Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: Which One Reigns Supreme in the Digital World?


Are you starting a business and exploring what marketing strategies work best? If so, you’ve likely heard of inbound and outbound marketing – two essential tactics used to attract customers.

But do you know what the difference is between them, how they can be implemented as part of your overall marketing efforts, or which strategy is better for your particular business needs?

Before investing time and resources into either tactic, it’s important to understand each approach and decide which one will yield the best results.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss inbound vs outbound marketing – breaking down each one’s benefits (and drawbacks) – so that startup founders like yourself can make an informed decision about what works best for their particular goals.

What Is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is when a company initiates contact with prospects to get them interested in the product they are selling. Using this tactic, the company pushes a message to the potential customers instead of waiting for the customers to reach them.

As a result, outbound marketing is also called “push marketing” by many, as you provide information to the customers even if they don’t want to see it.

For example, you might see a billboard as you go out to grab a cup of coffee or TV ads that keeps popping up midway, disrupting your entertainment. The chances are you have no intention of using the product or service advertised, but either way, they are there.

The advertiser is aware of this, but marketing is simply a numbers game and the small percentage who are interested make it worth their while.

More recently, digital outbound marketing has earned a slightly negative reputation among some, as many people find forced ads annoying, leading to the rise of ad blockers and the phenomena known as ‘banner blindness.’

But despite developing a negative reputation, outbound marketing is being used widely by companies as billboard advertising is rising, with brands and advertisers switching to smarter and more innovative ways to push their messages.

On top of that, display ad spending is soaring in the coming years to reach up to $836 billion by 2026, showing a 68% increase since 2022.

billboard advertising is rising

Types Of Outbound Marketing

  • TV/radio advertisements
  • Telemarketing
  • Cold-calling
  • Email marketing
  • Trade shows
  • Newspaper advertising
  • Press releases
  • Direct mail

Benefits Of Outbound Marketing

Here are some benefits a startup can enjoy after opting for outbound marketing for brand awareness and leads.

  • Reaching a Wider Audience: One huge advantage of outbound marketing is that you can reach a wider audience. It can get costly, but you can instantly get many customers if you hit the right area.
  • Increased Awareness: Large-scale outbound marketing increases awareness of your brand, bringing more leads, and increasing the quality of communication with your potential audience.
  • It Supports Your Inbound Strategy: Your inbound marketing will only attract customers interested in your content. If you already have active inbound marketing content on your blogs and other platforms, combining it with an outbound tactic can attract many new potential customers. Let’s say you share content on your social media page, but only your followers will see that; even among those followers, only a couple will react. Promoting that post via digital marketing can increase its reach; many uninterested people will see it, but you have a better chance of getting more potential customers.
  • Encouraging Impulse Purchases: Outbound marketing techniques such as TV or radio ads can create a sense of urgency and encourage impulse purchases. This is especially true for products with a lower price point or those that don’t require extensive research or consideration.

Disadvantages Of Outbound Marketing

While this strategy has some great benefits, some disadvantages make outbound marketing unsuitable for many businesses.

  • Cost: Cost is the biggest challenge in opting for outbound marketing; advertising on TV, radio, or print media requires a significant budget, meaning you might spend more on advertising with a low or zero return on investment. There’s a chance that the amount you spend might not bring you profitable leads.
  • Ads Are Being Avoided: People nowadays tend to avoid ads using adblockers while fast-forwarding video ads and unsubscribing to mail. Additionally, they’ll ignore cold calls and won’t bother visiting website that is showing too many ads. The main hope with untargeted digital ads is for potentially interested people to stumble upon your product by chance.
  • Difficulty Getting Feedback: Outbound marketing is a one-way communication where you show promotional material to your customers without any chance of engaging with them. Finding out what your customers think of your product and their response to your ads is even more costly and time-consuming.
  • Customers Are Not Attracted: There has been a mind shift of late, with many consumers preferring to proactively seek out products and services for themselves, without being ‘badgered’ to do so through adverts. Almost 90% of internet users would like to search for their desired product instead of getting bombarded by ads.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound Marketing

Image Credits

In comparison to more traditional marketing, Inbound marketing is a relatively new marketing tactic designed to create curiosity among customers for engagement and to draw them in. It is also called “pull marketing,” as you use informative and entertaining content to attract target customers.

Marketers use different inbound marketing tactics like blog posts, infographics, newsletters, polls, quizzes, paid searches, and native advertising, allowing potential customers to locate and engage with their content.

Here are the four phases of inbound marketing.

