Inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing - What's the difference?

The distinction between the two marketing methods comes from the evolution of marketing over the past decades. The customer is now in control and has access to independent information about products and offerings.

This means marketers have had to adjust their strategies to match customer demand and achieve optimal results from marketing efforts.

Marketing the old way

Outbound marketing is perceived as the ‘old way’ of marketing, where a business targets a mass audience through television advertising, radio, direct mail, billboard advertising and cold calling.

Theoretically, this should work because you’re targeting a lot of people at once and this should produce a lot of leads. However, the message being pushed out may not resonate with the audience because they don’t need or want the offering, and the marketing activity is not targeted at your ideal audience.

And, some of the traditional methods such as cold calls are considered a nuisance and instantly put people off. In fact, research by Harvard Business Review shows cold calling is ineffective 90.9% of the time.

In addition, the 30 second TV advert has lost its relevance and been dubbed interruptive advertising. A study last year by Arris showed that 84% of respondents wanted to fast forward through the ads they watch, while 60% of them download or record shows so they can skip adverts.

This response to outbound marketing means it isn’t very profitable for businesses today, and the methods are generally difficult to track and analyse.

Enter inbound marketing…

A new approach to traditional marketing

 Many businesses now adopt an inbound marketing strategy, as it’s more appropriate for today’s customer.

Hubspot defines inbound marketing as “A business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t want, inbound marketing forms connections they’re looking for and solves problems they already have.”

It helps a business to ‘get found’ by people who want to research and shop a particular offering, and to be successful it relies on you utilising content marketing and creating rich, information content in a variety of formats such as blogs, guides, SEO, email subscription and paid search advertising.

Ultimately, it enables you to focus in on your target personas and share your in-depth knowledge on particular topics to build credibility, which in turn, helps you generate more brand awareness and fill your sales pipeline with high quality leads.

Learn more about generating leads by reading our blog here 

And, inbound marketing has a high success rate.

According to Hubspot, 68% of organisations that adopt inbound marketing believe their strategy is effective.

What’s more, research suggests 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement (Content Marketing Institute).

The benefits of inbound marketing include:

  • Positive response as people are drawn in by knowledgeable content
  • Marketing efforts are more likely to resonate
  • Easier to track performance e.g. amount of premium content downloads can be measured
  • Ability to test what works, refine content and perform A/B testing on paid ads
  • Greater return on investment

To find out more about inbound marketing and how your business could benefit, email our Marketing Director Sud on [email protected] or call to speak to a member of our team on 01926 422002.

Lucy Barratt

Content Author

Follow me on 

Let us know what you thought about this post