Inbound vs Outbound Marketing

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Inbound vs Outbound Marketing

By Samantha Brooks on 16 November, 2020

Have you noticed that you’re generally more receptive to marketing and advertising tactics? Or, maybe you’re not receptive unless you’ve gone looking for content that interests you? These two behaviours often classify two kinds of people; those who go in search of what they need, and those who wait on the right thing to come to them. This is what inbound and outbound marketing ultimately boils down to. 

Inbound and Outbound marketing are the two categories that all marketing activities fall into, and are essential to understand when working to achieve your marketing goals. Understanding the difference between them is necessary to effectively plan and implement a unique marketing strategy.


Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing (sometimes referred to as “pull” marketing) is a subtle way of attracting leads to your business. It’s the content that individuals will seek out, and it engages them with content that is relevant and helpful, and in turn, builds brand equity. Inbound marketing relies on original content, SEO and social media to attract people, and allows the audience the option to receive the advertisement or not. A great example of this is email subscription or blog posts – individuals have the option to subscribe or not, and the consumer is aware of the content they are choosing to take part in. 

The most difficult aspect of inbound marketing is time. Growth can be slow, and this can be frustrating for a business. However, once the inbound marketing tactic has gained traction, the flow of consumers continues organically. The consumer is more likely to stay, once they’ve come to you. Data analytics and SEO are an essential part of the success and management of inbound marketing, to ensure that content remains engaging and builds traction. 

Consumer retention is crucial in the success of any inbound marketing tactic, so keeping your content relevant and creative is non-negotiable. If your inbound marketing is neither of these, there’s nothing enticing the viewer to absorb the content.


Outbound marketing

Outbound marketing (also known as “push” marketing) is the more obvious strategy, using marketing tactics to get your message in front of people that aren’t seeking it out. It’s a tactic most of us have been exposed to – whether advertising through television, radio, social media or old-school print placements, we’ve seen them all. With the scale of people that outbound marketing reaches, there’s no wonder why it achieves faster growth in brand awareness.  

The challenge associated with outbound marketing is to make it generic and interpretive while remaining brand relevant. With the scale of viewers it can reach, having a single advertisement appeal to everyone is unrealistic – but it’s important to still aim for a broad target. When communicating with audiences this large, persuading even a tiny fraction of them can have enormous effects. Take a billboard, for example; ads are specific to the business, but they remain interpretive and generic to each consumer. 

The downside of outbound marketing, ultimately, is the cost. Advertising can be costly to a business, especially in small or new businesses. They need to be broadcast broadly to be effective, thus increasing the overall outlay. There are, of course, options for smaller budgets – social media paid advertising, for example, can be a great alternative to print or billboard ads. Businesses need to establish clear-cut advertising budgets and goals, and understand their expected outcomes in order to develop an effective marketing plan.


Is one better than the other?

It may be easy to view one path as being the best for your business and ignore the alternative. In reality, the best way to conduct your marketing will be with a mix of both tactics. Inbound and outbound marketing are both needed in a strong, engaging marketing plan. 

To begin with, the business needs a clear-cut marketing strategy. The content needs to be creative and relevant, with a clear idea of the target audience. Without these ideas in place first, no marketing campaign will be successful.

Once a business has these ideas mapped out, you can begin scrutinising specific activities. When discussing inbound and outbound activities, your business may place more time and effort into one than the other, but incorporating at least some level of both is going to ensure the success of your marketing campaign. 


For help creating a marketing strategy that is right for your brand and budget, we’re always here to help. Call us on 07 3198 4890 or email 

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