Attract > Convert > Close > Delight

Inbound marketing aims to gradually nurture potential customers by showing them the brand experiences to build brand awareness, increasing customer engagement and thus pulling them towards conversion and retention.

Another great thing about inbound marketing is that your long-term customer starts suggesting your products in their circle, giving your free promotion.

Types Of Inbound Marketing

  • SEO
  • Content Marketing
  • Webinars
  • Email Marketing
  • PPC(Pay-Per-Click) Advertisement
  • Influencer Marketing

Benefits Of Inbound Marketing

Unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing doesn’t force your customer to check out the products. It only attracts customers that are interested in your products.

However, your job is to build relationships with customers throughout their journey on your website by presenting them with promotions or discounts, ensuring that they won’t leave early.

  • Simplify Sales and Marketing: Your marketing and sales team can join forces to deploy impactful content to the buyer. The sales team can find the critical information a customer needs in the buying process, and the marketing team can carefully create content to help catch customers’ interest using sales funnel.
  • Increase Brand Awareness: People prefer to obtain information from meaningful blogs rather than advertisements, and your company can earn customers’ trust by portraying the right information. With this, you can build trust with your customers pulling them to visit your blogs or website for relevant information whenever they need help. Even if your business is new, with the right inbound strategy, you have more chances to get leads.
  • Generate Quality Leads: Providing content related to the problems and needs of the target audience creates a massive impact on generating leads, ultimately attracting quality traffic to your website. However, you’ll need to make preparations like CTAs, landing pages, or forms to guide the visitors toward conversion.
  • Less Costly: Instead of blindly distributing your offering, you strategically create content that brings customers to you, reducing your overall marketing cost. Additionally, you collect necessary data related to what customers pay the most interest to and using that; you can provide customers with the right products.
  • Sustainability: Your data stays on the internet forever unless you delete it, allowing you to write one blog that keeps attracting customers for years. You can see such examples on Pinterest or Reddit, where many people visit years-old posts to find answers to their problems. Additionally, it is time-saving, focuses more on the customer, and will stay longer.

Disadvantages Of Inbound Marketing

For many, inbound marketing might be the best solution; however, it has some challenges you might want to consider.

  • It Takes Time: You must think of inbound marketing as a marathon where it takes time to build momentum, but reaching the destination becomes relatively easier once you get it. Stay consistent with your efforts, and within 6-9 months, you’ll start seeing noticeable results. However, that doesn’t mean it takes a long time every time; you can strategically combine inbound and outbound tactics to speed up the results.
  • ROI Is Challenging to Track: The nature of inbound marketing makes it hard to track your ROI simply because you are not getting instant leads. While you generate and share excellent content, one blog might not get you a long-term visitor. Instead, you should put multiple pieces of content to convert a viewer into a lead. Tracking your ROI is even more challenging if you add various systems like social media and email marketing. If you want to track your leads accurately, you’ll need an integrated platform like HubSpot, allowing you to check which marketing tactic brought a lead.
  • Competition: Inbound marketing is less costly, so it has become quite famous in previous years, which is excellent, but with more companies opting for this tactic, the competition is at an all-time high. Companies targeting the same niche as you bring a contest where only those with quality content and better audience targeting will win early.
  • Requires Constant Maintenance: The inbound marketing content requires updates to keep solving the needs and wants of customers.

Inbound Vs Outbound Marketing – The Differences

These tactics have several differences, including how they help gather the audience. Outbound marketing uses an aggressive approach to target a wide audience with the expectation that some people will be interested in the product.

On the other hand, inbound marketing takes things slowly, where you gradually increase a visitor’s interest, so they can have more reason to interact, purchase and return to your platform.

What’s More Effective?

Back in the day, companies were more into outbound marketing efforts, and many of them were successful enough to only put up an ad once a year and get many leads. Take Super Bowl for an example; they only place an ad once a year, and that one ad is enough to lure millions of customers.

The annual IKEA catalog, which is still available in print, is another good example. They didn’t change their advertisement tactics, and it still works!

Older customer segments who are not huge fans of this modern digital work, still pay interest to billboards and TV commercials. In contrast, the digital generation likes to search on the internet about everything before purchasing.

Gadgets reviews are getting famous every day because people like to read the pros and cons of every product before purchasing.

Despite having its flaws, outbound marketing is still an excellent option to build brand awareness among a huge consumer circle.

Inbound marketing makes it easier to find potential customers as they come looking for relevant content. Additionally, since you are targeting a small group of customers, your cost will decrease, and you’ll have higher conversion rates.

