all examples of what a lead may do with a piece of inbound marketing.

Instead of trying to ‘sell’ to a lead, inbound marketing focuses on captivating the lead through organic interest.
The Differences Between Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing. Inbound and outbound marketing are two very different concepts. These are some of the main differences between the two.

1. Direction of communication

As we said earlier, outbound marketing is aimed at everybody; it is indiscriminate. It interrupts whatever a potential lead is doing and shoves itself right in front of their face. Whether you are interested in what the ad is trying to sell you or not, you are going to see it regardless. Sometimes, though, it is more contextual—e.g. if you searched for razors and then start seeing ads for them a few hours later—as is the case with many ads on Facebook.

In contrast, inbound marketing is not forced on or put in front of anyone. You simply make content that you believe is likely to engage a particular lead and then make it widely available. If it does, they will find it.

2. Product-centric vs customer-centric

Outbound marketing content relates directly to the product or service that is being advertised. When an ad is aimed at everybody indiscriminately, it can’t really be tailored to an individual; it is instead made to focus on the product.

Inbound marketing may be somewhat product focused, however, the majority of the focus is on the individual target customer and their wants and needs. The whole point of inbound marketing is for a customer to be encouraged to click through to a landing page or otherwise and complete the desired action. To get the potential lead to do this, the inbound marketing content needs to be somewhat relevant to them and what they are searching for.

For instance, you may have arrived here by Googling something along the lines of “What’s the difference between inbound and outbound marketing?” or “Inbound vs. outbound marketing”.

3. The monetary cost

Outbound marketing can be very, very expensive. If you want to place an advertisement on television during a prime time slot, you are going to have to spend a lot of money to make that happen. If, however, you want to target a local area or run a radio ad, the cost will be much lower but still quite significant.

With inbound marketing, the cost is virtually non-existent, and you can achieve much better results. Unless you are paying a professional to do it for you, writing a blog or creating an Instagram post costs you nothing but time.

Which is More Effective: Inbound Marketing or Outbound Marketing?

It primarily depends on you, your business model, and your goals. Helping you decide whether to focus on inbound or outbound marketing is something that an SEO company in Toronto can do for you. Many companies choose to employ a mixture of both.

What we can say is that it is inbound marketing that, right now, is the more popular choice for companies operating in most industries. It is unsurprising given the potential for huge ROI when inbound marketing plans are executed properly. Still, though, outbound marketing strategies can also have value when they are suitable and done properly.

Inbound marketing’s effectiveness is also more difficult to measure than outbound. An inbound strategy is focussed on bolstering brand awareness and creating organic value rather than sweeping in with the hard sell. As a result, it is hard to quantify its value.

Generally, outbound marketing works quite well for companies that have a physical presence in a certain area. If you are an e-commerce store (as an example), however, outbound marketing would likely culminate in a lot of wasted money; your ads wouldn’t be highly targeted and response rates tend to be low.

Let's Talk