The Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing

If you Google the difference between inbound and outbound marketing, you’ll be bombarded with articles on why inbound is better. It’s cheaper, produces higher quality leads, and enhances return on investment.

But is this true of all markets, and all types of marketing? We look deeper into inbound and outbound.

What is Outbound Marketing

Outbound is often described as a traditional mode of marketing, as a company pushes a message out to a potential customer. In this model, the company initiates the conversation with a prospective buyer. Outbound methods include cold calling, email marketing, trade shows, advertisements and networking. Challenges include email and cold call blocking, high cost/low yield, and difficulties in tracking.

Outbound methods include cold calling, email marketing, trade shows, advertisements and networking.

What is Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is usually seen as the approach that has embraced technology to its advantage. In this model, prospective customers find an organisation, through web searches, social media, blog posts, or other content. Because people are self-selecting, the leads are often of higher quality. The focus is on relationship building rather than direct marketing. Fewer challenges have been identified, although inbound depends entirely on customers finding your organisation amongst the online ‘noise’. And many marketers find it difficult to know how to act on the connections.

Which is Better?

The effectiveness of the different approaches depends on the objectives of the organisation:

  • Inbound marketing is effective for B2C, and where customers are already knowledgeable about the products and services you have to offer. People will seek out an interesting blog post, and like or share it. This will enhance the organisation’s search rankings, and alert more people to the content.

  • Outbound can be useful for B2B marketing, and for companies who are looking to launch new products and services, develop new business streams, or build new markets. This may be because decision makers are less likely to use social media in the same ways as younger employees. Trade shows can be particularly effective in developing valuable B2B leads.

So, the approach you choose will depend on who you are trying to attract and what you are trying to market.

So, is Outbound Outdated?

In a word, no! While many point to inbound marketing as the future, it’s clear that outbound is being transformed by digital innovation. Email marketing – one of the most important outbound methods – is taking on a new life. Developing clear customer personas enable companies to target marketing messages. Enriched B2B data means that companies can send personalised emails, leading to increases in click throughs, sales and ROI. And real-time tracking can mean that your marketing and sales teams can act on leads straight away.

The Future of Inbound and Outbound Marketing

The power of inbound marketing is hard to ignore. But that doesn’t mean we should write outbound off. The best companies are likely to be those that combine the two approaches.

Successful marketing means creating valuable content and building easy ways for interested customers to connect, at the same time as developing more nuanced ways to target the broad base of potential leads.

Need help getting the most from your outbound? Sign up for a demo of Cognism’s outbound sales software today, or call us on +44 203 858 0822.