Think about it; there are over 5 billion internet users worldwide and 4.6 billion social media users. Outbound marketing can help you reach your customers anywhere worldwide.

While those looking to target international audiences prefer to choose inbound marketing, this might be the reason why outbound marketing is more common among local marketers.

Outbound marketing should be your choice if you want a more traditional marketing approach to generate sales and leads. On the other hand, if you want a more holistic approach to attracting customers via content and SEO, inbound marketing is better. In this digital era, inbound strategy has a wider scope as people like to search for every minor detail about their chosen product on the internet before purchasing.

 Companies Using Inbound Marketing Effectively


Shopify is the biggest example which shows that choosing the right tool for inbound strategy is the game changer. They needed an easy CRM system to speed up their sales; thus, they chose the HubSpot Sales products to simplify contact and email management to improve their inbound marketing.


Spotify has huge data on its user’s streaming and music preferences. They took advantage of it by sending regular information to its users about their favorite artists.

Furthermore, their yearly “Wrapped” campaign provides users with an innovative summary of the music they listened to. This campaign always gets viral on social media platforms.


Cyberclick offers free and valuable content to all the viewers, making their inbound strategy one of the best. Anyone can visit their website and take advantage of content that is available in different formats, including ebooks, webinars, templates, and YouTube Videos.


Patagonia is a brand that sells outdoor clothing for mountain climbing, skiing, surfing, and more. Their inbound marketing strategy is one of the best, as they use storytelling to gather an audience instead of sharing content about products.

Their website has a Story Page where they share visually stunning stories, inspiring people to plan their next adventure and visit their website.

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a SaaS company that provides a platform to digital marketers so they can manage all their social activities. They not only focus on providing content to improve your social media presence and to gather a bigger audience but also cover topics related to other marketing areas.

Sprout Social’s marketing strategy is successful because of two reasons, the chief of which is usable and high-quality content to help people improve their marketing skills.

Secondly, they organized the content with the end user in mind, where each post has labels to indicate the covered topic, plus a drop-down menu that shows descriptors to point the user in the right direction.

How To Maximize Sales And Leads With Inbound And Outbound Marketing Strategies?

Here are some tips to help you get the best results from your outbound tactics.

Identify Your Target Audience

The first step towards marketing is to understand and identify the audience you want to target. What products do they like, their hobbies and demographics, what do they like to shop for, and how can you reach them?

The more detailed answers you can find about these questions, the better you have chances to make a sale. Additionally, you can research the customer’s liking and need and how you can make an offer interesting to compel them into a purchase.

Learn About Your Competitors

Before promoting your product, learning about your competitors and whether you can offer something to compete with them is better. If your competitors are already well-settled in the market, you’ll need to set your strategy accordingly to make a better compact among the customers.

Create A Checkpoint List

Checkpoints are all the places where your customers spend their time, be it a website or a local brick-and-mortar shop. Mark down all these locations to target them at the right time for better engagement.

Choose The Right Medium

You must choose the right platform to target your audience. For example, if you want to sell luxury items, Facebook is not ideal; instead, you can choose Poshmark. Furthermore, clearly state your product details in their description, making it easy for customers to decide.

Write Compelling Content

Writing content that is not up to the mark will drive the viewers away. Instead, your content must explain the problem and present a quick and easy solution. That way, the reader will feel you experienced the same issue and found a solution.

Double-check everything before posting, and add a solid call to action after each message (a discount offer would be excellent), compelling the customer to visit your website or the product page.

Focus More On Building Relationships

We all know that businesses are made to earn a profit, but if you can’t retain customers, you’ll spend more on marketing than you earn from selling. The more you interact with customers, the better they’ll engage with your blogs and websites.

You can do that by asking random questions to the visitors, presenting a small forum for them to fill, and redirecting them to the right product.

Wrapping Up

The choice between inbound and outbound marketing ultimately depends on your business goals, target audience, and budget. Both have benefits and drawbacks, which you need to consider before choosing one tactic.

A combination of both outbound and inbound strategies may be the most effective way to achieve your marketing goals. It’s essential to continually evaluate and adjust your approach based on the results you’re seeing and your business’s and customers’ changing needs.

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About the author: Mohsin Raza

I am a skilled content writer with more than five years of experience in creating captivating articles, blog posts, and social media content. Writing is my passion, and I focus on topics such as technology and marketing. I prefer to keep things straightforward, and I am always looking for new opportunities to stay occupied.

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